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James Harris - our QB from 1969-1972


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#1 major

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 02:01 PM

The current ESPN magazine has a great write up about James Harris, our former qb. It's a great article about the struggles of an African American qb back in the early 70's. Anyone here remember your impressions of his playing days?

I didn't know he was the first African American player to start a season at qb in the history of pro football.

#2 jack_spikes

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 02:11 PM

View Postmajor, on 01 February 2014 - 02:01 PM, said:

The current ESPN magazine has a great write up about James Harris, our former qb. It's a great article about the struggles of an African American qb back in the early 70's. Anyone here remember your impressions of his playing days?

I didn't know he was the first African American player to start a season at qb in the history of pro football.
I can't remember a QB with a stronger arm, or who could throw a ball further than Jim Harris. If I remember correctly, he played during the John Rauch(Head Coach) era, which was a disaster.

#3 ExWNYer

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 02:14 PM

View Postmajor, on 01 February 2014 - 02:01 PM, said:

The current ESPN magazine has a great write up about James Harris, our former qb. It's a great article about the struggles of an African American qb back in the early 70's. Anyone here remember your impressions of his playing days?

I didn't know he was the first African American player to start a season at qb in the history of pro football.
I was just a little kid when he was with the Bills. I remember him more for his days with the LA Rams.

#4 over 20 years of fanhood

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 02:28 PM

Had an interesting career. Had never heard of him prior to this post.  He was the first black QB to start an nfl playoff game too and Probowl, etc.  seemed like he broke a lot of ground.  Glad bills had a hand in progress although sadly his biggest accomplishments were for the rams...

http://en.m.wikipedi...is_(quarterback)


#5 Wayne Fontes

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 03:46 PM

One of my favorite fb cards of 1975.

My pop told me that he never saw a QB with a stronger arm - said he could throw it 90 yards on a rope (saw it pre-game iircc). My sense based on family impressions that lived through that abortion of an era is that the Bills failed to bring along him properly or gave up on him too early. Screwed Briscoe too.

At least the when comes to qb development and super bowls, the Bills are remarkably consistent.

#6 RJ (not THAT RJ)

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 04:44 PM

Lou Saban's biggest mistake was dumping Harris in 1972. He did it because he did not want to see a black man play QB (see his handling of Marlin Briscoe at Denver), and he therefore stunted the Bills' development. He was so blinded by his bias he thought the Bills would be better off with Mike Taliaferro or Leo Hart at QB. No, really. Racism has consequences, even in the toy department of life.

#7 Wayne Fontes

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 05:18 PM

View PostRJ (not THAT RJ), on 01 February 2014 - 04:44 PM, said:

Lou Saban's biggest mistake was dumping Harris in 1972. He did it because he did not want to see a black man play QB (see his handling of Marlin Briscoe at Denver), and he therefore stunted the Bills' development. He was so blinded by his bias he thought the Bills would be better off with Mike Taliaferro or Leo Hart at QB. No, really. Racism has consequences, even in the toy department of life.

Dad is that you?

#8 PBLESS

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 07:02 PM

Back in the day, I remember thinking that Harris could throw the ball farther and harder than anyone I had ever seen.

#9 chris heff

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 07:39 PM

View PostRJ (not THAT RJ), on 01 February 2014 - 04:44 PM, said:

Lou Saban's biggest mistake was dumping Harris in 1972. He did it because he did not want to see a black man play QB (see his handling of Marlin Briscoe at Denver), and he therefore stunted the Bills' development. He was so blinded by his bias he thought the Bills would be better off with Mike Taliaferro or Leo Hart at QB. No, really. Racism has consequences, even in the toy department of life.
You are correct. The fans weren't very nice either.

#10 klos63

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 09:36 PM

View Postmajor, on 01 February 2014 - 02:01 PM, said:

The current ESPN magazine has a great write up about James Harris, our former qb. It's a great article about the struggles of an African American qb back in the early 70's. Anyone here remember your impressions of his playing days?

I didn't know he was the first African American player to start a season at qb in the history of pro football.
I remember him as being not very good, but looking back is was more likely that the team stunk back then. I recall the strong arm, but even though he had brisco, moses and I think JD Hill, still not a good team overall. Had some success after he left.

#11 bbb

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Posted 01 February 2014 - 11:31 PM

View Postklos63, on 01 February 2014 - 09:36 PM, said:

I remember him as being not very good,

This is my memory.  We had a bunch of QBs in those years - Kemp's last year or two, Dan Darraugh, Dennis Shaw, Harris - they were horrible and so was the team.

View Postmajor, on 01 February 2014 - 02:01 PM, said:

The current ESPN magazine has a great write up about James Harris, our former qb. It's a great article about the struggles of an African American qb back in the early 70's. Anyone here remember your impressions of his playing days?

I didn't know he was the first African American player to start a season at qb in the history of pro football.

Did this mention what I saw on Real Sports or something recently.  He said that the Bills made him clean out the locker room and sleep at the YMCA, because he was a black quarterback.................Which didn't make much sense to me, since there were other black players on the team.  Why would they do this just to the black quarterback?

#12 Chandler#81

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 07:11 AM

As a rookie, he came to a team in complete transition. Case in point, he was part of an all-rookie starting backfield in the season opener, along with O.J. and Bill Enyart. Haven Moses made his arm strength nationally known, claiming Harris broke his facemask with a short pass. In Buffalo, he never really established himself, though he did have some 'moments' on very bad teams. He had a long career (10+ years) and good success with the LA Rams.

#13 Marv's Neighbor

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 08:16 AM

He played while the BILLS were trying to make OJ a WR.  Very strong arm but not always very accurate.

#14 Buffaloed in Pa

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 08:24 AM

Like every old timer here,I`m 55 today. I remember his strong arm . I mean really strong. He was never given much of a chance. I think he came from Grambling.Only came in when somebody got hurt.I was still pretty young then, so things are a little sketchy.

#15 MarkyMannn

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 04:46 PM

He was not good.  He had no touch to his throws.  10 yards away from a receiver and he put everything he had into it.  Uncatchable

#16 Greybeard

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 05:56 PM

View PostMarkyMannn, on 02 February 2014 - 04:46 PM, said:

He was not good.  He had no touch to his throws.  10 yards away from a receiver and he put everything he had into it.  Uncatchable

Before his rookie season started, I read an article how OJ and Harris would lead the Bills to the promised land.  He was that big QB with a strong arm that every team yearns for.  I couldn't wait.  He had great arm strength and his accuracy in drills was amazing.  They used to swing a tire and Harris could zip that ball through that tire with consistency.   But Marky remembers as I do.  He threw the short pass with the same velocity as the long.  He didn't really have much touch.  Can't remember if he had any skill reading defenses.

He also had a mysterious stomach issue in his first camp.  He missed more than a few practices, which obviously didn't help him.

I was expecting big things but they never came.   I haven't bought into QB hype since.

#17 bbb

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:21 PM

Wasn't he a low draft pick?  I was very young but don't remember any hype.

#18 Noodlearm

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:35 PM

He was criticized for throwing "too hard" Can you believe it?

#19 bbb

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:45 PM

He was criticized for sucking.

#20 Bob in STL

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 10:46 PM

View PostRJ (not THAT RJ), on 01 February 2014 - 04:44 PM, said:

Lou Saban's biggest mistake was dumping Harris in 1972. He did it because he did not want to see a black man play QB (see his handling of Marlin Briscoe at Denver), and he therefore stunted the Bills' development. He was so blinded by his bias he thought the Bills would be better off with Mike Taliaferro or Leo Hart at QB. No, really. Racism has consequences, even in the toy department of life.

Well I was around and sure do not recall any of this.  Saban had issues with lots of players both black and white.

Harris had a cannon for an arm and little else.  He lacked the experience to make a judgement on him as a Bill.  This was back in the days when QBs took a time to develop.


They drafted Joe Ferguson the next year let him hand off to OJ.