Five Memorable Players To Play For Both Patriots, Bills

A number of players have seen both sides of this rivalry


Nov 22, 2022

The New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills maintain a fierce rivalry, one that dates all the way back to 1960.

And several players have seen both sides of the ongoing divisional duel.

Here are five memorable players who called both Western New York and Foxboro, Mass. home at points in their respective NFL careers.

Doug Flutie
The undersized signal-caller was traded from Chicago to New England at the start of the 1987 season, which was derailed when the NFL Players Association went on strike. Flutie elected to play for the Patriots rather than hold out and he went on to make 13 starts over the next three seasons, totaling an 8-5 record with 1,842 passing yards and 11 touchdown passes. He also ran for 309 yards with a score over that stretch.

The Patriots released Flutie after the 1989 season and he played the next eight seasons of his professional career in the Canadian Football League. The Bills gave Flutie another shot in the NFL leading up to the 1998 season, in which he won Comeback Player of the Year and was named to the Pro Bowl. Flutie went on to play three full seasons in Buffalo, where he recorded a 21-9 record across 30 starts with 7,582 passing yards and 47 touchdown passes. Flutie led the Bills to two playoff appearances, but he was controversially benched for Buffalo’s Wild Card matchup with the Tennessee Titans, the game that concluded with the “Music City Miracle.”

Flutie returned to New England in 2005 as a 43-year-old to back up Tom Brady and appeared in five games in what proved to be his final season as a player. The Bay State legend almost exclusively was a clipboard holder that season but he was responsible for arguably the most unique play of the Bill Belichick era: a dropkick extra point, the first of its kind in the NFL since 1941.

Chris Hogan
Undrafted in 2011, Hogan spent time with the 49ers, Giants and Dolphins before finding an NFL home with the Bills in 2012. It took two more years for the converted lacrosse player to catch his first professional touchdown, and ironically enough, it was at the expense of the Patriots. Hogan started to make a name for himself in the league in that 2014 season, catching 41 passes for 426 yards with four touchdowns with Buffalo. After a modest 2015 campaign, New England surprisingly signed Hogan to a frontloaded three-year contract before the start of the 2016 season.

The Monmouth product proved to be yet another diamond-in-the-rough find by Belichick and his staff. Hogan’s debut season in Foxboro was one to remember, as he set a career high in receiving yards (680) and helped the Patriots win one of the most entertaining Super Bowls of all time: an overtime thriller against the Atlanta Falcons who squandered a 25-point, second-half lead. New England reached the grand stage thanks in large to Hogan, who set a franchise high for receiving yards in a playoff game (180) while catching two touchdown passes in an AFC Championship Game win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hogan went on to play two more seasons with New England, the latter of which wrapped up with a Super Bowl LIII victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Lawyer Milloy
Like Hogan, Milloy reached Super Sunday in his first season with the Patriots. After New England selected the Washington product with the 36th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, the strong safety helped lead the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI, but they suffered a two-touchdown loss to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.

That successful rookie season was only the beginning of a great seven-year run for Milloy in Foxboro. The hard-hitting safety was remarkably durable over that span, starting all 16 games in all but one of those seven seasons. Milloy was a four-time Pro Bowl selection with the Patriots, earned a first-team All-Pro nod in 1999 and helped New England win its first Super Bowl in franchise history in the 2001 season.

But despite all of his successes with the Patriots, Milloy’s New England tenure is highlighted by his exit. Arguably in the prime of his career, Milloy shockingly was released by Belichick and company shortly before the start of the 2003 season. Milloy, who still had four years remaining on his contract at the time, wasn’t interested in taking a pay cut and ultimately was the victim of what became a common Belichick practice in Foxboro.

Milloy signed a four-year deal with the Bills one day after his release from the Patriots, who visited Buffalo less than a week after cutting ties with the star safety. The Bills trounced New England on that early September day, allowing Milloy to bask in the glory of a 31-0 win over his former team. Unfortunately for Milloy, New England beat Buffalo by the very same score at the end of the regular season en route to the first of back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

The Bills rostered Milloy for three seasons and he recorded 100-plus tackles in two of them. Milloy ultimately experienced déjà vu before the start of the 2006 season when he was a salary cap casualty by Buffalo.

Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore was very good with the Bills, but he was great with the Patriots.

The 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Gilmore played the first five seasons of his NFL career in Buffalo. The Bills were a perpetually average team over that stretch but it was to no fault of Gilmore, who corralled 14 interceptions in a Buffalo uniform and started to make a case for himself as one of the top shutdown cornerbacks in the league. And the Patriots certainly paid him like one when they signed him to a five-year deal before the start of the 2017 season.

After a slow start in New England, Gilmore took off and never looked back. He earned the first first-team All-Pro honor of his career in 2018, the season the Patriots won the final Super Bowl of the Brady era. Gilmore also was a first-team All-Pro the following year, but that accolade effectively was an afterthought compared to the Defensive Player of the Year hardware Gilmore took home. It marked the first defensive back to receive the award since 2009 as well as the first in Patriots history.

Gilmore earned Pro Bowl honors for the fourth consecutive season in 2021, but he was traded by the Patriots to the Carolina Panthers midway through the season.

Drew Bledsoe
Bledsoe was brought to New England to be the dawn of a new day in 1993 when the Patriots selected him with the very first pick in the draft. And he lived up to those expectations out of the gate, earning Pro Bowl honors in three of his first five seasons with New England. He also led the NFL in passing yards in 1994 and quarterbacked the Patriots to their second Super Bowl appearance in 1996.

That Super Bowl run was one of four playoff appearances Bledsoe spearheaded in Foxboro, and the Patriots rewarded him to the tune of a then-record 10-year, $103 million contract six months before the start of the 2001 season. But one single play in old Foxboro Stadium changed New England’s quarterback plan, and ultimately, the history of the franchise.

An extremely violent, yet clean hit from Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in Week 2 left Bledsoe with a sheared blood vessel in his chest. The injury signaled the emergence of Brady, who took over the starting job in New England and never gave it back to Bledsoe. However, Bledsoe did play a critical role in the Patriots’ 2001 AFC Championship Game win in Pittsburgh after Brady went down, and his efforts helped New England win the Lombardi Trophy the following month.

With Brady now “the guy” in Foxboro, Bledsoe latched on with the Bills ahead of the 2002 season. He had one of the best seasons of his NFL career in his debut campaign with Buffalo, throwing for 4,359 passing yards with 24 touchdowns. However, he was held under 3,000 passing yards in each of his next two seasons with the Bills and ultimately was released after the organization spent a 2004 first-round pick on J.P. Losman.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports
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