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Mike Stratton (1941–2020), legendary Buffalo Bills linebacker

by Kirk Fox

Mike Stratton was the legendary Buffalo Bills linebacker who made “the hit heard ’round the world,” leading the Bills to the 1964 AFL Title. Down 7-0 in the AFL Championship game against the San Diego Chargers, Stratton made a hard clean tackle on the Chargers star running back Keith Lincoln, breaking three of his ribs and knocking him out of the game. The inspired Bills went on to win their first title by a score of 20-7. A six-time AFL all-star, he helped the Bills win the AFL title again in 1965. Lincoln joined the Bills in 1967 and the two became good friends.   

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Died: Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (Who else died on March 24?)  


Details of death: Died at the age of 78.

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Stratton on his famous tackle: “You can always tell when you get a good lick; I just didn’t know it would have that kind of effect.” “Thirty-five years later, I’m proud that people remember it. They’ve got a better memory than I do.” – Stratton said in 1994, according to USA Today 

What they said about him: “Mike Stratton was a great linebacker for us,” said Shaw. “He was one of our most dedicated players. He had the physical ability, and he could run with any of the backs.” – Former Bills guard and Football Hall of Fame member Billy Shaw 

“That was one of the most beautiful tackles I have ever seen in my life. “That is the name of the game.” – Legendary Chargers coach Sid Gillman said after the game 

Full obituary: USA Today 

Related Lives:

Elbert Dubenion (1933 – 2019), legendary Buffalo Bills receiver  

Cookie Gilchrist obituary, running back star for the 1960s Buffalo Bills 

Clem Daniels, AFL all-time leading rusher 

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