He may have been one of the best Buffalo Bills quarterbacks of the Drought Era in terms of winning percentage, but an NFL legend? That’s where Bills fans draw the line.
A tweet from CBS Sports putting Tom Brady’s recent touchdown mark into proper context has riled up some Buffalo fans after referring to journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton — whose career came to an unceremonious end in Buffalo — as a “legend” of the game alongside the likes of Joe Montana and John Elway. The post recalled a particularly difficult period for many Bills fans, a rare winning season that unraveled in spectacular fashion after the final whistle sounded.
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Orton in Unusually Good Company
In Sunday’s blowout win over the Chicago Bears, Tom Brady reached a milestone by throwing for his 600th career touchdown. The 9-yard pass to Mike Evans put Brady in the record books, making him the only quarterback to reach that mark and prompting the NFL on CBS to put the accomplishment into greater context. The outlet tweeted a list of NFL “legends” who had half of Brady’s total or less, a group that included six Hall of Famers — plus Orton.
This list drew some bemused responses from Bills fans and reporters.
“Correct. Bills legend, Kyle Orton,” tweeted Bradley Gelber, the Bills beat reporter from USA Today’s Bills Wire.
“…did Kyle Orton write this tweet?” added Stephen White, a former NFL player turned football blogger.
Some believed that Orton’s addition may have been intentional on the part of CBS Sports to generate some discussion.
Orton’s Strange Tenure in Buffalo
Orton was at the helm for one of the few winning seasons during the team’s 17-year playoff drought, taking over for the benched E.J. Manuel five games into the 2014 season and leading the team to a 7-5 record. The Bills would finish 9-7 that year, earning an upset win over the Green Bay Packers but falling short of the playoffs.
At the conclusion of the season, the 32-year-old Orton decided to call it a career, retiring in rather abrupt fashion. As Nate Scott of USA Today Sports noted, Orton told members of the press at a postseason press day that he had to go to a meeting and would talk later, but instead retired and never returned.
“This is amazing. Orton didn’t tell them he was going to be back then went off for lunch. He left the league!” Scott wrote. “He told some people he’d be back in a few and he then left professional football forever.”
Orton wasn’t the only one to make an abrupt exit from the Bills that year. Just two days after he faked out reporters and bounced from the league, Bills head coach Doug Marrone left in an equally jarring manner. As ESPN noted at the time, Marrone had an opt-out clause in his contract that he exercised on New Year’s Eve in 2014, taking his guaranteed 2015 base salary $4 million and leaving Buffalo. He would later become the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars before leaving that team in a more traditional manner, getting fired after the team’s 1-15 season last year.