Anchor & Heart
Without your strength
Without your sight
The strongest line would have fell apart
Much too young to leave
Much too young to leave
Selected by peers
As the best to line up center
Yet for everyone you came to meet
Left you so much the better
But always remembered
Fondly in the North
Kent Hull played professional football from 1983-1996. He began his career with the now defunct New Jersey Generals of the USFL, blocking for Herschel Walker’s 2411yd rushing season. In 1996 he joined the Buffalo Bills. The Buffalo Bills went a dismal 2-14 during the 1985 season. Steadily over the next few seasons the team got better, much better. Along with the elite players positioned throughout the roster, Kent Hull anchored what some still consider, at least those in Buffalo, the best Offensive Line in the NFL. This dominance continued for five seasons. Five seasons that led to appearances in 5 AFC Title games in a 6-year stretch (winning 4 of them).
Kent was more than just a football player; he was a part of the community, and just a great human being. I had the privilege of meeting Kent Hull on 2 occasions. The first was your typical meet and greet thing. I was a sophomore in High School at the time and I just remember how friendly, all the guys were really, but especially Kent, who gave off that aura, where despite just meeting you moments earlier, that you were lifelong friends. The second time I met him it was two years later, in 1992, where I just happened to bump into him at a local restaurant. I never subscribed to the idea that pro athletes write away their anonymity in public because of their status in the community. So I had no thought of approaching him at the table he was dining at; I still can’t recall the faces of those people he was out with. But then his party was passing my table on their way out of the restaurant and he looked at me, and said, “ You look really familiar.”
That was the extent of the off-the-field memory for Kent Hull, but I always found it strange that he would stop to acknowledge a kid sitting in a restaurant. I often wonder if he genuinely recalled that autograph signing two years earlier. I’d like to think I made a positive impression on him, but more than likely it was just one of those things.
Over the years and especially this morning on local talk radio I heard many stories about that team from the early 90’s. This morning though the personal side of Kent Hull really came out as various former players and coaches reclaimed, albeit briefly, their place on the local airwaves. They mentioned stories about Kent taking them under his wings, teaching him all the tricks and tools of the craft, virtually forcing them to get better. They told stories about his interactions with the sides of football operations that you never hear about, the ticketing department, promotional groups, pilots etc.… and how he left a lasting impression with virtually everyone he met. Then there were the callers who would recall their moments with Kent, whether similar to my own, or having a beer with him at a local bar and so forth.
In my opinion he was the greatest Center I’ve ever watched play. Hopefully Canton will call his name soon; I’d always thought of his chances for enshrinement to be, not a case of if, but a case of when.
Kent Hull passed away yesterday from an apparent heartache.
Kent Hull, the player. Kent Hull, the person. Both will be missed.