ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - No one had as many sacks as Bruce Smith, and no one will ever wear his No. 78 jersey with the Buffalo Bills again.
The Bills announced Wednesday that they will be retiring Smith's number at halftime during the team's prime-time home-opener against the New York Jets on Sept. 15.
"I was a little numb. I was in somewhat of I would say, disbelief," Smith said during a conference call. "This will be a celebration for the fans, the Buffalo Bills organization and the NFL."
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly's No. 12 is the only other jersey retired by the Bills.
Selected by Buffalo with the No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft out of Virginia Tech, Smith became the NFL's premier pass-rusher during a 19-year career, which ended in Washington in 2003. He holds the league record with 200 career sacks, with 171 of them coming during his 15 seasons in Buffalo.
Smith was the NFL's defensive player of the year in 1990 and `96, and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Having his number retired ranks among Smith's top highlights.
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"I didn't know exactly what I was getting into and the expectations, but I quickly learned." Smith said. "I've got to tell you, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences that God could've placed in front of me. I'm truly grateful and thankful."
With Kelly and fellow Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed playing key roles on offense, Smith was the focal point on the Bills defense. Together, the foursome was part of a Marv Levy-coached team that made and lost four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s.
Bills President Russ Brandon said the case could be made of Smith being regarded as the NFL's greatest player. He added that the plan to retiring Smith's number was on his to-do list, and prompted by owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who purchased the franchise from the estate of late Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson in 2014.
2018 Super Bowl has a date
MINNEAPOLIS - The date has been set for the 2018 NFL Super Bowl to be played in Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee says the NFL has scheduled the 2018 game for Feb. 4 at the U.S. Bank Stadium, which is currently under construction. The stadium is due to be completed in time for the upcoming Minnesota Vikings season.
Minneapolis was awarded Super Bowl 52 in 2014. The host committee says the announcement of a date on Wednesday officially starts its countdown to the 2018 game when more than 1 million people are expected to visit the Twin Cities during 10 days of Super Bowl activities.
Super Bowl 51 is scheduled for February 5, 2017, in Houston.
Latest in 'Deflategate'
NEW YORK - A woman who unsuccessfully tried to intervene in Tom Brady's legal case against the NFL over the "Deflategate" scandal is asking the court to reconsider his four-game suspension.
The filing this week in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes as the New England Patriots quarterback and the NFL Players Association consider whether to challenge a decision to reinstate the discipline for Brady's role in using footballs that were improperly inflated.
The woman does not appear to have any connection to Brady or legal standing in the case.
The players union and Brady have argued that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell overreached in imposing the suspension. Brady has until May 23 to ask for either a rehearing with the same three-judge panel that reinstated his suspension or seek a new hearing in front of the entire circuit.
Congress looking at daily fantasy
WASHINGTON - Congress on Wednesday launched a fact-finding mission into the loosely regulated world of fantasy sports games - a multibillion-dollar business that seemingly advertised everywhere during the pro football season.
Lawmakers at a House hearing were generally supportive of the industry as they explored whether federal safeguards are needed to protect players in daily fantasy leagues. Most players ending up losing at the hands of better-informed players who often have a technological edge.
States are beginning to enact a patchwork of laws regulating the industry and its dominant companies, DraftKings and FanDuel.
Fantasy sports games involve choosing an imaginary roster of players from different teams, accumulating a score based on the players' performances and matching up against one or more opponents. Fantasy games long have been a rec room favorite of friends played out over entire seasons, with the best teams determining shares of a jackpot.
But daily fantasy sports works at a much faster pace, permitting gambling every day or weekend, either in head-to-head matchups against other players or at tournaments offering the promise of bigger payouts. The companies generally make their profits by "raking" a percentage of entry fees.
The explosive growth of commercial fantasy sports games has meant greater scrutiny - of multimillion-dollar ad campaigns, of allegations of insider trading of information, and of the widespread losses by casual players at the hands of "sharks" armed with sophisticated computer analyses.
"It is crucial that consumers know what they are purchasing when they sign up for (daily fantasy games) and that they understand the risk of losing money in the process," said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who requested the hearing by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. "For example, there are reports that 90 percent of payouts were won by just 1 percent of winners."
The companies maintain that daily fantasy sports games are not gambling but games of skill.