Bills’ Defensive Leader in 1960s
Harry Jacobs, a middle linebacker for the Boston Patriots from 1960-62, the Buffalo Bills from 1963-69 and the New Orleans Saints in 1970, played college football as a tackle and defensive end at Bradley University. After his collegiate career, he was drafted in 1959 by the Detroit Lions as a running guard. He played in the annual Chicago Tribune All-Star Game under Coach Lou Saban, who started Harry at middle linebacker, the quarterback of the defense.
Following the All-Star game, Harry reported to the Lions’ training camp and later moved on to the Chicago Bears. The following year Saban brought him to the Boston Patriots of the new American Football League (AFL). After three seasons as the Patriots starting middle linebacker, Harry followed Saban to the Buffalo Bills, and was promptly inserted as the starting middle linebacker. As the defensive quarterback, Jacobs called the defensive signals for the next eight seasons in Buffalo.
Harry was a key contributor to the success of the Bills in the ‘60s, helping lead the team to four straight playoff appearances (1963-66) and two consecutive AFL Championships (1964 & 1965).
With Mike Stratton and John Tracey, Harry filled out one of pro football’s best linebacking units, which played together for 62 consecutive games from 1963 through 1967, a professional football record that may never be broken.
The Bills’ defense held opposing teams without a 100-yard rusher for 17 consecutive games in 1964 and 1965. Recognized as a standout on the defensive side of the ball, Harry was named an AFL All-Star in 1965 and 1969.
He played in 91 games for the Bills over eight seasons, and had eight interceptions during his Bills’ career. Jacobs is the only player who played in the very first and the very last game in the American Football League, and is one of only 20 players who played throughout the AFL’s ten-year existence (1960-69).
After retiring from football in 1970, Harry remained in WNY, operating a successful business called “The Jacobs Team”, a family business coaching team located in Hamburg, NY.
For over five decades he has been a Christian, a successful community leader and businessman, who has served in many leadership positions including: the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg, member of the Small Business Administration (SBA) National Advisory Council; vice-chairman of the Greater Buffalo Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Directors of Hilbert College.
Former Governor Mario Cuomo recognized Harry’s dedicated service to New York State’s small business community, by naming him the ”Small Business Advocate of the Year in New York State”.