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Erik Brady: Pete Metzelaars, best tight end in Bills history, is a big fan of Dawson Knox

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When Dawson Knox snagged his seventh touchdown catch of the season the other night, he broke the Buffalo Bills’ single-season record for a tight end. Pete Metzelaars was watching.

“That was one of my records,” Metzelaars said, “until he went and ruined it for me.”

Metzelaars lets out a hearty laugh. He’s the best tight end in Bills history – and one of Knox’s biggest fans.

“He’s a dynamic weapon,” Metzelaars said. “He attacks the middle of the field, and the Bills missed him when he was out” for two games with a broken hand. “They need him.”

Knox caught a pair of TD passes in the Bills’ 31-6 win at the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving night. He had a third one called back for a penalty. And then he set an unofficial record for biggest bite of a turkey leg on NBC’s postgame show.

Metzelaars said he spotted Knox missing a block that night, leading to a loss of yardage, but adds that Knox is getting better at sealing his blocks. “As a tight end, you’ve got to block on the edge. And if you do, there’s a lot of green grass out there. He’s got to keep working on that part of his game, and I think he will. He’s not going to rest on his laurels.”

Metzelaars played 16 seasons in the NFL, 10 of them with the Bills. He was named to the Bills’ 50th-anniversary team, and no one since has surpassed him. “I’m thrilled to be thought of that way,” he said. “But if Dawson keeps rolling, he may bypass me. As of right now, I guess I’ve still got the title.”

Metzelaars holds another title, too: He is the only player to perform for the franchise named for Buffalo Bill Cody who has an ancestor who performed for the actual Buffalo Bill Cody.

Mathilda Cajdos, better known by her stage name of Princess Nouma-Hawa, was no more than 3 feet tall when she appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in the early 1900s. Her great-grandson would grow to be 6-foot-8. (We told that tale here a couple of years ago.)

“When I got to Buffalo, we were 2-14 in my first year,” in 1985, Metzelaars said. “And to go from there to four straight Super Bowls was an incredible journey. My first year it was like, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ And it turned out to be a really good thing for me.”

It turned out really well for the Bills, too. Metzelaars holds the team records among tight ends for games played (156), receptions (302), receiving yards (2,921) and touchdowns (25).

He had six TD catches in 1992. Jay Riemersma tied that record in 1998, and Scott Chandler did the same in 2011 and 2012. And guess who was Chandler’s tight-ends coach in 2012? Metzelaars coached one season in Buffalo on Chan Gailey’s last staff.

Today, Metzelaars is offensive coordinator for the football team at Charlotte Christian School, in North Carolina. He played for the expansion Carolina Panthers in 1995 and still goes to some of their games. He was there with a couple of grandchildren a few years ago when the scoreboard asked: Who scored the first touchdown in Panthers history?

“I’m the answer to a trivia question,” Metzelaars said. “The grandkids were fired up.”

He is going to another Panthers game on Dec. 19 – at Highmark Stadium. He and his wife, Barb, are flying up with Owen, their 12-year-old grandson. Metzelaars will be rooting for the Bills.

“I played for other teams,” he said, including the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, “but Buffalo is my team. They’re the team I pull for. The people in Buffalo are just fantastic. It was a pleasure to play there.”

He hopes Knox gets the Super Bowl ring that was denied Metzelaars as a player. (He did get one as a coach for the Indianapolis Colts.)

“I kept fighting and battling and showing up for work every day and ending up contributing to those Super Bowl teams,” he said. “It was a missed opportunity for us, unfortunately, but I am proud to have been a part of it. We never quite got over the hump. I would have loved to have given a championship to the City of Buffalo.

“So all the hopes and dreams and passions and disappointments are riding with the team they have assembled now. And hopefully this year or next or in a couple of years they can go back to the Super Bowl and bring a championship back to Buffalo.”


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