July 27, 2014

Rookie of the Year: Shane Conlan, 1987

Linebacker, Buffalo Bills

Age: 23
College: Penn State
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 230

Red-shirted as a freshman due to injury, Conlan went on to be a two-time All-American and was part of Penn State’s 1986 national championship team. He was chosen by the Bills in the first round of the ’87 NFL draft (eighth overall) and started five games of his strike-interrupted rookie year at left outside linebacker before moving inside after another rookie, LB Cornelius Bennett, was acquired from the Colts as part of a three-team trade at the end of October.

1987 Season Summary
Appeared in 12 of 15 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 0.5
Interceptions – 0
Fumble recoveries – 0
Forced fumbles – 1
Tackles – 114

Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA
AFC Rookie of the Year: UPI
2nd team All-NFL: AP, NEA

Bills went 7-8 to finish fourth in the AFC East.

Although he missed three regular season games plus a playoff contest due to a sprained foot, Conlan had his first of three straight Pro Bowl seasons in 1988 and received first-team All-NFL honors from UPI, the PFWA, Pro Football Weekly, and The Sporting News. He displayed good instincts and toughness and was at his best against the run, but, with his relatively slender build, durability continued to be a problem as he lost another six games in ’89 with a knee injury. Conlan appeared in every game in 1990 and ’91, as the Bills won their first two of four straight AFC titles, but he was injured once again in the Super Bowl loss against the Redskins following the latter season. With his skills beginning to diminish, Conlan signed with the Rams as a free agent in 1993 and was still an effective starting MLB despite chronic nagging injuries. He retired after three years with the Rams, having accumulated some 751 tackles over the course of 120 games spread across nine seasons.  


Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL (including NFC/AFC), AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year).