August 24, 2014

Rookie of the Year: Jim Haslett, 1979

Linebacker, Buffalo Bills

Age: 24 (Dec. 9)
College: Indiana (PA)
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 232

Haslett played defensive end and linebacker in college and set school season records for sacks (20) and fumble recoveries (5). A three-time Little All-American, he appeared in the Blue-Gray All-Star Game following the 1978 season and was chosen by the Bills in the second round of the 1979 NFL draft despite his coming out of a small school. Benefiting from top draft pick Tom Cousineau’s decision to play in the CFL instead, Haslett moved directly into the starting lineup at left inside linebacker.

1979 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 2
Most interceptions, game – 2 at New England 11/25
Int. return yards – 15
Most int. return yards, game – 15 (on 2 int.) at New England 11/25
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 2
Fumble rec. TDs – 0
Tackles – 124

Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: AP

Bills went 7-9 to finish fourth in the AFC East.  

The Buffalo defense topped the NFL in 1980 and Haslett continued to be a key player, especially against the run. Injuries became a factor as the unit went into decline and Haslett himself was limited to five games in 1983, but he continued to be a steady performer who regularly was among the team’s leaders in tackles. A broken leg suffered in Buffalo’s final preseason game cost him the ’86 season and, while he saw some action with the Jets in 1987, his career was effectively finished. Overall, he appeared in 94 games over eight seasons, and started 86 of them. He went on to a coaching career that included head coaching stints with the New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams (interim) in the NFL and the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League.


Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, 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).