Remembering Bogdan as a pioneer

Upon learning of Linda Bogdan‘s death today, it occurred to me that she might very well have been the quietest curiosity in the NFL.

Years ago, it always seemed that she was only noticed whenever someone happened to look at the Bills’ front-office directory and see her name — a woman’s name — next to the title of “scout.” And after more checking, one would realize that she was the only female scout in the league.

Yet, for all of the fascination it might have created, the one person who didn’t give it a second thought was Linda herself. During my 17 seasons of covering the Bills for the Buffalo News and in my 10 seasons with NFL.com, I don’t ever remember the fact she was one of the team’s talent evaluators — first as a part-time member of the scouting staff in 1986, because she thought she could help reverse the fortunes of a club that had suffered through 2-14 seasons in 1984-85, and later as vice president/assistant director of college and pro scouting — being a big deal. She discouraged the Bills’ public-relations staff from promoting it, locally or nationally. She just wanted to be treated as anyone else, and, from all indications, that was the case among her fellow scouts on the Bills and other teams.

But Linda really wasn’t like anyone else. Besides being the only woman in NFL scouting, she also was the daughter of Bills owner Ralph Wilson.

I spoke with Linda on numerous occasions. She was always pleasant and friendly. Most of the time, we’d talk about tennis; she was a highly talented player. Sometimes we’d talk about her dad, and sometimes we’d talk about the Bills. Rarely, however, would we have a detailed discussion about players she scouted. In her own way, she preferred to keep that part of her world private.

The one exception came when her father publicly boasted about the fact that Linda had targeted linebacker Carlton Bailey as an NFL prospect after the Bills made him a ninth-round draft pick in 1988. The main reason for the boasting was that, although Bailey was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference nose tackle at North Carolina, Linda projected him as a linebacker for the Bills. And he proved to be a pretty solid one, contributing to their Super Bowl run.

My heart goes out to Linda’s family, especially to her dad, who will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August with a very heavy heart.

Vic Carucci

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