Shane Conlan

Shane Conlan

At the time of his induction, Shane Patrick Conlan was the youngest person to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, having been born on March 4, 1964 in Olean to Dan and Kay Conlan. His Dad's favorite movie was a Western called Shane, which starred the late Alan Ladd as a gunfighter.

"I didn't know that was my husband's favorite movie until Shane was born," said Mrs. Conlan.

At the age of 2, Conlan moved from Salamanca to Frewsburg where eventually he became not only the greatest athlete in Frewsburg history, but one of the finest ever turned out in this area.

Growing up in Frewsburg, one could see this was somebody special as he was an outstanding baseball player in the Southeast Chautauqua National Little League, the East Lake Babe Ruth League and the Chautauqua County 16-18 Babe Ruth League.

In high school, he had a tremendous career in football, basketball and baseball. In Conlan's senior football season of 1981 he rushed for a then Frewsburg school record of 1,029 yards to lead the Bears to an 8-O regular-season record and an 8-1 overall. That fall, Coach Tom Sharp's club made its first of two appearances at Rich Stadium in the Section 6 playoffs.

For his running and linebacking accomplishments, Conlan was named Player of the Year and to the All-Western New York First Team by the since defunct Buffalo Courier-Express. Additionally, the Thom McAn award for being the area's outstanding football scholar-athlete was presented to Conlan by The Post-Journal.

Shane Conlan with Michael Zordich
photo by Jim Riggs

His junior and sophomore years also saw him as an all-league performer at both linebacker and running back.

Basketball-wise, he was all-league three straight years and in baseball he was an all-star catcher from 1979-1982 in leading the Bears to several championships under Coach Bill Hair. If he hadn't gone into football, he likely would have been a high draft choice in baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were interested in signing him for a substantial bonus offer.

When not involved in athletics during his high school days, Conlan took an active role in a program called "The Second Mile" for special children. He didn't like the way these youngsters were being treated, so, he became their friend.

The spring of 1982 saw Conlan sign a football scholarship to Penn State. An injury made Conlan a red shirt that fall so he would still have four years of eligibility starting in 1983.

As a freshman in 1983, he began his four years at outside linebacker by making 27 tackles. He also had two sacks, an interception and a tackle for a loss. A highlight that season was being a starter in the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii versus the University of Washington.

In 1984, as a sophomore, Conlan really started to show his potential for future greatness by making 77 tackles to lead the Nittany Lions. In addition, 15 of those stops were a team-high for losses.

Shane Conlan as a Frewsburg Bear

His junior campaign (1985) saw him named First Team All-American by the Newspaper Enterprise Association and Second Team by The Football News. He accumulated 91 tackles, including four 10-tackle games, four sacks and six stops for losses.

Conlan was chosen the defensive Most Valuable Player in the Orange Bowl loss to Oklahoma, thanks to his nine tackles and fumble recovery.

Penn State had a 12-0 national championship season in 1986, capping it with a thrilling 14-10 win over previously unbeaten powerhouse Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.

Conlan concluded his consensus First Team All-American status by being named the defensive MVP with two interceptions. That season, Conlan had 79 tackles to tie him for second place in career totals (274) with former Buffalo Bills' John Skorupan. He also collected five sacks and eight tackles for losses.

Without a doubt, his highest accolade came when Penn State coach Joe Paterno called him the finest linebacker in the rich history of that position at Penn State.

Conlan graduated with a degree in administration of justice.

Draft day 1987 was certainly an important time for Conlan as it was expected he would go quite high in the first round. That day the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers exchanged first round draft picks with the Bills winding up with the eighth choice and they selected the Western New York native.

Conlan proceeded to have a brilliant season with a team-leading 114 tackles, 33 more than his nearest teammate, en route to winning the Old Spice/NFL Rookie of the Year award. The latter award carried a $25,000 stipend which he donated along with $1,000 as the Buffalo winner to the Retired New York State Troopers' Helping Hands, a non-profit organization which assists terminally ill children and their families.

Conlan showed his versatility by starting his first five games at outside linebacker, then, moved inside when Cornelius Bennett was acquired in the three-way trade with the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Rams.

CSHoF Directors Randy Anderson, left, and Russ Ecklund, right, accept an
autographed jersey from Shane Conlan during Conlan's 2009 visit to

After winning a number of rookie awards in 1987, the 1988 campaign proved to be even more successful with several All-Pro accolades. He was selected First Team All-Pro by UPI, the Pro Football Writers of America, The Sporting News, College and Football Weekly, The Football News and Pro Football Weekly. Additionally, he was named to his first Pro Bowl in Hawaii and was AP Second Team All-Pro.

Conlan was the Bills' third leading tackler with 84 despite missing three games, which the club lost, with foot and leg injuries. Also, he missed the first playoff win over Houston (17-10) because of an injured foot, but did play in the AFC championship defeat (21-10) to Cincinnati.

In 1989, Conlan was off to a fine start when he suffered a left knee injury against Denver in the second game and was sidelined for the next six weeks. He still managed 80 tackles en route to another Pro Bowl appearance.

His finest performance came in the heart-breaking 34-30 defeat to Cleveland when he notched ll tackles in the Bills only playoff contest that season.

Conlan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014

That season he also represented the club in the nationally broadcast commercial for Diet Coke.

Conlan put together an injury-free 1990 and was chosen for his third straight Pro Bowl. He was additionally chosen to the AP All-Pro Second Team, the UPI All-AFC Second Team, the AP NFL Second Team and to the UPI All-AFC Squad. He made 93 tackles to rank fifth in team stops and blocked his first field goal against Cleveland in the 42-0 road rout.

The 6-3, 230-pound Conlan had another top-flight post-season with 34 tackles, including 13 in the 20-19 Super Bowl XXV loss to the New York Giants. For his five playoff starts, he had recorded 49 tackles. These totals don't include any of the 1991 post-season competition.

Conlan and his family at Penn State in 2014

Even though he didn't make the Pro Bowl in 1991, No. 58, who is known for great instincts and exceptional ability to play the run, had his finest season for tackles with 122. He topped the team in that category and also recovered two fumbles.

By the time of his induction into the CSHoF, the Bills, with Conlan, had compiled a 59-28 record and won four AFC Eastern Division titles, two AFC titles and made back-to-back appearances in the Super Bowl.

Traded after the 1992 season, Conlan finished his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams, hanging up his spikes after the 1995 season.

Shane Conlan was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Shane & Caroline Conlan interviewed at the CSHoF 2015
induction dinner.
video courtesy Greg Peterson
Shane Conlan media remarks on induction into College
Football Hall of Fame

video courtesy Greg Peterson
Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame

video courtesy Greg Peterson
video courtesy Greg Peterson


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Hall of Fame
Les BeckLes Beck
Bill BergeyBill Bergey
Jehuu CaulcrickJehuu Caulcrick
Shane ConlanShane Conlan
Chuck CristChuck Crist
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