Steven Jay Tasker (born April 10, 1962) is an American sports reporter, nationally for CBS Sports and locally in Western New York on the MSG Western New York cable TV station, and on WGR Radio. He is a former football player who was a wide receiver and gunner in the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted in the ninth round (226th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. He played college football at Northwestern. He began his college career at Dodge City Community College. Tasker played most of his pro career with the Buffalo Bills, and was voted by Bills fans to the team's 50th season All-time Team. In 2008, the NFL Network show NFL Top 10 ranked Tasker the ninth best former player not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has several times been a nominee for the Hall, and was a finalist as recently as 2011, but has not been elected as of 2019.
|Born:||April 10, 1962|
Smith Center, Kansas
|Height:||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight:||185 lb (84 kg)|
|High school:||Leoti (KS) Wichita County|
|NFL Draft:||1985 / Round: 9 / Pick: 226|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Tasker first attended Dodge City Community College. After two years, he transferred to Northwestern University where he played the final two years of his college career before joining the National Football League. After finishing his college football career, and before being drafted into the NFL, he joined the school's rugby team. Although he had never played rugby before, he was named most valuable player at the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Tasker continues to hold the Northwestern Wildcats football career record for kickoff return average (24.3).
Professional football careerEdit
Tasker was selected in the ninth round (226th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers where he played for two seasons. He was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Bills on November 8, 1986.
Tasker was listed as a wide receiver, however, most of his playing time came as a gunner, on punts and kickoffs. However, after he joined the Buffalo Bills, he began to play at wide receiver more than with the Oilers. While he performed very well as a receiver when Buffalo needed his services there, the combination of excellent Bills depth at that position, his value as a special teams playmaker, and Tasker refusing to demand more playing time on offense kept his WR time very slight.
Still, Tasker did make contributions at the more traditional role on offense and special teams. In a 1994 playoff game against the Los Angeles Raiders, he set up the Bills first touchdown with a 67-yard kickoff return. He also caught 5 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's 1996 playoff win against the Miami Dolphins.
Play as gunnerEdit
Tasker stood 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall and weighed 180 pounds (82 kg); when he joined the Bills, Jim Haslett did not think that he was a player. Tasker recalled, "I told him not to worry because I was mistaken for a ball boy all the time". Despite his small size, he gained a reputation as one of the league's most feared hitters, forcing numerous fumbles. Contributing to his success in breaking up kick and punt returns was his speed; he was almost always the first player to reach the return man. He was the first player to establish himself as a star almost exclusively through special teams play without being either a kicker or a returner.
Many, including former teammate and Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, consider him to be the greatest special teams player of all-time and believe that he should be in the Hall of Fame. He was even ranked No. 9 on the NFL Network's NFL Top 10 Players Not in the Hall of Fame.
Tasker was a color commentator for CBS football telecasts (with Andrew Catalon (play-by-play) and Steve Beuerlein (the other color commentator) starting in 2014). CBS did not renew his contract at the end of the 2018 season.He also does color commentary for the local broadcasts of Bills pre-season games, teaming with either his former broadcast partner Andrew Catalon or Rob Stone. He is also the spokesperson for the West Herr Auto Group. Tasker was on the sidelines with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms during the playoffs until 2013. He also worked with Don Criqui (Criqui, himself a Buffalo native, and Tasker were assigned to the majority of Bills games from 1999 to 2005) and was best known working with Gus Johnson in 1998, week 13 in 1999, week 5 in 2004, and from 2005 to 2010. Johnson left for FOX Sports the following year. He and Johnson called the David Garrard game winning Hail Mary touchdown pass for the Jacksonville Jaguars' win over the Houston Texans in 2010. CBS dismissed Tasker prior to the 2019 season as they chose not to renew his contract.
- Major, Andy (April 25, 2009). "Bills All-Time Team Fan Voting Determined 26 Total Members". Buffalo Bills. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- Sullivan, Jerry, "Tasker elevates Bills' depth chart to new heights." Buffalo News,(Buffalo, New York) May 8, 1996, page C1. ProQuest (subscription) https://search.proquest.com/docview/381145234
- Northwestern Football 2011 Yearbook. NUSports.com. 2011. p. 162.
- "The Month of November in Bills History". Buffalo Bills. Archived from the original on April 13, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- Tasker, Steve; Pitoniak, Scott (2013). "Introduction". The Buffalo Bills: My Life on a Special Team. Sports Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61321-328-5.
- "Newsbank | The Sacramento Bee & Sacbee.com". nl.newsbank.com. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
- #9 Steve Tasker - NFL Films - Top 10 Players Not in the Hall of Fame (Motion picture). NFL Films. May 15, 2017.
- Pergament, Alan (May 21, 2019). "Steve Tasker's days at CBS Sports are over". The Buffalo News. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
- "Steve Tasker Wall of Fame Ceremony". Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
- Class of 2012 semifinalists, Pro Football Hall of Fame, November 22, 2011.
- Pro Football Hall Of Fame Announces 26 Semifinalists, Sports Illustrated, November 23, 2011.
- "Luke Tasker – Hamilton Tiger-Cats". Retrieved February 11, 2019.
- "Luke Tasker making CFL debut this weekend". CHCH. Retrieved February 11, 2019.