by Pat Freeman
Three years ago the worry around Western New York was the future professional football here after the passing of owner Ralph Wilson. In September of 2014 two new owners emerged with strong business ties to Western New York as our favorite past times the Buffalo Bills. Kim and Terry Pegula were familiar faces because they previously purchased the other favorite sport here the Buffalo Sabres in February of 2011. The Buffalo Sabres record since 2011 is 151 wins, 191 losses, and 46 ties which included coaching; management changes which provide hope to the fan base during the off season that with change comes winning. The Buffalo Bills record since 2014 is 24 wins- 24 losses which is exactly where this franchise has been since 2001 after the exit of John Butler as Vice President and General Manager, and AJ Smith who was his right hand in operations over Pro Personnel for the team.
The similarity of absolute mediocrity between these two franchises is startling for the loyal fan base of Western New York. One of the great complaints of the late Ralph Wilson was the reluctance to spend to win. That can’t be said of Kim and Terry Pegula because in many instances their decisions have caused them to over spend when they did not have to. Russ Brandon’s lack of experience hurt them in the case of Doug Marrone giving him a $ 4 million opt out of his contract which they inherited along with influencing their decisions in the hiring of Rex Ryan in 2015. They gave him over $5.5 million over 5 years instead of the customary three year contract. The hiring of Rex Ryan also forced the owners to pay Jim Schwartz even though he did not coach last year and the firing of Greg Roman will cost our owner over $2 million for the next two seasons. The final terminology of the firing of Rex Ryan and his twin brother Rob was mutual agreement in other words translates to buy out of the final two years of his contract.
The onus of these financial wastes of money lies at the feet at not having a true head of football operations in place. The media at the end of the year press conference were ready to pounce on pseudo general manager Doug Whaley but finally realized what we have been saying for three years that Russ Brandon implemented a model that creates NFL organizational dysfunction. There are only two ways to do this that work in the NFL as far as GM/ head coach hiring.
1-Head coach brings in the GM personnel guy with the understanding the coach has more personnel say.
2-General Manager hires the coach with the coach answering to the GM, and the GM to the owner.
Both photos ESPN.
Russ Brandon in trying to copy other successful franchises failed to implement this model the right way to make this work properly. So the past failures of the Russ Brandon tenure are finally catching up with the artful dodger who has been able to convince the locals that he knows what he has been doing for 19 years. Well Doug Whaley once again uttered those words that count the most in professional sports and that is “you are what your record is.’ If this is the case then the Pegulas must terminate Russ Brandon, and bring in a football executive, and hockey executive. They must also empower the General Manager with what a real GM does or the trail of mediocrity will continue.
The Mighty O’Ba Pat Freeman for the 17th year will be covering the Super Bowl live from Houston , Texas January 29- February 7, 2017.
Pat Freeman writes for the Buffalo Criterion. If you enjoy talking about the world of sports tune into the number#1 sports show in the nation every Saturday from 4:00-5:00PM hosted by WUFO Sports Director Patrick Freeman on 1080AM WUFO radio, radio app., Periscope, or via the internet at www.wufoam.com. Or catch Sports Update for clbTV (ch.20 Buffalo) and YouTube.