By Patrick Freeman, Special To BASN (first presented January 14, 2017)
BUFFALO (WUFO/BASN): Three years ago the worry around Western New York was the future of professional football here after the passing of owner Ralph Wilson.
In September of 2014, two new owners with strong business ties to Western New York emerged as poised to take the Buffalo Bills toward a strong and secure future. Kim and Terry Pegula were familiar faces because they previously purchased the other favorite sport here the Buffalo Sabres in February of 2011. The Sabres’ record since this transition in 2011 is 151 wins, 191 losses, and 46 ties – of which included coaching and management changes as proof of effort which would provide hope to the fan base during the offseason; and the understanding 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 overspend 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 a mutual agreement, in other words, translates to buyout 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.
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.
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Pat Freeman (aka The Mighty O’Ba) will for the 17 th consecutive year be covering the Super Bowl live from Houston, Texas January 29- February 7, 2017, providing coverage for the Black Athlete Sports Network…