Buddy Nix in. Russ Brandon out. Doug Whaley in. Tom Modrak out. Tom Gibbons and Chuck Cook in. Change (insert name here)’s title. And Bills fans everywhere say, “It’s about time.”
The reshuffling of the front office is proof that owner Ralph Wilson has finally decided to let a football guy do his thing. Rebuilding a franchise that was 10 years in the hole will take time. Patience is the greatest virtue a Bills fan can have right now, and we’re already seeing it pay off.
Since the debacle that was Tom Donahoe, the Bills front office has been in shambles. Marv Levy, Dick Jauron, and Tom Modrak running the war room on draft room sent this organization back years, and it’s Buddy Nix’s job to sort through the mess and do what he can to get the Bills back to the playoffs.
Some people might be a little uneasy with Nix hiring people who are so close to him, personally and professionally, but at his age and with his experience, it’s time to trust that he knows what he’s doing until he proves us wrong. “Sometimes if you hire somebody off of somebody else’s word or you hire somebody off of reputation, you find out too late. Maybe I’m old school, but I like knowing them and I know these guys.”
Nix had patience as well when coming into the GM role. A lot of people asked why these changes weren’t made right away, especially the Tom Modrak firing. “I didn’t know what to change. Somebody would have had to tell me; I wasn’t here.”
Buddy knows that time is money, and he doesn’t have the luxury of either with this fan base clamoring for results on the field. And those results start in his office, with the people he picks to help build a culture of success. It all starts at the top, and Buddy Nix knows that. Whaley and Gibbons proves that.
Whaley spent 12 years working for his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers, with a stint in Seattle mixed in there. In that time, the Steelers have been one of the most stable and successful franchises in all of sports, reaching the AFC Championship game 5 times, and winning 2 Super Bowls.
Gibbons, a western New York native, started his career with Buffalo and is thrilled to return. He worked Bill Polian and John Butler in the 90’s, and then with John Butler and Buddy Nix in San Diego, during two very successful times for both franchises (aka, cultures of winning). “It’s great to be back home working for the team I started out with. I think (Nix) has known me long enough to know the way that I evaluate players, and I know what kind of players he likes.”
We can argue all day how much influence Nix, Gibbons, or Whaley had on their organization’s winning percentage, or how much influence Russ Brandon or Tom Modrak had on the Bills’ dysfunction. But there’s no doubt that the culture of the front office has changed with these changes. Buddy Nix is building something, and surrounding himself with people who have seen first hand what it takes to win. As Bills fans, it’s a nice change, and another reason to be optimistic for the future.