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Bills' decision to hire Nix draws criticism

With the Buffalo Bills taking a page out of the Redskins’ playbook and hiring a new General Manager at a time when it wasn’t even clear they were looking for one, the Bills have invited plenty of criticism.

By announcing the elevation of Buddy Nix from National Scout to General Manager in the mid-afternoon of New Year’s Eve day, the Bills managed to escape the immediate national scrutiny that the Redskins’ experienced two weeks ago, when Vinny Cerrato left less than two hours before Bruce Allen arrived.

Though it generally was known that the Bills were exploring the idea of removing the G.M. title from Russ Brandon and hiring a genuine “football guy” to take over the position, there was no external search.  As Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News points out, the other finalist was John Guy, the team’s director of pro personnel.  It appears that Guy, who is African-American, received genuine consideration for the position.   

Unlike the situation in Washington, Bills didn’t focus on an outsider and interview an in-house minority candidate simply to comply with the letter of the rule.  As Sullivan explains it, owner Ralph Wilson decided to entrust the gig to someone from within the building — and the decision came down to Nix and Guy.

“Russ [Brandon] and I scanned a list of possible candidates,” Wilson said Thursday, per Sullivan.  “We didn’t know them.  I
didn’t know them.  I don’t think Russ did.  We narrowed it down to two candidates for the job of
general manager of football, two in-house candidates.”

And we wonder whether Wilson took into account the fact Brandon has a strong interest in avoiding an outsider whose first order of business might have been to marginalize Brandon and/or eventually lobby for his termination.  It’s a common dynamic in situations like this; last year in Detroit, for example, an 0-16 finish resulted in Martin Mayhew being promoted to the job of G.M., likely due to the significant influence that Tom Lewand has over ownership.

Regardless of whether Brandon nudged the process toward Nix or Guy in order to preserve Brandon’s turf, one league insider expressed strong opinions regarding the decision to go with Nix.

“The Buffalo hire is a joke and a slap in the face to all hard working people in the NFL,” the source said.  “The Bills have not been to the playoffs in over 10 years and that run will continue for years to come.  The owner has made three hires in a row that shows he only cares about mediocrity.

“Four years ago he brings back Marv Levy, who was in his 80’s.  That didn’t work.  Two years ago he elevates his marketing director to G.M. and COO and again it doesn’t work, and now he elevates a 70-year-old scout to a position that requires work and energy. . . .

“The eight years he spent in San Diego he had the titles Director of College Scouting, Director of Player Personnel, and Assistant G.M. yet he never lived in San Diego.  He lived somewhere in Tennessee. . . .  Someone who lives in another city is away from the day-to-day operations.

“Bills fans can rest assured that, a year from now, two years from now, and three and four years from now, the team will still be in last place in the AFC East.  The Jets, Patriots, and Dolphins continue to make moves to get better while the Bills just tread water.  There are good people who were very interested in that job, like Dave Gettelman, Scott Studwell and Doug Whaley that never got a chance.  All those guys could have helped that team.  The best hope for Bills fans is that the owner decides to sell the team and then someone who cares about winning takes over and brings in qualified people.”

(Please, source, feel free to be candid.)

It’s hard to disagree with the source’s opinions.  Though the experiences with Tom Donahoe as G.M. might have made Wilson reluctant to bring in another outsider, a team has to be willing to take chances on talented candidates who currently work for other franchises.

There’s only one way hiring Nix makes sense to us — if it’s part of a broader plan to hire Bill Cowher to be the head coach.  Nix has ties to Cowher’s mentor, Marty Schottenheimer, and Tim Graham of ESPN.com has speculated that Nix possibly could lure Marty Schottenheimer to Buffalo as head coach.

But Schottenheimer has said that he has no interest in returning to coaching.  (Then again, “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.”)

Still, if Brandon has enough sway to steer the owner away from viable external G.M. candidates who might have wanted to put a boot in Brandon’s butt, Brandon likely will be able to keep Wilson from chasing a head-coaching candidate like Bill Cowher, too.

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27 Responses to “Bills' decision to hire Nix draws criticism”
  1. dirtyTHIRTY says: Jan 1, 2010 12:00 PM

    “OMG the Bills didn’t hire a black man. They must be racists… brb my vagina is leaking red fluid.” – Florio

  2. Matty Ice says: Jan 1, 2010 12:01 PM

    You missed the real point, Florio.
    Nix is CHEAP. Ralph Wilson likes CHEAP.
    And yes, as long as Ralph is around, the Bills will continue to suck. And then when he dies, they move to LA.
    I don’t even feel sorry for Bills fans anymore. They get what they deserve continuing to support this team.

  3. reddog9 says: Jan 1, 2010 12:01 PM

    Good article Florio. As long suffering life long Bills fan this is just a horrible hire! Ralph needs to go! He is the problem. Next year he will see lots of empty stadiums and likely only half his games will sell out! He fed his fans a bunch of BS last year by keep Mauron for continuity and because the team was supposedly close. It was reported that at yesterday’s news conference Ralph also said it could take some time to turn this around and that they (he and Russ) decided the team need a true football man as a GM! I think Ralph has now surpased Al as the NFL’s worst owner!

  4. gbditka says: Jan 1, 2010 12:03 PM

    When will the Bills ever hire a key front office person that doesn’t already qualify for Social Security benefits?

  5. virtualplague says: Jan 1, 2010 12:04 PM

    Except the part where our interim head coach is black.
    You’re a dipshit sometimes Florio.

  6. slothism says: Jan 1, 2010 12:09 PM

    What Florio – did Bob Lamonte tell you that none of his clients had an opportunity to rape Ralph Wilson the way Holmgren took it to Randy Lerner? The outrage!
    Does this mean that Charlie Weis is no longer the front runner in the coaching derby? Wait – Bob Lamonte is on the phone – he is offering to rent you back your dignity for a small anonymous feature articles to be published whenever he desires it.
    Oh yeah – he says his dry cleaning is ready to be picked up.

  7. The_Philster says: Jan 1, 2010 12:09 PM

    Sullivan’s an idiot who wasn’t paying attention. They said they interviewed inside and outside the organization and narrowed it down to 2 inside candidates…and they were Nix and Modrak, not Guy.
    Knowledgeable Bills fans (Sullivan obviously being neither) were excited when Nix came back last year and a great many love this move. Out of all the people who would be available and not retired, Buddy Nix has perhaps the best resume of all.

  8. Scrip Club Lover says: Jan 1, 2010 12:14 PM

    The Nix hire doesn’t worry me as much as the fact that John Guy was seriously considered for the gig does.
    If Ralph and/or Russ think Guy is fit to do anything more than the team’s laundry, I wonder how dedicated they are to bringing in a fresh voice.
    Mike, I hope your ‘source’ is wrong, but until they prove that they have enough football guys to make it back to the playoffs, I’ll remain skeptical.

  9. BigHarold says: Jan 1, 2010 12:15 PM

    Unnamed source huh? More like paraphrasing the negative posts from Buffalo Bills message boards.

  10. nybillsfan83 says: Jan 1, 2010 12:25 PM

    Terribly said and a nice cry at a story… All this is spewed from an unnamed source? its just tiring nix with be a fine hire and this source will look like an idiot!!!

  11. wwwmattcom says: Jan 1, 2010 12:27 PM

    A credible source can only be credible FIRST if they tell you who they are. Otherwise who cares what (unknown) has to say! I can’t believe people getpaid to analyze football. What a joke.

  12. PackFanNChiTown says: Jan 1, 2010 12:36 PM

    Yet another “unnamed source” in an internet article; I guess the guy doesn’t have the balls to put his name behind his words…
    Or the guy doesn’t exist…

  13. nybillsfan83 says: Jan 1, 2010 12:41 PM

    funny thing is the espn announcers seem to think its a good move and they are always the first to dogg the Bills organization!!!!

  14. BillsFan27 says: Jan 1, 2010 12:50 PM

    Man, I have a raging hangover.

  15. Byrd Is The Word says: Jan 1, 2010 12:55 PM

    Russ Brandon is essential to keeping the Bills in Buffalo. He was behind the TC move to Rochester…(Thank you Russ, it’s a 15 minute walk for me), and the Toronto deal. The Bills couldn’t stay in Buffalo without that. So don’t talk poorly about Russ. He may be the one good thing that happened to the Bills this decade.
    And don’t speak poor of Nix either.
    /start sarcasm
    Oh no, we hired a GM who was the director of scouting in San Diego. Oh dear. The Chargers have been terrible with drafting.
    /end sarcasm

  16. Dynamohum says: Jan 1, 2010 12:56 PM

    The same old story,year, after year,after year,
    next move, 2nd tier coach, followed by 2nd tier
    F.A. signee(washed up big name) then self
    proclaimed best draft we ever had and we couldn’t believe he was still on the board ,we had him rated much higher spin, new off.cor. convinced Trent Edwards lacked good coaching
    and likes what he see’s and Edwards trots out of the tunnel opening day. It’s like a $0.99 rental
    at blockbuster.

  17. VonClausewitz says: Jan 1, 2010 1:13 PM

    Wow. Great post. It’s because of articles like these that this is the best football board around.
    I don’t think the hire of Nix has anything to do with Cowher. Call me crazy but if they were really after him they’d have waited till he was on board and let him decide who he wants in the front office.
    I guess it’s now safe to say that Ralph has some sort of ulterior motive to keep the team uncompetitive. The question is why. First he inks the Rogers deal as an easy cash grab. Then he continues his habit of hiring cheaply. Sounds to me he’s already made up his mind about selling the team. Why throw money at something that’s not going to improve the valuation of your asset. And if he sells the team that would probably mean a relocation. A new owner will have no reason to keep the Bills in Buffalo when there are much more lucrative markets elsewhere, like LA.

  18. bullis says: Jan 1, 2010 1:16 PM

    The continue to fill the stands, Another sell out for the 5-10 football team. Ralph can put crap on the field and they will buy it. Great fans.

  19. Tyler says: Jan 1, 2010 2:00 PM

    The situation in Buffalo is very sad. If the fans stay away from the team and stadium then the soon to be new owner can justify a franchise move without getting a fight from the other owners. In short, the fans have to keep supporting this lip-sticked pig to have any hope of keeping a team at all. So in that view you can’t blame the few never say die optimists who think this Nix move is reasonable. Remove that view, however, and you see a team that has no clue and no real desire to get one. Buffalo – you have to wonder if it is really worth it. Get Golisano and Jim Kelly to buy this team ASAP or let it go….

  20. 56lightsout56 says: Jan 1, 2010 2:03 PM

    it’s well known that AJ Smith and Marty Schottenheimer didnt get along very well.
    what is not well known is that Buddy Nix and Marty Schottenheimer got along fabulously and had a great relationship.
    If Marty feels up to it, he could could coach the team for a few years, instill some fundamentals into the team while Nix adds to the roster.

  21. ActionJackson22 says: Jan 1, 2010 2:04 PM

    This guy helped build a Chargers team that is a contender every year. He helped draft 2 Franchise QBs (Brees & Rivers) and many other excellent players. Nix said he will hire a HC with HC expierience. This isn’t the worst move Wilson could have made. Im excited to see who Nix brings in as HC

  22. madbillsfan says: Jan 1, 2010 2:09 PM

    Ummm, Mr. Florio, The Walrus aka Dr. Robotnik aka Eggman told them no.

  23. Alzado's Vein says: Jan 1, 2010 2:32 PM

    Come on Marty!

  24. Dynamohum says: Jan 1, 2010 2:44 PM

    Was Nix in on the decision to let Brees go
    because he had nothing left? You really have to ask yourself what goes on at One Bills drive when
    John Guy and/or Tom Modrak were even considered for the GM job. As for being excited on who the next HC is, black monday is right around the corner and the bills will be stuck with all the table scraps no one else wants,and will spin the next coach as the guy they targeted all along.

  25. Buffalo Hogan says: Jan 1, 2010 2:52 PM

    Even in the short term the jury is out on Nix. To me it depends on where they go with the Head Coach. If its same old Bills with a 3rd tier hire, then clearly this was ralph being cheap and taking the easy way out, BUT…
    Its no secret Buddy/Marty are good friends and were considering reuniting in Atlanta just a few years ago…so if buddy Nix grabs any of the available guys out of the Schottenheimer tree i think all Bills fans will be happy.
    You ask, whos available from the schottenheimer tree, well, how about: Marty Schottenheimer, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards.
    I just hope we have something to cheer about when Nix names the new head coach in the next few weeks…

  26. slutnuts says: Jan 1, 2010 5:15 PM

    not to split hairs, but rivers was technically drafted by the giants.
    anyway, its typical buffalo bills football. this is their off-field version of their offense:
    run up the middle on first down (hire irrelevant gm)
    run into the tackle on 2nd down (hire irrelevant coach)
    check down pass third down ( sign irrelevant free agent, hoping he creates something out of nothing)
    punt on 4th down ( promise that things will be better next season)

  27. troutman_20 says: Jan 2, 2010 8:05 AM

    As a life long Bills fan, I was disappointed to see how they went about getting a GM, but after a mention of the inhouse guys they looked at, Nix is a great hire.
    Guy and Modrak would have been a complete disaster. I can’t believe they even have jobs still.
    Nix was around in the 80’s and 90’s in Buffalo, so he at least has some idea of how things used to be when they had a front office that was worth talking about.
    Russ Brandon must have good lips, that or he takes advantage of Wilson’s mental lapses. This guy is a complete sucker, and I hope that Nix and whoever the new coach is can talk Wilson into sending Russ Brandon over Niagara Falls on a raft.

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