Terry Pegula regards talk of Bills dysfunction as an “insult”

Getty Images

The sports media rarely agrees on much. In the aftermath of the January 2 press conference from Bills G.M. Doug Whaley (during which Whaley said, among plenty of other confusing things, that he didn’t know why coach Rex Ryan was fired), the sports media universally came to the conclusion that the Buffalo Bills are dysfunctional.

The word sounds worse than it is. It simply means that something isn’t functioning in the usual way. When the General Manager of a football team doesn’t know why a coach was fired and had no involvement in the decision and no natural curiosity about what just happened, things aren’t functioning in the usual way.

Bills owner Terry Pegula previously took issue with the perception (reality) of dysfunction within the team. In an extended interview with Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, Pegula went on the offensive with the notion that he finds the criticism to be offensive.

“I know how I run my life, run our business,” Terry Pegula said. “I know how we treat people, and I know the people we have in our organization. You can’t pin 17 years on the Pegulas. We’ve been around for X-number of years. There’s no foundation, no truth to this dysfunctional talk. I consider it an insult to our organization and the Bills and the good people with the Sabres. They can’t be real happy to hear that.”

It’s not about whether people are happy or not to hear criticism. Regardless of whether criticism is fair, criticism goes with the territory of owning, operating, and working for a professional sports team. How ownership reacts to the criticism is telling, and the Pegulas aren’t reacting very well.

“I think that all started with some false information printed in the national media about our organization,” Terry Pegula said regarding opinions that the Bills coaching job should be avoided. “I’ve got to believe it’s from people who have no idea what our organization’s like or how we operate within. I honestly believe that. I disagree with their opinions, and I can tell you one thing: We had a lot of applications and people who wanted that coaching job with the Bills. So I don’t know what these guys are writing about.”

What these guys are writing about is the mess of a press conference from Whaley, which painted a picture of inherent dysfunction. It raised plenty of questions that, hopefully, new coach Sean McDermott or his agent asked before signing the contract to coach the team. Questions like: Who do I report to? What is Doug Whaley’s actual authority? Why did you decide to keep him and not Ryan? Can I call ownership if I have any concerns about whether the front office is functioning in a normal and proper way? Who is Russ Brandon and what influence does he have over my ongoing employment and should I listen to him when he tries to tell me something or should I tell him to get out of my office?

Those are fair questions flowing from Whaley’s press conference. And “dysfunction” is a fair and accurate label to apply to the situation. The Pegulas can either harumph about it, or they can listen to the criticism and make changes aimed at reversing the perception that the team currently is a mess.

“Obviously, we don’t like stuff like that being said about us personally or about our community,” co-owner Kim Pegula told Graham. “We’re proud of Buffalo.”

But this isn’t about the community or about Buffalo. While it’s smart to try to get the fans to regard the criticism directed at the team as criticism directed at the fans personally, the fans are smart enough to know that they didn’t make this mess — and that the people calling out the Bills organization are actually trying to help improve the team, which is what the fans ultimately want.

It’s clear what the husband-and-wife billionaires who own the Bills want. They don’t want to be criticized. Which reminds me of an observation a very wise man once told me: The only thing better than being rich and famous is being rich.

92 responses to “Terry Pegula regards talk of Bills dysfunction as an “insult”

  1. As a close friend of the organization it is indeed true that the Pegula’s were off to a good start, but it seems as though something is in the Chicken Wing Sauce there is Western New York because everyone seems to fall into the same dysfunctional fate.

  2. Bills fan who seriously wishes I can get some answers about long standing employees from this horrible era (Russ Brandon, Jim Overdorf). A for effort Tim Graham.

  3. “What these guys are writing about is the mess of a press conference from Whaley, which painted a picture of inherent dysfunction. It raised plenty of questions that, hopefully, new coach Sean McDermott or his agent asked before signing the contract to coach the team. Questions like: Who do I report to? What is Doug Whaley’s actual authority? Why did you decide to keep him and not Ryan? Can I call ownership if I have any concerns about whether the front office is functioning in a normal and proper way? Who is Russ Brandon and what influence does he have over my ongoing employment and should I listen to him when he tries to tell me something or should I tell him to get out of my office?”

    _______________________________________

    Fun fact. If you keep reading the actual interview beyond the first few lines, they lay ALL of this out pretty clearly.

  4. Pegula will learn some day that every instance of criticism deserves an attack-the-messenger Tweet that is ten times dumber than the “fake news” that invented the “false” perception in the first place. And the world will be a better place for it.

  5. There are a few things that we all know. One of those things is that there is some truth in everything. Maybe it’s only a sliver of truth, or maybe it’s almost entirely true, but there is at least some truth in it. The other thing I know is the truth hurts. You can be as insulted as you want, but until you show the fans that they are wrong… you get the idea

  6. Coming from Rochester, and maybe having the luxury of not living in an area that goes “full-Buffalo”… I think you’re giving Bills fans a tad bit too much credit.

  7. You keep the same losers in management positions, you’re dysfunctional. Clean out the rest of the skeletons in the closet & lets have real football minds running the show, not a marketer & a multi-year failure.

    I’ve been watching the Bills for a very long time, the most successful years in the past 45 years was with Polian as a GM. He organized the show & Whaley isn’t even worth a shining Polian’s shoes. Move on from Brandon & Whaley, no one wants to see them but the yes man they have there now.

    Signed,

    A Bills Fan

  8. I guess he’s not totally clueless as it was indeed intended to be an insult.

  9. Sometimes the truth hurts.

    And when your fanbase is disappointed with you, that’s all that matters.

    And if that isn’t enough to sink in, just check out the current Chargers’ debacle.

  10. .
    The Patriots had Belichick. The Bills had check casher, Doug Whaley and both Ryans. The results are self explanatory
    .

  11. Oh, no, the innocent flower of an owner is insulted. Maybe if his GM wasn’t telling the press he has zero input on things other GMs do there’d be less talk of dysfunction.

  12. Any Jet fan – any football fan knew Rex Ryan was a total disaster as a leader. I said this two years ago. Any organization that hired him would regret and had to be questioned. At the time I felt bad for the bills fans but the heck with that…my team sucks too. I have my own problems, and I’m glad the Bills ownership is probably actually worse than ours.

  13. Aww did the little billionaire get his little feelings hurt? Go talk to your fan base who you insulted with Rex Ryan

  14. You’re dysfunctional to hire Wrecks after what he did to the Jets! No Coach! No QB! Game over!!
    The Jim Kelly days are just a fading memory! Great Coach, Great QB!!!!!

  15. To me the best owners in sports are the ones you really are not quite sure of what they look like.

    The more visible and quoted you are the more of a distraction you probably are.

  16. so coming into a community and ruining not one but two franchises isn’t an insult? MAYBE they should hire hockey and football people and slink back into the night and they will no longer be insulted.

  17. When you have Buffalo sportswriters like Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason writing garbage stories all the time, this is where this crap comes from. Both are awful, Both are from Boston, and are Patriot fans. They couldn’t get a job with the Boston Globe.

  18. I don’t follow the Bills but I used to like reading the football takes of their legendary late local writer Larry Felser in The Sporting News and Street & Smiths. If Felser was still alive, he’d be beside himself.

  19. jeffreyshulenburg says:
    Jan 13, 2017 9:28 AM

    Fun fact. If you keep reading the actual interview beyond the first few lines, they lay ALL of this out pretty clearly.

    ——————————————————————

    Fact is if you read the ENTIRE interview Mr Pegullible refuses to answer many of the reporters PERTINENT questions other than saying Brandon & Whaley talk to each other occasionally and report to him separately…..and so it continues…..dysfunction….

  20. billswillnevermove says:
    Jan 13, 2017 10:00 AM
    nhpats says:
    Jan 13, 2017 9:49 AM

    London Bills
    __________________________________
    Troll………if not for Ralph Wilson, there would be no NE Patriots. Go jump in a lake.

    Agreed. While your in the lake go under the water. Don’t come up for air at all.

  21. Mr. Pegula, please accept my advice. Your depth chart for the QB position reads: 1) Tyrod Taylor 2) E.J. Manuel 3) Cardale Jones. Other than that single line, your organization is as good as any in the NFL. If your top talent evaluator is telling you that you can win with these QBs, and if you’re going to accept his opinion and continue to fire coaches, get used to the criticism. Don’t blame the media.

  22. The Bills organization counts on fans to bring in revenue. The media is only reflecting what the Pegula’s customers feel. That the organization is not functioning properly. If it was they would have done better in the last few years given the talent they have had on the roster. Rolling out the guy you plan on having fix the problems and having him seem clueless on what decisions have been made thus far doesn’t help that perception.

    Pegula can be offended by it, but if his customers think his team is dysfunctional and they don’t want his product then it doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong. They still aren’t going to buy what he is selling.

    Getting mad about it publicly doesn’t help at all. Obviously fans are smart enough to not blame the last 17 years on him, but they are naturally impatient.

  23. In the 20yrs since Marv Levy, they’ve had 9 HCs – NINE! That’s almost one every 2yrs. How do you build anything with such multi-decadal lack of stability? And, to wit, they’ve not had any notable success in those 20yrs; and to wit the GM recently said he didn’t even know why this season’s HC was just fired. That is THE VERY DEFINITION of dysfunction – and evidently, long-term dysfunction.

  24. Well, when you haven’t made the playoffs since the last century, I think that speaks for itself.

  25. billswillnevermove says:
    Jan 13, 2017 10:01 AM
    When you have Buffalo sportswriters like Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason writing garbage stories all the time, this is where this crap comes from. Both are awful, Both are from Boston, and are Patriot fans. They couldn’t get a job with the Boston Globe.

    ——————-

    So the average Bills fan thinks they are functioning well? That’s certainly not the feeling I have when I talk to Bills fans.

  26. nepatriot1 says:
    Jan 13, 2017 9:35 AM
    The Bills are moving to San Diego.
    ————-

    Thank Ralph Wilson for the $$ he gave Billy Sullivan back in the day to keep your franchise afloat back in the AFL days, Troll.

  27. my take: keeping whaley is like irsay keeping grigson…sorry bills fans, and, by the way, do you think the draft this year will be better than last year’s draft?

  28. factschecker says:
    Jan 13, 2017 9:57 AM
    To me the best owners in sports are the ones you really are not quite sure of what they look like.
    The more visible and quoted you are the more of a distraction you probably are.

    ————–

    So true! And the commissioner should be the same and game officials should be the same too. It’s about the game and the players…. maybe the coaches too. That’s the product.

    The other guys are there to support the product behind the scenes, they aren’t there to be the public facing stars of the game.

  29. billswillnever:

    Crap in crap out, what are Bucky and Sully supposed to give you?
    Sounds like you bought all Ralph Wilson’s hype. So did he apparently even as the organization circled the drain.

  30. pioniere says:
    Jan 13, 2017 10:35 AM
    Boy, you really have an axe to grind against the Bills, don’t you Florio. Of course, you won’t publish this comment, will you.
    ————————————————————-

    You’ve been published. You can add that to your resume.

  31. I like when Kim Peluga gets involved, like meeting the HC after the game, for an analysis or something… Yup, no dysfunction here….

  32. Pegulas have owned the team 2 years, stop trying to blame them for 17 years not in the playoffs ! As far as a QB, go to drafthistory.com and look at the QBs drafted in the league since 2010 by all teams.
    There are only a couple of good ones.
    Compare the Bills QBs to those who have been drafted and they don’t look too bad.
    ( without EJ )

  33. The Pegula’s are great people no doubt. But the Bills are, and always have been one of the most dysfunctional teams in the league… period. The Sabres have been better but not by much. Thats just the way it goes in Buffalo baby. I can’t help it, but I still love my Buffalo sports.

    LETS GO BUFFALO!!!

  34. He should take the president elects lead and claim it’s fake news. From now on if any news organization doesn’t talk about you or the bills in a favorable way, refuse to say anything to them.

  35. Terry Pegula regards talk of Bills dysfunction as an “insult”
    ——————————————————————-

    It is an insult, genius.
    Which certainly doesn’t mean that it is not true.

  36. The real insult is the lousy team the Bills keep rolling out year after year and expecting fans to like it. Improve your product and shut up.

  37. Reminds me of a boss that gave us a survey to take about him, and we rated him VERY poorly. He then held a meeting and brow-beat us terribly as to why we rated ourselves so poorly.

    SMH

  38. False information in the media didn’t cause the Bills to miss the playoffs for 17 straight years or make them hire 7 head coaches since 1998.

  39. “Who is Russ Brandon and what influence does he have over my ongoing employment and should I listen to him when he tries to tell me something or should I tell him to get out of my office?”

    I would love to know the answer to this question!

  40. Also, dysfunctional or not, at least the Pegulas kept the Bills in Buffalo! More than you can say about a few owners and a certain commissioner…

  41. As another person said, 1) Tyrod Taylor 2) E.J. Manuel 3) Cardale Jones? That’s a freaking joke. They wouldn’t play in the CFL. They may make a practice squad some place. Who is evaluating your talent? The blind? Yeah, your team is a joke. I feel sorry for you, Bill fans.

  42. Is there an address in Orchard Park where we can send tissues and chamomile tea for Mr. Pegula?

  43. Whaley did look bad, no doubt. But I can understand Pegula getting a little salty. The Buffalo News writers, with the exception of Carucci, are the worst “sky is falling” reporters in the country.

    Read anything from Jerry Sullivan…you’ll want to slit your wrists after….

  44. When the last coach opted out of his contract that was a huge red flag – to throw away millions of dollars just to get out of a job means something about the owners.

  45. “Pegula went on the offensive with the notion that he finds the criticism to be offensive …

    “I think that all started with some false information printed in the national media about our organization,” Terry Pegula said … I don’t know what these guys are writing about”

    … it’s smart to try to get the fans to regard the criticism directed at the team as criticism directed at the fans personally… It’s clear what the husband-and-wife billionaires who own the Bills want. They don’t want to be criticized.”

    ————–

    Geez, now everybody’s Trumping.

  46. Fifty percent of the “road to recovery” is admitting there’s a problem…it’s no accident certain organizations continue to field competitive teams despite the salary cap and free agency.

  47. Im offended u think you are doing a good job. O yeah your Sabres are 8th out of 9 teams in the divsion.

    Just because you are making money with the Bills doesnt mean youre not dysfunctional. Its impossible not to make money owning an NFL team Terry. Its the built in gravy train.

    I love how these clowns like Goodell, Pegula ans Haslam get pissed when you call their dumb azzes out.

  48. The pegulas get blamed cause they hired Rex. Who is Kim to provide analysis? What does she know about football?

  49. Funny how these uber-capitalists hate being judged on their results.

    Welcome to life for the rest of us, pal. Though the rest of us don’t get to hold press conferences and then get on our private jets and fly away from it all.

    Your choices have sucked, your results are poor, and it looks like that will continue for the forseeable future.

  50. Watching a team I love fall apart like that and suck for decades at a stretch is an insult. I hope somebody gets it straightened out before the great players who played in four straight Super Bowls start dying off.

  51. This is going to be really politically incorrect but I will say it anyway. All I have heard is how smart of a business woman Kim Pegula is. Correct me if i am wrong but her degree is in Public Relations. So now look at this story. It is 100% public relations. Over the years she has been around I have not seen her do one thing that resemble business. I am sure she does a lot of stuff but this seems like something they should get right, With her great back ground and all

  52. billswillnevermove says:
    Jan 13, 2017 10:01 AM

    When you have Buffalo sportswriters like Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason writing garbage stories all the time, this is where this crap comes from.

    ******************************************

    Actually, “this crap” was a direct result of a press conference by the General Manager who said he had no idea what was going on with the team of which he is General Manager, which he said at the tail end of yet another season in which the team was, at best, mediocre. And the Pegulas act like some sort of victims.

  53. The first sentence of this article is about the only thing i disagree with–rarely agree, eh? Well I disagree–the consensus rules, and everyone knows it. And yes, the Bills are dysfunctional.

  54. It is like people who want to own a restaurant but don’t know anything about how to do it. You have a lot of money and you like food and you want to do it your way, so you open a restaurant, you figure it’s like anything else or… whatever your reasons are! You are in over your head because liking to eat is not the same thing as knowing how to prepare food. I KNOW what I am talking about in this respect.

    This is why most restaurants fail. Check the statistics. The way you win with a football team is to hire someone who KNOWS what they are doing and put them in charge and do not interfere. Make sure you can get along with them. There is more than one good person out there.

    Whether you want to make money, or you just love the game (food), why not arrange it so you can enjoy the experience? This is what smart owners do.

    When I was much younger I was a Bills fan and that franchise can produce. Taylor is a good prospect. Many other pieces are in place but… they hired people with personal problems, unprofessional people. You don’t see Bellichick having these problems. I’m a Pats fan because of the two B’s. I appreciate professionalism. I don’t care who the owners are as long as they stay away from the game (food).

  55. I’m a Pats’ fan, first of all, so I’ll deny that I ever said this…

    The “insult” is the way the Bills’ fans have been treated since the mid 90’s. Bad coaching and bad drafting. Pegula brought in Rex Ryan for cryin’ out loud! Is he the only person who didn’t know how it would end? He’s been playing Bills’ fans for fools! Rex and Rob? A GM who holds a presser to tell us that he has no idea what’s going on? Jerking Lynn along?

    He’s dangerously close to enabling and continuing the losing culture that has been allowed to fester in Buffalo. He needs to be sure he gets the RIGHT coach and GM, then he needs to stay out of the way and give it time.

    Buffalo deserves better! (Although I’ll take the 2 easy wins every year!)

  56. bannedfromchoirpractice says:
    Jan 13, 2017 10:51 AM

    pioniere says:
    Jan 13, 2017 10:35 AM

    Boy, you really have an axe to grind against the Bills, don’t you Florio. Of course, you won’t publish this comment, will you.
    ————————————————————-

    You’ve been published. You can add that to your resume.

    ——————————————–

    My life is now complete.

  57. jimijammworld says:
    Jan 13, 2017 10:27 AM
    nepatriot1 says:
    Jan 13, 2017 9:35 AM
    The Bills are moving to San Diego.
    ————-

    Thank Ralph Wilson for the $$ he gave Billy Sullivan back in the day to keep your franchise afloat back in the AFL days, Troll.
    —————
    Neat. I don’t see what Ralph Wilson loaning money to Billy Sullivan has anything to do with the Bills moving to San Diego.

  58. A fan going to the game or watching the Bills on TV ot buying a Bills jersey is taking their hard earned money and depositing in Pegula’s pocket.

    Doesn’t Pegula want to know his product sucks before all the fans stop spending that money?

  59. “My life is now complete.”

    Not just yet. What you do now is sit by the phone and wait for a call from the Buffalo front office.

  60. whatevnfl says:
    Jan 13, 2017 11:44 AM
    Also, dysfunctional or not, at least the Pegulas kept the Bills in Buffalo! More than you can say about a few owners and a certain commissioner…

    ————-

    All fans need to support their team is some hope. That makes it fun. They don’t have to win the Super Bowl, they just need a chance.

    Pegula’s arrival and the fact he kept the team in Buffalo provided a ton of hope. Now it’s all gone again and it’s turned out no different then the last 16 years.

    It looks like they are starting over again.

  61. the Pegulas look like the Bobbsey Twins in that picture. I mean, I get that they want to get into the hype and all, but both wearing jerseys with #1 on it?

  62. They fired the coach for refusing to start a QB he didn’t think could do the job. Yep, ownership is smarter than the HC about who should play. No dysfunction there. Not at all.

  63. Season ticket holders see increasing the price of their ticket despite a 17 year playoff drought and a worse record than the year before as an “insult”.

  64. Neat. I don’t see what Ralph Wilson loaning money to Billy Sullivan has anything to do with the Bills moving to San Diego.

    —-

    The Patriots are moving to San Diego according to league sources.

  65. The Pegulas are an insult to the fans for claiming to be something they’re not, interested in football. This is an investment for them, they’re making money either way so they don’t care. I don’t either tho, fans of the 31 other teams shouldn’t. The worse they are the easier it is for other teams cause they dont have to worry about competition from the bills for a playoff spot

  66. Let me paraphrase my favorite part:

    The Bills have sucked for a lot of years. We have only been here some of those years. Therefore, none of this is our fault.

  67. I always enjoy the comment section of the stories , however, one thing has become clear. No matter the topic, the comments section always gets to the Patriots? It’s either their fault, or they have an influence over it bla bla bla.
    The New England Patriots do dwell in your heads!
    Sad!

  68. joetoronto says:
    Jan 13, 2017 2:42 PM
    London Bills

    —–

    London Patriots, according to league sources.

    ————
    Joe? Are you flipping sides? One of the greatest heel turns ever! Hulk Hogan would be jealous.

  69. The Pegulas may not be responsible for the last seventeen years. But they did hire Rex Ryan even though they knew what he was like. And then they hired his brother. Those two decisions right there epitomize dysfunction, at least as it pertains to legitimate football operations.
    But maybe that’s not what the Pegulas care about. If their decision was simply about money and selling season tickets and taking Buffalo fans for as much as they could get as quickly as they could, then their decisions were not dysfunctional. But they were dishonest.
    So let them take their pick. They are either dysfunctional owners or dishonest owners. My vote is that they are both.

  70. jimijammworld says:
    Jan 13, 2017 3:23 PM
    joetoronto says:
    Jan 13, 2017 2:42 PM
    London Bills

    —–

    London Patriots, according to league sources.

    ————
    Joe? Are you flipping sides? One of the greatest heel turns ever! Hulk Hogan would be jealous.
    _______________________________________
    That is the fake Joe, he is a Bills fan, the other Joe is a troll, along with his other 3 IDs.

  71. You can impersonate me all you want, but everyone here knows the Bills are a joke just like I do, and their fanboys are even worse.

    London Bills 2020

  72. joetoronto says:
    Jan 14, 2017 9:28 AM
    You can impersonate me all you want, but everyone here knows the Bills are a joke just like I do, and their fanboys are even worse.

    London Bills 2020

    1 1
    Report comment
    widerightyouloseagain says:
    Jan 14, 2017 9:41 AM
    The Billdo’s will be moving when the lease option opens up in 3 years.

    Wide right, you lose again.
    _______________________________________
    Unemployment line must of been long, you are late to the party. Back to back Joe the Troll posts. It’s ok. You can go back to bed. Welfare check arrives in the mail Feb 1st.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.