CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICE RUSS BRANDON
Thanks for coming out today. First and foremost, it’s an exciting day for the organization and as importantly an exciting day for the three gentlemen sitting over there. I think one of the things that we talked about last year when we hired Buddy and when we hired Chan it was about building a model for long-term success. And I think as an organization we feel we’ve certainly added to it today. And when we added these gentlemen and we added Buddy and Chan, we’ve added people who have won everywhere they’ve been. We feel we’re a better organization today. I’m going to turn it over to Buddy and he’s going to introduce these gentlemen.
GENERAL MANAGER BUDDY NIX
Just a couple of things. First of all, we think what we did - it was an opportunity to make a change and to do some different things. We wanted to make sure everybody is on the same page. So we have one guy over both departments. Both of these directors will be responsible for their department but we want to make sure everybody hitches to the same wagon and pulling in same direction. And by putting one guy over both of them you have that. Plus, they’ll be some overlap between the college guys who will do some pro stuff, especially in preseason. And conversely, there will be some pro guys including Tommy that will do some college scouting. I think that helps put everybody on the same page and that’s what we’re trying to do. These guys are excited, energetic, excited about being here and that’s refreshing. We said from the time we started this that we were going to get players as much as we could and employees, especially in personnel and coaching that wanted to be here. Buffalo is a little bit different. It grows on you, but you have to want to be here. And you have to be blue collar and have to be workers. These guys come in with fresh ideas. They all came from a winning program. They have more ideas than I could probably sift through in a month. We’ll try to make sure we’re all on the same page and when we get started. This basically winds us up as far as any kind of re-structure and if we might need a scout later on we might add one, but basically this is it.
I’m going to introduce these guys and they’ll come up one at a time. Doug Whaley, a guy that’s been with us a year, ran the pro department and did some college scouting. He was a long-time Pittsburgh guy as you know and had a lot of success. He’s got two Super Bowl rings. I don’t think he even wears them, but I promise you this: we win us one and I’m going to wear mine for sure.
Tom Gibbons has been here when they were winning back in the 1990s and the heyday. He’s got AFC championship rings. We brought him to San Diego and we were able to win a lot of games and some AFC West championships and playoff games out there.
Next, we have Chuck Cook. Chuck was at Kansas City. He’ll be the Director of College Scouting. He can tell you what his duties will be. Chuck was in Kansas City and Director for College Scouting for 11 years. He was there during Marty Schottenheimer’s years and they were in the playoffs almost every year. I know it was hard to beat them in Kansas City and hard to beat them anywhere, but especially in Kansas City.
These guys are used to winning. They have ideas about how to do things. There’s a lot of different ways. That’s the reason you have different offenses and different defenses. There’s different ways to get it done. All I’ll say to you about the change is if you keep doing the same thing the same way and get the same results every time then sometimes you need to make a change.
On how frustrating it is with the lockout not being able to bring in any players:
We’ve completed our staff pretty much and we’re in the same boat with everybody else. We’ll just wait until they tell us. We’ll be ready and then we’ll make a move. Right now, we’re preparing for all scenarios and just see what it is and react when they tell us.
On if he ever crossed paths with Chuck Cook:
Since he was 10 years old. His dad, Hamp, and I coached together in 1972. We’ve been friends ever since. Hamp in fact raised Chuck so hard that I felt sorry for Chuck, so I’d try to let me handle him. I know how he came up, so work won’t be a problem to him.
On why he decided to make the changes now, rather than this time last year:
I didn’t know what’s changed. Somebody would have had to tell me, I wasn’t here. I had to be here a year and not that things we were doing weren’t working. I think the drafts were a lot better than the publicity we got on them. Three years ago, if you look at that draft you have three or four starters out of draft. So, it’s better than you think it is or it’s better than it’s made out to be. The next two drafts will take two or three years to find out just how good they area.
On the importance of having a comfort level with guys added to the staff:
Tremendous. It’s big. You need to know what you’ve got. And sometimes if you hire somebody off somebody else’s word or reputation you find out too late. Maybe I’m old school, but I like knowing them. And I know these guys.
On what went into the decision to relieve VP of College Scouting Tom Modrak of his duties:
That’s behind us. Tom’s a great guy. He did a lot better job than he got credit for. He made this statement one time, ‘I’m an easy target and I’m the only one left standing.’ That could possibly be true, but he did a good job. From the time I was here, he did a great job.
On if the area scouts are intact:
At this point, yes. We don’t foresee any other changes. These guys do a good job, actually the work is a thankless job. You bring reports in and then somebody else gets credit for who they draft. You’ve done all of the legwork and you have to be a self-starter. You’re out there in the rain and cold and be at the school at six in the morning. People don’t understand unless you’ve been out there.
ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER/DIRECTOR OF PLAYER PERSONNEL DOUG WHALEY
First off I want to thank Mr. Wilson, Buddy Nix and Russ Brandon for entrusting me with this great opportunity. I’m excited. It’s one of those things where when it happened I was filled with joy and ready to get to work.
On the change from focusing on the pro to college this year:
It’s not going to be that big because like Buddy said I was involved a little bit in the college aspect, but I mostly concentrated on the pro. The time aspect, I’ll probably put a little more in during the year on the road visiting the top college prospects. And it’s going to basically come down to my time management. And that’s one of my best characteristics as a professional is the time management aspect.
On what some of his ideas are that he’s been waiting to implement:
Talking to Chuck Cook, this isn’t rocket science. The only idea I want to give is get good players and get the players that create competition because competition brings out best in everybody. When we’ve got competitive players on our team that makes us a competitive team.
On why he doesn’t wear his Super Bowl rings:
They’re cumbersome (jokingly). They’re so big you can’t function. I can’t even put them in my pocket. A lot of times it’s a conversation piece and I like to stay in background. I don’t like to draw a lot of attention to myself. I just want to get on the road, do some work and help the Bills get to where we need to go to and that’s winning championships and consistently competing.
On how this re-organization with his role helps potentially produce different results:
I think it’s going to build on some of the positive things that Buddy said. The foundation that they built here, bringing in a couple of sets of new eyes with Tommy and Chuck. It’s just going to add to that and hopefully keep on going out, beating those streets and the roads and trying to find players wherever we can find them.
BILLS DIRECTOR OF PRO PERSONNEL TOM GIBBONS
I just want to thank Buddy. It’s great to be back together with Buddy and Russ and appreciate Mr. Wilson treating me really well over the years. It’s great to be back home working for the team I started out with. It’s a great opportunity and I’m excited about the chance to get back here.
On why he made the move to Buffalo:
It’s a step up. It’s kind of the same situation when I got to San Diego. Things weren’t the greatest there then either. It’s amazing how close you are. At times you think you’re that far away from it but you’re really not. It’s closer than you think. You just have to keep working at it. Keep trying to get better and better, get more and more talented people in here and just keep working at. That’s what you have to do day-to-day, just keep working at it.
On if it’s an advantage knowing what Buddy Nix’s vision has been:
I think he’s known me long enough to know the way that I evaluate players. And I know what kind of players he likes. So, it’s easy both ways that he understands when I’m writing reports what I’m saying in them and when I’m out looking at players I know what he’s looking for and what kinds of players he wants to bring in here. When you have that relationship it makes it a lot easier.
On serving as a pro and college scout with the Bills from 1995-2003:
It was mostly college. The last three years I did the pro scouting. A lot of the same things now and it’s an advantage because I have that background advancing games, getting ready for upcoming opponents and helping out the coaching staff that way. And just understanding what the role of the job is. It helped out a lot to get me to this point right now.
On how much of a change it is scouting the pro side from when they players were in college:
That helps out a lot at this point, especially looking at the undrafted free agents which hasn’t hit yet. But when that starts up there will be advantage there because I’ve been on the road all year looking at college players. So, once the green light to start signing players I’ll at least have a little feel for all of the players in my area, plus sitting in on the draft meetings talking about players around country.
On how much of an influence John Butler was in his career and his ties with Buffalo and Buddy:
Yes, me and Buddy have been together pretty much the whole time. We started out together when Buddy came here. And John did a great job. He pretty much taught us everything about scouting. Before that I started when Bill Polian was here. Bill brought me in. The lineage coming through has been great, stepping through and being mentored all the way to this point almost, learning how to look at and evaluate players and what kind of things to look for to build a team.
DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE SCOUTING CHUCK COOK
I just want to thank Mr. Wilson, Buddy, we’ve got a lot of history, Russ and Doug for giving this opportunity to get back in the saddle again after being a Director with the Chiefs. I’m excited about the opportunity and I look forward to the challenge. I’ve been doing this since 1984, probably half of my life and I’m excited about chance to give the Buffalo Bills the best prospects we can.
On how seamless this transition will be having already been in this role in Kansas City:
Football guys. We have football guys and that’s what Buddy has surrounded him with. Guys who can evaluate and know talent and can put the products on the field. We’re excited about having the chance to do that. I think it’s seamless. We’ve got great guys. There’s no back-biting here, guys that want to work, they have a team concept and now we have a little continuity to keep going. Doug, Buddy and the staff have had two great drafts since they’ve been here. I’ve been looking from afar but now I have the chance to get on board and help out with this operation.
On how he anticipates his interaction with Doug on the college side:
He’s wearing two hats, and he’ll be on pro and college side. But we’ll work together. He’s my boss. We’ll kind of separate the country to go over top and be guys that really puts the stamp on these guys to get additional looks.
On his influences in Kansas City:
Bill Kuharich. I worked with him a long time and dealing with Marty over the decade. We had a lot of success in getting the right players in there. And that’s what we do; we evaluate players, put it on the field and try not to make it too hard because you can get inundated with a lot of different stuff. But I take pride in evaluating football players and getting them on the field. It was a great run in Kansas City and my little time in Miami. I learned a lot from different people and had good chance to get better.
On what his link was to the Miami Dolphins:
Jeff Ireland, their GM. I’ve worked with him and I got him in the league initially with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a guy that actually after I got let go from KC, he’s a guy that pulled me out and had a chance to work with him for two years.
On who brought him in to Kansas City:
It’s a long story there… I was in the USFL and got an opportunity. My dad was a scout with the Saints for a long time. Just happened to have had an opening and worked in that way.
On his connection to Buddy Nix:
He recruited me out of high school to go to Auburn. I was a running back. I didn’t go and told him I was going to Southern Miss and stay close to home where my people could see. He said I was going to be a big fish in a little pond. Now we’ve come full circle and we’re back in the saddle. It’s a good combination, great working relationship. He trusts me and Doug. I can’t wait to start this operation.
On where he will be based out of:
I’ll be living in Mississippi. I’ll be on the road and be a mobile director and do everything pretty much on the road. I’ll get a chance to meet in here in December and February.
On his thoughts on the Bills’ drafts in the eyes from a scout with the Miami Dolphins and if any players were a diamond in the rough:
Nationally, they got a lot of notoriety. I think it was a good draft. Like the last couple of years I thought it was real good. Pretty much what everybody says and they have the rating. We’ trying to build from now on the only thing I can control. But they had a good draft.