A new course was charted for the Buffalo Bills on New Year's day. Bills owner Ralph Wilson announced that he had elevated Russ Brandon to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer. The promotion provides Brandon with full authority over the entire organization's operations.
PHOTOS: Russ Brandon named President/CEO
"Russ Brandon has done a tremendous job in his 16 years with our organization and is very highly respected throughout the National Football League," said Wilson in a team statement. "He has proven to be extremely successful with each new level of responsibility he has been given and has earned this opportunity. Russ is a proven leader and he will now have full authority over the entire Buffalo Bills operation. I have granted him full autonomy to run the organization as he feels is best."
Brandon was moved by the opportunity to lead the Bills franchise.
"I want to thank Mr. Wilson for this incredible opportunity," Brandon said. "I'm humbled and honored in his confidence in me to lead this organization into a new era and to provide a clear direction and winning pathway into the future.
"I met with Mr. Wilson yesterday. We had a wonderful visit. It was a rather emotional visit. He told me he was passing the torch to me to run this franchise in totality. He has granted me full authority to run this franchise with zero restrictions and zero limitations."
With Wilson traveling a lot less in recent years back and forth between his Detroit offices and One Bills Drive the Bills Hall of Fame owner deemed it best to cede the responsibility of day-to-day operations to Brandon.
"I think when he looked at it from a day-to-day operation it's difficult to manage from afar," said Brandon. "He was very clear to me yesterday that it is now (my) responsibility moving forward."
The Bills new team President did emphasize that GM Buddy Nix will remain in his current role and continue to run the football side of the operation.
"I will be real clear about one thing. I will not be drafting people," said Brandon. "I will not be making the final decision on a free agent. I will empower the general manager Buddy Nix to do that. Do I have final authority and say? Yes, but that's what Buddy Nix, the general manager does. He identifies personnel and runs that side of the operation."
Assistant GM Doug Whaley remains in his role as well largely overseeing the college scouting operation while also assisting on the Pro Personnel side.
Brandon is only the third team President in the organization's history joining Wilson and Tom Donahoe, who ran the organization from 2001-2005.
The team's new organizational leader laid out three specific promises to Bills fans.
"Number one I can promise you this will be a forward thinking, progressive, attacking organization heading into the future," Brandon said. "I also will promise that anyone that knows me that I will leave no stone unturned in taking this organization to a world class level.
"Most importantly I will empower people to do their jobs. It is well documented the success this organization has had off the field for the last 15 years. I get a lot of credit for that. Where the credit should go are to the people that run this operation on that side of the house. I will empower those people to do their job and I will empower the football people to do their job."
Both Brandon and Wilson acknowledged the struggles the organization has had on the field as the Bills own the longest playoff drought in the NFL.
"These past 13 years have been very difficult on our fans and we have not produced the type of winning team that they deserve," Mr. Wilson added. "It has been frustrating for our organization and for me as well. We want our team to be one that our fans are proud of. I believe that Russ has the unique abilities to assemble and lead the talent we will need to get the job done."
Brandon realizes that only winning will convince Bills fans that things have changed for the better. "The only way we're going to show our fans that we're serious is to prove that we're serious and win more games," he said. "That's the reality of it. But as I promised earlier to our fans, we will not stop until we get it right. Now I'm in a position where I get to evaluate the evaluators. I'm in a position where I get to evaluate every single thing we do in this organization and if I don't like it, we're going to change it and we're going to do every single thing we can to build this organization to a championship club but also a franchise that has sustained success."