Brandon Beane spent his life before Buffalo climbing up the football ladder, and he did it without ever leaving his home state.
His ascension, by now, is well known – a journey that carried him from his birth place in Stanly County, North Carolina, about 180 miles southeast to the University of North Carolina Wilmington, then back to Charlotte where he carved out a 19-year stay with the Carolina Panthers that began in the communications department.
"I'm not a vagabond type," the Bills general manager said Friday.
When the opportunity finally did come to pack up his family and relocate for a job as general manager, then, the fit was of the utmost importance. He recalls his interview with Terry and Kim Pegula in 2017 being as much about the organizational outlook at it was about his own credentials.
One word stood at the forefront of Beane's priorities: stability. It's a quality he and head coach Sean McDermott have since cultivated with their personnel decisions, both on and off the field, and one the Pegulas continued to prioritize by signing Beane to a multi-year contract extension Thursday.
"I'm a stable guy," Beane said. "Like I said, I don't want to be picking my family up and (leaving). I put a lot into this place and (what) we have here. I want to see this place win for a long time. And that's the goal. And I want to be here to see a lot of it."
Kim Pegula spoke about the value of continuity during the most recent episode of "Bills Pod Squad," her weekly podcast co-hosted by Maddy Glab. She reiterated a point made by Beane regarding the teams that have enjoyed sustained success, a list Beane rattled off during his session with the media.
Kansas City. Pittsburgh. New Orleans. Green Bay. All have established stability at two positions: head coach and quarterback.
"If you have that, you have a chance," Beane said. "You've got to do a lot of other things right. And I believe we do have that here in Buffalo."
McDermott signed his own extension in August. Josh Allen – Beane's first pick as general manager – is coming off his third AFC Player of the Week award this season. With Beane in place, the Bills believe they have a chance to keep the stability going a while longer.
"Brandon is an outstanding leader, and he has brought a great level of stability throughout our organization," the Pegulas said in a statement. "One of the things we appreciate and respect about Brandon is that he is very thorough in his decision-making process. No decision he makes comes without a great deal of study and research. We appreciate his strong communication skills, and he works extremely well with us, with Sean and with all levels of the organization. We are happy to extend his contract and to have Brandon and Sean leading our football team for many years to come."
Here is a look at some of the qualities that helped Beane build the Bills into a contender, now positioned to clinch a third playoff berth in four seasons.
Draft, develop, re-sign
Beane has long emphasized the importance of developing draft picks and retaining them with contract extensions. What was once an on-paper philosophy is now coming to fruition with the long-term extensions awarded to corner Tre'Davious White and left tackle Dion Dawkins.
The ability to hit on those draft picks speaks to the talented and hardworking staff Beane has surrounded himself with in terms of both scouting and development. But it's also a testament to the value of character emphasized both by Beane and McDermott.
Look no further than White and Dawkins for examples of players who have embraced Buffalo, winning over fans not only with their play but with their affable personalities, as well. Count Allen in that group, too – which, Beane explained, is no accident.
"That's important about the quarterback position," Beane said. "You go back to that and whether you agreed with Josh being selected or how these guys got drafted, the order of them, whatever, a lot of people look at stats. They look at highlights. They look at some throws in this game. They look at was he in the Heisman race? All the things, the media hype.
"But the thing you have to do with the quarterback, you have to get to know these guys. And you have to do your research. And you've got to talk to teammates. You've got to talk to obviously coaches. You've got to talk to people in the school.
"How does this person treat an intern? How does this person treat a classmate? How does this person treat the lowest guy? You know they're going to treat their head coach well. But how do they treat a position coach?"
When the Bills brought Allen in for a visit, Beane paid attention to how the quarterback treated everyone from the person who picked him up at the airport to the employees in the cafeteria.
"Anybody can put on a façade," he said. "And I think what we saw, Josh passed every test with flying colors."
Beane was once the person assigned to pick up players at the airport, back in his early days with the Panthers. The thread that connects that time to now, he said, is the genuine excitement he feels each day going to work.
With that comes a feeling of responsibility toward the people who make his job enjoyable. When the Bills lost their playoff game to Houston last season, his admission that the team was still short on offensive weapons was a self-reflection more than anything else.
"I wasn't blaming Brian Daboll or Josh Allen or Cole Beasley or Mitch Morse or anything like that," he said. "It's me. What can I do? And I still felt I had not done enough to give enough weapons."
Beane's answer came in the form of an offseason trade for receiver Stefon Diggs, whom he had tried to acquire at the prior trade deadline. Diggs enters Week 14 tied for the NFL lead with 90 receptions and ranked fifth with 1,037 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, the Bills have remained productive despite an injury to John Brown thanks to a career year from 2019 addition Beasley and consistent production from fourth-round rookie Gabriel Davis.
"That's my job to help (Allen)," Beane said. "And that's my fear is to not give him and Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll the right weapons to be successful. And this year, they've all done a great job."
Beane has surrounded himself with a smart, competitive staff capable of both informing him and challenging him on decisions.
"This is about relationships," he said. "It starts with your bosses and then it starts with a guy like Sean McDermott. We have a lot of the same things. We're competitive guys. We don't always see eye-to-eye or agree on everything. We both have the Buffalo Bills and the same goal in mind. We walk out of meetings even when we disagree knowing this is what's best for the Bills so we're going to do it."
With that comes the task of developing people to replace individuals who will inevitably be offered positions to advance elsewhere. That list includes names like senior personnel advisor Brian Gaine and director of player personnel Dan Morgan and extends even to the coaching staff, where offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has positioned himself as a potential candidate for head coaching jobs.
Beane described Daboll much in the same way he described Allen, a blend of talent and personality that makes him a fit within the Bills' culture.
"Brian's a people person," he said. "… Players respect him. He's not afraid to get onto them, which is important. You can't be just their friends. But I think he can laugh it up with them, too, which is important to be able to drop your guard. It can't always be transactional.
"…. Brian's got that dynamic leadership and quality to him. I'm a big fan and have no doubt when he gets his opportunity – we want to keep him, selfishly, but that's the way this works so I'm sure he'll do great."