John Murphy: Good afternoon and welcome everybody. Welcome to the AdPro Sports Training Center. My name is John Murphy, the radio play-by-play voice of the Buffalo Bills. We're very happy to have you here in the AdPro Sports Training Center today. I'd like to welcome our media guests today, who have assembled to ask questions. We'd like to welcome all of our guests here today. We'd like to welcome all of the folks watching at home on television. We're here to launch a new era of Buffalo Bills football, which begins today. This proud franchise, 55 years old, today stronger than ever. We're going to have an opportunity for our media guests to ask questions. Senior Vice President of Communications Scott Berchtold will be up her to administer that in a moment. I do want to introduce you to our head table this afternoon. At my far left, your far right, is the President of the Buffalo Bills, Mr. Russ Brandon. Next to him is the Owner and Chief Executive Officer of the Buffalo Bills, Terry Pegula. We have some special guests in the audience that I'd just like to take an opportunity to introduce you to and ask them to stand and be acknowledged. We are honored to have some of the great members of Bills alumni here; the architects of the great, proud history of this franchise. I'll just rattle off their names and have them stand and be acknowledged. We're happy to have Ed Rutkowski here with us today, from the 1964-65 Championship teams. We are happy to have Ruben Brown here, one of the great Buffalo Bills. My broadcast partner – I know he's out there somewhere, probably hiding in the shadows – Mark Kelso from the Bills Super Bowl Era. Mark is way back there. We have Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas and his lovely bride Patti with us this afternoon. A couple of current Buffalo Bills that I'll take an opportunity to introduce. Center Eric Wood joins us here today. Buffalo native and defensive back Corey Graham is with us. Defensive end Mario Williams joins us here this afternoon. Mario, thank you for coming. And the two Dougs are with us. Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone joins us this afternoon. And the General Manger of the Buffalo Bills, Doug Whaley. I'm scanning the crowd to see who I've forgotten. I'm certain I have. I received a voicemail about 20 minutes ago. A voicemail from Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who very much regrets that he is not able to be here with us this afternoon. He is taking advantage of the long weekend to have a vacation trip with his family, but he sends along his best wishes. He sends along his congratulations to the Pegula family and he is over the top with excitement about the future of this franchise. We thank Jim for his best wishes today. I did miss one Buffalo Bills player and I'll probably hear about it later. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams joins us this afternoon. Very special guests in the audience today. Right down front here would you please welcome Kim Pegula and her family, right down here in the front row. Now we're ready to begin the question and answer portion of the news conference. I'll bring to the podium the Senior Vice President of Communications for the franchise, Mr. Scott Berchtold. Scott?
Scott Berchtold: Afternoon everybody. Before we get to the questions and answers, I'm going to bring up Russ Brandon to say a few words. Russ?
Russ Brandon: Thanks Scott. Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. What a week. And what a historic period in time for our community. It is certainly a great time to be a Buffalonian. It started on Sunday, when Dan Carpenter's kick sailed through the uprights. It closed the Hall of Fame ownership of Ralph and Mary Wilson in victory. Fittingly, in his hometown of Detroit. A Hollywood script in the making, Mr. Wilson's legacy will forever be cherished. And on Wednesday, at 8:41 AM, 32 hands of NFL ownership rose in unison and unanimously approved the sale of the Buffalo Bills franchise to the Pegula family. As I took in the moment, I could envision Ralph with his legendary fist pump saying, 'Job well done. It's been a great ride.' Now the ride belongs to Terry and Kim Pegula. It's time to create their own memories and define the Pegula family legacy for generations to come. I'm humbled, honored and privileged to introduce the Owner of the Buffalo Bills, Terry Pegula.
Terry Pegula: I better clarify that 32 hands went up. Some of you are probably saying, 'This guy voted for himself?' By agreement, the Bills had a vote for me. At the end of what I'm going to talk about I want to issue a rather a lengthy list of appropriate thank you's to the people that were involved. I don't want to do it at the beginning because half of you may leave, so I'll start talking first. My name is Terry Pegula and the Pegulas just bought a football team. Actually, that's not totally correct. (Pauses) I knew that this was going to happen. We all just bought a team. Our team: the Buffalo Bills. The name of our team will not change. It will stay the Buffalo Bills. I was humbled by you, all the fans, and the outpouring of emotion that I saw when our name was announced as the winner of the bid. I could not believe the pent-up fear of losing the team that was released by you, the fans. I just happened to be in Traverse City, Michigan watching the young Sabres play in that tournament up there. I was driving home, and I don't want to say I didn't have anything to do, but I put the radio on and WGR was on and I could not believe what I heard from fans. The one guy we've talked about is JR from the Dominican Republic. We want to meet him because I think he was the first caller and he was awesome.
Secondly, I am humbled by following the founder and sole owner, until this week, Ralph Wilson. I think everyone should know that I never met Ralph, but he and I are connected through the City of Detroit. It's a little scary, Ralph as an owner and Terry as a young boy, 8 years old. I should say Ralph as the owner of the Detroit Lions and myself as an 8-year-old boy watching my team, the Detroit Lions. Ralph had to sell that team, and he had to sell that team to start in an upstart league. A team called the Buffalo Bills. I remember watching, with curiosity, Buffalo Bills games back in the early '60s. Mostly because there was snow on the field for most of them. Ralph loved tennis, we're a tennis family and I think it's amazing that Ralph owned that upstart team and now I do, how good is that? I know there has been some comments about how much I paid for the team. I want to ask our fans if I overpaid. I know what they're going to tell you. We can all buy many things in life, we can buy a house, we can buy a car, if you have enough money there are 32 football teams in the National Football League you can buy. There's only one Buffalo Bills. I want the Bills staff and the team to know that we care about everyone in the organization. I think we have shown that by the way we handle our other team, the Sabres and we care about players past and present. That includes Jim (Kelly) with his battle, I wish he was here today but obviously he couldn't be. On a lighter note, I would personally like to thank Andre Reed for his quiet support of the Bills staying in Buffalo throughout this whole process. (Laughs) I see Thurman (Thomas) is here, big Sabres fan, probably going to cost me a few tickets but that's okay. Mario Williams, you may be bigger than me, but you're not a bigger car guy. Marcell Dareus, he's not here is he? I'm no longer your agent Marcell, good luck. Finally, owning any professional team is about winning and the primary goal of our ownership will be to win the Super Bowl and bring championships to the City of Buffalo and myself and my family will dedicate ourselves to that and yes, I said my family because we want a bring a Super Bowl to the Niagara region courtesy of your, our, my Buffalo Bills.
Here's how my thank you's will go out. I wanted to do this because the media will know who was involved and they are going to ask anyway what the process was like. First I want to thank Chuck Schumer. Chuck made many calls in support of the team staying; now my daughter is laughing at me. But he made many calls in support of the team staying in Western New York. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his support and help. Mark Poloncarz, Mayor Brown--they're always supporters. I've got an unlikely thank you to the Jacobs family. Yes, the owner of the Bruins. One night I said to Jeremy Jr. at an event, I said, "Let's buy the Bills." I'd had a few glasses of wine and he looked at me like, "What are you talking about?" That conversation with Jeremy Jr. led to Jeremy Sr. calling me and recommending Allen & Company to represent us in the purchase, and we went to Allen & Company and hired them. Steve Greenburg, Terry Morris, Mike Melnitzky and here we go another Detroit connection.
(Looking to RB): That name Greenburg familiar to you?
RB: A little bit.
TP: Who do you think his dad was? You know…
RB: Oh I do.
TP: Hank. I couldn't believe that. My support team, Sherrard, German & Kelly from Pittsburgh. David Lowe, Jon Altman, John Sieminski, Bill Fustos, Bob Long from East Management Services, Chuck LaMattina and Kate Hestelen. From Morgan Stanley, Don Cornwell and his team. The legal representation on the other side was Proskauer Rose, Joe Leccese. Last, but surely not least, attorney Eugene Driker, Ralph's personal attorney for many years. Russ and his brother Gregg (Brandon). Jeff Litmann, Mary Owen and of course, Mary Wilson. Thank you very much. And finally the last thank you is to Ralph.
SB: Ok at this point, we are going to open it up for a few questions for Russ and for Terry. If you could, the way that we will do this is, please raise your hand and I'll acknowledge you. We do have microphones out in the crowd here for the media. Please acknowledge yourself. We're going to open it up in traditional style with John Wawrow from the AP asking the first question. Please stand up and identify yourself when we point you out.
Q: Congratulations Terry. I'm wondering; you have been in that stadium numerous times now. What might your thoughts be on Sunday to be there in the box as the owner and successor of Ralph Wilson?
TP: Well, first off, I'll probably pull the same stupid stunt I just did up here and just lose it. You know Ralph was the owner for 54 years, how do you follow that act? It's tough. It's going to be an amazing experience.
Q: You're perceived as the hockey guy here. Can you tell us about you as the football guy?
TP: Well, one reason I'm perceived as being a hockey guy ahead of football is there just happened to be a hockey team for sale four years ago in town that preceded the availability of the Bills. I love football, I always have. You can ask anybody that knows me. College, professional, and high school. I have even gotten involved in my life in recruiting high school athletes to certain colleges. I'm a football guy.
Q: You said your interest in purchasing the team went back farther than we knew. Can you elaborate on that?
TP: Well, Kim and I had discussions for several years, especially since being successful with the Sabres. I guess the fear the fans had was an innate fear we had. What's up with the Bills? Do we want this team to leave town? And the answer was obviously no. It's a great franchise. I didn't know it at the time, but it's the only original AFL team to be named by its original city for all those years. So it went back to probably after we bought the Sabres, and it accelerated with time. I know you asked me why I said I wasn't interested in the Bills. Well, why not? You don't want to tip your hand in things you're interested in sometimes.
Q: What continues to drive your commitment to Western New York and why was it so important for you to keep this team in Western New York? You mentioned the fans a few times.
TP: The Bills are a good organization. There are 32 football teams in the country and the Bills are a very special one. Owning the other team, the Sabres, opportunities like that don't come along like that too often. You may be aware of the rule in the NFL that if I want to own a football team, it has to be in Buffalo anyway. How good is it that it happens to be the team you want to own? Just like the Sabres.
Q: How fearful were you that this team might end up in Toronto or elsewhere?
TP: I'd have probably felt like JR from the Dominican Republic. Like I said, I fully support Andre Reed, maybe not the way he said things, but we want to keep our Bills here. Don't we?
Q: You shared memories about listening to the Sabres on the radio when you purchased the team. Do you have stories like that about the Bills?
TP: I told you I grew up, I'm not going to apologize to anyone; as a kid I was a Lions fan. As a matter of fact, we've got a Lions fan in the front row that we've got to convert. [Laughs] My son. Thurman's going, "Who's that? Where's he at?" It goes back to watching those games in the snow, like, 'who are these guys?' It was a fun league to watch. I remember back in those days we'd watch NFL games where it was 10-6. You'd watch an AFL game and it was 45-41, and if you turned the television off a la the "Heidi game" too early, stuff happened. You never knew when the game was over.
Q: Two questions: What's your thought of continuing to play at Ralph Wilson Stadium versus a new stadium downtown? Feel free to elaborate. And second question: What roll will Kim play? What is her official title? Is it fifty-fifty? Is it co-owners? How should we address the owners of the Buffalo Bills?
TP: Well first off, the easy one is: we're both owners. The division between it is personal business, we're a private enterprise. On the stadium issue: I said in the back room I hope I don't have to spend the next eight years of my life answering stadium questions. We will gradually proceed to plan and design a stadium for the Buffalo Bills. You know these things take time. Just ask Joe Battista from Penn State how long it took to build a hockey arena. Twenty years? I'm not predicting that for here but, you know, it takes time to get this stuff organized and, "Where's the stadium going to go?" and whatnot. I realize it seems to be a significant issue, but it wasn't when we bought the team. We wanted to get the team first. You always have to have the prize before you can build the arena.
RB: I think also Leo, to couple that, as you know, in the working lease we have a new stadium working group as part of the working lease moving forward. So we can take an overall viewpoint on, from the public and private sector, on how we approach a new facility. The fact of the matter is we've played two games in a renovated facility and what we have now is, we have time. We have time to look at the process moving forward and what makes sense for our community as a whole.
Q: With your connections to Rochester, both with the Amerks and certainly with Kim's connection to Fairport, can you talk about Rochester's role in the team and also training camp at Saint John Fisher and that continuing?
TP: We always welcome fans from the whole region: Rochester, Western New York area. I know we have fans in Pennsylvania, the northern tier of Pennsylvania, and the Ontario peninsula. So, we always welcome the fans from the region. And the rest of question was?
Q: About Saint John Fisher's training camp and it continuing?
TP: Oh, yeah. You know, I've never been to Saint John Fisher but I hear it's just beautiful.
RB: It's a good spot.
RB: It's a good spot.
TP: So Russ says it's a good spot. Done deal! He just kicked me under the table.
RB: As you know, we've got a long-term arrangement with Saint John Fisher. We're really proud of the training camp that we've built there and the regionalization profile that we've built over the last decade and we look forward to continue to embrace the Rochester region as we always have.
Q: I know you have a lot to do Terry, but I wonder if you have contemplated or will soon, any kind of changes in the football department. Specifically, whether you're going to bring an outside football guy to evaluate the football operation.
TP: First day, I haven't given much thought to any of that. I do know that Doug Whaley is a Pitt guy. That's a joke. We told Doug my daughter went to Pitt too, so it makes for interesting Thanksgivings. No, we haven't done anything on any issues like that. Today's a happy day.
Q: You just bought a franchise in a league that definitely has a big problem with domestic abuse. What's your wife's management style like? How vocal will she be in those owner's meeting as one of the few women in the room?
TP: With the domestic abuse issue and running the team?
Q: I think both, for the Buffalo Bills as far as our franchise is concerned and also league-wide during those owner's meetings.
TP: Well nobody is a supporter of domestic abuse. You obviously know that we all feel the same way on these issues but Kim likes to tackle, issues within inside. I hesitated at the wrong place. Kim likes to do things. She likes, she has an interest in making other people happy and she'll put her touch on the organization in her own way, which will be a nice thing. And she's got a good business mind too.
Q: What will Kim's role be on a daily basis with the Buffalo Bills?
TP: We don't know yet. We don't know. She'll be involved, she's a part owner.
Q: Is there anything that you've learned from owning the Sabres that you might be able to apply here that maybe you didn't know going into that venture?
TP: To me the big thing is, if you want to worship somebody, go to church on Sunday. It's sometimes a little bit uncomfortable to me that people try to make me something different than what I am. I mean I'm just like everybody else in this room, so that's been something that sometimes it's hard to overcome. I'm a private person. If I did everything that people asked me to do I'd never see my kids. As a matter of fact they scream sometimes when I come in the house now, "who are you?" So those are the kind of things that have to be corrected in my personal life.
Q: You're obviously emotional today, you were very emotional four years ago when you bought the Sabres. Do you get this emotional when you buy an oil company?
TP: You know what? The big thing is Ralph (Wilson) was a large personality. What was it? The 'Foolish Club' they called it? He started this franchise and look where it is now. That's a pretty overwhelming legacy. Fifty-four years and a year from now I'm going to be on one. So it's, a lot of people standing up here would've felt the same way. That's a credit to Ralph (Wilson) and his legacy.
Q: You mentioned both Jeff Littmann and Mary Owen in your thank yous. They're also part of the new-stadium working group that Russ mentioned. Will they be a part of that moving forward and secondly, will Jeff Littmann be a part of the organization moving forward?
TP: By their design, no they will not be a part of it
Q: Chuck Pollock, Times Herald.
TP: Hey Chuck (Pollock), how're you doing? I used to play racquetball with Chuck a lot.
Q: I disagree with the fact you're say you're the same as us because clearly what's happened over your life the last four years is extraordinary. Have you had any time to contemplate the way your life has changed the last four years and what you've specifically done for this region?
TP: Yeah, I think you wrote an article on the fact that we used to sit around and play racquetball and now it's amazing that I own the Bills and the Sabres, so yeah. It's very rewarding that's for sure. A lot of what I've accomplished comes from the guys sitting in front of you that in our business have helped me be very successful and Kim's (Pegula) help in our business. It's never one person. You can't be an island in life and I learned a long time ago that you have to have good people working with you and I always seem to be lucky to have good people that work in my organizations.
Q: I know you don't want to answer too many questions about the stadium but you do have a lot of interest in downtown Buffalo with the Harbor Center and the First Niagara Center, what do you think about the possibility of moving the stadium downtown?
TP: I think, isn't that one of the sites that the stadium group is looking at?
(RB): Yeah, when we looked at the plans, as I mentioned, we are going to take a long look at what the opportunities are for the future and there's a ton of talk and noise on the stadium issue, we understand it, but everyone needs to understand that it's going to be a process and as Terry mentioned earlier it's not a subject we are going to discuss every time we get together. Just understand that we're going to look at it and make the decision that makes sense as we move into the future.
Q: As you get more comfortable in your role here with the Buffalo Bills, you and your family, and you get to the internal evaluation process what are your thoughts on when, if any, changes would be made relative to the season. During the season? After the season, just your general thoughts on your next steps that way?
TP: Well I wouldn't automatically assume there's going to be changes. You know we sit here as owning the team a few days so I haven't given that any discussion. We like the job Russ is doing with the organization. He's been here two years now in his present position so we're learning as we go.
Q: Just wanted to get your general thoughts on the start to the season, the matchup against the Patriots this weekend. We talked to Bob Kraft in New York and he said he was looking forward to the matchup and your thoughts on the team on Sunday.
TP: Yeah, I was at the owners meeting and Bob Kraft is a character. I like him. Two funny stories about Bob, that I know some people have heard fifty times, but I'll tell you guys because you haven't heard it. First time we went to meet him Kim and I were driving from New England to New York City and we stopped by Patriot Place and we had our dog with us and it was a real hot day. I was planning on leaving the dog in the car and I said, "I can't leave this dog in the car; I'll be in jail tomorrow!" I went up to his office and I asked the girl up front, I said "I have a dog and I'm supposed to meet Mr. Kraft, is it okay if I brought my dog in?" And she looked at me and she got on the phone and she said "Mr. Kraft said bring the dog in." So we got off the elevator, Kim and I and Sidney the dog, and Bob Kraft turned around and started walking towards his office and he said, "49 years I've been in business and this is the first time anybody's ever brought a dog to a meeting." And the other story was, obviously my first game is against him, pretty interesting because he was the first owner we actually really met in this process and he was talking to me at the owners meetings and one of the owners said, "Bob you're talking to Terry a lot" and I said "yeah, he's trying to rope-a-dope me." I like Bob, he's one of the good owners; there are many good owners.
Q: Have you given yourself a chance to think about Sunday at one o'clock, 70,000 fans and of all teams, the Patriots are coming here. What do you expect to experience when kickoff rolls around?
TP: Yeah, it's going to be pandemonium. Obviously, it's going to be different for me.
Q: What have you learned over the past three years from ownership of the Sabres to now owning Bills?
TP: Well, the one thing I know that having built a business all my life, you build a business and you can build a business slowly, you can build it fast. If there is ups and downs you like to end up here. The sports world is a lot more fast paced. And you guys out in the audience, make mistakes a lot more noticeable and successes a lot better than sometimes we think they are. So it's a different track. It's like standing on a treadmill and setting it for four minute miles and then trying to jump on the treadmill, that's owning a sports team. Things move fast.
Q: Between the Sabres and the Bills, are you going to be around enough to get a place and establish a permanent residence here?
TP: Well, I got two in the front seats here that go to high school in Florida. Did you ever try and move your kid from one school to another? Sometimes they don't like it too much. So we are by nature and by residence Florida residents, but we will be here more often. We have to be, it's part of our business now.
Q: Do you foresee the day where Penn State may play one game occasionally here at Orchard Park?
TP: A football game? Okay, I never thought about that one; interesting observation. No I have never thought about that.
Q: Any chance of resolving the Buffalo Jill's, would you like to see them back on the field as well?
RB: I'll answer that. That's obviously in litigation and that's something that we can't speak to right now.
Q: Do you plan to make an appearance this Sunday on the field for the fans during the game?
Q: When's that going to happen, halftime or before the game?
TP: Before, right?
Q: Do you have any idea what you will say to the fans? TP: I don't have my wife up here, so I've got to learn how to answer some of these questions. Pretty much a blend of what I've been (saying). You know, the interesting thing, like I said, that drive through Canada on the north shore of Lake Erie coming back from Traverse City, and listening to the radio and listening to fans, I don't think any of us realized the fear they had in their hearts that they were going to lose their Bills. And maybe they did personally, but it was an open forum of relief that, "Hey, we don't have to worry about this anymore."