If they hadn't already been set ablaze, the glory years of the Buffalo Bills officially ended on this date in 2000. Long-time personnel man John Butler was relieved of his duties as General Manager on this date ten years ago. The Bills hired Tom Donahoe as GM a few weeks later.
Butler joined the Bills in 1987 as the team was turning the corner. He was initially hired as personnel director after spending a couple of seasons with the San Diego Chargers as a scout. He assumed the position of general manager when Bill Polian was fired in 1993.
Butler was fond of small-school players while in Buffalo's front office. Chadron State's Don Beebe, North Dakota's Phil Hansen, and Columbia's Marcellus Wiley were three high picks during Butler's tenure. Other top selections Butler made as GM were WR Eric Moulds, OG Ruben Brown, DB Antoine Winfield, LB Sam Cowart, WR Peerless Price and TE Jay Riemersma.
According to the Buffalo News, with Butler's contract expiring, Ralph Wilson made several contract extension offers but received no response.
"I could never get anything definitive from him as to what his intentions were," the Bills' owner said.
Wanting to move on with his offseason, Wilson cut bait on Butler and went looking for another general manager.
Following his stint in Buffalo, Butler became the general manager of the San Diego Chargers, building them into a perennial power. He drafted LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees and transformed the organization from a 1-15 squad to 8-8 in two brief years. The foundation he laid sustained the Chargers through several playoff runs.
Butler died following a long struggle with cancer on April 11, 2003. He was 56.