New Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley wasn't always a scout. He played on defense at the University of Pittsburgh from 1990 to 1993 (check out this image from the Pitt website), and one of his teammates there was future All-Pro guard Ruben Brown. Brown spoke about his former teammate on The John Murphy Show last week on the day Whaley was named GM.
Brown makes his home in Western New York and is still involved with the Bills in a limited way. The picture above is from the press conference announcing Russ Brandon's promotion to President this January, for instance. Murphy made the comment that he would see Whaley, Brown, and the other Pitt guys find each other frequently at league events.
"Outstanding player - people might be surprised to know that," Brown said when asked how Whaley was in the early 90s. "He was a blue-chip All American who played on a very successful high school team in Pennsylvania, Upper St Clair."
Brown was very complimntary of Whaley in the interview. Calling him a "very versatile" hybrid-type defender, he says you could see Whaley's intelligence and leadership above all of his other characteristics.
"I just knew from day one that Doug was a very smart guy, very bright," he said. "He had the type of education that every young man wishes they had experienced in school. We were, I would say, followers of his, because he was a leader on and off the field."
Brown, who was one year younger than Whaley, also noted that Whaley was personable and able to talk with folks from a lot of different backgrounds. This presumably helped Whaley in his background as a scout, where he would talk with coaches and players from big schools to small.
"It was a big melting pot of different people from all across the country coming to Pittsburgh," said Brown. "Doug was a bright guy that everyone could talk to, you could discuss all types of issues with him. And he respected his knowledge and how well he understood the game of football."
Brown thinks Whaley's playing background will be an effective tool for the first-time general manager. That, plus Whaley's previous experience with the organization, should allow for an effective transition in the locker room - similar to another assistant's promotion during Brown's tenure in Buffalo.
"Going forward, there’s going to be a real aggressive eye on the talent that’s in the building or coming into the building," Brown said. "That’s going to take a lot of different forms. It’s going to be like a John Butler type thing, someone who could walk in the locker room, put his hand on a guy, look in his face, and see whether he’s invested the right amount of money in him."