After dealing with all that comes with former Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan for the last two seasons, it’s hard to imagine that the Bills players, front office, and fans alike, would oppose a culture change or anything really that’s involved with establishing a new identity for the organization.
New head coach Sean McDermott, who is taking his first stab ever at being the head man on the sidelines, has taken it upon himself to remove a pool table and video games from his team’s locker room.
“This is a business,” McDermott told reporters when questioned about the decision.
“We talk about, and you’ve heard me say this before, earning the right to win. We’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand and I’m all for, as we mentioned, the chemistry and building that chemistry in that locker room. That’s a big part of it, yet we have to make sure we stay focused on the task at hand and that means earn the right to win on a daily basis. I don’t believe that playing video games in the locker room is part of earning the right to win. We’re going to be a focused, disciplined, and accountable football team, and I believe you do it one day at a time.”
McDermott’s starting offensive guard, Richie Incognito, a veteran who’s entering his 11th season, fully supports his coach’s decision, saying that it’s important for McDermott to set the right tone.
“When you go through a culture change like that you have to come in and lay the law like that; let guys know we mean business,” said Incognito, while comparing the transition from Ryan to McDermott. “We’re here to win football not play pool … it goes a long way with the guys in the locker room it sets the tone. “
Admittedly, McDermott does come off as a bit of drill sergeant for taking away the things that his players like to enjoy during their downtime. The youngest players in this year’s draft - some of which may even end up on the Bills - were born in 1996. Whether McDermott, 42, wants to acknowledge it or not, the majority of his players are millennials, and they’ve grown up with these things and identify with them; particularly video games. Not to mention the Bills couldn’t have been the only team in the league to give their players access to these things.
Still, there’s no disputing a culture change is needed in Buffalo. Getting rid of a pool table and video games is really just a minuscule tweak, but for McDermott, it better translate to winning this season. It’s all good if games are being won, but things might get pretty ugly, pretty fast, if losses start to pile up and the players subsequently feel like they’re being forced to operate in a strict, no fun allowed environment.
The Bills have put the pool table up for auction. At time of publishing, the price was up to $4,250. You can place a bid here. (Update: the pool table sold for $8000.)