The Buffalo Bills have made several moves this offseason behind the scenes to enhance their brand management and image. With the removal of Rex Ryan as the mouthpiece for the team, change was inevitable and another domino fell on Thursday with the ouster of four more football operations employees.
Buffalo dismissed director of player engagement Paul Lancaster, assistant director of player engagement and team chaplain James Trapp, athletic trainer Greg McMillen, and strength-and-conditioning assistant Dan Liburd, according to Tim Graham of The Buffalo News.
The director of player engagement plays a key role in many players’ off-field lives, acting as an informational tool running programs for in continuing education, financial education, family assistance, and more. He is one of the first people that works on a regular basis with the rookies helping them acclimate to the city.
While Lancaster had been with the team for a while, Trapp joined the team under Ryan. Graham notes he became infamous for advising Ryan to not challenge a key play during the 2015 season. McMillen spent 21 years with the Bills. Liburd, the team's lead nutritionist and dietician, was with the club eight years.
These moves follow the hiring of head coach Sean McDermott in January and a top-down realignment of the organization starting with the removal of the pool table and other games from the team’s locker room. Owners Kim & Terry Pegula have taken more of a back seat (as has president Russ Brandon), general manager Doug Whaley hasn’t spoken publicly since the hiring of McDermott, and the team hired a new vice president of communications to replace the long-serving Scott Berchtold. Earlier this week, word came down the team hired a talent consultant to improve how their message comes across, as well.
It’s clear that optics has become something the Bills are focusing on at all levels of their organization. While you won’t see too many different results on the field for this move, the Bills are working behind closed doors to change the culture that has produced 17 straight seasons without a playoff burst.