Terry Pegula has not been one for press conferences throughout his tenure as owner of the Buffalo Bills. Aside from his introductory press conference and the introduction of now-former head coach Rex Ryan, Pegula has remained mostly on the sidelines, allowing his surrogates to do most of the talking. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why his discussion with Buffalo media members, posted here by WKBW’s Joe Buscaglia, would be such big news.
Pegula answered plenty of questions in what was a short media scrum after the owners’ meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. Whether he was addressing long-standing concerns or recent reports, the Bills’ owner was concise and direct in his answers.
On Doug Whaley/Sean McDermott
“They get along great...they’ve been working together making some key decisions...they work well together. I don’t know where that report came from...it’s erroneous.”
The “report” Pegula mentions came from Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports. LaCanfora speculated that the Carolina Panthers’ Director of Player Personnel, Don Gregory, is someone who could be added to Buffalo’s front office after the 2017 NFL Draft. LaCanfora did not even name Gregory, instead only mentioning his position within the front office.
Side note: Insert Vince Vaughn GIF here
When addressing Tyrod Taylor’s recent contract extension, Pegula made sure to mention the hard work of both Doug Whaley and Sean McDermott together. He said that the extension “was the result of Doug and Sean working very diligently together, digging up everything they could. It was a unanimous decision to bring [Tyrod] back with a new contract.
This statement directly contradicts reports of a rift between Whaley and McDermott as it relates to Taylor, specifically that Whaley wanted to move on from the Bills’ incumbent starting quarterback.
On who has final say during the draft
“[Pick 10] is gonna be a group effort. That goes for the whole draft. Just like everything else, just like most businesses do in their life. If someone feels more strongly, then maybe we lean in that direction.”
This seems to go hand-in-hand with the team’s “one voice” mentality, as it has been less about who has final say over issues and more about focusing on the group decision making process in building the roster as of late. Pegula spoke about that philosophy when asked, saying, “It’s a lot simpler. We wanted one spokesperson for the organization. We wanted a coach who could be the face of the organization.”
This response indicates that Whaley’s exclusion from events such as the team’s annual pre-draft luncheon is less a harbinger of Whaley’s demise than it is a consolidation of the team’s message. Besides, as Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News wrote when addressing the LaCanfora speculation, “...Whaley’s most recent press conferences have been painful from a public relations standpoint.” Providing McDermott the opportunity to be the organization’s voice makes sense from multiple angles.
Pegula also discussed McDermott’s work ethic and character, saying that “he is everything we thought he’d be when we interviewed him.”
Clearly, ownership holds their new head coach in high regard, and they trust him to both execute the organization’s plan and to communicate that plan to fans and media members alike.
On a new stadium in Buffalo, and a “new” team in Las Vegas
Ralph C. Wilson, founding owner of the team, was notoriously against relocation, often standing alone as the sole “nay” in votes of the sort. However, Pegula laughed when asked about the vote to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, saying that “it was 31-1 in favor, and I didn’t vote against it, so I guess you know where I stood. It’s a difficult issue because I know that the fans in Buffalo went through some hardship mentally wondering what was going to happen to their franchise.”
Talk then shifted to a new stadium in Buffalo, and Pegula made it clear that the team is not looking to replace New Era Field anytime soon. He said that the state (read: taxpayers) had just provided a “rather expensive” renovation, and he expressed his belief that it is “not [the team’s] place to make demands and ask for things right now” as a result. He reminded the reporters that the team’s current stadium lease runs through 2023.
After shifting topics, the assembled reporters again tried to come back to the stadium issue, and Pegula was clear that he had enough of the subject.
“We are looking forward to the football season,” Pegula said. “We are not talking about stadiums.”
When asked if he would attempt to build a stadium without public money, Pegula shut down any more discussion of the subject, saying that he “was clear when I bought the team...that I wouldn’t talk about stadiums for the next nine years.”
Whether Pegula’s comments are merely meant to stamp out fires or they show the true thoughts of team ownership, it’s refreshing to hear the positive side of things after so many reports to the contrary.