Scott Radecic played linebacker for the Buffalo Bills when they were on the cusp of turning the corner into their Super Bowl years. Now 60, Radecic (pronounced RAD-eh-sick) is once again playing an integral role with the Bills, but this time in a much different capacity as the man in charge of designing their new stadium.
From 1987 to 1989, Radecic played one of the inside linebacker spots for the 3-4 Bills defense, playing 44 games (starting 24) while making 215 tackles, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries, and three sacks. He isn’t a household name because he left the team after the 1989 season and before their Super Bowl run (plus it was more than a generation ago).
Radecic was originally drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft and spent three seasons in Missouri. Following his departure from the Bills, he played five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts before failing to latch on with the Oakland Raiders in 1996. He completed his architectural engineering degree from Penn State during his first two offseasons with the Chiefs.
Since leaving the NFL, Radecic has worked his way up to the top at Populous, an architectural firm that specializes in large-scale stadium projects. Pairing his first-hand knowledge of college and pro sports stadiums as a player and patron with his degree has surely paid off.
He has worked with 13 NFL teams, including the Bills’ 2013 stadium renovation under then-owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and the design of their new state-of-the-art training center at One Bills Drive with current owners Kim and Terry Pegula. That facility has received rave reviews for not only its design, but the ability to help keep players happy, healthy, and on the field. He’s also worked with the Pegulas on the LECOM Harborcenter facility in downtown Buffalo. (Terry Pegula is also a graduate of Penn State University, and Radecic has worked on the athletic facilities master plan for their joint alma mater.)
Transitioning to a brand new career field isn’t easy, especially in your mid-30s after being so successful at his first calling. Radecic attributed his good fortune to purposefully shifting his mindset and finding great mentors along the way, starting with Penn State and then inside the companies he worked for.
“Retiring at 35 and having no experience in the architectural world [was my biggest challenge leaving the NFL],” he told NFL Player Engagement. “Being somebody in the NFL who was elite in their profession and then being in a situation where I had to start from scratch and was 10-12 years behind peers was tough. I was a rookie again. I overcame the challenge by focusing on overcoming the stigma of being a jock and immersing myself in the business. I fount great mentors and spent extra time studying.”
Even though it wasn’t an easy transition, Radecic was able to lean on skills built in the NFL as he entered private industry.
“Architecture is as much a team game as football is,” he said. “You have to compete to get jobs, get contracts, research the competitor and prospect … and sometimes you lose and then you have to learn how to get back to work.”
When his company was bidding for the new stadium project with the Bills, Radecic didn’t rely on his previous experience with the Pegulas to land the job. He made his point a different way.
“I know we made a point in the interview process saying that there was no other architect that they were interviewing that actually played in the stadium,” Radecic told RochesterFirst.com.
It’s safe to say that sense of history wasn’t lost on the former linebacker or the team, when he quoted Hall of Fame head coach Marv Levy in that same interview (and likely throughout the bidding process):
“To be able to think about how we can create a building that enhances fandom for the Buffalo Bills and makes it a place that when players run onto the field or they’re in a game that they feel there’s no other place I’d rather be than right here right now. I think that’s important, so we don’t take any of that for granted.”
He may not have played on those Super Bowl teams, but if he nails the design and implementation of that design for the new Bills stadium, he’ll be celebrated alongside those players and coaches.