As expected, the Bills today promoted Doug Whaley to General Manager. Below is a transcript of comments from today's news conference, beginning with team President/CEO Russ Brandon:
Russ Brandon Opening Statement:
First my time management skills are probably not the best. My definitions of a long, long time and not in the very near future are probably not in line with what you guys were thinking of and I apologize for that. (Jokingly) But first and foremost, I did not know on Monday that this process would take one day or one month quite frankly, and we'll get into that in a few minutes on some of the alterations we've made to the department. But I did want to make a couple of comments relative to this. I stood here on January 1 and made some promises to our fans and quite frankly to people in our organization. And one of the things that I mentioned was that we were going to do whatever it takes to restore the pride in this franchise moving forward. We talked about being progressive, we talked about being forward thinking and attacking in everything we do. And we also talked about identifying top talent and empowering those people to make impact decisions. We did that today by naming Doug Whaley the General Manager of the Buffalo Bills.
Doug and I share many common beliefs. One of them is organizations win championships, individuals do not. You've heard me say that many times and Doug feels the exact same way. We also know that building a sustained winner is a shared responsibility and we take that challenge greatly. And we will continue to do so. And that we're committed to one common goal and that is one focus, laser focus, and that is winning. Period. Nothing else matters to either one of us. Winning is what it's all about.
Doug is a man of high character. He's hard working, humble and he's relentless in his pursuit of excellence. I'm thrilled to introduce the new General Manager of the Buffalo Bills Doug Whaley.
Doug Whaley Opening Statement:
Thank you, Russ. First of all I just want to thank you guys for coming out and covering this announcement. I also want to thank God for the many blessings he's bestowed on me in my life and my career. I want to thank Mr. Wilson and Russ Brandon for affording me this opportunity that is just tremendous and I'm very excited about it. I also want to thank Buddy Nix for bringing me to this organization, his guidance and his allowing me to grow into this position.
Q: Doug, congratulations on the promotion. How do you feel prepared to take over this responsibility of changing and a franchise that has not been to the playoffs in 13 years:
DW: I think like Russ said it's an organizational focus and our main goal is to give the fans of the Buffalo Bills a team that consistently competes for championships.
Q: Can you talk about overall with Russ as a new President, a new Head Coach and a new GM. It's kind of a complete overhaul would you guys say that?
RB: When you look at it from that standpoint obviously there's a lot of newness to the organization, no question. We all embarked on the process of hiring Coach Marrone a few months ago. And at the end of the day when we sit here, it's new and different but it all comes down to wins and losses. And we're all about accountability as well. From every person in this organization and I've mentioned back on January 1 that we share the fan's frustration and our stakeholder's frustration over the past 13 years. But you won't hear us talk much about that. It's all about what we do moving forward. And with Doug at the helm as our General Manager and Coach Marrone we feel very good about our future and I can stand up here and sit up here and talk about it all day, but it comes down to results and proving it. That's the next step of what we have to achieve and it's proving it on the field.
Q: Doug you spent 12 years in the Steelers' organization. In your view, is there a Steeler way of personnel evaluation, scouting or just running a franchise that can be applied here? What do they do that makes them consistently successful?
DW: They don't accept losing. They set the standard of winning and competing for championships. And I think if we instill that here we'll be in the right direction.
Q: What would you say are some of the principles that they adhere you think that is the reason for success that you've tried to model?
DW: I think it's an organizational effort from top to bottom and I think if you're committed to accountability and hard work, the sky's the limit.
Q: What is this plan, not specifically, but where do you see things that most need to be addressed the soonest?
DW: Well we're excited with the coaching staff we have in place and the players. And in this personnel department we're constantly evaluating and trying to get better each a d every day. So we're going to take it a day-by-day process.
Q: Where is it right now? Where do you see it right now?
DW: Right now, we're focusing on the OTAs and the minicamp coming up. And personally I'm leaving this weekend and starting on the 2014 Draft attending the BLESTO meetings.
Q: What are the reasons in your time here that give you confidence the organization is committed to winning?
DW: I'd say the shared responsibility from Russ all the way down to everybody in this organization to realize that we've put there recently is not what we want to be known for.
Q: Doug, Buddy had said that he felt like he was stepping down with the roster in pretty good shape. Obviously you've been involved with that. Where do you feel that roster is right now? and I guess specifically when you talk about the quarterback involved as well and the scouting of EJ Manuel. Is the roster in good shape in your mind?
DW: Again like I said, this is always an evolving evaluation process. We feel good about the people we have on the roster now. We're excited about EJ (Manuel), we're excited about the coach and we're just looking to show it on the field.
Q: Doug you played a role or you were part of the search process in hiring Doug Marrone. What struck you about him as possibly knowing you might be getting this job, what struck you about him when that hiring took place?
DW: Well I'm proud of what we brought into this organization with coach Marrone and the players. What struck us about Coach Marrone was the commitment to excellence and commitment to winning.
Q: Doug, did you know this day would come eventually? And I ask that because I think there was opportunity for you to maybe have a job like this at other places in the NFL and you never left here. You stayed here. Did you know eventually this day would come?
DW: You always hope. But I knew that if I worked hard and did the best I could eventually you pray that something like this would happen to you. But in this business there's nothing given to you and there's no 100-percent guarantee.
Q: Is that why you stayed here?
DW: I stayed here for many reasons, but I committed myself to Russ and Buddy when they hired me. I like to see things through and I'm a competitor.
Q: There's been a sense here that you're going to offer a new way of thinking, a new approach. What is different from do you think? What will be different from your approach now in today's athlete and what we've seen in the past? And I'm not talking about Buddy necessarily, any other generation that's not this one.
DW: There's no magic formula and if there was I wouldn't be able to tell you because 31 other teams would want it. But if you're committed to accountability and hard work I think the sky's the limit.
Q: Doug, when it comes to now that you are GM, one of your first priorities is S Jairus Byrd I think. Let's face it, it's you first day on the job. What are your thoughts on Jairus and where do you stand there?
DW: Well first of all, we recognize Jairus (Byrd) is a good player and we're in the business of collecting good players. We're going to continue the negotiation process, but we will also continue not negotiating in the press.
Q: You guys have talked before about eventually incorporating analytics. Is that something Doug that you're familiar with and you want to incorporate going forward?
DW: Our firm belief is information makes the decisions. With the analytics it will be another layer that will help us come to a critical decision.
RB: And I think to that point, obviously I mentioned that a few times, and just to give some clarity on that. One of the main things that we wanted to focus on when we hired Coach Marrone was that Coach Marrone is heavily committed to the analytics process. He uses it a great amount of analytics process in the coaching end of the business. We've also instituted a program with a company called Catapult which is very focused on player conditioning and a many different layers that we work with our strength and conditioning coaches with that on. Now that Doug is in place we've done some research over the last few months and we will sit down and look at a comprehensive approach along with Jim Overdorf who oversees our negotiations and our cap management of layering that in as Doug mentioned into the overall process on the scouting and player cap management front. But the first two we really wanted to drop was along with what Coach Marrone was bringing to the table from his analytical approach was bringing some additional process to our strength and conditioning and overall health management of our players.
Q: Doug, what are some of the experiences that you've had in the last three and a half years in which you're more ready for this position than you were when you came in 2010?
DW: In 2010, I had an extensive background in the pro personnel department. The last couple of years I've been able to manage the Draft process so I think I got a handle on the complete football operation department.
Q: How about your role in negotiations? Will you be, inject yourself into that process in some ways in talking to agents? While it's not your job to negotiation minute-to-minute, but those relationships what do you think about that?
DW: Well first of all, I think it's important that I one, have a knowledge of the cap and how it works. And two, assist Jim Overdorf. He's been great at what he's done for many, many years. And I'm going to assist him in any way possible for us to accumulate good players to get on the winning track.
RB: That's a shared experience amongst everyone in the organization. So when it comes to Doug's involvement he will have a great amount of involvement in that process with Jim and I as we manage the cap process moving forward. But Doug's main responsibilities will be the 53 (roster) and the player personnel department.
Q: Isn't the evolution of the GM position alone that previously he oversaw everything from personnel to the cap and now you just have a football guy?
RB: Our belief and my belief in the general manager position is talent evaluation. That is how I was raised in this business with John Butler, Tom Donahoe, Bill Polian before that and obviously Buddy (Nix). That is our belief. There is enough to do, obviously, with the most valuable assets of your organization are the 53. Doug will manage that process and have final say on the 53. When it comes to the draft, as I like to use the term 'pull the tag,' Doug will pull the tag when it comes to the draft. It will be a collective effort amongst all of us when it comes to every other process relative to the football operation and obviously Jim (Overdorf) will oversee the cap management.
Q: What happens when the coach and the GM want a player, but the money guy says the team cannot afford him?
RB: I think one of the great myths in sports at times relative to that is that there are just some situations especially in the draft where everyone is completely against where you are going and the general manager pulls the tag on it. That never really ever happens.
Q: What about more free agent negotiations?
RB: We will be in lock-step on everything that we do. Coach Marrone, Doug, JO (Jim Overdorf) and I on everything that we do. It will be a collective effort at the end of the day.
Q: Can you talk about the structure now with Doug's promotion and the two new hires?
RB: Sure. Whales (Whaley) will oversee the football operation as the general manager. Jim Overdof, our Senior VP of Football Administration, will report to me along with Coach Marrone. We will collectively be a part of this moving forward. When it comes to the football operation and the two gentlemen that you mentioned (Jim Monos and Kelvin Fisher), they were hires by Doug (Whaley). That is one of the reasons I mentioned earlier that I did not know if it would be one day or one month as we restructured some of that department. Doug was able to get that done in short order. Doug will have all responsibility related to the 53 and to the player personnel department.
Q: Who has the final say on a contract?
RB: When it comes to contracts it will really be collective. When it comes to final say, I guess I would have final say but it will not be without Doug's blessing. He is the general manager and he will work hand-in-hand with all of us on that. Again, we are going to be in lock-step relative to the finances and the cap management. Doug's focus is on talent evaluation and making sure our 53 is as strong as possible.
Q: Doug can you tell us about hiring Jim Monos as Director of Player Personnel and Kelvin Fisher as Director of College Scouting along with a little about these guys?
DW: Well you have two guys coming from successful organizations. Kelvin Fisher, I have been with for a long time. He knows the process that I am going to implement. Jim Monos, I have known him for a while. He is an incredible talent evaluator and he will be important for us on the road seeing the top talent.
Q: Have you ever worked with Monos before?
DW: I have not worked with him, but I have been around him. I have seen how he conducts himself on the job and off the job. He will basically move into my role overseeing the pro personnel department as well as the college department.
Q: Doug, what does this day mean to you?
DW: First of all, I want to thank my parents and my wife for all the love, support and sacrifices they have given me through the years. This is a culmination of a lot of hard work. When anybody says hard work does not pay off, I am going to have to say look at me because I believe it does.
Q: So why are you the right man for the job and what can people expect from you going forward?
DW: It is not about me. It is about us and it is about this organization. From Russ instilling in the organization that this is a shared common goal to put this organization back where it is supposed to be, us competing consistently for championships--I buy into it and that is my philosophy. That is why I think we will all work well together.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned from working under Buddy for such a long time?
Q: Doug, do you still see yourself in the fall looking at college players?
DW: Absolutely that is the backbone. That is how I cut my teeth in this business and I think that is how I got to where I am. I will not give up that aspect of the business.
Q: Do you think you will have time to do that?
DW: That is the main thing when you get in this business as a scout. You learn time management and I think that is one of my strong suits. Hopefully I will be able to apply that to this role.
Q: What is your vision for success? Is it more of a short-term of a long-term approach?
DW: Consistently compete for championships. That is my goal and our goal.
Q: What are your thoughts on the team's first round pick QB EJ Manuel?
DW: When you spend two minutes with the guy, you know this guy has a presence. He has a presence on and off the field. We are excited for everything EJ brings to the table, as well as the rest of our draft class. We think the sky is the limit.
Q: How do you envision you will build this roster?
DW: We are excited where we are with this roster. We are excited to move forward and we know, again I have said this before, scouting is always an ongoing process. Every day we are going to walk in this building and evaluate what we are doing. See if we can get better.
Q: Do you expect to build through the Draft?
DW: My philosophy is you can never have enough good players. Wherever we can get them, that is where we will go to get them.
Q: Pittsburgh mainly does their free agent work in keeping their own. Would you advocate that?
DW: Absolutely. If they are good players, we are going to try to keep them.
Q: How much of an influence have you had in the recent drafts?
DW: We are proud of where we are today and we are looking to go forward. We have the utmost responsibility to the fans to bring a winner to this city.
Q: Ultimately one person pulls the name off the draft board...
RB: And that is Doug.
Q: With Doug never having done that before, what makes you comfortable him taking that over?
RB: I am thrilled for Doug. He deserves this opportunity. I have watched him work very closely for the last three and a half years. I have known Doug for pretty much my entire career through the fraternity of the NFL. Obviously his Pitt ties to Ruben (Brown) and Alex (Van Pelt). I have known Doug forever. We went to Stanford together to a business program that we were out at for 10 days. We worked hand-in-hand and sat right next to each other in the classroom for 10 days and worked on the NFL program that was instituted back then. We got to know each other very well. We have always stayed in touch. Doug has every quality you look for in a leader. He has great work ethic, he is tireless at work, he is one of the most humble guys I have ever met and everything is about us. It is about us. He has been in the trenches. He has been scouting his entire career on the pro and the college side. I have never heard an individual in this league say one negative word about Doug Whaley. He is the perfect guy to lead this organization and lead our football operation. I do not know of a guy that is more deserving of this opportunity than Doug Whaley.
Q: When was that Stanford program?
RB: It was a long time ago. We barely got through it. (Laughs) I think it was in '06.
Q: Doug what did you take away from working with Russ?
RB: I will answer that quick. We were trying to get our work done as fast as possible so we could go out at night every once in a while. (Laughs) No, we had a great time. Jim Overdof has been through the program. Dave Wheat in our organization has been through the program. It is a league sponsored program that put executives with a pretty intense workload to work on a business certificate type program through the league. Learn all the different assets of the league and I was fortunate enough to be with Doug at that time. Knew him very well going into that, but we worked together in that and it was a great program that we had an opportunity to be a part of.
DW: To piggyback on that, working with Russ you could tell he had leadership qualities but he knew how to delegate and empower people. That is what he has been preaching ever since I have known him.
Q: Could you have imagined sitting up here back then?
DW: Not at that time. We were just trying to do the best we could and learn as much as we could.
Q: What is your message to an exhausted fan base that has not seen the playoffs in 13 years?
DW: We are competitive and we are committed to bring a championship to this fan base.
Q: Can you elaborate your views on delegating power?
DW: I think that goes along with my time management. This job has a lot of responsibilities and you have to put key people in positions that you trust to go out for, a lack of a better word, be foot soldiers for you. I am going to delegate and empower. I learned that lesson from Russ Brandon.
Q: How much did that help you under Buddy?
DW: It helped me tremendously. When you empower people I believe they work harder.
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