ORCHARD PARK, NY-- The Buffalo Bills have announced changes in the team's management structure.
CEO Russ Brandon has now been named President, and announced during a news conference on Tuesday that team owner Ralph Wilson is passing the torch to him [Brandon] to run the Bills and that Brandon will have complete control of the team "with no restrictions or limitations".
"Russ Brandon has done a tremendous job in his 16 years with our organization and is very highly respected throughout the National Football League. He has proven to be extremely successful with each new level of responsibility he has been given and has earned this opportunity. Russ is a proven leader and he will now have full authority over the entire Buffalo Bills operation. I have granted him full autonomy to run the organization as he feels is best," said Wilson in a team statement.
"These past 13 years have been very difficult on our fans and we have not produced the type of winning team that they deserve," Wilson added. "It has been frustrating for our organization and for me as well. We want our team to be one that our fans are proud of. I believe that Russ has the unique abilities to assemble and lead the talent we will need to get the job done."
Brandon acknowledged the team's image is tarnished and promised to bring in people to bring the franchise to a new level.
"This organization is willing to do whatever it takes... We haven't won enough games... We need to change it," Brandon said at the press conference.
It would not be unusual for a team owner to summon his CEO to meet the day after the conclusion of a season. However, after another particularly disappointing one, Brandon claimed he didn't know quite what to expect.
Indeed, as Brandon was winging his way to Detroit to meet with Wilson on Monday, the Bills were announcing that head Coach Chan Gailey was being relieved of his duties after three less than stellar seasons.
"I was asked to come over and see him (Wilson), and I went over there with an open mind," Brandon told WGRZ-TV's Dave McKinley during the news conference.
It also appeared though, that Brandon was certainly not expecting, what came next...and that on Tuesday, almost 24 hours later, still seemed stunned by it.
"We had a wonderful visit," Brandon recalled, while seeming to take measured steps to keep his emotions in check. "It was a rather emotional visit... he told me he was passing the torch to me to run this franchise in totality...it was almost like a father passing the torch to his son...and it was a great day," Brandon said.
Asked if he and Wilson, who Brandon described as a man he "dearly loved" shed any tears at that moment, Brandon replied, "I'm not going to get too far into that."
Nix Staying On:
Brandon also confirmed that Buddy Nix will remain General Manager of the team for the next three years.
Nix was appointed General Manager of the Bills in 2010.
As for the future of Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nix says they plan on drafting a quarterback and look into free agency, but the decision will lie with the new head coach.
The team now begins the task of finding a new head coach and coaching staff for next season.