ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Buffalo Bills president Russ Brandon is expressing concern over whether his team loses a competitive edge by playing annual home games in Toronto.
During his weekly show on Buffalo's WGR-AM on Wednesday, Brandon said "nothing comes above winning," before adding the benefits of the "Bills In Toronto" series will be "reviewed in a grand manner."
Brandon stopped short of saying whether the Bills would consider canceling the series or can opt out of the four remaining years of their deal with Rogers Communications.
Brandon's comments came after Buffalo dropped to 1-5 in regular-season games at Toronto following a 34-31 overtime loss to Atlanta on Sunday. The warm-weather Falcons played inside the domed Rogers Centre and avoided the wintry conditions in Buffalo.
See below for the full transcript from the Brandon interview, released by the Buffalo Bills:
Q: A lot of fans aren't thrilled with the Toronto series, but this week because of the closeness of the game and the way it played out, I think this one sticks in the craw more than any other loss in the Toronto series. When you look at the business side of it and regionalization and the long term future of the franchise, do you think it's possible that the Toronto series could be good for business, but not good for wins and losses?
A: One of the things I said to you and the fans on January 1st of this past year was that I was going to review every phase of this operation and this series comes within that framework. There's a full evaluation that will take place on all of our business relative to what this series means and I'm going to look at it very closely because, and to your point, what's good for business, obviously Toronto has been positive for us down here. We've had great growth in the Southern Ontario marketplace over the last five years back here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That has been a big positive. It has been a challenged market there and certainly has not translated in to enough wins for us there. As I mentioned almost a year ago, we're going to look at everything and this will be within something I look at.
Q: We'll get the call about you being up there on January 1 and to paraphrase you said we're all about winning; everything will be about winning in this organization. The fans will say that you say everything is about winning, but how can everything be about winning if you're taking one home game very year and moving it? How do you balance that out?
A: Well it's also about being viable and that's one of the things that we've talked about for many years here. Look at it from the standpoint of where we've been on the ticket side. We've taken the game out of the market which essentially has taken 70,000 seats out of the market and have truly only sold out two of our home games. We've manufactured sell-outs in the other four or five. We're trying to find ways to obviously keep this franchise viable which we've done a very good job at and this series has obviously contributed to that. With that being said, nothing comes above winning. When I took over the reins on January 1st, I said that was the number one focus and that will be the number one focus. That's one of the reasons that this will be reviewed in a grand manner.
Q: You say review, what can you do? This was year one of the second five year agreement right? You can't get out of it can you?
A: I'm going to look at everything; I'll just leave it at that.
Q: So you could get of the deal?
A: My focus in this organization is simple, to put ourselves in the position to win championships and sustain success. Period. Nothing comes above that.
Q: Any conversations with Doug Marrone or Doug Whaley that have further led you down this road to approach the series like that?
A: No, obviously Coach Marrone heading in to this had a good idea of what this was about. Doug Whaley has been a part of it. It's like everything, training camp as well; one of the things we did with Coach Marrone and will continue to do is evaluate everything relative to training camp and is that the right thing to help us win. We have a great set-up at (St. John) Fisher, but is that the best thing for this team to win? When I said everything is under review, I mean everything that is involved with this operation is under review. This falls within that same atmosphere and that's how we're going to approach it because my focus is 100 percent focused on winning and getting back to where our fans need to be and that's playing meaningful games in December, playing playoff games. We have a lot of good things going here, but the fact of the matter is we're 4-8 and nobody really wants to listen to it that things are going real well when you look at your record and you're 4-8. I feel great about the direction of this franchise, I feel great about Coach Marrone and what he's doing. Obviously what Doug Whaley has done with some of the key acquisitions that we've made that are probably flying under the radar like Jerry Hughes and Thad Lewis and some of the moves we made in free agency. I think we're poised to be very good for a long time, but you can't say that when you're 4-8.