Over the years, through harsh experience, I’ve learned that as bad as things might seem with the Buffalo sports teams, they can always get worse.
After Doug Whaley’s season-ending press conference on Jan. 2, I called it the low point in Bills history. But Thursday was the topper, a crowning day of dysfunction, a singular low for our professional sports franchises.
First came the stunning news that the Sabres had fired both general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Byslma. It was a bold move by the Pegulas. I didn’t think they had the guts to fire Bylsma so soon after whacking Rex Ryan, heaping a double dose of humiliation on their sporting empire.
This means both of the recycled men the Pegulas hired in 2015, making them easily the highest-paid Buffalo head coaches ever in their respective sports, were let go after just two years on the job.
Later in the morning came news of a bizarre incident involving Bills offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, who was found in a field after climbing an electric fence near the scene of an accident on Route 400 and taken to the hospital for observation.
On a suitably grim and miserable day, the Bisons’ 1:05 p.m. home game was called because of heavy rain, which flooded the team’s clubhouse due to a sewer issue on the street. They had to dry out the locker room to test the air quality.
What next, a cloud of locusts descending on HarborCenter and its environs?
By the time Sean McDermott showed up a half hour late for the 1:30 pre-draft luncheon, the local sports scene was in turmoil. And with Murray and Bylsma out of work, McDermott was suddenly the most empowered man in Pegulaville – before coaching his first NFL game.
One GM was fired and the other was invisible. Whaley is technically the top leadership figure still standing, but he was nowhere to be found. The draft luncheon, historically the domain of the GM and his various scouts, had been passed off to McDermott, now the “single voice” of the franchise.
It’s amazing to think Whaley is still employed and Murray is gone. Of course, Whaley has been diminished in the organization. From the day he was hired, it has been clear that McDermott’s vision is now the one driving the football operation.
But if they fired Murray, a popular GM who presided over the tank and was given an inflated amount of credit for improving the team, how could Whaley still be on the job after his continued bungling of the Bills’ roster?
Why is Whaley still here, if he’s lost his clout and been muzzled in public? The draft is his baby. It was odd to attend the annual draft luncheon, which lacked the typically breezy give and take of years past, when the GM and scouts actually knew about college players and were able to discuss them, albeit in a vague and non-commital manner.
McDermott, who has been getting tips from a PR consultant, droned on for half an hour, using the word “process” 19 times. “Process” is a word coaches use…