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ORCHARD PARK, NY – Well, it’s official. As of 2:30pm Wednesday, Ralph Wilson annouced that Tom Donahoe has been fired as the Bills President and General Manager. Wilson said Donahoe’s replacement will be announced shortly at a press conference in the near future.
In the question and answer time following Wilson’s comments, reporters peppered Mr. Wilson with questions about former Bills coach Marv Levy’s potential involvement in the organization next year. His response was a bit hesitant, saying, “Coach Levy… I can’t tell you right now who [the new GM is] going to be.” That obviously fuels speculation that Levy might be named to some oversight role of the organization, General Manager or otherwise.
“This is difficult for me,” explained Wilson, “because Tom and I are good friends. When Tom came here… he … had to release many of our old veteran players. He did a great job. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody work as hard as Tom. He’s here at the building at 5:00 in the morning. He takes trip to colleges in the fall to scout players for the team. He flies back to Buffalo for the games on Sunday. He has worked very, very hard, and I thank him for it.”
Wislon was visibly frustrated with the results of the 2005 season obviously, and he mentioned that there had not been very much progress over the past 5 years of Donahoe’s tenure as Bills’ GM. He made very clear that he takes all the blame for any poor performance of the team, and said, “I take responsiblity for this organization, and if there are any bullets to be fired, I want you to fire them at me. However… there’s going to be a restructuring of the organization. On the football side, and the administration side of the club.”
Wilson closed his opening comments by saying, “I want to apologize to the fans of Buffalo – who are great fans – who we haven’t done a very good job for over the last couple years – who we haven’t given a very good product – and I want to apologize for that.” He also apologized for some security personnel taking team protest signs from fans. He said, “That is not the policy of the Buffalo Bills,” and later added emphatically, “I checked on [who it was that made that happen] and it was somebody in this building, but it was NOT ME!”
As far as the coach Mike Mularkey is concerned, Wilson said, “Mike Mularkey and I have had a visit and we’ve talked over what is best for the team and we’re going to continue to talk about it annd there will be a decision made very soon.” There was no definite time table mentioned, but Mr. Wilson seemed to hint that any decision regarding Mularkey’s future with the team would be within a week or so.
During the questions and answer period, Wilson raised his voice a bit as he commented on possible candidates for the role Donahoe had filled the past five years, saying, “I am taking back the presidency. I am going to be the president, and I am going to be much more active than I have been in the past five years!”
Look for more restructuring in the coming weeks from One Bills Drive. We haven’t seen the end of this yet. And if we’re lucky, we might be seeing a few familiar faces around the Bills’ organization in 2006.