Pegula’s shine in time of crisis

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Kim and Terry Pegula faced a big crisis this offseason with both the Buffalo Bills and Sabres needing new general managers and head coaches. Even under intense scrutiny the Pegula’s shine.

The couple that owns both teams faced such intense scrutiny that some called the Bills dysfunctional.

“His issue hasn’t been that he’s overbearing or meddling, a common early problem for the billionaires who buy teams,” Albert Breer of MMQB.si.com. “It’s the opposite: He hasn’t done nearly enough to align his organization.”

The Pegulas were quoted in the article that they like collaborative organizations. The problem with the rest of the NFL world is that this is a foreign concept. This a league filled with big name leaders like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former Denver Broncos quarterback, who is now the team’s executive vice president of football operations and current general manager.

The reason the Bills were dysfunctional wasn’t due to their owners, but due to a general manager that was meddling, confrontational, simply doesn’t fit in the collaborative mold and most importantly isn’t very good at being a NFL general manager.

First, many writes have forgotten a 2014 incident between former Bills head coach Doug Marrone, some front office personnel and former general manager Doug Whaley. The front office didn’t like how certain players weren’t getting enough playing time. Those players were wide receiver Robert Woods, offensive guard/center Kraig Urbik and offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Woods is nothing more that a number two wide receiver, who signed this offseason with the Los Angeles Ram. Urbik is a backup now with the Miami Dolphins and Kouandjio is nothing short of a complete disaster with the latest incident in this saga being an incident with the police half-naked just off the highway.

The real reason that the Bills haven’t made the playoffs is simply Whaley is just bad at being an NFL general manager to the point where one has to question his ability to evaluate incoming NFL Draft prospects.

In the NFL first round picks are gold as they can make or break your team.  That definitely is the case for Whaley as he foolishly gave up a 2015 NFL Draft pick to trade up and take wide receiver Sammy Watkins. All you have to do is look at the rest of the wide receivers in that first round to know how bad Whaley is.

Bills fans all remember that Odell Beckham Jr. was available to them at ninth overall as the New York Giants took him 12th overall. The problem is the team could have traded down and still got a stud wide receiver as that year was loaded with wide receivers. The rest of the round included Mike Evans, who was taken seventh overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brandin Cooks, 20th by the New Orleans Saints, and Kelvin Benjamin, 28th by the Carolina Panthers.

So, here is a look at their career numbers, which is organized by draft position:

Watkins: 37 games with 153 receptions for 2,459 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns

Evans: 46 games with 238 receptions for 3,578 yards receinv and 27 touchdowns

Beckham Jr.: 43 games with 288 receptions for 4,122 yards receiving and 35 touchdowns

Cooks: 42 games with 215 receptions for 2,861 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns

Benjamin: 32 games with 136 receptions for 1,949 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns

Finally on the Bills front, let’s not forget another big blunder this offseason that sealed his fate

One of the big headlines during the 2016 NFL season was if the Bills were going to resign cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The thing is most smart NFL teams tag franchise players like Gilmore and then trade them to a team for draft picks to get compensation, which the team did in 2009 with offensive tackle Jason Peters. Whaley didn’t do that and Gilmore signed with the New England Patriots, which would get any general manager in the NFL fired.

The Bills however look to be in a solid place as the team hired Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to be their head coach and hired Panthers assistant general manager Brandon Beane as their general manager. They also made a solid trade in last April’s NFL Draft as they traded down with the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2018 first rounder and still got a cornerback that they liked.

As for the Sabres their problem can simply boiled down to one point. Former general manager Tim Murray got too greedy and made a terrible trade that cost his team a solid young defenseman.

During the 2016 NHL Draft, Murray traded for Flordia Panther defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and the 33rd overall pick for defenseman Mark Pysyk, the 38th and 89th overall picks. The only way this trade works out is if center Rasmus Asplund, who was taken with the 33rd overall pick, turns out to be a good one.

That is easily fixable for the Sabres as they have four solid defenseman and two young defensemen.

The Sabres top four is already determined with Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Josh Georges and Zach Bogosian.   As for their young defensemen those would be Brady Ausin and Brendan Guhle.

Austin played five games near the end of the regular season for the Sabres and just finished his second season with the Sabres minor league team the Rochester Americans. So, he may be ready to make the jump to the NHL this year.  As for Guhle, he will be 20-years-old this summer, which means he will certainly be sent to Rochester to develop his game.

So, the Sabres are stacked with players and got off on the right foot as they hired Pittsburgh Penguin associate general manager Jason Botterill. That just leaves their head coach.

Give the Pegulas some creditas it takes great courage to stand up for what you believe in. Like it or not they have done just that as both organizations will be teams where front office personnel and head coaches will work together for one common goal.

 

Tyrant Trump

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Even before he became President of the United States, it was apparent that Donald Trump was a man that did what he wanted no matter what anybody thought.  For the first time ever we have a tyrant on our hands.

Even though the Constitution was created in the late 1800; to understand current events we need to visit the past.

Leading up to the American Revolution, the British Parliament tried to pass several taxation acts on the colonies to pay for the French Indian Wars. First there was the Stamp Act of 1765, then the Townshed Tariffs of 1767 and then finally the Tea Act. The last of which led to the Boston Tea party, which Parliament to pass the Intolerable Acts.

The Bill of Rights was built into the Constitution to ensure that Americans’ rights to certain things cannot be infringed upon by the President of the United States.

Due to these rights and beliefs in the system, Presidents have not challenged things. That is until Trump became President, which has brought nothing but chaos in the U.S. and around the globe

For the first time a President of the United States is fighting major news networks about their reporting policies. The thing is it isn’t just his comments that make him a tyrant. It’s the mere fact that they went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to get them to knock down media reports  about his ties to Russia that makes him that.

The proof isn’t in the reaction from democratic lawmakers, but the reaction from a republican lawmaker that supported Trump’s election and gave a comment on an investigation into the issue and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was on his campaign staff, overseeing it.

“You are right that you cannot have somebody, a friend of mine — Jeff Sessions — who was on the campaign and who was an appointee,” California Rep. Darrell Issa said Friday on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Issa’s comment is important, because he sits on House Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees.

“We’re going to have to do it,” Issa told told Maher about appointing a special prosecutor. “There may or may not be fault, but the American people … are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies.”

Americans want to know if Trump has any ties to Russia after a report came out alleging just that.

The dossier alleged Trump used the Russians were helping Trump to win the election. In turn the Russians gathered compromising intelligence on him. Since, Trump has do nothing to refute the claims, but the typical denial.

A major red flag from Trump came in during his presidential campaign when he refused to release his tax records. Most presidential candidates release their tax records as a sign of good faith to the American people. However, Trump refused to do so and is still refusing after the allegations came out.

In the end, it’s clear that Trump is guilty of conspiring with the Russians to throw the election. If he wasn’t he would of released his tax records showing he has no ties to Russia to further that the media is reporting fake news..

Bills drought could get over 20-years-old

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Many Buffalo Bills fans are about to come to the age where they are legally eligible to vote. At the same time they have never seen their team in the playoffs as it’s been 17 seasons since they last were. The way things are going they will be legally able to drink before they do.

Things change in the National Football every year, but one thing remains the same. In order to win in the NFL you need a franchise quarterback.

The Bills haven’t had one since Jim Kelly retired.

They don’t have one from lack of trying. In the first round of the 2003 and 2013 NFL Draft the Bills took J.P. Losman and E.J. Manuel. Both have turned out to be major busts.

That leads up to their current dilemma.

For the past two seasons their starter has been Tyrod Taylor. A quarterback that has been their best since the drought started as he thrown for 3,058 yds, 37 tds, 12 int and rush for 1,148 yds and 10 tds. That is beside the fact that his best wide receiver Sammy Watkins was out half the year!

The problem is the team is built for right now. Many of their star player like defensive end/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes is in the their upper 20s. So, what it means is this.

The Bills have a three year window with their current roster. I say that based that Bills General Manager Doug Whaley is on his last chance. So, if the coach he hires in the coming weeks don’t work out three years then the team will have to go through a major rebuild.

A major rebuild happens whenever a new general manager comes aboard.

From there he hires a head coach has similar ideals as he has in a roster. Then the head coach fills out his staff based on his ideals.

From there the GM will purge the roster of players he doesn’t want. In the Bills case it will be players like Hughes, left tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Marcel Dareus. That will fetch draft picks in return that they will need to fill the roster.

From there the GM conducts the draft and right after hires a new scouting staff. The reason is the Draft is the end of their year for the scouting staff and it would be too much work to hire a new one midway through the year.

In the end, the Bills have a three year window to get to the playoffs with their current roster. So, pray they make the playoffs in the next three years. Cause if they don’t god knows when they will after a major rebuild.

What will happen to Kane

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Chicago Blackhawks forwards, and Buffalo, NY native, Patrick Kane has been embroiled in a rape controversy since August 2nd. Many nation wide are asking what will happen of the case.

The one thing I can state from my own limted experience, is it’s what you can prove in a court of law that matters, which is another case for another time.

The biggest and most glaring example came in the 1990s. Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered and her ex husband and former Buffalo Bills running back O.J., Simpson was the number one suspect. O.J. was charged with the crime, but when it went to trial he was found not guilty, because the prosecution messed up on one piece of evidence.

The main piece of evidence was a bloody glove found behind his Brentwood, CA house. However, when Simpson tried it on at the prosecution’s request it didn’t fit, which led to his attorney Johnny Chocran coining the phrase, “If the glove don’t fit.Then you must acquit.”

Even though many believed O.J, murdered his wife, because he couldn’t be found guilty of a shadow of a doubt, Simpson was found not innocent.

That leads me to the current events with Kane. As far as reports go, neither of the friends of the two have come forwards to hearing anything. That leaves it to be a he said/she said case.

In the end, if no further evidence comes to the police attention then the case will be kicked to the curb by Hamburg, NY police ad Erie Couny District Attorney.

The truth of Whaley’s comments

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Pretty much all of Western New York was upset over the fact that the Buffalo Bills cut running back Fred Jackson. All over social media there were videos of children breaking down and crying over their favorite player no longer with their favorite team.

Since then Tim Graham of The Buffalo News reported that two sources told him that Bills General Manager Doug Whaley went “Rogue” when cutting Jackson. However, some have criticized Graham over the validity of the report. So, here is my insight into the whole situation.

As a person with a Master’s of Science in Public Relations, the first thing that they teach is whatever comes up in the press it’s your job to handle it and defuse it. In the National Football League the job starts the minute that the news breaks.

When I was an undergraduate at Buffalo State College, I had the pleasure of hearing three speakers in my sports reporting course, which was taught by The Buffalo News’ Alan Pergament.  Two of the three were  The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham and Mark Gaughan. The third was Buffalo Bills Senior Vice President of Communication Scott Berchtold.

Before I go on I must tell you this. In the world of journalism you typically do what the source asks you. So, what I’m about to tell you is breaking that cardinal rule, but considering all the circumstances lately, I feel it’s well worth it.

It was the summer of 2011 and I just finished last fulltime semester as an undergraduate. I had only two courses to go to complete my Bachelors of Arts in journalism and media production.  One of the course offerings that summer was sports reporting, which to my surprise in the course catalog it said Alan Pergament.

Like many of you reading, my knowledge of Mr. Pergament came from reading The Buffalo New. In the news typically he wrote columns about the media, so the first thing that came into my mind was why he’s teaching a sports reporting course. The answer came within the very first days as he revealed that at Tbe Buffalo News he was first a sports reporter and transferred to his current position at the request of his superiors.

Of course that immediately got my attention and I wondered to myself if he would bring in some of his connections or colleagues to guest speak at my classes.

A few weeks later those questions proved to be right.  The first and third was Graham and Gaughan, who provided great insight to the industry.  However, it was the second speaker in Berchtold that provided to me the most insight into the NFL.

The one thing that I was surprised at was what he during the final stages of the game and just after.

During the final stages of a game he would go up to the media and confirm who they would want to speak to.  This gave him the necessary knowledge and insight to what was come as a longtime veteran of the NFL he knew how the media operated and how to diffuse a situation before the player ever stepped up to the podium.

Once Berchtold confirmed who the media wanted to talk to, he would grab the player. It was in this short period of time from the player’s locker to the podium that he works his magic.

“Every time that I walk with a player up to the podium I always go over things,” Berchtold said. “I would remind him to thank his teammates, the coaching staff and others. I did this in order to get the player to snap and sound off  before they ever reached the podium, because the media asks the same question five different ways to aggravate a player and get what they really are thinking.”

One of the most memorable moments to Berchtold came in the 1990s after a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. On one of the key plays there seemed to be pass interference, which Kelly vehemently thought.  Of course Berchtold did his usual spiel to elicit a response from Kelly, who he knew before hand was upset about, and worked as Kelly snapped and replied he knew what he was doing.

However, on that fateful day Berchtold’s tactics failed.

“On my way up to the podium I did my usual thing,” Berchtold said. “I told Jim to thank his offensive line, his coaches and not to say anything about the referees. I knew he would snap, which he did, but that day things didn’t work.”

One of the media’s tactics is to ask the same question in various forms to elicit a emotional response from a player in order to get his true feelings.  With the Bills under Berchtold that is very rare as Berchtold is good at what he does.  However, that day was one of the few to have failed him.

“After I got a response from Jim he went up to the podium,” Berchtold continued. ‘ He answered all the media’s questions, but they came back to the play that there should have been a pass interference.  Eventually, Jim gave me a look he had enough and then snapped and criticized the officials and get a fine from the NFL.”

So why am I saying this? Berchtold is a veteran of the NFL of over 25 years.  His tenure starts before the Bills even went to four straight Superbowls. In other words he is very good at his job.

Why do you think when Graham reported Whaley went “Rogue” that the Bills in the media would show a unified front?

The answer is simply because Berchtold knows how to handle the media and more importantly how to make a scandal slip through the media cycle with very little coming back to the team. The evidence is what Whaley said yesterday.

“Let’s put it this way,” Whaley said. “I gather information from everybody, from the running backs coach to the offensive coordinator to the head coach and the owners. I wouldn’t be in this position – especially with new ownership – I’m going to include them. That’s my boss. We wouldn’t make a decision without them.”

In other words, Whaley gathered information from his roster and came to a decision that the team would be better off with Jackson cut and the money spent elsewhere.

An inside look into a major injury

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For many years I wondered why athletes that suffered major injuries weren’t always on the sideline. Well the past week I got a firsthand taste of what life is like with someone that suffered a major injury.

It was a little over a week ago when my wife and son were outside running around in the rain. My wife stopped, but my 10-year-old son didn’t see that she did and ran into her. That little bump caused my wife’s left Achilles tendon to rupture.

Now, live in a garden level apartment so there three steps going to the front door and there are around a dozen stairs to manage on the inside from the front entrance. After a week it’s clear that even one stair with someone on crutches is hard.

To get up the stairs from our house my wife has to sit and scoot up the stairs. From there she can lift herself up onto a wheelchair, but it’s very hard to do so. From there I can do the rest to get her to the car.

Going into the house is a much different story.

When we go inside I wheel her up to the first step from there I put the brakes on the wheelchair.  Then she gets up, leans on one foot. Then she puts her left arm around me and hops up the stairs, which is repeated several times to get inside.

Now you may think that this story is done, but you would be wrong.

When we went to the doctors I fully expected to hear the doctor say that she will need surgery. That was far from the case, but not for good reasons.

The reason the doctor advised against surgery was the fact that the rupture was where the tendon and the calf muscle meet. That is a point on the Achilles where it narrows, so there isn’t much there to work with. If my wife were an athlete the doctor would have advised surgery, but the risk of rerputure would have been higher.

In the end, where a rupture occurred on the Achilles tendon is the upmost importance.

Sabres bid is hard to say no to

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Anyone who has been to a Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center has seen firsthand the rivalry between the two teams. Well the rivalry has been taken to a whole new level with the latest news from the Sabres.

According to the Associated Press, the Sabres have submitted a bid to the National Hockey League for the Harbor Center to be host of the NHL Combine for the next three years.

“We’re very confident that this is where it should be,” Black said about the combine. “I believe that we’ve probably put in the most work and are the most prepared to host this in less than a year.”

The Harbor Center has two rinks, stands for fans to attend, meeting rooms, training center, the ability to do on and off-ice testing and it will be hard to say no to the Sabres for one very important reason.

Privacy is a very important thing to players at times. They are human beings and don’t like to be mobbed by fans whenever they go somewhere. The Harbor Center provides this anonymity as it will also house a hotel as well.

Also, there is more than enough space within walking distance to the Harbor Center as the Phillips Lytle Building is next door and houses the Courtyard by Marriott and the Adams Mark Hotel which is only a few blocks away.  Let’s not forget the fact that there will be a Tim Hortons within the facility and who doesn’t like Tim Horton’s.

For evidence all one has to look at the fact that USA Hockey announced that the facility will host both the Under-18 women’s and sledge hockey world championships next year. Also, they will play host to USA Hockey’s annual All-American Prospects game over the next two years.

In the end, the Sabres will win, because the Harbor Center has too many features that will benefit everyone that is involved with the combine.

Cowboys host camp for underserved

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(The following is from a press release from the Dallas Cowboys)

The Dallas Cowboys will host the third annual Dallas Cowboys U high school football camp for 160 underserved student-athletes at their Valley Ranch training facility on Thursday, June 12 from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM (media availability starting at 10:00 AM).

The entire Dallas Cowboys roster and coaching staff will work with the youth to provide football instruction and discuss important off-the-field life-skills topics. Cowboys players will coach the high school athletes in round robin 6-on-6 games, while the team’s coaching staff are scheduled to consult the players as they coach.

The student athletes were selected to participate by their high school football coaches. The students represent more than 20 North Texas high schools from 10 different school districts. For several years, Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett has hosted a similar football camp at his alma mater, Princeton University.

“We hope that the camp will provide an impactful experience for deserving student-athletes who will remember the event for years to come,” said Garrett. “This camp offers a unique opportunity for our players and coaches to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these young men.”

To start the camp, the student-athletes will be divided into eight teams, each led by a Dallas Cowboys player – Tony Romo, Brandon Carr, Tyron Smith, Barry Church, Jason Witten, Sean Lee, Dez Bryant and Doug Free. The remaining Cowboys roster will be allocated as assistant coaches to each of the eight teams to help install and instruct the game plan for the 6-on-6 tournament.

Prior to concluding the camp, Cowboys players and Garrett are scheduled to address the participants in a life skills discussion.

During the day, the high school chaperones and high school coaches in attendance will receive information from the Taylor Hooton Foundation (www.TaylorHooton.org) – a non-profit whose mission is to raise awareness and educate youth and parents on the dangers of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. They will also receive hydration information from Gatorade and Heads Up player safety information from USA Football.

Underwritten by Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities and proudly supported by Paragon Healthcare, the camp will provide each youth with a camp t-shirt, athletic shorts, a Nike cinch sack and a New Era cap. Breakfast and lunch are provided courtesy of Cowboys partners Albertsons, Papa John’s, Pepsi, Gatorade, Dr Pepper, Dairy Max and Dunkin Donuts.

Bills and Steelers to hold joint practice

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With training camps slated to start next month, word about teams holding joint practices is starting to trickle out. Two of those teams that will be practicing together are the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The two teams will meet on August 13th and 14th.  Practice on the 13th will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00p.m. On the 14th the teams will practice from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. This will culminate with the two teams playing against each other in week two of the preseason on August 6th at 7:30 p.m.

Bills suffer monumental loss

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Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, with 11:18 left to go in the third quarter, threw his third touchdown pass on the day to wide receiver Donald Jones and increased the Bills lead to 14 by a score of 21-7. However, from there on out the Bills defense had a monumental collapse as the Bills lost 52-28 to the New England Patriots.

The Bills after that let the Patriots score on every drive as they scored six straight touchdowns and ended it with a field goal. The answer to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was simply they played better.

“We just played and executed better,” coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s no magic.”

There is truth to that as the Bills held Brady in check  as the defensive line got some pressure on Brady in the first half, and got a sack for their efforts. After that Brady had all day the Bills failed to get any pressure on him, which Brady made them pay for by completing 22 of 36 passes for 340 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Brady is one of the best in the game and you know he is going to score points, but the Bills offense didn’t help at all as they turned the football over six times and could only muster one touchdown after going up 21-7.

The loss already puts the Bills in a bad spot as they are now 0-2 in the division and have a brutal schedule coming up as four of their next five games are on the road. The Bills play at San Francisco next week, followed by a road game in Arizona, then home against the Tennessee Titans, they then go on the road again to face Houston and then finish it off by playing at New England.

To make matters worst for the Bills, Arizona and Houston are each undefeated at 4-0 with San Francisco having a 3-1 record and that is besides the fact that the Bills haven’t won in New England since the turn of the century.

Simply, the next five weeks will show where the Bills stand three years in the regime of Bills general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey.