Pegulas Still Learning Like Buffalo Bills Fans

Photo of Kim and Terry Pegula from

The Pegulas would have released themselves by now.  But the owners get a bit of leeway in obtaining experience.  Buffalo’s first family is still learning how to run their teams.  A playoff cameo is a promising first credit.

Buffalo’s years are measured in Anno Pegula.  Seven years after picking up the Sabres, it’s hard to remember the royals not reigning.  This benevolent clan is sharing its inheritance with us.

The checks are bound to clear soon.  The family’s growing accustomed to what happens after dreams come true.  Proving a wild card isn’t an exception would be a good first step.  The first playoff advancement is forthcoming. Man: I hope.

Finish a Paula’s Donut and swear you’d be happy to never eat again.  But your appetite will return in a day or two.  Successful owners know the only win that counts is the next one.  The unwillingness to be satisfied has driven Robert Kraft to hang banners in Hell all century, although hopefully the Philly Special means the fine print of his deal with the Bible’s villain is finally coming into play.

Warren Zevon urged us to enjoy every sandwich if the franchise is looking for an appropriate musician to play during commercial breaks.  Like the man who documented Werewolves of London, Bills fans know to delight in the everyday.  We’re almost appreciative to a fault, as seen in how we’re presently sustained by a three-point playoff appearance.

If you’re as genuine as you are skeptical, you’ve reached Buffalo sports zen.  I’m not quite cynical enough to think lowered expectations were the goal.  But if they were, it worked.

The owners could generate even more goodwill by remembering what it was like to get ripped off for concessions.  A slightly cheaper game day ripoff would help.  Concession stand beer gets pricier by the quarter.  If the Pegulas want us to believe they’re as sincere, they’ll at least add more taps.  Modern fans want to enjoy watching the Erhardt-Perkins system with a range of IPAs.

Half of the two biggest teams in the Pegula portfolio have made progress, which is great unless you’re also a Sabres fan.  I’ve got bad news for those looking to hockey for relief from the eternal football offseason.  Jason Botterill may think there’s another trade deadline.

Photo from

Adding Vontae Davis offers some relief to Buffalo fans who hoped the Sabres would subtract from their struggling culture.  The hockey division’s general manager lamented the lack of a market without realizing it’s his job to sucker others into falling for his weak hand.  Instead, he showed everyone at the table his cards and asked if they were any good.  Nobody was expecting the Bills to the be consolation prize for Buffalo’s fans, but 2018 is full of surprises.

The Pegulas are still trying to prove they know how win consistently.  They wasted a few years learning football fun comes during games, not at press conferences in between.  Unlike the underwhelming gasbag he replaced, Sean McDermott seems to realize nothing he say can replace what his players achieve.

Cold gruel provides energy, so why do you need energy from something that tastes good?  I suppose it’s okay to enjoy a decadent treat every now and then like spice.  Fans have the right to be demanding, as simply existing is insufficient.  There’s nothing ungrateful about expecting a team to do more than be here.

Gratitude should be stirred into the sauce.  But we can still complain that we need more Scoville units for flavor.  We’ll be back to calling for the owners to drive Russ Brandon to the county line with a bindle while telling him to hit the road after the next three-game losing streak.

The arrangement feels so natural that it’s easy to forget how odd and wonderful this 10-figure transaction was.  The Pegulas pocketed the Bills over three years ago, and it feels like both yesterday and decades ago.  It’s now normal to have owners who are committed to improving both teams and the town even if it still feels odd.

Photo of KeyBank Center from

Now, there are people south of Chippewa Street and empty seats at the KeyBank Center.  It’s easier to remake downtown than rosters.  One Buffalo teams haven’t won Buffalo much yet.  They’ve sometimes failed to match the fervor of those cheering.  But nobody appreciates a nine-win season like fans who thought Trent Edwards could be the answer.

Enjoy the tranquility, especially because fearful screaming has ceased.  Both the Bills and Sabres endured scares that went beyond Donte Whitner or Mikhail Grigorenko failing to serve as worthwhile draft rewards.  There were once questions about whether we’d even have teams to boo back in those ancient days when our favorites had separate owners.

Buffalo’s fans should never take stability for granted.  We used to fret that the Bills would flee to some foreign city like Toronto or Los Angeles.  And may be one of the worst seasons in Sabres history, but at least there’s no chance they’ll be sold and relocated thanks to a felonious owner.  Some of life’s happiest moments come in avoiding disasters.  It’s both tricky and crucial to be thankful for what didn’t happen.

Conspiracies are appealing because they provide a reason for failure. Incompetence is an unsatisfying explanation.  But lunatic theories presume there are explanations in this stupid universe.  The Pegulas want to win as much as us, angry WGR callers notwithstanding.  They’re below .500 because trainees can only improve performance by learning from errors.

Aloofness is often a problem with corporate tyrants who haven’t been inside a supermarket or Walmart in decades.  The Bills are overcoming the opposite problem, namely owners who are so invested that they haven’t always made clear decisions.  Terry and Kim have made as many mistakes as a fan would.

Enthusiasm is a good problem to have.  Learning to be calm in ruthlessness will bring about consistent achievement.  Those who own your beloved teams have to learn from errors.  Problems don’t disappear with wealth if that offers comfort.

Editor’s babble: Thanks to Anthony Bialy, as always, for his contributions to our blog. You can follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyBialy.

*Views expressed are the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the owners of the website.

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy recently moved back to Buffalo from New York City and acts like he never left. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He likes getting Tim Hortons on the way to get Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

5 Replies to “Pegulas Still Learning Like Buffalo Bills Fans”

  1. Thanks for the new article Anthony! Yes, the Pegula’s are definitely newbie’s when it comes to owning professional sports organizations and it definitely shows. It just blows my mind that they are successful business people, but yet, they had no plan in place on how to run their two new businesses [Sabres and Bills]. I’m sure when it came to drilling for oil and fracking, Terry had a business plan developed on how to operate it, what equipment to use (or if he didn’t, I’m sure he consulted people on that). With that being said, I don’t get why they didn’t apply those same principals to the Sabres and Bills.

    With the Sabres, Terry thought that opening up the checkbook would have solved all the Sabres woes. Unfortunately, it didn’t as Darcy Regier’s draft picks and FA’s were terrible (Ville Leino…need I say more). At that point, Terry had the opportunity to go out and get an experienced hockey manager that could successfully build the Sabres into a winner, instead, Terry hires a fan favorite [LaFontaine] to come in and give the fans something to cheer about. LaFontaine hires another fan favorite, Ted Nolan, to be his coach. Next, LaFontaine decides to hire an up and coming GM, Tim Murray. Shortly after that, Murray and LaFontaine butt heads on which player should stay and which one should be trade bait, then LaFontaine abruptly quits and sign an NDA to keep quiet. Tim Murray was like a drunken sailor pissing away his hard earned money as he traded high round draft picks and prospects in order to speed up the rebuilding process. Murray was hoping by getting a bunch of good players that it would equate into success, but when you build a team like that, it’s like thrown darts with a blindfold on hoping you’ll strike bulls eye. Murray should have picked players that fit into a particular system and not given up the farm to do so, but instead, he stripped the cupboards bare and the only things the Sabres have to show for their “tank” job is Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Eichel is a very good player, but he can’t do it alone. As far as the current Sabres regime goes, so far, I can’t tell if Botterill is in over his head, if Housley sucks as a head coach or a combination of both. The way things look for the Sabres is that they could surpass the Bills 17 year playoff drought if Botterill can’t rebuild the gut job left by Murray. The only thing I hope for is now that the Sabres aren’t tanking on purpose, that the NHL let’s them win the draft lottery.

    The Pegula’s got duped by a used car salesman [Rex Ryan] and a gullible executive [Russ Brandon]. Brandon made the statement “don’t let him [Ryan] leave the building.” We all know how the Ryan era of the Bills went so there’s no need to revisit that. For years, it seems the Bills were being built like how the Sabres were, throwing darts at a dartboard with a blindfold on. There was no sense of direction with this team on how to build it into a winner. The Bills would have a good player or two at certain positions, but the group as a whole was terrible. It’s painfully obvious they missed out on a quarterback, time and time again, but what makes matters worse is that they didn’t even try drafting that many QB’s over the playoff drought. Whaley always took the best player available, as like Tim Murray, he was hoping having a collection of good players would makeup a successful team…WRONG! After Rex was shown the door, Terry got a new best friend in Sean McDermott. Terry became enamored with McDermott and let him choose all the players in the 2017 draft, which so far, the results look promising. It appears Terry might have finally selected a person that has an actual plan on how to build a team. After one season, McDermott and Brandon Beane built a team that finally got the 17 year monkey off their backs, even though the Bills got in by the skin of their teeth. While McDermott’s game day decisions are sometimes head scratching and baffling, it does appear that he knows what he is doing compared to everyone else that managed/coached the Bills since Wade Phillips was fired in 2000. Next step for McBeane is drafting that long elusive franchise QB that Bills fans have been waiting for since January 1997. If they are able to do that, then the Pegula’s will look like they are finally on the right track as owners of an NFL team (but no so much as NHL owners).

  2. I’m not yet sold that McBeane know what they’re doing. They get credit for ending the ridiculous drought, but I don’t think they’ve proven much other than it actually is possible for the Bills to get lucky once in a while. The only thing that really impressed me is how often the Bills got lucky. At this point, though, I think the roster is actually worse than how Whaley left it. Whether they’re a better ‘team’ as a result, we’ll find out soon enough. Like I said, I don’t think they’ve proven it yet…I just think they found a ton of luck and a lot of bad competition last year.

  3. I think McBeane did a great job at revamping the secondary. I didn’t like Alexander used as an OLB, but once Frasier started using him and Yarborough to rush the passer and passing downs, that started to make a difference. Preston Brown led the league in tackles, but I expect him to be gone and I’d like to see the Bills upgrade the position. Matt Milano was a great signing and I hope McBeane is able to draft more versatile players like him that are good at covering players. The defensive front four needs some serious work. Kyle Williams is on the downside of his career and Washington and the rest of the DT’s are depth players. Washington, Hughes and Lawson are all Whaley’s guys. I wouldn’t doubt if McBeane tries to trade Lawson. On offense, I like the addition of Kelvin Benjamin as the Bills needed a tall, physical WR. I’m not down on Zay Jones as he was a rookie and most rookie WR’s tend to struggle, plus it didn’t help having a gun-shy QB [Taylor].

    I like that McDermott has instilled a team first mentality and that helped overcome the lack of talent at certain areas. I also like that McBeane are getting rid of overpriced players, such as Dareus. If they play their cards right and are able to draft a franchise QB this year, they could have potentially five years to make a run before they have to pay that QB $150 million (or more by that time) for a new contract and lose out on resigning key players.

  4. Well, Whaley was actually the GM when the secondary players minus EJ Gaines came in…he deserves more credit than Beane for that. Beane traded for Gaines, who when healthy, was a good fit…but he was a rental it doesn’t appear they’re bringing back. Nor are they likely to bring back Matthews. Really, I have no idea what McBeane can do yet. Half the credit they receive is for moves Whaley was the GM for. It’s a lot more convenient and impressive to give the credit to the guys that are here, but is it correct? I’m sure it’s not right to give Whaley all the credit for those moves…but it’s not any different than what “we’re” doing. It’s giving all the credit to a guy that maybe deserves half and another guy that deserves none in a lot of cases. What we’ve seen from Beane, he got rid of Watkins, Dareus, and Darby and brought in some rent-a-players in Gains, Matthews, and to an extent, Benjamin. At this point, those moves are pretty much neutral. Let’s see what they do with the draft picks and what those guys that left end up doing…or to be fair, let’s just see what the Bills become in the next couple years.

  5. Anthony another outstanding article….

    The Bills struck gold last in making the playoffs with a 9-7 record and the way the Bengals beat the Ravens… Those things happen in the NFL and the Bills were certainly due for a a season where breaks went their way…

    It will be tough for them to match last years magic as they try to retool but stay competitive… This is a big draft for them as they need to address the QB situation plus plug the many holes in their line-up..

    FA starts in 10 days and that will be very interesting!!

    Jets release Wilkerson, he pulled the Dareus as he got the big contract and lost his desire–OH Well

    Say a prayer for Kelly as his cancer has returned, hopefully they caught it quick enough..