Just when you think it’s safe to take a deep breath after the most contentious Buffalo Bills’ draft in years and the Sabres winning the lottery, a bomb drops on Tuesday – Russ Brandon, President of the Bills, Sabres and Pegula Sports and Entertainment abruptly resigned, allegedly under pressure because of some sort of misconduct.
Truth be told, I have. Many times. Probably like a large segment of long-time Bills fans.
However, my ever-suspicious mind immediately wondered if this was some sort of set-up by the universe to test my ability to put my money where my mouth is about showing grace.
Just as Lorenzo Alexander did when he discussed rookie quarterback Josh Allens horrible tweets from the past, maybe I should just put a sock in it about Russ Brandon’s departure.
So that’s exactly what I did. It’s never been my style to celebrate any professional’s misfortune anyway, because there are often unintended victims – whether it be family, friends or other innocent people – either physically injured as in the case of medical malpractice, or socially as in this case.
Gratitude to one of my favorite guardian angels for that realization. Thank you for being a voice for those who are innocent of wrongdoing yet feel the full force of the impact on their lives.
Speaking from experience, there’s a wife who’s humiliated and children who have to go to school tomorrow. Tread lightly.
— Janine Talley (@J9Talley) May 1, 2018
Point taken and graciously received.
So, where do we go from here? We go on to the next era in Western New York professional sports.
Welcome, Mrs. Pegula.
Lost in all the drama of a change in leadership after over 20 years with Russ Brandon at the helm is the realization Mrs. Pegula just slipped into the most powerful role a woman ever assumed in professional sports – leading role for an NFL and NHL team (as well as lacrosse and women’s hockey).
As much as this may chap the hide of conventional thinkers about an owner daring to be in total charge of a professional sports team (or two), I think it’s a breath of fresh air for Mrs. Pegula to step up and fearlessly lead these teams into the future.
My thoughts on this ‘daring’ challenge?
Who says you have to have another layer of management (and in some cases obfuscation) between owners and GM/coaches? The key in my mind is this… if the owner is willing to work that hard (and juggling three entities; Bills, Sabres, Pegula Sports and Entertainment is no small task), why would you need another layer of “management” to “oversee” the GM/coaches?
How about thinking out of the box a little here?
Not all billionaires are willing to dedicate their entire lives to their businesses the way the Pegulas do. Many are very happy to let others take care of day to day operations.
What some may choose to define as interference, others like myself believe is the core trust the Pegulas have placed in themselves to lead the way.
Finding the right people to implement the culture you want in your organization isn’t as easy as it seems. From this very outside view, it seems the Pegulas learned a very important lesson when they bought the Sabres, and then the Bills.
They found out the hard way (Tim Murray, Rex Ryan) allowing other people to make critical decisions involving their top tier managers of corporate culture wasn’t a good idea.
The belief that only “football people” can run football organizations and likewise for hockey is as antiquated as most espousing these beliefs ;) CEOs of Fortune 500 companies run different types of companies with regularity.
The Pegula family did not rise to the top of their empire by relying on other people to define their corporate culture. They know exactly what transferable skills are necessary for each position they hire They also carefully hand pick their own corporate people to represent their interests without regard to background if they think they have the right fit.
Furthermore, why be in a hurry to bring in another person who becomes a filter between ownership and the front office and obviously complicates relationships. What if they bring in someone that isn’t going to play well with Botterill, Housely, or Beane and McDermott?
It’s not only logical, but likely a very good idea for the Pegula family to take their time in deciding how best to structure their organizations. They may discover a better paradigm for owners who want to be directly involved in shaping their own corporate culture.
We are blessed to have the Pegulas as the stewards of our beloved Bills and Sabres. The synergy between the organizations is a breath of fresh air. If it becomes a disaster, how much worse can it be than the last combined century of seasons without a championship?
I say let’s be bold.
What say you?
Editor’s babble: I’m getting too old for all this drama. However, as a lifelong feminist who railed incessantly about the ‘good old boys’ club in all professions, it gives me great pleasure to watch Mrs. Pegula be our fierce leader and challenge the status quo. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.
*Views expressed by authors are not necessarily endorsed by the owners of the BillsMafia.com website.