Pegula spells out lone expectation for Bills: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula has but one simple objective he would like to see his team achieve this year: Respect.
Earn that, he said on Wednesday, and the rest will eventually follow for a once-proud franchise whose reputation has been tarnished during a 17-year playoff drought — the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports.
“My expectation is that we earn some respect on the field,” Pegula said during an 11-minute news conference after the Bills closed their first week of training camp.
“People respect organizations and teams that win, and that’s where we have to get,” he said. “We have to earn the respect of the rest of the league. The Buffalo Bills have to.”
As for making the playoffs, Pegula didn’t altogether rule out that possibility despite a major offseason overhaul.
“If you put the pieces in the puzzle together, the respect, earn it, work hard diligence, be thorough, I think that’s how you get into the playoffs,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do that this year.”
Pegula’s message comes at a time when the Bills usher in their latest fresh start after the owner fired coach Rex Ryan in the final week of last season and general manager Doug Whaley a day after the draft was completed.
In their place are two first-timers at their posts in coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane. Both are in their early 40s and they already have a common bond by having spent the previous six seasons working together in Carolina.
Pegula stressed the need for continuity in saying he will remain patient while McDermott and Beane rebuild a roster to address on-field and leadership needs.
The Bills 90-player roster features only 30 players who opened training camp a year ago.
Continuity is something the Bills have lacked during the playoff drought, with McDermott being the team’s eighth coach and Beane the seventh GM since 2000.
It’s also been an issue in the three years since Pegula purchased the team from the estate of Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson. McDermott is Buffalo’s third coach under Pegula following Ryan’s two-year tenure and after Doug Marrone opted out of his contract following the 2014 season.
On another issue, Pegula continued dismissing speculation of his plans to build a new stadium to replace New Era Field, which opened in 1973.
Pegula noted the current stadium underwent a $130 million renovation in 2013 as part of a $271 million lease agreement with state and county governments that runs through the summer of 2023.
“This is 2017, we’ve got a long ways to go before we start thinking about anything besides where we’re at now,” he said.
Reminded that the lease includes a one-time out clause in 2020, Pegula said he has no intention of opting out of the deal.
NOTES: The Bills signed RB/return specialist Taiwan Jones, who spent the previous six seasons with the Oakland Raiders. … OT Michael Ola is listed day to day after hurting his hip in practice. … RB LeSean McCoy returned to practice after missing one day due to illness.
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