Posted at: 01/02/2013 6:24 PM
By: Robin De Wind
It's a busy week behind closed doors for the Buffalo Bills. The team is actively looking for a head coach in the wake of Chan Gailey's firing on Monday and the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the team's new president, Syracuse native and St. John Fisher College graduate, Russ Brandon.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson has turned the keys to the kingdom over to Russ Brandon. Wilson's team that he paid $25,000 for is now an $800 million empire and it's future has been placed firmly on the shoulders of Russ Brandon. A sports lover from Syracuse, Brandon attended St. John Fisher College and began his young career with the Rochester Red Wings.
Russ Brandon said, "I could sit here all day and talk about people who had an enormous impact in my life from my college football coach to my college baseball coaches to the athletic director at Saint John Fisher Bob Ward."
Bob Ward never expected his name to be part of Russ Brandon's remarks Tuesday, but after Bills owner Ralph Wilson gave Brandon total control of the team, Brandon thought back to the people who helped him reach his dream job.
Ward remembers Brandon as an accomplished two sport athlete, football and baseball. He was inducted into the college's hall of fame in 2004 and has never forgotten his roots, helping to move the Bills to the campus for summer training camp. Ward says this latest and greatest achievement only deepens that local connection.
Bob Ward, St. John Fisher College Athletic Director, said, "It enhances the college. His promotion is just more. You'll see of him next to NFL commissioners. It helps us I think."
After leaving Fisher, Brandon worked his way up through the Red Wings front office. As a PR director and co-assistant GM alongside friend and colleague Dan Mason. Brandon continued his climb up the ladder to the Marlins organization, winning a World Series, before heading to Buffalo.
Mason says Brandon's ability to sell tickets during a difficult 13 years in Buffalo often goes unnoticed, adding Brandon's resolve could be what the team needs.
Dan Mason, Rochester Red Wings GM, said, "Failure is not an option for Russ. I'm so happy, there's not doubt he's going to turn things around and he will do well. He doesn't stop working until things are going the way he wants it to."
Brandon still takes his kids to Red Wings games. As for the business side of football, Brandon got right to work, as promised, interviewing potential head coaches to replace Chan Gailey. The Bills interviewed former Arizona head coach Ken Wisenhunt Tuesday night and reports say the Bills will also talk to Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Recently fired Bears head coach Lovie Smith has said he's interested in the Bills job.