BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It takes a brave man to walk head-on into a seventeen-year playoff drought.
But NFL general manager jobs are rare. And Brandon Beane wanted one for himself.
After nineteen years working in the Carolina Panthers organization, doing just about everything except clean the sinks, Beane takes over the GM post in Buffalo under owners Terry and Kim Pegula, who impressed him from the start.
“I was blown away,” Beane said of meeting the Pegulas for the first time. “When I left the interview, I wanted to be a Buffalo Bill.”
Beane admitted he wanted to be the full-time general manager in Carolina when he was named interim GM in 2012, but under Dave Gettleman, the man who got the job, Beane says he grew even more. Now he’s more ready than ever to take the helm of his own ship, in a situation he referred to as ‘unique’ on many occasions. It helps that his buddy Sean McDermott is his head coach.
“It was huge, knowing Sean,” Beane said. “The unique thing Sean and I had was respect. I knew what his roots were, working his way up.”
Like newly-minted Sabres GM Jason Botterill, Beane is a 40-year-old executive with vast experience and lofty ambitions. He and McDermott began as interns. They spent six years together in Carolina and developed a good working relationship. McDermott even introduced Beane’s son to wrestling.
They never thought they’d be in this position – together, running their own team – but now that they’re here, they’ve dedicated themselves to a tandem approach in an attempt to build a new culture in Buffalo and develop a consistent contender.
“I’m on the football side, Sean is over the coach’s side,” Beane said. “There’s no czar. Every decision will be collaborative. I’ve seen it both ways, the success is when we’re eye to eye. This is not a one person approach to making decisions.”
Owner Terry Pegula said Beane is in control of the 53-man roster; the significance of that is hard to identify since every indication is that McDermott will get his way. But Beane and McDermott’s relationship may be the perfect compliment for the Bills, a team that hasn’t had a stable coach-GM relationship in quite some time.
Pegula praised Beane for his ‘all-around ability’ as an executive and said McDermott had a say in the hiring, but that it was ‘no more than writing a name on a piece of paper.’ Beane appears to have won the Pegulas over on his own merits, due to his work in Carolina.
“He was a GM in everything but title,” Pegula said.
Beane sees the Bills being physical. You’d hope every NFL team is physical. Beane likes the Tre’Davious White draft pick. You’d hope every GM likes his own team’s first round pick. There are things said and then there are things done. But there appears to be a new foundation within the Bills that is as sturdy as ever.
Now Beane and McDermott must build on that, in the face of the almighty Playoff Drought, which has claimed so many who came before them. Beane says his goals are much larger than to tame the beast. He doesn’t want one playoff appearance, he wants to be there on a consistent basis.
“I empathize with the fans,” Beane said. “I know how strong the fanbase is – it’s a football town and that’s why I came here. How exciting is it going to be when we get this thing turned around?”