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Find me a great quarterback or die trying.
Posted: Wednesday, 18 January 2017 9:18AM

Schopp: Imagining the Bills as open

As far as I know nobody was expecting the call from the Bills about an afternoon press conference. These things are usually predicted, or predictable: when a new coach is hired, the first night of the NFL draft, after games. This one though, nobody knew what it would even be about.

Turns out it was less a press conference than an open discussion -- making it far different than any of the typically stitled gatherings in the Bills' media room.

It was different in every way, starting with the steak sandwiches the Bills offered to each media member in attendance. "Have a seat," said a young woman no one knew, wearing a Bills pullover. "What's going on?", WGR's Sal Capaccio replied. "You'll find out. Terry will be out in a few minutes. Have a sandwich."

Reporters alternated between eating -- the sandwiches drew high praise -- and asking each other what was happening while scrambling to find out on their phones.

In a few minutes Terry Pegula walked in and took a seat not on a stage or behind a lectern but in one of the reporters' chairs. "Anybody want this one?", Terry said about a sandwich heretofore untouched, and then he grabbed it.

The room fell mostly silent.

"I don't have anything to announce, I just thought if you guys had any questions for me I'd give you my answers," Pegula said.

Reporters looked at each other askance. "Really?", asked Sal. "That's why we're here?"

"Yeah," Terry said. "Fire away."

"Are you keeping Tyrod Taylor?", asked a voice with a direct and important enough question that right away tested Pegula's motives.

"Doubtful," Terry said. "He's recovering from an injury so the announcement has to wait but we're planning on moving on, and he knows that."

"Why?", a reporter asked back.

"I don't think we can win a Super Bowl with him."

A reporter followed up: "But what about..."

"Listen," Terry interrupted. "I know that's harsh. Tyrod's a super guy and played better quarterback for this team that it had seen in years. But I want to win big. I mean why else do you own a sports team? I don't need the money and I'm not really taken with this obsession about a playoff drought. Who wants to make the playoffs and lose?

"There are Super Bowl 'droughts', if you want to call them that, and nothing else. Nothing else matters."

One reporter was so disarmed that he let out a laugh. Another started to, by the sound of it, choke on his steak.

"When did you decide on Tyrod?", Pegula was then asked.

"In Oakland," he replied. "I watched one quarterback throw it all over us with a splint on his passing hand while we kept missing. We had a big lead and still lost by two touchdowns. Everything bothered me about that game. Did you hear the postgame show? Everything about that game bothered everybody."

"So did you decide on Rex that day too?"

"Pretty much, but we still had a chance to make the playoffs so moving on that with a month left would have been crazy. But I felt like I knew that day we weren't good enough. I should have been more careful with how we handled the Rex thing. I know that looked bad. I'm still pretty new at this and I've made mistakes."

Reporters continued to notice each other's expressions. The room was stunned that the owner was speaking so freely, and frankly. This became the topic.

"Terry, this is a pretty big departure for you, speaking so openly like this. What happened?"

"The more I thought about it," Pegula said, "the more I wanted to do it. I mean what's so wrong about being honest?

"Look, Tyrod Taylor is a good player, and letting him go is a risk. But I don't see the Super Bowl in our future. Do you? Does anyone in here want to raise their hand right now and tell me that you think Taylor can win us a Super Bowl?"

"It's possible," someone said from the back.

"Yeah, it's possible. That's right," Pegula replied. "But a lot of quarterbacks get described that way. I don't want to name names, you know who the teams are. They commit to quarterbacks that are pretty good and it seems to me the best they can really hope for is to win one playoff game. You guys know who's playing this weekend, right?"

Brady, the legend. Rodgers and Roethlisberger, greats with Super Bowl rings. Matt Ryan, high draft pick and possible league MVP.

"I really don't want my attitude about this to seem critical of Taylor. He played well. He'll play for someone else and whoever that is will be tough to beat. I did my best to tell him this.

"I just think as hard as it is to find a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback, you've got to find one or you're wasting your time. I'm going to be 66 in March. I didn't buy this team to make the wild card. I want to make history.

"When the average football fan in the country thinks of the Bills, the first thing he thinks of is the Super Bowls we lost. That's how we're remembered. Not how we did in wild-card games. I want all the moves we make to be justifiable in that context -- winning the Super Bowl.

"Heck, we've exhausted just about every marketing strategy imaginable around here. You know, 'This is Our Time', stuff like that. Well it wasn't. The guys on the radio were saying how there's nothing left to call our team highlight film, how all the cliches have been exhausted. How about we call it 'Not Yet' every year until we win the Super Bowl? What do you think of that? Every team that didn't win the Super Bowl failed at its goal. Including us."

Reporters were beyond incredulous. An easy and open discussion in the press room with the Bills' owner -- this had never happened, not even with team management. Were Bills communications operatives shackled in the back? Free and easy, Pegula fielded questions about new coach Sean McDermott, a possible new stadium someday, and even a couple on the Sabres. "Where's Doug Whaley?", Pegula was asked at one point. "Working", he replied.

The story of the day was not as much the news about Taylor as it was the surprisingly -- and incredibly -- relaxed attitude and temperament of the owner. At one point he said, "Everybody in this sport is so secretive. You can't say this, you can't say that. I felt like I needed to be that way. But the other day I thought, where has that gotten us? Then we'd try to keep something a secret, it would leak out, and you guys call us dysfunctional. It's not worth it. Enough of that.

"What I want is for you and the fans to know the Super Bowl is really all I care about, doing something this franchise has never done."

After about an hour reporters disassembled, tossing their paper plates into garbage cans as they walked out into the fresh air.

01/18/2017 9:48AM
Imagining the Bills as open
Please enter your comments below.
01/18/2017 10:01AM
imagining the station as open
its too bad the station isn't more open instead of spewing Bills and Sabres company line, giving guests soft ball questions and continually shilling for the teams that keep losing.
01/18/2017 10:05AM
Which is it....
A Super Bowl or a Stanley Cup? He's got too many irons in the fire and needs to concentrate on one or the other. Right now, it's hockey season. Bills football is over...focus on what the Sabres need to do to win. Then, in April, when the Sabresseason is inevitably over...focus on the football draft...he can't juggle 8 things at once, which is what he's doing. Pick one and stick with it.
01/18/2017 10:13AM
Did this really happen?
01/18/2017 10:38AM
and then...
... I woke up.
01/18/2017 10:44AM
wow was this a dream
schoop waiting for you to say in your snarky self naaaaa just kidding......can we become transparent overnight doubt it whaley
01/18/2017 10:57AM
It that it?
So; you had him in a talkative mood and didn't ask him any in depth questions? For example; If Tyrod leaves, who is our QB. Where do you intend to find the next Brady, Ryan, or Rogers? What does the team do if one of those doesn't come around for another 10 years. You'll be 76 years old then. Isn't it better to hang on to an OK QB until you get that Brady? What about Cardale? What is your opinion of him? Etc. Etc. Looks to me like you enjoyed a free sandwich and left the building.
01/18/2017 11:19AM
Sounds like the first press conference
I do believe if you check the transcript from Mr Pegula's first press conference as ownert, you will find wording that implies the only thing that is important is bringing a championship to Buffalo.
01/18/2017 11:23AM
Isn't it refreshing to read the honesty
I didn't think this was real at first. Heck, I still don't. I can't believe an NFL owner would be honest like this and not try to skirt around the bush.
01/18/2017 11:33AM
Great article
Where were you imagining the steak sandwiches were from?
01/18/2017 11:34AM
This is ridiculous. Why does everyone act like the Bills are operating in a secretive fashion? The owner is almost as open and honest as you have imagined! The only difference is his answers aren't what you want to hear. I mean, what have they not answered honestly?! Isn't it possible that they are genuinely uncertain of what the best course of action would be, regarding Taylor? And isn't it possible that they genuinely would like to hear the opinion of the coaches that will be working with him, before making up their minds and stubbornly forcing the coaches to work with or without him, regardless of their opinion on him? And furthermore, isn't taking their input into account before making a final decision actually a perfectly fine way of handling such a difficult situation? Why should they pretend to be 100%, absolutely certain that Taylor is, or is not, the guy? That's all this article is really getting at, because the rest of the questions have literally already been answered honestly in the past. Ownership has said, on the record, numerous times, that their goal is not to simply make the Playoffs, but to win a championship. They have literally gone so far as to say that the pursuit of a championship is all they care about, and have openly admitted that any season they do not achieve that goal is a failure. He has shared his thoughts of McDermott, and he has addressed the stadium question on more than one occasion! I really don't understand the perception here that they are dodging questions, or operating in an overly-secretive manner.
01/18/2017 11:37AM
wait, what?
did this really happen?
01/18/2017 11:46AM
UR Giving Terry Too Much Credit
I think thats how it would go if Mike were the owner. Terry makes decisions differently. I think he depends on a consensus and listens to Doug and Kim in order to form his opinions. Terry does not have the verbal acuity to "handle" a room like that and can't form coherent thoughts so quickly. Hes more the absent minded professor type, and based on past decision does not have a good grasp on what makes a team successful.
01/18/2017 11:53AM
To dream
That's all well and good. But it just doesn't fit his personality. He simply doesn't like the media. And doing a conference like this in order to end the media spewing how dysfunctional the franchise is, is only giving into the media (which he clearly dislikes). It's a nice dream. Just never gonna happen.
01/18/2017 11:56AM
no hope 2017
see above
01/18/2017 11:58AM
Let me say it
How are they better with no quarterback. Its THEY from now on not US for me. Paper bag time.
01/18/2017 12:01PM
Wow, how COOL
Really can't add anything else, other than way to go Terry!
01/18/2017 12:26PM
OK I'm confused
Did this really happen or is this some imaginery sequence.
01/18/2017 12:27PM
The truth will set you free.
How long did they thought this mess was going to lasted. The owners said we are going to bring the super bowl to buffalo period. And like i said before if you can't get the job done, than somebody else will. you don't buy a hockey team and a football team to be at the bottom of the league every dam year. I mean like "hey" he came out and told you he dosen't need the money. But terry and kim be dam if they don't win the cup and super bowl. while they are still alive to see it. It will be like a dream come true for them, and our fan base. Now reporters go to the white house and see if trump can answer, any of your questions. for lol.
01/18/2017 12:33PM
Who's the "great quarterback" the Bills will get
if they get rid of Tyrod Taylor? None of you ever have an answer for that.
01/18/2017 12:36PM
I hope this contrived article gets Schopp banned from the Bills media room.
01/18/2017 12:45PM
01/18/2017 12:52PM
Awful column as usual
stick to women's tennis, strat-o-matic, analytics or an "interesting" story about one of your many many friends.
01/18/2017 12:53PM
one about the tank....
.... can you now re-run the cheeky what-if story you wrote about what would have happened if we didn't tank?
01/18/2017 12:59PM
That would be the coolest thing ever. I almost thought it was real, lol
01/18/2017 1:18PM
Is this a satirical article or did it really happen....
This reads like it really happened but it is too unbelievable for that, plus there is no other outlet reporting anything.
01/18/2017 1:32PM
What is this?
Fans dont care about reporters getting honest answers from Bills pressers. They care about the bills winning games. They keep strategies in house like every other NFL team to keep some kind of competitive advantage. How would it benefit the Bills to tell anyone what there plan was on Tyrod? This article has nothing to do with Bills football. When they do release their decision on Offensive coordinator and QB situations, state your valued opinion. Until then, keep your fantasy about creating some kind of media utopia in Buffalo to yourself.
01/18/2017 1:39PM
Pegula VS. Schopp
Pegula doesn't want to share information with the likes of WGR and the Buffalo news because you are all hacks. The national media gets information about your local team before you do. That is a bad sign. The afternoon show is a joke with Schoppleading stupid man-child around. Schopp can continue his amateur story telling and hopefully he will narrate himself out of town for good.
01/18/2017 1:50PM
did this actually happen? lol
Is this real life?
01/18/2017 1:50PM
This satirical interview displays utter stupidity.
Schoop is a moron if he thinks satire reflects how an NFL team should operate in real life. What’s wrong with "being honest" about telling the rest of the league that we’re firing Taylor? Here’s what’s wrong with that: What happens if the Bills publicly burn their bridges with Taylor and then something like this happens on the first day of the draft? 1. Browns: Garrett, DE 2. Niners: Kizer, QB 3. Bears: Trubisky, QB 4. Jaguars: Watson, QB 5. Titans: Fournette, RB 6. Jets: Mahomes, QB 7. Chargers: Williams, WR 8. Panthers: Cook, RB 9. Bengals: Davis, WR 10. Bills: ??? Then what? Reach for a lower-value QB pick like Kaaya or Webb or, worse yet, that Manziel-to-be Chad Kelly? Beg Taylor to come back on a one-year flyer? And if Taylor’s signed elsewhere by then, go 2-14 with an underdeveloped Cardale? You keep your plans confidential because it’s in the team’s best interest to do so. The press does not have the team’s best interest at heart and never will, because disclosure of important secrets, however damaging to teams, helps the press push copy. New England knows this fact and runs the team as business: You keep your important information confidential and never run your mouth to the press.
01/18/2017 2:00PM
01/18/2017 2:03PM
Thank you for sharing!
01/18/2017 2:16PM
Pegula VS. Schopp
Pegula doesn't want to share information with the likes of WGR and the Buffalo news because you are all h@cks. The national media gets information about your local team before you do. That is a bad sign. The afternoon show is a joke with Schoppleading stupid man-child around. Schopp can continue his amateur story telling and hopefully he will narrate himself out of town for good.
01/18/2017 2:34PM
Is this for real?
01/18/2017 2:43PM
Is this real?
Did anonymous hack your server & plant some fake news??? Is there audio of this meeting? How come no one asked if they were going to maneuver in the draft for the kid from Clemson? Go Terry!!!!
01/18/2017 2:43PM
Son of a...
I thought this was real life for a moment.
01/18/2017 2:47PM
nice job
I know it's a lot of quotes, but this is nicely written. Great job.
01/18/2017 3:29PM
Go Away Schopp !
Me, John, Rick Jeanerette & Terry Pegula think you are a horses a ss !
01/18/2017 4:39PM
What is this?
Serious question. Were you high when you wrote this?
01/18/2017 4:55PM
Love this, wish it were true. Really hope it happens. 2018 is a great yr for QBs so this next season is the season to rebuild.
01/18/2017 5:16PM
To WGR mgmt
Please feed your staff. Apparently they're having starvation driven delusions and passing them off as real stories. Sad.
01/18/2017 5:27PM
DREAM On !!!
If only this exchange ever really happened !!! Certain aspects of it would be refreshing (e.g., the realization that overpaying for players simply to say we made the playoffs is POINTLESS). I don't care about merely "making" the playoffs either ... at 60 years of age, I want the Bills to WIN IT ALL, as my lifetime window of awareness/opportunity might have at best another 10 years or so. With NFL free agency as it is, it's ridiculous to chase after admittedly great players (e.g. Shady McCoy) who nonetheless take up too much salary cap space (especially for what they deliver), are interchangeable with other talent, and who will always be on the move. Look at the hated NE Patriots -- the only constant in their entire multiple-championship DYNASTY is a franchise QB and a HoF coach. They have tons of other good -- yet "no name" and hardly "star quality" players who rotate in and out, such as decent RBs and WRs. Meanwhile, as the Pats continue to win AFC East Championship year after year, the Bills, Jets, and Fish alternate chasing after various blockbuster big name signees who make a headline splash but gobble up too much salary cap space ... only to have them move on after a couple of years while nobody but the Pats (with their restrained spending other than on QB) wins consistently.
01/18/2017 5:34PM
Could you imagine?
OMG this would be awesome. Seriously great stuff, Mike!! You always seem to amaze me every time I read you work. I think you should create more of these thought pieces. When I read your work, a little bit of goo gets released from the tip of my mushroom cap. I hope something very bad happens to Bucky Gleason and his family in 2017.
01/18/2017 5:37PM
Not yet!
Finally heading in the right direction! Next move: Fire Bylsma too.
01/18/2017 5:44PM
We Should Rebuild Just Like The Sabres Did!!
This is such a great idea, Mike! We should trade players for draft picks and purposely play young, non-talented players to throw the season -- just like the Sabres did a few years ago. And look where they are now, on the cusp of making the playoffs!! Just a few more years and the Sabres might be in the thick of grabbing a 6 or 7-seed! The Sabres should be really good any day now, just waiting! But yes the Bills should definitely do this it has been proven to work so many times. I hope his Chris "Bulldog" Parker's son, who's a hockey goalie, suffers a career-ending injury soon.
01/18/2017 6:06PM
Attention to Fake details..
Give credit where its due..The details that was presented in this story were very good and Believeable. As I read it, I closed my eyes and I could actually imagine the Bills being "open" Great Job Mike, Looks like you might have missed your true calling..Not Bad at all
01/18/2017 6:21PM
the next time you write something it end with: GOOD BYE!
01/18/2017 7:08PM
Are you drunk from Crafts Beer again ?
01/18/2017 8:30PM
RE: imagining the station as open
To the poster who wrote the "imagining the station as open" post: what station do you listen to? They (justifiably) critizice the bills and sabres much more than many fans, and often get ripped by fans for being too negative - which is also a silly view. Maybe I should be happy that at least you're not saying that. I find most of the views propagated on the station fair, and fair from "softball".
01/18/2017 9:20PM
Should have been Kim instead of Terry
Great Article! I think if you made Kim the main character it would have made the point more perfect. It could be that Kim is setting the direction for the team. The displeasure with drugs and off-field antics of players, the undisciplined play. The brashness of Rex Ryan. Maybe She's had enough. She wants a new clean Bills.
01/18/2017 10:12PM
what's worse the bills, sabres or WGR?
it's a toss up.....
01/19/2017 4:45AM
truth Bomb
come on people. we all knew during the Oakland game. taylor is an OK QB, but thats it. someone got fooled, maybe tyrod himself and he sold it, he is not a Franchise QB. We need to build on that run game, fix that defense, recruit the rest of that O-line,and let Jones run the offense while we look for that Franchise QB if Jones is not that guy.
01/19/2017 7:01AM
I very much appreciated what Terry Pegula just did. The "behind the back" and "secretive" Terry was being dishonest with us. In the beginning of his ownerships, Terry (and Kim) showed us their passion and heart for the fans. He was genuine, real, sensitive and someone you could sit and talk to on your back porch. I hope he keeps this up. It's refreshing to hear. We all feel the pain with the Sabres and the Bills. We may not win the championship anytime soon but it's nice to hear some down-home honesty with the owner. Way to go Terry!!!
01/19/2017 8:12AM
Schopp the dope
Is this the only way Schopp can get people to read his stuff. I think I will listen to Bomante Jones on the ride home.
01/19/2017 9:45AM
just another....
media hack. go back to your cards and dresses.
01/19/2017 9:54AM
schtoopid once again
and yes i call schoop stupid and my self for reading his usless dribble what are you bored ? go write some prose or fiction on your own time your usless to me and im sure many other valued readers
01/19/2017 10:10AM
"Imagining" the Bills as open
For the people that have to ask if the article was real, what do you think imagining means? People like you make Bills fans look bad.
01/19/2017 10:24AM
Make the world a better place...
someone punch schopp in the face
01/19/2017 1:17PM
These comments are hilarious
This is my favorite: "Awful column as usual. Stick to women's tennis, strat-o-matic, analytics or an 'interesting' story about one of your many many friends." The guy clearly listens to the show everyday. I also love these comments trying to sound intellectual but saying "I'll listen to Bomante Jones" (it's Bomani), "his useless dribble" (it's drivel). And of course, those who think it's real, reading comprehension is necessary. I hope every article Schopp writes from now on is fiction, even if only to get these comments.
01/19/2017 1:17PM
01/19/2017 3:30PM
It's the only way this town's fans will ever force change for the better with this mediocre media and "pro" franchise. BOYCOTT THEM ALL! Change the channel and stop going to the games!!
01/19/2017 5:53PM
I would love so much if this actually happened. Shows great leadership
01/20/2017 4:53AM
Knew it was all a dream
You had to know it was all a dream as soon as he said steak sandwiches..... The one grain of truth in this would be, limited skills or not, we are about to lose the best QB we've had since Jim Kelly. I have to agree though that I have doubts about Tyrod being capable of getting us to, much less through a Super Bowl.
01/20/2017 5:57AM
Slow Poke
Great article Mike! You can call me "Slow Poke" because this is the first time that I heard of this news conference Terry had. I am 67, and I have been an avid Bills fan since the AFC champion teams. I hope that I live long enough to see Terry's dream (Super Bowl) come true. Mike, let me add, that I am an avid fan of yours also. Go Bills!!
01/20/2017 11:05AM
RE these comments are hilarious
Now he has his family on board of course to spellcheck and give him love and defend his dreamy viewpoints Please God bring back competition for WGR... this is the best sports coverage we have to offer And the previous writer who said our coverage is way behind the national feeds is right instead of writing you garbage schtoopid do some real sports journalism
01/22/2017 12:01AM
typical schopp joke that falls flat
schopp is the guy at the party that tells a joke and he thinks he is funny, yet everyone there knows he is not.. he is a lot like Jonah javad on ch 2.. he thinks he is espn hip, but the creativity falls flat because he can't deliver it in a funny way.. they both come across stupid, but their egos still tell them they are funny.. then you have the bulldog who is schopps ed McMahon, schopps human laugh trak. seriously is this the best buffalo can do for sports information? i can't believe there isn't better talent out there to pick from, especially with all the new graduates or talent in smaller markets looking for a change?? so we are stuck with a ego manic who thinks he is Einstein and a pizza maker partner that mumbles and bumbles through his thoughts..please WGR give us something NEW!
01/22/2017 8:41PM
You should be ashamed of yourself.
01/23/2017 4:07PM
It would be awesome if this would really happen.
this made me laugh.
01/25/2017 1:38PM
Good job, Mike!
I still can't believe how many Bills fans didn't even know it was a joke. As for the Sabres haters, they are in a pack, a few points out of a playoff spot. They have some very good young players. What were they supposed to do if not tank? Trade for Crosby, Ovie and Burns? They did their best at free agency and got a nice player at a decent cost (Okposo) while others swung and missed (Ladd, Boedker, etc.) Next year Nylander, Bailey and Guhle replace Gionta, Ennis and Franson, among others.
Title :
Comment :
Are you sold on Robin Lehner as the Sabres #1 goalie?
  Yes. His play the last 2 months has sold me.
  Not yet. I need to see him play well/stay healthy the rest of the season.
  No. He's not the answer. I wouldn't re-sign him.
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