Bills promote national scout Nix to GM

Buffalo Bills national scout Buddy Nix has been promoted to

general manager in team owner Ralph Wilson’s first move to revamp

his front office.

Nix was introduced at a news conference Thursday as the Bills

(5-10) prepare to close their season hosting Indianapolis (14-1) on

Sunday. Nix fills a void after Marv Levy stepped down as general

manager following the 2007 season.

Chief operating officer Russ Brandon, who had been filling the

GM’s role, was promoted to chief executive officer, reporting to

Wilson.

In introducing Nix, Wilson said it was important to him to hire

someone with an extensive football background. That’s a switch from

Brandon, whose background is in marketing.

“I’m here to introduce somebody that we’ve needed for a long

time, something the fans and everybody in the area and myself have

wanted, and that’s a general manager of football,” Wilson said,

adding that his decision came down to two in-house candidates. “We

really needed somebody who knew all aspects of football.”

Wilson didn’t say who the other person was he considered.

At 70, Nix had been out of football after retiring in 2008

following five-year stint as the San Diego Chargers assistant

GM/director of player personnel, where he worked under A.J.

Smith.

He came out of retirement to return to Buffalo this past year

after serving as the team’s area scout from 1993-2000.

Nix has 14 years of NFL experience, mostly in scouting, and

previously spent 26 years coaching in the college ranks. That

included a nine-year term as head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga,

where he coached Bills receiver Terrell Owens during his freshman

year.

“It’s not what I had in mind when I came back here in

February,” Nix said. “The longer I’ve had time to think about it,

the more excited I am about it. … I believe very strongly that we

can get this done. And I’m totally committed to do it.”

He takes over what’s been a dysfunctional franchise that will

miss the playoffs for a 10th straight year, and closes this decade

with one winning season – a 9-7 finish in 2004. Buffalo is also in

the midst of its fourth coaching search since 2001 after Dick

Jauron was fired in November and replaced by defensive coordinator

Perry Fewell, who has a 2-4 record as interim head coach.

Nix acknowledged that he might not have been the most

high-profile candidate, something many Bills fans wanted.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of splash we make today. What

matters is two years and three years down the road, if we have this

thing turned around in the right direction and we’re winning,” Nix

said. “I know before I’m asked this, you’re going to think I’m

crazy, but we’re not that far away.”

Nix’s first task will be hiring a head coach. Without providing

a timetable, Nix said the team has a list of candidates.

Though he didn’t rule out Fewell, a first-time head coach, Nix

noted he’s more interested in considering a candidate with previous

head-coaching experience.

Two-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan interviewed for the

job, but has reportedly turned down the Bills.

With Nix in place, it’s uncertain whether the Bills will retain

chief scout Tom Modrak, pro personnel director John Guy or Jim

Overdorf, the team’s senior vice president of football

operation.

Nix said he wants to meet with Modrak and Guy following the

season.

Bills hall of famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas attended the

news conference. Both are familiar with Nix, whose stint in Buffalo

overlapped their careers. And both said they are willing to assist

Nix in whatever capacity, with Thomas saying he has been asked to

serve in some type of scouting role.