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Sign McNabb, Draft Tebow and Buffalo Armchair GMs’ Just Shut Up!

Posted on March 29, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell
Tim Tebow

Will Tim Tebow be heading to Buffalo?

The Buffalo Bills blogosphere is on fire. Every armchair GM in Buffalo is frothing with angst.

What’s wrong with Buddy Nix? Why hasn’t he signed any big name free agents? Why hasn’t he leveraged his inside knowledge of the Chargers to pluck some of their best pieces to complete the Buffalo puzzle?

And, oh my God, no! Tim Tebow! What does Jim Kelly think he’s doing, recommending and romancing this guy who obviously can’t be retooled for the NFL? Good thing Kelly doesn’t have any personnel authority at One Bills Drive.

OK, all of you! Breathe!

Is anyone familiar with the expression, “Crazy like a fox?” I’m going to suggest a new expression that is the Bills translation of same. “Genius like a Nix.”

I was one of the biggest advocates for getting big names like Bill Cowher on board. I wrote an article here at ST&N and was interviewed on Buffalo radio about it.

Should the Buffalo Bills Draft Tim Tebow?

  • Yes (83%, 5 Votes)
  • No (17%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 6

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I admit, I, like everyone else, was caught up in the excitement and imagination of what could happen in Buffalo if we had people of Cowher’s caliber coaching and running the franchise. But when Mr. Wilson hired Nix and Nix hired Gailey, I had to take a breath and do some soul searching.

How many times, in any major league sport, can you think of someone coming to Buffalo, whether draft choice, trade, or management, who had a big name and lived up to their reputation? Yes, a few players have, even though most of the big name players have under-performed.

In Buffalo, the under-rated unknowns are much more likely to succeed. When it comes to personnel management, that may be especially true. And if Buffalo is the kind of town, and the Bills are the kind of team, that is best advised finding the undervalued “stock” and developing it into a blue chip once acquired, then Buddy Nix may be the man of the decade in Buffalo.

In fact, think of Nix as the NFL GM equivalent of Warren Buffet. There’s nothing sexy about Buffet. And there’s nothing sexy about most of the companies he owns. He just put almost a billion dollars into a railroad, for crying out loud. What is the equivalent of a railroad in the NFL. Chan Gailey, maybe?

And if Chan Gailey has gone to the playoffs with every NFL team he’s served, and has a special ability for getting the most out of B-list quarterbacks, then he may also be the man of the hour.

And if Jim Kelly has inserted himself (or been invited to involve himself) into the draft process, especially as regards one Tim Tebow, then who else in Buffalo has paid his  dues and earned the right to weigh in on whatever he wants to weigh in on?

Sure, Buddy Nix is no Bill Polian, no Mike Holmgren. Chan Gailey is no Bill Cowher. And if we fans had our way, we’d have Cowher and and maybe Mike Holmgren running the team. But do we know they were best for Buffalo? They’ve done well in the past but how many big names can replicate their success in a second or third venue? How successful was Parcells in Dallas, Holmgren in Seattle?

On the other hand, Marv Levy was less successful as a NFL coach than Gailey, before coming to Buffalo. Who knew anything about Bill Polian before he came? And Jim Kelly was not a top draft pick.

Big names are at least as likely to be busts as unknowns, and in Buffalo, more likely. So I’m willing to trust Nix and Gailey that their minimal activity above the radar indicates they know exactly what they’re doing, and they’re not ready to take an armchair GM vote of confidence, just yet. I’m willing to assume they are up to their eyeballs evaluating under-rated personnel and are in the tedious process of not only finding the best diamonds-in-the-rough, but evaluating the chemical compatibility of various combinations.

And as already mentioned, one person who is making no secret of a potential draft pick is Jim Kelly. Kelly likes Tebow because he thinks Tebow could be the next Kelly. Kelly may be the next Ralph Wilson (along with a few monied collaborators). Whether or not he is a future owner, we should certainly trust Jim Kelly’s insight. If he likes Tebow, I’m willing to give the Bills’ best all-time quarterback the benefit of the doubt over the fickle fan whose NFL experience is limited to operating a remote.

So what can we expect from Nix-Gailey (&Kelly)? Primarily I expect a number of underwhelming trades, acquisitions and draft picks that end up becoming the next Kurt Warner or Jairus Byrd. We won’t know on draft day, maybe not even on opening day, which of these acquisitions turn out to be franchise players, but I’m willing to trust that some of them will.

I also expect that we will end up with a couple of big names, for better or worse.

The Bills and Raiders seem to be the main contenders for Donovan McNabb.

The Bills and Raiders seem to be the main contenders for Donovan McNabb.

Most recently the two biggest rumors involve Tebow, and another quarterback, Donovan McNabb. There has also been speculation that the Bills will trade their second round (41st) pick for McNabb, which would put the Bills in a position of having to draft Tebow in the first round or take their chances on the third if they are determined to draft him. And if they sign McNabb, trade the 41st pick, and take Tebow at number nine, I will defend it unless or until a reasonable amount of time has passed that proves it wrong.

There is a reasonable rationale for taking such action. And according to some reports,  the Bills might re-sign Terrell Owens if McNabb is picked up. (Now wouldn’t that be ironic, recreating their Philadelphia tandem that didn’t work out so well, especially for Owens).

The peanut gallery seems more or less evenly divided on McNabb, but what are the other options? Is there anyone out there who’d rather have any of the current three stooges than McNabb. Worst case scenario, McNabb is another Bledsoe. Even then, the Bills at least got one year of excitement from Bledsoe, and McNabb should have more left in him than Bledsoe did, including hunger, since he hasn’t won a Super Bowl.

So, I can see a qualitative improvements being made at key positions, McNabb under center for a year or a few, and Tim Tebow being developed into the next Kelly, perhaps by Kelly himself.

Whatever management ultimately does about the quarterback position, about the draft, about anything– I for one, am ready to give them a reasonable amount of rope to make it all work. I suggest everyone else out there having a stroke over all of this do the same. Take a breath, pop three low-dose aspirin, and sit back in that recliner of yours and just wait.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of good hockey to watch.

John Wingspread Howell is a novelist, speaker, weblisher, blogger and writer. He is available to speak for your organization or event by contacting  him at

Hear John’s interview on Buffalo’s “The Edge” WEDG 103.3 FM re his Bleacher Report article about Bill Cowher.  (Follow this link, go to podcasts column on right, click on John’s name.)

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