Buffalo fans had lived with the playoff drought for 18 years! I will spare the details, but as many lifelong Bills fans will attest, it has been a disappointment and embarrassment as we employed nine head coaches over that time to rescue a listless franchise.
We threw millions of dollars at premiere players, we carelessly threw money at free agents, and made mostly poor draft decisions. We even engaged a charismatic and over-hyped coach in Rex Ryan, despite the fact that he had a .478 lifetime winning percentage. After 2 years, he left Buffalo with the same .480 winning percentage. (were we REALLY expecting more?)
On January 11, 2017, Sean McDermott, a never before head coach, was hired by the Buffalo Bills as their 22nd head coach in franchise history. McDermott, while not as flamboyant as his predecessor, came into town talking about “respecting the process” and systematically deselected some of the top talent on the team. He spoke of culture, accountability, character and above all leadership. The talent drain was concerning to most Bills fans, and had the media buzzing about “tanking.” We watched Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby, Marcell Darius, Robert Woods, Stephon Gilmour, Aaron Williams, and Reggie Raglund all say goodbye to Buffalo, We now had more FORMER coaches and GM’s on the payroll than the current staff! Buffalo fans accepted the fact that this was going to be a long rebuilding process.
But no one told McDermott. Certainly he and his staff need to know the X’s and O’s of the game, but his emphasis on people, alignment, accountability and character have changed the team from the inside out. Again, McDermott urged us to “trust the process” and he did not disappoint. Observing McDermott over the course of the year, a few leadership traits come to mind:
~Everything starts with a vision, if you can not envision success, you will never be able to attain it.
~Authenticity and humility are more motivating than cheer leading and bravado
~People are infinitely more important than tasks or X’s and O’s
~ Trust is the assurance of things unseen, inspiring people to achieve more
Not sure what the future holds for the Buffalo Bills under the Sean McDermott regime, but it is safe to say that his first year results were remarkable and the future appears bright once again in Buffalo Sports as we appear to have found a remarkable leader.
Trust, Courage, Humility Discipline, Vision, Inspiration.. these are the intangibles that make winners.