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Butler Firing May Create Chaos
Front office upheaval may hinder off season moves.
by Steve Saslow
December 19, 2000

Owner Ralph Wilson announced the dismissal of vice president and GM John Butler during a news conference this afternoon. The reason given for his dismissal was his non-commitment to the Bills about his future plans. Wilson believes Butler did not want to be here anymore after he offered a new contract that would have more than doubled his pay and make him one of the highest paid at his administrative level.

Mr. Wilson is probably right that Butler did not want to return to Buffalo after his contract expired in February. If that is the case, he had to move fast since the off season is fast approaching and many important decisions have to be made. On the off chance that Wilson misinterpreted Butler's intentions than the knee jerk decision can be a fatal blow to the ongoing development of the team. The one thing the Bills had going for them during the retooling they have undergone this year, is the stability in the front office. With that gone and more off season cap and free agent problems, the club could be headed for a great fall.

The owner had no ideas who would replace him and with the coaching staff coming under fire there appears to be no "football people" running the ship. Whoever comes in as GM will face a very difficult task. The first thing that needs to be addressed is the coaching situation. It is impossible to predict if this move is good news or bad news for Wade Phillips and his staff. Some say there was a power struggle between Phillips and Butler. Combine that with the vote of confidence that Phillips got last week it would appear he has won that struggle. If that theory is true than he would be able to keep his staff. That scenario is not probable however and the new GM should have some input on what happens with the staff.

Another major concern is how this will effect the ongoing contract negotiations with Eric Moulds and the future talks with Marcellus Wiley and the other free agents. It is imperative that the Bills get a football guy in place quickly, that is probably the reason that the owner did not take Butler up on his offer to finish out his contract. VP of business administration Jim Overdorf seems to be the guy handling the cap situation so hopefully they won't miss too much of a beat in the off season.

Another scary thought is the 80+ year old owner seems to be getting a bit more involved in the every day operations of the team. It has been rumored that Butler's power had been trimmed a bit, if that is true this is a bad sign. We are dealing with many rumors and hearsay, the one thing for sure is the front office upheaval is the last thing the Bills needed as a sad season comes to a conclusion.

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