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Donahoe Right Man For Job
Donahoe will have heavy workload.
by Steve Saslow
January 10, 2001

After two weeks of waiting and wondering Ralph Wilson finally got his man. Tom Donahoe's signing as President and General Manager was a move that had to be done and it needed to get done quickly. Donahoe becomes the eighth general manager in club history but he becomes the first man beside Ralph Wilson to hold the title of president. He will have much more control than John Butler had when he was here. There is a lot of work to do and Donahoe will have to get right to work.

Donahoe comes to Buffalo after serving 13 years in the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. The last seven years was as their director of football operations. They reached the playoffs seven times and the AFC Championship game three times as well as one super bowl under his control.

He will have to use all his expertise to right the ship that has been in chaos since Butler was fired on Dec. 19th. The first order of business will be to hire a head coach. The only internal candidate will be Ted Cottrell. He would be ideal except that he isn't a Donahoe guy. People close to Donahoe who may be candidates include Chan Gailey, Dom Capers, and University of Pitt Coach Walt Harris. If Gailey is hired they may try to retain Cottrell as defensive coordinator, although it would be hard to see Cottrell staying in the same role he has had the last three years.

Once the coach is in place and the coaching staff is assembled, Donahoe has to restructure the scouting staff that is expected to have a few defections to San Diego including the director of pro personnel A.J. Smith. This is vital with the Draft only three and half months away. The one fortunate thing, is the vice president in charge of college scouting, Dwight Adams is still under contract for another season.

While all this is going on, Donahoe needs to address the salary cap problem that has been well documented and the impending free agency of stars Eric Moulds and Marcellus Wiley. Donahoe's history with the Steelers was to re-build through the draft and let high priced free agents depart. He was dealing with a tight budget in Pittsburgh and may have a bit more money to spend on signing bonuses with the Bills. Mr. Wilson has made it clear however that he wants the cap brought under control. This means Donahoe's knack for letting players go has a good chance of holding true in Buffalo. Helping this fact is he has no emotional ties to any players. If this is the case the first draft under Donahoe's control with a higher than normal draft pick will be very important.

In his official statement Wilson said, "I have been aware of Tom's outstanding reputation for a long time. In my discussions with him over the past two weeks I feel he is the most qualified man to oversee the Bills football operations." The bottom line is Donahoe was the only GM candidate on the market that was a proven success. The last two GMs in Buffalo, Bill Polian and Butler, are considered in the top 5 GMs in football. Wilson is now 3 for 3 because Donahoe is also in that group. The owner was looking for someone to take full control of the football operations, get the cap under control, and re-build the team all while keeping them on the right track. He went out and nailed the only candidate that fit the bill. Donahoe knows there is a lot of work to be done and he is starting already at the East/West Shrine game. Bills fans hope this is the beginning of a successful offseason after a very rocky beginning.

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