Press Conference Depressing: Time for a bit of commentary. After listening to the entire press conference on WGR55 sports radio in Buffalo, it becomes increasingly apparent that the team will head to Toronto on a permanent basis after this five year deal. I was looking for a sliver of hope that it wasn't the case but all the comments by Ralph Wilson didn't alleviate any fears of a move, in fact it seemed to promote a permanent move. There was little talk of the regionalization helping Buffalo but more talk of what a glorious NFL market Toronto is. What do you think? Take our poll on our homepage and let us know.
Wilson Won't Speculate On The Future: Wilson didn't alleviate fears that the team will move in the future. He said while Toronto is growing Buffalo is going the other way with everyone leaving. He joked to Ted Rogers that he should send some people to Buffalo. Wilson did say that it would be a death knell to the region if they left but the only way to stay was increasing visibility by regionalizing the team. He said the regionalization of the team east to Rochester was successful but they have tapped out that market now they need to regionalize up north to Toronto. He thinks these eight games will create a little excitement. His message to the fans of Buffalo was that he can't speculate on the future but don't worry about it right now. The other owners applaud Wilson for the actions the team has taken over the past 15 years to keep the Bills viable in their market because of regionalization. Wilson said there is no negative to playing these games because it is to save the franchise in Buffalo. He doesn't know what the numbers will work out in helping the Bills in Buffalo by this move. Wilson did mention in his opening comments that the move is on a "trial basis" but when questioned about it he said don't read anything into it.
Concentration On These Eight Games: Phil Lind of Rogers Communications led off the press conference and said they are pleased to announce what he called a "super series" of games over the next five years. He immediately answered the question about it being a prelude to future NFL football in Toronto. He said their focus is on these eight games and they won't speculate on perception and the hypothetical future of games in Canada. Larry Tanenbaum confirmed that during a question and answer session although they didn't say they weren't interested in a future NFL franchise in the city. The Toronto contingent just said they wouldn't speculate right now. Lynn believes the series is good for the sport of football overall and everyone will benefit from the exposure. The Bills are popular in Toronto and this should add to their popularity. Many of the details are still being worked out. Ticket distribution will be on a random lottery basis but will be done by the Rogers Centre. If people are interested in tickets fans need to register at BillsInToronto.com. Argonauts season ticket holders will get priority and they will be sold as a full series but money is not expected up front. There will be some tickets available under $100.
Wilson Happy With Partnership: Ralph Wilson took the podium second. He said they aren't total strangers to Toronto, he spoke about the exhibition game they played against Dallas in Toronto in 1995 and the Packers in 1997 across the border. They started talking about this a year ago and got all local and state approvals. They also got a unaminous vote from the league's owners. He said the Bills are happy to be there and mentioned that he isn't unfamiliar with Toronto and mentioned Doug Flutie, Steve Christie, and Cookie Gilchrist as players that either played in Canada or came from Canada and played for the Bills. Wilson said he's happy to have a partnership with Toronto and they will give it their best. It is up to the NFL what game will be there but he said earlier that he doesn't want a cellar dweller opponent for the game. In answering a question about Toronto being a viable city for an NFL franchise he said that it is with all the new buildings going up.
Press Conference Representatives: Ralph Wilson, Thurman Thomas, financial guru Jeff Littman, and Bills Chief Operating Officer Russ Brandon were among those representing the Bills at today's press conference in Toronto. Canadian representatives included Ted Rogers who is the lead figure in bringing the Bills to Toronto. He is the owner of the Rogers Centre and is the CEO of Rogers Communications. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tannenbaum was in attendance along with Toronto Argonauts ownership. Not in attendance were the owners of the Hamilton Ti-cats and CFL Commissoner Mark Cohon.
Press Conference Today: Bills COO Russ Brandon and owner Ralph Wilson are expected on hand at a press conference in Toronto this morning at 11am to discuss the details of the Toronto initiative. The Bills will play eight games in the next five years in Toronto and ticket sales are expected to be among the things discussed along with the reasons for the move. We will have complete coverage throughout the day of the news coming out of Toronto.
Tuesday February 5, 2008
Bills Hire Assistant: The Bills have hired Ray Brown as their new assistant offensive line coach. Brown replaces Sean Kugler who was promoted to offensive line coach. This move was expected for a couple of weeks but took a while to be announced. Brown said he's excited to join the Bills staff. He played in the league for 20 years and played in 261 games and started 197. He played with Derrick Dockery in Washington in his last two years in the league.
Hamilton Not On Board: Hamilton Ti-Cats owner Bob Young says his team is not on board with the Bills playing eight games in Toronto. He would like to see a more extensive agreement between the NFL and CFL not a move by an owner to play games in Canada. With Hamilton not on board they won't be part of the initial ticket surge. The Argonauts season ticket holders will get first crack at tickets while the Bills season ticket holders will now get second shot with Hamilton out of the picture.
Monday February 4, 2008
Whittle Likely To Stay: Jason Whittle told his hometown newspaper that he expects to be back with the Bills this season. He is an unrestricted free agent who had his season cut short with a torn hamstring. The Bills could use him back for veteran depth on the interior of the offensive line. Whittle said while he hasn't signed with the team the Bills have expressed interest in him coming back. Whittle said his family definitely likes it in Buffalo. He called signing a new contract just a formality.
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