Don’t Blow it, Brandon…

“There’s a reason the windshield is a lot bigger than the mirror. It doesn’t do a lot of good to look back.” This quote was delivered by Buffalo Bills, and now Buffalo Sabres President, Russ Brandon. The quote comes from a Buffalo News blog post written in March of 2015. It’s not the first, and it won’t be the last awful cliché we’ll hear from the new President of OneBuffalo, but I have to say it’s one of the most ridiculous.

This guy will be running both Buffalo teams... Photo from usatoday.com

This guy will be running both Buffalo teams… Photo from usatoday.com

What is it, exactly, that Brandon is hoping we don’t look back on? Is it the overall futility of the Bills’ seasons since he was promoted to a prominent position in the front office in 2006? Is it the now-defunct Toronto deal? Is it the hiring and ceremonious parting of ways with Doug Marrone? The acquisition of an over-hyped Matt Cassel?

Apparently, it is all of it. Russ Brandon wants the city of Buffalo to forget that he’s been one of the least effective presidents in sports since he took the position. There can be no doubt that he has excelled at marketing – game after game sells out, despite the incredibly inferior product placed on the field. Brandon and his GMs have made a mockery of the draft, routinely reaching for players that never really seem to pay off. While the team has hit on a few picks in the last 10 years, we are still limping from the draft of EJ Manuel and the trade that netted us Sammy Watkins. This is not an indictment of Watkins as a player, only to point out that the Bills were crippled in this year’s draft without their first-round pick.

No one on this planet wants Buffalo to forget the Toronto deal more than Brandon. While the deal made a few million dollars for the Bills, the games played in Toronto were quite literally a joke. Buffalo threw some of the worst teams in decades onto the field, and Toronto fans responded by just not showing up. The only product of this deal was the strengthening of rumors that the team would move to Toronto once Ralph Wilson passed and the team would seek a new owner. Things were made much worse when a Toronto group bid on the team and put together a comprehensive plan to import the team to the land of moose and poutine. I still won’t listen to Bon Jovi. Anyone that does is a traitor. And has terrible taste in music.

He's smiling because the Bills will pay him millions to coach somewhere else. Photo from wkbw.com

He’s smiling because the Bills will pay him millions to coach somewhere else. Photo from wkbw.com

And then, there’s Doug Marrone. Remember Saint Doug? He was going to save the organization. A mediocre college coach, Marrone’s claim to fame at the time was an 8-5 record and a four-way tie for Big East Champion. As Bills’ head coach, Marrone was barely able to keep up those ‘winning ways,’ and was under .500 in his two years with Buffalo. Marrone did Brandon – and the city of Buffalo – a huge favor by opting out of his contract, but it is indeed Marrone who is laughing all the way to the bank. Despite the fact that he botched his only head-coaching interview, the Bills will be required to pay Marrone his full salary while he shines his saintly light on the laughable offensive line of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And now, Brandon will be president of the Sabres. Even if we separate his job from that of Tim Murray, and assume Brandon will handle only the marketing, the bottom line is WE DON’T NEED HIM. The Sabres don’t need marketing. At all. The team nearly sold out A SCRIMMAGE. There really, honestly, is no need for anyone to sit high above the arena and develop a marketing strategy. Hell, give the job to Murray. The interviews will be GREAT! “Tim, we were surprised to see the family-four packs eliminated from the ticket packages this season. How do you think you’ll draw a crowd for the Tuesday night games against Carolina?” Murray will stare deep into the eyes of the reporter, hesitating to even answer such a foolish question. After some time, the report will ashamedly sit down and Murray will respond. “This team is the greatest thing Buffalo has seen in 20 years. I’m not selling discounted tickets and chicken nuggets to people who don’t want to be here.” And he’ll be right.

“You didn’t seriously just ask me that…right?” Photo from sabresstop.com

I’ve got an idea for the Pegulas – get rid of Brandon as soon as possible. I don’t need to spend the next five years fending off rumors that the Sabres are heading to Quebec, or watch inept draft after inept draft. The same owner that stepped in to save Fred Jackson on behalf of the fans needs to take action here, and listen to the fans. In the immortal words of Chris Kattan as Will Ferrell merrily strikes his cowbell, “DON’T BLOW THIS FOR US!” Buffalo is finally on the upswing after decades of riding a pendulum to purgatory. Please, don’t let Russ Brandon ruin Hockey Heaven for all of us.

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