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Inside The Bills

Atlanta game impacted move to postpone

Posted by Chris Brown on March 5, 2014 – 12:51 pm

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon announced Wednesday that the Bills Toronto Series would be postponed for the 2014 season with all eight home games to be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium. When asked if the atmosphere of the Atlanta game last December, which sounded neutral at best, had an impact on the decision Brandon admitted it played a role.

“I think that’s a fair comment,” Brandon said. “Obviously we’re trying to build a fan base north of the border and this year I would say it was a neutral crowd. Some of that had to do with how we played over the last six years has really not been conducive to building a lot of fans that were NFL fans, but we’re trying to make them Bills fans.

“We’re going to continue to try to do that through a variety of initiatives that we will be working with Rogers over the next year in a very robust sponsorship and partnership that we will have that will cater to fans above the border.”

Brandon was asked if the interrupting of the series would include 2015 as well. The Bills President and CEO said an evaluation needs to take place about where to go from here.

“We’re going to go through a detailed full analysis. Most of our analysis that we’ve been through over the past few months has been more top line,” he said. “We’re going to look at every aspect that if we do come back we have a more robust fan experience and try to create more of a home field advantage for us. Right now that was not the situation. That was one of the reasons we want to get in to a lot of detail with our partners up there and see if that is viable moving forward.”


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Brandon to evaluate Toronto Series

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2013 – 10:26 am

Making his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 this morning, Bills President and CEO was asked several questions about the viability and prudence of the team’s Toronto Series, in which they play one regular season home game north of the border every year at the Rogers Centre. Brandon made it clear that he’s evaluating that along with a host of other aspects and ventures of the organization in this his first year of running the franchise’s day-to-day operations.

“One of the things I said to the fans on January 1st of this past year was that I was going to review every phase of this operation and this series comes within that framework,” Brandon said. “There’s a full evaluation that will take place on all of our business relative to what this series means and I’m going to look at it very closely because, what’s good for business, obviously Toronto has been positive for us down here. We’ve had great growth in the Southern Ontario marketplace over the last five years back here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That has been a big positive. It has been a challenged market there and certainly has not translated in to enough wins for us there. As I mentioned almost a year ago, we’re going to look at everything and this will be within something I look at.”

Brandon was also asked if he was staying true to his position that the organization’s most important goal is winning, knowing the struggle it has been to win games in Toronto with the team now 1-5 in games played at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s also about being viable and that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about for many years here,” he said. “Look at it from the standpoint of where we’ve been on the ticket side. We’ve taken the game out of the market which essentially has taken 70,000 seats out of the market and have truly only sold out two of our home games. We’ve manufactured sell-outs in the other four or five. We’re trying to find ways to obviously keep this franchise viable which we’ve done a very good job at and this series has obviously contributed to that. With that being said, nothing comes above winning. When I took over the reins on January 1st, I said that was the number one focus and that will be the number one focus. That’s one of the reasons that this will be reviewed in a grand manner.”


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Brandon: No multiple games in Toronto

Posted by Chris Brown on September 19, 2012 – 10:41 am

Despite reports to the contrary last week, Bills CEO Russ Brandon in his weekly appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550 explained that there will not be a scenario in a new Toronto deal that will have more than one regular season game a year played at the Rogers Centre.

“We’re continuing those negotiations and we’re close to an agreement,” said Brandon. “But the one thing that I will say is the report in the Buffalo News was not accurate. The one thing I want to make clear is we will not be playing multiple regular season games in Toronto.”

Brandon explained how despite fan opposition to the initial Toronto agreement that the club has seen positive results from it.

“You look at the past five years and the what the Toronto initiative has done and we talked about bringing our fans from Southern Ontario back to Ralph Wilson Stadium,” said Brandon. “That’s been the biggest positive. Five years ago roughly 11 percent of our fans came from Southern Ontario. Now literally 20 percent of our fans are from that location each and every Sunday.  So it has worked and it’s about keeping the team viable in Western New York and it’s a huge part of it.”


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Bills get go ahead on Toronto Series

Posted by Chris Brown on May 22, 2012 – 3:23 pm

At the league meetings in Atlanta the International Committee gave the Bills approval to continue playing games in Toronto as part of their Bills Toronto Series.

Bills CEO Russ Brandon issued the following statement.

“The International Committee’s decision to approve the continuation of our games in Toronto is a crucial step in our ongoing efforts to regionalize our franchise. As we have stated on many occasions, the regionalization process remains vital to keeping our franchise strong in Western New York. We are continuing our discussions with Rogers Communications on a new deal and remain optimistic that we can come to an agreement in the near future.”

The Bills and Rogers Communications are still negotiating a new agreement to extend the Bills Toronto Series.


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Rogers prez likes path BTS has taken

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2012 – 7:34 pm

Rogers Communications President Keith Pelley in an interview with the FAN590 has liked the path that the Bills Toronto Series has taken believing it has benefited both parties.

In addressing the preseason game reverting back to Ralph Wilson Stadium this coming preseason instead of being played in Toronto, Pelley noted that due to two Blue Jays homestands, the only available date for the preseason game was August 26th.  Pelley said they could not commit to that date right now.  So the choice was made to bring the game back to Buffalo since we were in a rush to release our season ticket package.

Pelley’s comments echoed those of Bills CEO Russ Brandon’s on the preseason date issue.

“We’ve been in active negotiations with our Rogers friends for the last couple of months and this really came to bear from the standpoint if you look at the (Blue) Jays’ schedule they’re at home the first two weekends in August,” Brandon said in an appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550 Thursday. “And then we know we’re on the road for our fourth preseason game because that’s the game that we can schedule and we scheduled that a long while back with the Lions.

“Really that third preseason game and third weekend was about all they had available and they did not have the weekend available. They only had a Monday and Tuesday that we could play a game which we can’t do. So we’ve moved the back here. We’ll focus that game as being our Kids Day which is historically a sellout and a huge day at our facility and obviously the price points as you know are very, very low for kids to get in the building. We’re going to reposition that game in our future extension with Rogers.”

Pelley also said negotiations have been going on for 3-4 weeks and hopes to have a decision on the extension of the Bills Toronto Series by the beginning of May.

Pelley also admitted the last deal was done to get Toronto exposed to the NFL market.  Added that the deal has helped create a number of Bills and NFL fans in the market.  With the next deal they hope to build on that growth and bring down ticket prices.

Here’s the full interview.


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Rogers not looking to add games

Posted by Chris Brown on February 21, 2012 – 7:20 pm

Rogers Communications Media president Keith Pelley in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday revealed some of their intentions with a new deal.

Pelley stated that Rogers is definitely interested in continuing the relationship with the Bills in Toronto, but didn’t provide many details on current negotiations.

However, Pelley did say that Rogers is not looking to expand the number of regular-season games the Bills play in Toronto.

“No,” he told the AP. “At this point, without getting into any details of the conversation, I think that it would be a deal that would that would certainly work for both sides. We’re not looking to increase the number of games.”


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A 10th sack in win over Skins

Posted by Chris Brown on November 2, 2011 – 2:30 pm

The Bills were awarded a 10th sack in the win over the Redskins last Sunday.

The NFL changed a first quarter play by John Beck on a 2nd-and-8 at the Washington 28, where in dropping back to pass he fumbled, recovered the ball, tried to step up in the pocket and was dropped by Nick Barnett and Danny Batten.

Both Barnett and Batten were awarded a half sack.


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Bills-Redskins tailgate info

Posted by Chris Brown on October 29, 2011 – 1:48 pm

For those fans going to the Bills-Redskins game Sunday here’s one great tailgating option.

The Budweiser Tailgate begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 3:30 p.m. on game day and provides an experience that stretches from east to west, north to south in the area surrounding Rogers Centre.  The Budweiser Big Rig will be on site along with the Bud Girls, great music, tailgate-style food, prizes, giveaways and interactive elements including the Bills Toronto Series mechanical buffalo. There will also be special appearances by the Buffalo Jills, Bills Alumni and Billy Buffalo.

The Budweiser Tailgate main stage – located outside of Gate 10 – will also feature Bradleyboy MacArthur, in addition to Juno-award winning Finger Eleven.


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Jim Kelly appearance

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2011 – 9:00 am

Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly will be making an appearance for an autograph signing north of the border this weekend.

Kelly will be at the Van Heusen store for their grand opening at the Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga on Saturday from 2-3 pm where he’ll be signing autographs for Bills fans.

As an added bonus any customers that spend more than $150 at the Van Heusen store Saturday will receive two tickets to the Bills-Redskins game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on Sunday.


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Report: Fletcher to start

Posted by Chris Brown on October 28, 2011 – 7:43 am

Well for anyone that knows London Fletcher it’s no surprise to see this report.

According to NFL.com’s Jason LaCanfora, London Fletcher will start on Sunday for Washington against the Bills despite a hamstring injury suffered just last Sunday.

JasonLaCanfora London Fletcher (hamstring) will start for Redskins Sunday. Set to play 215th straight game. Never missed one since entering NFL in ’98

Fletcher did not practice on Wednesday, but was limited Thursday. Last Sunday when he injured the hamstring he came out of the game and did not return. So it had to be a notable injury. It’ll be interesting to see if Fletcher’s range is affected by the injury Sunday against the Bills.


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Roof to be closed Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on October 27, 2011 – 2:53 pm

The Bills confirmed that the Rogers Centre roof will be closed for Sunday’s game at the Rogers Centre against Washington. The game will also be televised locally.

Every one of Buffalo’s home games have been sold out so far this season.


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Report: Hightower has torn ACL

Posted by Chris Brown on October 24, 2011 – 2:15 pm

Rotoworld is reporting that Redskins starting RB Tim Hightower has a torn ACL saying it was confirmed by the team.

Hightower was carted off the field Sunday with a knee injury. Expected to take his place in the starting lineup Sunday against the Bills in Toronto is Ryan Torain, with Roy Helu as the backup.


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Fan Friday 10-21

Posted by Chris Brown on October 21, 2011 – 1:36 pm

Time for everyone to catch our breath here in the bye week before the Bills work their way through the last 10 games of a promising season. Keep sending your questions in to AskChris@bills.nfl.net. Let’s get to this week’s questions.

1 - Chris my question is around defense. The Bills still do not have any pass rush that I have observed. Are the Bills trying to design some sort of pressure? Also Shawne Merriman has been non-exsisent so far so what is being done to get him more involved. The Bills will not keep winning without a better pass rush, and more activity out of our linebackers…

B. Gately

CB: You’re right about pass rush production. It’s been lacking. As we reported this week it was at the top of the ‘to do’ list for head coach Chan Gailey and his staff. Buffalo simply can’t get home with four rushers and against the Giants they couldn’t get to Eli Manning when they sent five on almost every third down in the first half. Gailey said part of the problem is they’re not winning their one-on-one battles when they have them. They said they’d harp on improving pass rush technique with the players up front.

Unfortunately I think they’re going to have to rely on scheme a bit more to generate pressure instead of pure talent and that’s not easy. Fortunately Merriman is supposed to be back in the lineup as well as Kelsay, so hopefully things can improve in that area. Otherwise big plays against the Bills will continue to be made.

 

2 - Hey Chris,

I was Just wondering what the status is on Jasper and if they are working him in to the offensive tackle position, much like they did with Jason Peters before he was traded.  If the Bills staff get him going I think they would add great size and run block for the running game.

Secondly, do you think the stadium will get any more upgrades?

Thank you for what you do for the fans everyday!!

GO BILLS!

Very Respectfully,
Kevin K.
Temecula, CA

CB: Jasper has been working at guard for the past month. The first week in which he was switched to the offensive line he manned the tackle spot, but shortly after the Bills picked up Sam Young off waivers and he’s been at right tackle with the reserves kicking Jasper in to guard. Jasper played guard his last two collegiate seasons at Bethel and it’s probably his most natural position on the offensive line.

He’s got the athleticism to pull from there on run plays, and he obviously has the girth to stand in there against the big DTs in pass protection. He’s also been working even harder to get his weight down more. He’s at 373 now with a goal weight of 360.

 

3 - Chris,

Has there been any news on either Fred Jackson (2012) or Ryan Fitzpatrick’s (2011) contract extensions?  Given their production (especially Freddy – no slight to Fitz, but Freddy has done quite a bit), you’d think and I hope Management will make a motion to keep them.

Mark
Elmira

CB: There’s been a lot of progress with Fitzpatrick’s contract negotiations. I think Fitz will be done sooner rather than later, but to lay out a timetable would be foolish because no one can predict the pace of negotiations. As for Fred I agree, he has outplayed the value of his contract. However, with Stevie Johnson’s contract up after this year I would anticipate that he is taken care of after Fitz.

Fred is still under contract through the 2012 season, so the same urgency to get Jackson a new deal might not be there as for players like Fitzpatrick and Johnson. That being said knowing that Jackson has stated publicly more than once that he’d like to have a new contract, I do know that he met with Bills GM Buddy Nix a couple of weeks ago and that the meeting was very positive.

Does that mean negotiations are going to be kick started? I don’t believe so. I don’t think there’s any debating that Fred is deserving, but there are other players on his side of the ball that have to addressed first.

 

4 - Hi Chris,

Hats off to the Bills for their great start. I think Fred Jackson is the best running back they have had since Thurman Thomas. Having said that, I am a little concerned over the alarming amount of yards they are giving up on defense. True, they are a plus nine in turnovers and they are doing a great job with that, but they need to stop people better. Based on what I saw in the game against the Eagles, the linebackers are not one hundred percent sideline to sideline, meaning their lateral pursuit is lacking. Teams that run well off the edge will continue to have huge gains. They ran zone blitzes on Michael Vick and they were successful, but they still give up too many big plays. What is your take on this? I will look forward to your answer.

Tony, Daytona Beach, Fl

CB: I think your concerns were fully realized in the Giants game. Without takeaways the yardage allowed was magnified and without a pass rush big plays were more prevalent. Buffalo was also without three starters in the front seven. In addressing the range of Buffalo’s linebackers Barnett has been playing with a bad ankle and Andra Davis is more of an in the box ILB. I think that’s partly why Kelvin Sheppard is getting more and more playing time moving forward. He has sideline to sideline range and can also be utilized as a blitzer. So his mere presence on the field makes them more athletic and versatile. Whether it makes a noticeable difference is something we’ll have to wait and see.

 

5 - Now that the Ralph is rocking again, selling out the games and the Bills are headed in the right direction how much longer do we need to play one game in Toronto? It is a huge disadvantage for us and we haven’t won there yet.

Ryan
Albany, NY

CB: You’re right the Bills have not won a regular season game in Toronto to this point. With respect to the Bills Toronto Series however, no matter if the Bills sell out every home game at the Ralph, to remain financially competitive in the NFL they need to continue to regionalize the franchise and that includes Toronto. Buffalo by itself does not have the corporate tax base to sufficiently fill premium and luxury seating at Ralph Wilson stadium. It’s big companies that often invest in suites and premium seating.

Part of the Bills Toronto Series aim is to draw more of the large corporate base from Toronto back to RWS for that kind of investment. The state of economics in the NFL, even in the wake of the new 10-year CBA makes it a necessary approach.


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Bills-Toronto Series update

Posted by Chris Brown on June 23, 2011 – 1:27 pm

Bills CEO Russ Brandon covered the whole gamut of items on Buffalo’s table this offseason and beyond during local media interviews this week. That included comment on the future of the Bills Toronto Series.

When asked if negotiations have begun on a new agreement to stretch beyond the current five-year deal here was Brandon’s comment.

“We have had discussions with them right now about where the agreement is with the CBA and with the game this year,” said Brandon. “Our focus right now is playing the Redskins up in Toronto.  They have some new leadership there, obviously Phil Lind is their vice chairman and Keith Pelley is their new president.  Keith and I have had some conversations relative to our current agreement.  We anticipate having some discussions moving forward.”

Buffalo’s current agreement lasts through the 2012 season. Brandon also said that Toronto has to be part of the franchise’s regional footprint for the long term.


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Uniform patches a lot of work

Posted by Chris Brown on June 15, 2011 – 10:53 am

While we count down to the June 24th unveiling of the Bills new uniforms, we’d thought we’d pass along some of the lesser known details to the uniforms over the years including some of the patches that have appeared on the shoulders of the jerseys.

Most Bills fans remember the 50th anniversary patch worn in 2009 and the black oval Gene Upshaw initial patch after the Hall of Fame Raiders lineman and former NFLPA head passed a few years ago. Buffalo’s jerseys also had a 35th anniversary patch back in ’94 and an NFL 75th anniversary patch.

All those patches have to be sewn on by a seamstress, which the Bills have locally done by their dry cleaner. With the most recent Bills Toronto Series patch the Bills equipment staff has to go for efficiency knowing they’ve sometimes got just five days to get the BTS patch on for the game that’s played in Toronto and then off again in the event that there’s another home game the next week at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which is the case this year.

“It is a lot of work,” said Bills equipment manager Dave Hojnowski. “We’ve had the anniversary patches and luckily for the anniversary patches those stay on the whole year. The Toronto ones, we have to have them on for that week and if we have a home game the next week we have to have them removed. So pretty much we just have our seamstress single stitch them so they’re easy to put on and easier to take off.”

Here’s a look at that patch below, which will be sewn on the week of Buffalo’s game in Toronto against Washington (Oct. 30th) before having it removed for the game the following Sunday against the Jets (Nov. 6th).


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Bills fan through and through

Posted by Chris Brown on December 14, 2010 – 10:48 am

The Buffalo Bills fan base suffered an unfortunate loss recently. One of the team’s contest winners for the Bills in Toronto Series just last month suffered an untimely passing after a fall.

Dedicated Bills fan David Vice won a contest, which earned him pre-game field access among other special fan privileges through the Toronto Star as he served as the paper’s beat reporter for the Bills-Bears game at the Rogers Centre on Nov. 7. Though he enjoyed most of the day as a fan, he did submit this report on his Bills experience recapping the day with his son and friends, not long before his tragic passing.

The Bills organization passes along our thoughts and prayers to the Vice family during this difficult time.


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Cutler numbers vs. Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on November 6, 2010 – 10:33 am

Bears QB Jay Cutler has faced the Bills twice before in his career and has some fat numbers yardage-wise.

Cutler threw for over 300 yards in both meetings with Buffalo while playing for the Denver Broncos with a win at Buffalo in 2007 (15-13) on a last second field goal and a loss in Denver in 2008 (30-23). Here’s his cumulative stat line vs. the Bills.

He went 48-84 (57.1%) passing for 663 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He averaged 7.89 yards per attempt. He was also sacked twice and had a passer rating of 76.6. His longest pass play from scrimmage in those two games was 36 yards.

With a new team, new receivers and a coordinator that likes to go deep it’s hard to say what Cutler will be on display Sunday in Toronto.


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Bills-Bears to be on TV

Posted by Chris Brown on November 4, 2010 – 12:38 pm

The Buffalo Bills vs. Chicago Bears game this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Rogers Centre will be televised locally and across Western and Upstate New York on Buffalo Bills television affiliates.

In addition, based on the local forecast, the roof of the Rogers Centre will be closed for the game.


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Football week in Toronto coming up

Posted by Chris Brown on August 4, 2010 – 10:55 pm

With the Bills preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts in Toronto fast approaching, the Bills along with NFL Canada, the Toronto Argonauts and the organizers of the Bills in Toronto Series are presenting Football Week in Toronto.

From Sat., Aug. 14th to Fri., Aug. 20th Football Week in Toronto will be a series of events aimed to raise awareness for and promote participation in minor football in the Greater Toronto Area and support Football Canada.

Football Week in Toronto will center around the following four football events hosted at Rogers Centre.

Sat. Aug. 14th, Toronto Argonauts vs. Montreal Alouettes – 7:30 pm

Sun. Aug. 15th, Ontario Junior Varsity Football Conference finals – TBD

Thurs., Aug. 19th, Bills Toronto Series – Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts – 7:30 pm

Fri., Aug. 20th, Toronto Argonauts vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 7:30 pm


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New turf at Rogers Centre

Posted by Chris Brown on February 22, 2010 – 11:27 am

The Rogers Centre is putting new turf this week in time for baseball season for the Blue Jays replacing the older version. But there will also be a new and separate similar surface for football, no doubt making several Bills players very happy knowing they’ve got a preseason and regular season game north of the border this coming season.

The turf, which is being installed by the Astro Turf company, according to the Sports Business Journal, is for baseball only right now. But the Rogers Centre will also have a new surface for football. Only a few of the new Astoturf panels are compatible for both baseball and football, so the other three-quarters of the surface will be baseball or football specific, depending on the season.

The new surface is the same as the one the St. Louis Rams are installing this offseason in their dome facility. 

The new AstroTurf product features long rolling strips held together by Velcro instead of the almost 1,400 trays of turf previously used. The old surface had a lot more seams than the new surface will have, which means greater safety for the players.


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