Calling himself "a realist," Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson warned it might take as many as three years to rebuild his team, and added drafting a quarterback next year is the club's top priority.
Speaking by phone from his home in suburban Detroit on Monday, the Hall of Fame owner seemed nearly lost for words in describing the Bills, who at 0-5 are off to their worst start in 25 years.
“I hope you understand that there’s really nothing I can say,” Wilson told The Associated Press. “You’ve seen this thing. I’m not going to try to explain it or make excuses. It’s bad.”
Wilson then expressed confidence in the plan that general manager Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey — both in their first year at the job — have for turning the team around. But he cautioned it won’t happen overnight.
As for any message he had for the team’s fans, Wilson said: “Two words. Pain and patience. P and P.”
“It’s going to take time,” Wilson said. “And I’ve said that from the beginning. It’s going to take another three years until we get to turn this thing around.”
Wilson took full responsibility for the team’s decade-long woes, a stretch in which they’ve only had one winning season (a 9-7 finish in 2004) since 2000. The Bills are on their sixth coach (including Perry Fewell, who finished last season on an interim basis), and fifth general manager over that stretch.
“The blame falls on me because I made those selections,” Wilson said. “And I don’t want to blame somebody else. I take the blame.”
With negotiations on a new contract with the players going slowly, NFL owners began their fall meetings in Chicago.
They are the last regularly scheduled owners meetings before the CBA expires in March. It’s likely the owners will call for another get-together before then, as they did in Miami before the Super Bowl in February.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith insists he expects the owners to lock out the players. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the sooner serious negotiations take place, the sooner a new agreement might be reached.
The NFL generates nearly $8 billion in revenues annually, with about $1 billion going to operating expenses. The owners get about 40 percent of the rest, but they want about $1.3 billion more before the players get their cut.
Also, Goodell and most owners want to drop two exhibition games and expand the regular season to 18 games.
Rams receiving leader Mark Clayton is out for the season with a torn patellar tendon, depriving rookie quarterback Sam Bradford of his primary target. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has a concussion and might have to sit out Sunday’s game against Miami. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers was injured by a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the overtime loss at Washington. Bears coach Lovie Smith is hoping that quarterback Jay Cutler will return from his concussion and play this weekend against Seattle. Cutler has been out since he was sacked nine times in the first half by the New York Giants on Oct. 3. Eagles defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley needs elbow surgery and will likely miss the rest of the season. San Francisco QB Alex Smith is keeping his job another week after he talked coach Mike Singletary out of benching him late in the 49ers’ loss to Philadelphia.