Buffalo Bills: Terry Pegula Refutes “Playoffs or Bust” Claim

Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills team owner Terry Pegula before a game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills team owner Terry Pegula before a game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

Buffalo Bills’ owner Terry Pegula says there is no truth in reports that head coach Rex Ryan will be fired if the team fails to make the playoffs this season.

At the conclusion of his first season in charge of the Buffalo Bills, Rex Ryan had already managed to put himself under immense pressure. After all, the defensive guru had overseen a dramatic decline in production from a unit which ranked fourth the year before he arrived, in both points and yards allowed.

As such, when The Buffalo News‘ Vic Carucci reported that Ryan had been given an ultimatum by owner Terry Pegula, to make the playoffs in 2016 or be fired, it was mostly unsurprising. At the time — back in January — Carucci said he had spoken to a source within the Bills organisation on the condition of anonymity.

This does not mean the claim was not without some questions, especially as it went against a statement released by Pegula last December. At the time, it effectively gave Ryan (and GM Doug Whaley) a vote of confidence.

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The statement read: “Kim, Russ and I look forward to working and collaborating with Doug Whaley and Rex Ryan in forming a winning future for the organization…This stable foundation is necessary to achieve long term success in the NFL.”

Regardless, little more had been heard on the matter since. However, that all changed this week, at the NFL meetings.

As per a report from Tom Pelissero of USA TODAY Sports, the 65-year old is clearly frustrated by how he is being perceived by the media. In particular, that he is an impatient, intrusive owner.

As Pegula said: “You have to have continuity. I don’t care if you’re drilling oil in gas wells or you’re running a sports team – if you keep changing things, nothing’s going to work.”

In respect of The Buffalo News‘ report back in January, he said: “The famous ultimatum that I supposedly gave them, I wasn’t even in town that day. I was up at my lake in the Adirondacks.”

Of course, it could be asked why Pegula has decided to come out with these comments now, nine months later? One explanation is that it’s easier to dismiss the ultimatum claims when your team is riding a four-game winning streak.

Buffalo Bills
Jun 14, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan (left) speaks with team owner Kim Pagula as general manager Doug Whaley (far right) talks with team owner Terry Pegula during mini-camp at the ADPRO Sports Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

However, it would make more sense if the Carbondale, Pennsylvania, native continued to say nothing. After all, if the Bills don’t make the playoffs, he would be under pressure to keep Ryan even if he did want to fire him, to avoid being branded dishonest.

For what it’s worth, Pegula does seem to be genuine in his thoughts on continuity within the organization: “Our coach needs to know that, through the good and the bad, there’s stability.

“The players need to know there’s stability. And by the way, that doesn’t help our players any to start reading that their coach is going to get fired.”

Regardless, it is all irrelevant at this stage of the 2016 campaign. Ultimately, Pegula will be hoping the Bills end the NFL’s longest current playoff drought this season, to avoid having to prove he can remain true to his words.

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What’s your take on Pegula’s comments? Are you happy to see some stability within the organization, or do you think Ryan should be fired if the Bills’ don’t qualify for the playoffs? Let us know in the comments section below.