Scandal still hangs over Buffalo; Bills and Sabres president resigns
Russ Brandon, president and CEO of the Buffalo Bills, speaks to reporters in New York, Oct. 8, 2014, at a meeting held to help the NFL develop and carry out a domestic violence educational program. | John Minchillo / AP

The city of Buffalo can’t seem to get a break. Fans of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabers can’t seem to get a break either.

During last week’s 2018 NFL Draft, the Bills organization placed their franchise quarterback hopes in Josh Allen—ignoring his racist past and the team’s own struggle when it comes to racism on and off the field.

Then came Tuesday, May 1.

Russ Brandon, dual president of the Bills and Sabres, unexpectedly and abruptly resigned his position after a confrontation by teams’ owners regarding an alleged inappropriate relationship with a female employee.

In a statement sent to media outlets, Brandon explained that he had been contemplating “change” for a while—completely avoiding the alleged inappropriate behavior.

“I have been contemplating transitioning out of my role for some time,” wrote Brandon. “My goal when the Pegulas purchased the franchise was to reach 20 years with the Bills, which I achieved this past November. Given where we are from a timing standpoint, particularly with the conclusion of the NFL Draft, now seems like the time to make that transition. As grateful as I am for the amazing experience and the incredible people I’ve had the privilege to work with the past two decades, I am just as anxious for the professional opportunities that lie ahead.”

Brandon has been with the Bills since 1997, becoming president in 2013.

The timing of his resignation comes right before he was set to oversee the Bills next large venture: finding a new home for the team.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, people close to the organization disclosed that the relationship in question became apparent to several team employees during the Sabres away-game in New York against the Rangers Jan. 18

Owners Terry and Kim Pegula did not provide reasons for accepting Brandon’s resignation in their joint statement Tuesday.

“We have a tremendous amount of confidence in the strong leadership teams we have built within each of those entities over the last several years,” the Pegulas said in a statement. “We are excited about the direction of our teams, especially after this past weekend’s NFL draft and NHL lottery results. Our focus remains on building championship teams on and off the field for our fans and community.”

Kim Pegula will take over Brandon’s dual roles, with Terry Pegula continuing to manage the teams’ operations.

The NFL is already dealing with issues of sexual harassment within the league’s network and inside the Carolina Panthers organization. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been accused of repeatedly harassing female employees and is expected to sell the team this off-season.

Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs and Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors point guard, are part of a diverse group of potential minority owners in billionaire Michael Rubin’s efforts to buy the team.

Last year, Diddy announced on Twitter that he was interested in the buying the team and that his first act as owner would be to hire Colin Kaepernick.

If their group wins the Panthers buyout bid, I’ll be holding Diddy to that promise.


CONTRIBUTOR

Al Neal
Al Neal

 

Al Neal is the sportswriter for People’s World focusing on politics and labor relations within the sports industry.  A member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Sports Media Association and the NewsGuild, Neal’s work and reporting has been featured in the Labor-TribuneBuzzfeed NewsRussia Today (RT)Sputnik News Wire, and Getty Images.

   

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