Tonawanda News — PITTSFORD — Safety George Wilson’s eyes light up when reminded how Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey asserted himself in the face of hecklers at the close of his first training camp two years ago.
For a hard-luck team enduring yet another coaching shuffle and searching for identity, Gailey’s message — “If you dog one of us, you dog all of us,” he said, in addressing the teenage hecklers — was both welcome and regarded as being a definitive moment for players who had grown weary of being perennial punch lines even among their own supporters.
It makes no difference to Wilson that the target of the fans that day, former starting quarterback Trent Edwards, is long gone after being released a month later.
“What I think it showed us, not just Trent at the time but everybody on this team, that coach Gailey has our back,” Wilson said. “It might not seem like something major or big right now two years later, but I definitely think it set the tone.”
Two years later, Gailey’s message still resonates as these new-look Bills (No. 19 in the AP Pro32) closed training camp in suburban Rochester with their final open-to-the-public practice Tuesday night.
“We’ve never had that before,” Wilson added. “We’ve had hecklers. We’ve had players who have been harassed by people who attend our practice. But we’ve never had a coach address it in the manner that coach Gailey chose to that day.”
These Bills might still have plenty to prove after going 10-22 under Gailey, and are in the midst of a 12-season playoff drought that stands as the NFL’s longest active streak. And yet, there is a belief that this team has both the confidence and talent to succeed.
Making a big splash in free agency sure helps after the Bills signed free agent defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract in March.