Tonawanda News —
It goes beyond that, because the veteran players believe there’s been a change in culture in Buffalo that can be traced to Gailey’s influence.
“We’ve grown tremendously as a team,” running back Fred Jackson said. “He wanted to establish that identity of not hoping to win, but expecting to win. And that’s how guys approach this game now.”
In one unscripted moment, Gailey began to define his tenure and prove himself to a team in need of leadership and vision. Those are two things that had been lacking during what’s regarded as a lost decade in which the Bills had a revolving door at both head coach and general manager.
“Yeah, things had been bad, and we were trying to get it turned around,” Gailey said. “That wasn’t a ploy. It wasn’t planned. But if you don’t stick up for each other, nobody else will, I can promise you that.”
And the Bills needed defending, because they had sunk to a laughingstock level around the NFL after making numerous off- and on-field blunders.
Former coach Mike Mularkey quit on the team in January 2006. The signing of Terrell Owens to a one-year deal in March 2009 helped sell tickets, but failed to translate into victories. And despite the small-market team’s desire to spare no expense in landing a high-profile coach following Dick Jauron’s dismissal in November 2009, the Bills found no takers in being snubbed by both Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher.
They eventually settled on Gailey, who was regarded as a consolation prize and a retread after bouncing between the NFL and college ranks following a two-year head-coaching stint in Dallas.
Center Eric Wood understood the questions regarding the Bills new coach, and saw Gailey begin to prove himself in how he defended his players by addressing the fans.