By Tim Graham
Doug Marrone has demonstrated about as much personality as a Buckingham Palace guard since the Buffalo Bills introduced him as their next head coach two months ago.
Today at the annual coaches breakfast, as part of the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Marrone continued to remain coy rather than divulge any significant insight into what his plans are this year.
His general refrain is that schemes will be based on his personnel and, golly, he hasn't even had the chance to talk to his players face-to-face yet.
But Marrone finally did provide a glimpse into what makes him tick when asked about the angst of Bills fans. The club's postseason slump is only a couple years from qualifying for its driver's license.
Marrone revealed he, like recently signed linebacker Manny Lawson, wasn't aware the Bills had gone 13 years without a playoff appearance. Marrone then noted once he discovered that fact, he "could feel it."
He was asked if it compares to when he took over Syracuse's program, which had gone seven straight seasons without a winning record or a bowl victory.
The Bronx native went from reticent to impassioned in his response.
"I'm from New York," Marrone said. "I'm coming from two hours down the road. I grew up six hours away in the state. You know, people sit here and say, 'I know the people ...' Well, I'm one of them, you know?
"I know what it's like to grow up in that state. I know what it's like to scrape the ice off your windshield. I know what it's like to wake up in the morning and go to work when it's cold. I know what it's like to have your team not do well.
"I know what it's like to say, 'Hey, do I want to wear this Bills shirt today? Or do I not want to [hear about it] when I walk around?' And you know what? I feel fortunate -- myself, the coaches, the players -- to have the opportunity where, we can have them wear that darn shirt and wear it out and say, 'Hey, you know what? You're darn right. I'm a Bills fan, and I'm wearing it because I'm happy. We're winning.' "
Marrone was on a roll.
"That’s what happened when I went back to Syracuse," he continues. "Granted, it was my alma mater. But you hear the stories: 'I’m not going to wear that.' And I was like, 'Hey, I've got a great sense of responsibility. We can wear our orange of Syracuse and be proud of what we're doing.'
"And it's the same way I feel in Buffalo. We're going to have all those fans, and they're passionate. They are passionate.
"Out of all the areas of all of New York, having been brought up in New York City, having gone to college in Central New York, my first coaching job at Cortland State, my first head coaching job back at Syracuse and my first head coaching job is in Buffalo ... I've done a lot in the state of New York. I feel like in all of the areas in that state, football-wise? I've always believed this, and I find it's still true to this day: There are a ton of football fans in Western New York. Football is No. 1, whereas you can argue when you go down to the southern part that baseball’s No. 1."