By Tim Graham
Doug Whaley was careful Thursday to include the entire front office when talking about the Buffalo Bills' future.
He spoke about collaborative efforts with president Russ Brandon, football administration vice president Jim Overdorf, coach Doug Marrone and the scouting department.
But in an "NFL Total Access" interview, Whaley staked his claim to the player Buffalo drafted to be their franchise quarterback.
"I was an integral part in the drafting process of EJ Manuel," Whaley said on the NFL Network show. "I was the person that handled the draft process and setting up the board. But it was a collaborative effort between myself, coach, the area scouts, the cross-checkers and, of course, Buddy Nix."
Nix resigned as general manager Tuesday morning. Many have noted Nix's legacy will hinge on how Manuel's career turns out.
That won't be the case.
If Manuel becomes a star, then it will be Whaley and Marrone who get the credit anyway. They'd be the ones in charge when everything comes together, not Nix.
If Manuel flops, then Whaley has revealed his "integral" role in the process.
This is a departure from the Bills' past, when they preferred their decision-makers to be some kind of amorphous co-op that easily diffused criticism.
For instance, Bills fans still are wondering who was responsible for the Aaron Maybin pick. Was it Dick Jauron? Tom Modrak? Brandon?
The front office's ambiguity lessened with Nix in charge, especially after Modrak was fired in 2011. But once Brandon took over as president for Ralph Wilson in Januray and Whaley's imminent ascension (and Nix's lame-duck status) became obvious, we wondered all over again who was calling the shots.
When it comes to Manuel, it's refreshing to see Whaley latch on before we know whether or not the pick succeeds.
A conniving sort might've remained quiet about his role in drafting a quarterback with question marks, might've allowed the outgoing GM to take the blame if the decision fails while retaining the right to take credit if it works.
"We have a philosophy that the information makes the decision," Whaley added. "We think that we did enough due diligence and the information pointed us all to this point that EJ would be the guy we feel will take the Buffalo Bills into the future."
taggedBuddy Nix | Doug Marrone | Doug Whaley | EJ Manuel | Russ Brandon