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One must hope Doug Whaley's era with Bills exceeds his mentor's

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills fans may chuckle when they read this quote from former Buffalo Bills president Tom Donahoe about new General Manager Doug Whaley:

"I'm sure he'll do better with it than I did," Donahoe told USA Today reporter Jarrett Bell.

The Donahoe era in Buffalo was a catastrophe, and that's not entirely Donahoe's fault. Ralph Wilson fired him and, feeling burned, the owner's distrust in hiring another football man set the organization back for years.

Donahoe knows Whaley well. As detailed in Bell's article, Whaley left his job as a retail stock broker because he wanted to work in football so badly. Donahoe interviewed him for the Pittsburgh Steelers and hired him as an intern.

But not before Donahoe tried to talk Whaley out of it.

"You just had the sense that he was so passionate," Donahoe said. "If we didn't give him a chance, you knew somebody else would. But I did ask him, 'How are your parents with this?'

"He said, 'Pretty much like you are.' "

The Steelers -- partly because of their association with St. Bonaventure grad Jack Butler at BLESTO -- have been a proving ground for young scouts with grand ambitions. The grind determines whether they have what it takes.

"We made it miserable for them," Donahoe said. "We worked them around the clock. We showed them the good, the bad and the ugly side of scouting."

You wonder what advice he might give Whaley today about taking his old job eight years after the Bills extracted Donahoe.

The Bills went 31-49 with Donahoe in charge.


Doug Whaley | Tom Donahoe
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |