By Tim Graham
A prank phone call has turned into a federal case.
Two 20-year-olds from Plymouth, Mass., have been charged with intentionally intercepting a wire communication and making a telephone call without disclosing their identity with the intent to annoy or harass the person at the called number.
Joshua Barber and Nicholas Kaiser allegedly recorded a private conversation in March between Buddy Nix, then the Buffalo Bills' general manager, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive Mark Dominik and then forwarded the audio to Deadspin.com.
On the call, Nix made some unflattering comments about quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills at the time hoped Fitzpatrick would take a pay cut and stick around as a veteran influence on whomever they drafted a month later.
Fitzpatrick eventually declined to restructure his contract, and although he denied his decision was impacted by what Nix said in the recording, sources close to Fitzpatrick told me he was incensed.
"We're still struggling here with our quarterback," Nix said on the recording. "I say struggling. We're not really struggling. He's going to have to do something, or we'll have to."
Nix added: "You can't afford to pay that kind of money to a guy that's fighting for probably a backup job."
Fitzpatrick at the time was under the impression he would compete for the starting job. When he refused to restructure his deal, the Bills released him. Fitzpatrick signed with the Tennessee Titans to backup Jake Locker -- probably on principle.
U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul said Barber and Kaiser face five years in prison and a $500,000 fine. They have been ordered to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder downtown Tuesday morning.
taggedBuddy Nix | Ryan Fitzpatrick