Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Kelvin Fisher's career change from mean streets to One Bills Drive

By Tim Graham

Although Kelvin Fisher couldn't stick with the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie fullback in 1992, he didn't lose his love for the game.

But rather than get into scouting or coaching at the time, he chose to use his Arizona State education. He majored in social work and minored in criminal justice.

Fisher became a juvenile probation officer in the Phoenix area until 1996 and worked for child-protective services in Portland, Ore., until 1999.

Fourteen years later, the Buffalo Bills' new director of college scouting looks back on those days with a bemused laugh.

"I wanted to fix the world," Fisher said today at One Bills Drive. "Then after a while you realize you can't fix the world. So you move on.

"It was great experience, going through it. There were rough times. There were sad times."

Fisher, 44, dealt with children who shot people, were in gangs, stole cars and did drugs. He said the experience helped lay a foundation he has used in scouting and, by extension, will influence the Bills' future draft boards.

"It helps you read people," Fisher said. "It helps you know people, good and bad. That's the key. Sometimes you want to know if a guy has passion for this game.

"I think all those characteristics that you've learned over the years, it helps you define those guys that have the passion."

Fisher left social work behind (as his chief profession, anyway) and returned to Arizona State as the coordinator for academic accountability. He also used his sharpened personal-observation skills to scout and recruit high-school kids for ASU.

"It's a great tool to have," Fisher said. "It really is. You do see red flags. You can look at bios. You can look at family structures and kind of see the parameters of the family from being involved in it hands on.

"Being in child-protective services, being a juvenile probation officer, being in that role on a college football team, it gives you everything you need. You're part of recruiting, meeting moms, meeting dads, meeting siblings, meeting girlfriends, babies."

When Fisher got into scouting, "I felt I definitely was ahead of the game," he said.

Fisher broke into pro football with BLESTO, a scouting co-op overseen then by Hall of Famer and St. Bonaventure alum Jack Butler. BLESTO was based in Pittsburgh and had a close relationship with the Steelers, where Fisher worked with Bills General Manager Doug Whaley.

Fisher spent 13 seasons as a Steelers scout, mostly evaluating players in the Western region. He said one of his favorite draft picks was Brigham Young defensive lineman Brett Keisel, a 2002 seventh-round selection.

Fisher is leaving one of the most stable NFL franchises to the one in the greatest flux. The Bills have a first-year president, a first-year GM, a first-year head coach and possibly a rookie starting quarterback.

"I believe it is the time" to join an organization, Fisher said. "With everything going on, I think it's a great time to be involved with the Buffalo Bills."

Rather than fix the world, he'll be thrilled if he can help fix the Bills.


Buddy Nix | Doug Whaley | Jack Butler | Kelvin Fisher
comments powered by Disqus

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 |