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Down to the letter, Doug Marrone knows when he'll walk away

By Tim Graham

Doug Marrone, fresh from practice, still had rubber pellets from the field house's artificial turf embedded in his knees. He had been working earnestly with the Buffalo Bills' offensive linemen after Thursday's practice.

In an office at One Bills Drive, we sat and talked about the stresses that come with an NFL coach's exhausting lifestyle. My NFL Sunday story takes a look at how ruthless the grind can be. Last weekend, two NFL coaches were hospitalized with serious conditions.

Marrone at some point made a comment about when the time will come for him to walk away from the job.

"Hold on," I interjected. "You think you'll be able to do that?"

The job can be addictive. Retirement, by comparison, feels like a death row for some coaches.

Marrone responded quickly and provided insight into his long-term career philosophy.

Just as Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells revealed for The Buffalo News this week, Marrone holds onto inspirational items that help him maintain perspective. Marrone keeps this one on his desk at home. He insisted the letter, written to Phil Fulmer, will serve as his barometer for moving forward or hanging up his whistle someday.

"It's the first letter I'd written, looking for a job. It was a graduate assistant's job at the University of Tennessee. I'd just gotten done playing.

"I keep that letter to remind that if I don't feel the same way now that I did when I wrote that letter, I'm not coaching anymore.

"There's two things I've always said -- and this is probably the only place I've been where I didn't say it to management -- but I've always said the same thing: 'If I'm ever in a position where I come in and I don't like what I do or I don't like who I coach, I'm done. I don't care what the contract says or what you do.' I believe that.

"I have that letter, and it reminds me if I'm not that way every single day, then I don't deserve to have this job. The sport has done so much for me, and I have such a responsibility for this region and this organization to bring this team back. For me, I take it very seriously."


Bill Parcells | Doug Marrone
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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 |