February 5, 1993 -- It's not easy to switch bosses in the middle of a success story, but the Buffalo Bills did it on this day.
John Butler was promoted to general manager by the team. He replaced Bill Polian in the midst of the four-year Super Bowl run. Mark Gaughan had the story for The News:
The Buffalo Bills finished making the big change in their organization Friday by naming John Butler to replace Bill Polian as executive vice president and general manager of the team.
Now Bills followers will be watching to see just how the change will affect the Bills' organization.
Butler, promoted from his post as director of player personnel, faces a challenging off-season.
The era of free agency is upon the NFL, and the Bills have 11 players who are unrestricted free agents, the most prominent being tackle Will Wolford, linebacker Shane Conlan and nose tackle Jeff Wright. They will be free to sign with other clubs starting March 1. Depending on the offers those players receive, Butler must decide how many of the free agents the Bills want to keep in the fold and how much they are willing to pay them.
The other big contract situation facing Butler is the possible renegotiation or extension talks with Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith. Both are in the final years of their contracts with the Bills.
Contracts will be a major gauge of the direction the new Bills regime is taking. Those close to the situation say Polian's ouster was the result of a power struggle with Jeffrey Littmann, treasurer for the Detroit-based company of team owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
Polian's firing, on the heels of three straight Super Bowl seasons, raises the question of the level of financial commitment the Bills will have in keeping a championship-caliber team.
It is expected Butler and Jerry Foran, promoted from director of marketing/sales to vice president/administration, will report directly to Littmann, who will have a larger role in running the team's operations.
--- Budd Bailey