No one wants to admit it. But the first thing we all thought when the Buffalo Bills hired Buddy Nix as general manager to lead their football team was, "He's 70." Here's hoping 70 is the new 52. Or the new 46.
Kelvin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers was 52 and Arizona's Rod Graves was 46 when they led their teams into the Super Bowl last year. Other football geniuses, to use Nix's own term, were also considerably younger when they made their marks.
New England's Bill Bellickick is 57. He won his first championship at 48. Bill Parcells, running the Miami Dolphins these days, is 68, but he was winning NFL Championships when he was as young as 44.
John Butler was 47 when he was named the general manager of the Buffalo Bills. His predecessor Bill Polian's age, even in this age of the internet, Wikipedia and Google, can't be found.
The 84 year old Marv Levy stopped coaching at 72, four years removed from his last Super Bowl team. He became Buffalo's g.m. at the age of 80. Coach Mike Mularkey quit the day after Levy was hired. Marv's front office contributions included the hiring of Dick Jauron, moving up in the 2006 draft to take defensive end John McCargo in a deal that netted Chicago safety Danieal Manning, and walking away from the job you get the feeling he never really wanted, after two otherwise uneventful seasons.
Al Davis is 79. Do you really want to go there? The Oakland Raiders are the most dysfunctional organization in pro football, maybe in all of sports.
Even George Halas, who lasted in the Chicago Bears front office until his death in 1983 at the age of 88, didn't win anything after the NFL title in 1963 when he was 68. The first of his six titles came in 1921. Halas was 26.
None of this proves anything, but it amounts to overwhelming evidence that Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson, for all his bluster about making this hire, took the easy way out by hiring the 70 year old Nix to carry the Bills into the next decade.
The claim that Wilson and C.O.O. Russ Brandon that they didn't know any of the other candidates is laughable. That's what the seven weeks since Dick Jauron was fired was supposed to buy them; time to get to know something about somebody other than organizational guys already on the payroll.
If Nix succeeds in putting Buffalo back on the NFL map, it'll be an unprecedented event. It makes his head coaching hire even more important. It's his best chance to be remembered for something other than his age.