Bills GM Nix defends Gailey hire

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix got ornery while defending the club's search for a head coach and the decision to hire Chan Gailey.

At Tuesday afternoon's introductory news conference, Nix explained how Gailey fit the criteria: head coaching experience, an offensive mind with a track record of developing quarterbacks and character.

Nix then stiffarmed criticism of the hire after a two-month hunt that included several rejections along the way.

"I want you to know, with all due respect, I don't care," Nix said. "It don't bother me. I mean, everybody's got an opinion. You guys got a job to do, and I'm trying not to make it difficult.

"But my job is to get us the best guy to help us win games. And we found that guy. This guy met more of the criteria that I ever hoped we'd find. This guy's won everywhere he's been."

As much as Nix tried to make it seem like he was the natural selection, Gailey acknowledged he wasn't first choice for what Rochester Democrat & Chronicle columnist Leo Roth called "the Siberia of the NFL."

"I can't speak for other folks," Gailey replied, "but, shoot, you look at the history of the Buffalo Bills, and I've come in that stadium enough times to know about the fans of the Bills Nation. Who wouldn't want to come here?

"Maybe some guys had some personal reasons they didn't want to come here. Great! I'm glad because I get to come here."

Neither Bills owner Ralph Wilson nor chief executive officer Russ Brandon attended the news conference. That left Nix to address all the snubs. Nix claimed 80 percent of the reports were inaccurate but refused to go on the record about who specifically did or did not decline interview requests or reported offers.

Gailey has waited 11 years to become an NFL head coach again. He guided the Dallas Cowboys in 1998 and 1999. Only Art Shell and Joe Gibbs waited longer -- a dozen years apiece -- in between head-coaching gigs since 1980.

Gailey didn't coach in 2009. Kansas City Chiefs rookie head coach Todd Haley fired him as offensive coordinator right before the season started.

"I can't say anything to change anybody's mind," Gailey said. "All I can do is go try and help us win football games. If we win football games, everybody's mind will be changed, right? That's what'll happen.

"I will say this, there's been a lot of sixth- and seventh-round draft choices that have become Pro Bowlers. It's what you do with the opportunity when you get it."

Gailey clearly was referring to himself as that late-round draft pick, essentially embracing his status as a perceived underdog.

He's back in the NFL and in charge of his own team, one of only 32 in the world.

"I'm trying not to exaggerate, but we got 15 calls a day, begging for an interview and wanting this job," Nix said. "I could've hired 35 or 40 the first week. And you would be shocked at some of the names.

"Trust me, it's a good job. Don't ever think you can't fill coaching jobs even if they're bad. Oakland gets a lot of calls."