The Buffalo Bills are rumored to be embroiled in some behind-the-scenes drama, with accusations that general manager Doug Whaley “went rogue” in cutting Fred Jackson against the wishes of owner Terry Pegula.
Jackson was given a surprise release from the team, announced just two days after the 34-year-old running back turned in a strong performance in his first preseason action.
Publicly, Whaley appeared to send Fred Jackson off on a proper note, issuing a statement thanking him for his time in Buffalo.
“Today, we had to make the difficult decision to release Fred Jackson,” Bills general manager Doug Whaley said in a statement on the team’s official website. “He had an incredible career for this organization for the past 10 years. We thank Fred for his hard work, dedication, and leadership during his tenure with the Buffalo Bills. Fred has inspired the city of Buffalo in a number of ways. Fred and his family have been dedicated to this community and we can’t thank them enough for their contributions through his career.”
But new rumors indicate that Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula may have not been part of the decision to cut Jackson. Tim Graham of the Buffalo News reported that Whaley “went rogue” in cutting Jackson.
Bills organization will remain unified when speaking publicly, but two sources tell me Doug Whaley went rogue in cutting Fred Jackson.
— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) September 2, 2015
There were rumors that Jackson was being cut back in March, but Pegula reportedly stepped in and demanded that he be given a chance to prove himself in training camp. While Jackson was hampered by a hamstring injury, it appeared as if he had done enough to prove himself a capable backup to LeSean McCoy.
While it is within the scope of the general manager’s job to make player decisions, the Buffalo Bills treat it a bit differently. When the team hired Rex Ryan early this year, owners Terry and Kim Pegula said they would take a collaborative approach with the owners at the top.
“Rex, [president] Russ [Brandon] and [general manager] Doug [Whaley] will report to Kim [Pegula] and myself and that’s the way we’re going to have it moving forward,” Terry Pegula said (via ESPN). “I believe in everyone…. I think I’ve said this in the past: My style of business is that no one should be afraid to say anything so we will welcome input from anybody; the coach, the GM, the president, myself, Kim and that’s how we’re going to move forward.
“You should never be afraid to say anything. I don’t care if it’s sports or other business.”
Jackson is adding is own fuel to the fire. In a parting interview with the Buffalo News, Jackson publicly called out Whaley for being dishonest.
“There’s only one person in that organization that I haven’t gotten honesty from, and that was [Whaley],” Jackson told the newspaper (via Mike Rodak of ESPN).
But Fred Jackson is not looking back at his time with the Buffalo Bills, instead moving onward. He met with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday and is rumored to be signing a deal with them shortly.
[Image via Getty Images]