For those fine folks who routinely read, then filtered to those whose reading may include my weekly graded “A for effort” article, my appreciation is voluminous. You may have some anamneses of my very good friend Tony Finaldi. He has been referenced in several situations throughout the existence of said commentary. Most recently the Eric Wood injury forced retirement announcement edition, as we talked about him calling Sports talk radio in Bills country years earlier from his residency since Law School in Louisville. The kind of player Buffalo was getting the day they drafted Eric Wood was the information he decided to share with the listeners in his native hometown by chiming in as he watched Wood’s entire college career diligently.
The years have graced him both with a fantastic family here as well as blue grass country where his children are making him very proud. He is a partner at Ferreri Partners, PLLC. Tennis, skiing, hockey and soccer are sports I have witnessed him excel at. I must say he is one heck of a hand hockey player when a nerf is the ball of choice. Sneakers are the goal posts and the entire north side of that dying mall was where “game on” took place. That seems like yesterday.
Since all nine or ten of us readers have endured the rants and temper tantrums of “Negative Stanley” far too often, it is only fair to have something positive worthy of straying off the regular topic. A dynamic opportunity for the perfect candidate to play “Jerry Maguire” in the past was where the conversation about the Bills off season ended up taking us. This was unique from Jr. Finaldi wanting to box anyone exiting the theatre from “Rocky Four”.
Things We Know About a Buffalo Bills Fan in Kentucky This Week:
Tony does not offer up any of his sports management/agent experiences in recent years as to not come across as gasconading. A confident swagger is approbated. I pushed him to just share a small dose of what he got involved with which to this day is very unique.
“ISEM (International Sports and Entertainment Management) was the name of our agency which is based in Louisville. I have been to the combine, Senior Bowl, East West Shrine Game, Pro Days, etc. and recruited many college athletes, met with parents, etc. The combine is not about how high you can jump or how fast you can run, etc. No scout makes serious decisions based on what a kid does without pads on.”
“A lot of what we did was marketing – trying to sell our players to teams. We would provide videos, bios, etc. It was not a money-making endeavor as we were not big enough to compete with the big boys nationally, so we eventually stuck to our own region when it came to recruiting. Contracts (like they are nowadays) are largely “slotted” leaving less room for significant negotiation if you’re talking about a draft pick. The key is get as much guaranteed money as you can, and some teams are more “generous” than others.”
“I have been fortunate enough to have lunch with Jake Plummer in California. We sat down to dinner with Peyton Manning after a Colts game…and we were “entertained” by Ray Buchanan and his crew.” He said the Buchanan portion partially laughing brushing it off as comical.
Now I asked him to refresh my memory on some of the activity with potential prospects.
“I had 3 players in the NFL after the 1997 draft. Carl Powell, Leland Taylor, Rico Clark- all from the University of Louisville. Powell, who was a linebacker was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fifth round. Taylor, who played defensive tackle was drafted by Ravens seventh round and Clark, a defensive back was a free agent. I will never forget that phone call from Colts Director of Player Personal right before they took Carl – said “we thought you’d like to know we’re about to take your guy…” Carl was ecstatic – gave him the phone – he cried, then hugged me.”
“The left tackle position was a huge nose tackle drafted by Ozzie Newsome to back up Tony Siragusa. I never forget a phone call I got from Newsome one day at the office while they were in training camp, he said “Tony, I’m looking at a guy on the field right now that I’m not sure really wants to make this team.” Of course, I ensured Mr. Newsome that I would talk to my client and remind him of how lucky he was to have the opportunity and to get him motivated…and he sure did.”
“Rico was definitely my favorite. He was a great kid with the best attitude. I had to call several teams and beg for a work out after the draft. The Colts kind of did us a favor since they drafted Powell, etc. The general manager told me that he would allow him to drive up and they would give him a work out but no promises, etc. Even said that he would literally have to knock their socks off and he did. He played for almost two seasons and even started against Dan Marino one game due to injuries and played great.
That’s what I’m talking about. Those are the experiences that going to AFC championship games, road and home games, Super Bowl 26, the goalpost come down games, London, Turkey Day in Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto and Chicago. Dozens of regular season home games during the drought, dozens before the drought. Suites, club seats and nosebleeds. All were awesome experiences, but do not compare to dinner with Peyton Manning.
Our conversation was before the excitement that University of Buffalo basketball stirred up this week or we would have strayed to basketball and not where I lead the witness. The New York Jets really have put a spin on what was headed to “happily ever after” for the Bills. Finaldi suggested what I had speculated he would being that he watched another college career ever so closely.” They should sign Teddy Bridgewater as a …well bridge quarterback. The Bills are going in the right direction as a chip to get closer to the top five to go get their franchise quarterback. Trading away Glenn that can’t stay healthy, along with his massive contract, as well as keeping one of the first round picks and moving up as well. Fill the rest of the roster with the other picks but it’s time to get the franchise guy. An amazing safety is not going to win you five more games.”
Since that time obviously the Jets not only signed Bridgewater, they also traded up to number three overall eliminating the Colts as a potential trading partner, reducing options in the world of trades. The Bills efforts to trade up again have become more difficult and certainly much more expensive. Following up with Finaldi after the signing of A.J. McCarron, he was satisfied being familiar with him as Cincinnati is so close to Louisville and the fact that the price was very affordable.
“I like AJ as a bridge quarterback. I still believe that they like Josh Rosen and we will now find out how much. If they go to the second spot to get him, then we’ll know for sure. If they don’t, then they don’t love them as much as we thought. If they truly believe he is a franchise quarterback, then they will do whatever it takes to get him, and they should. If all along, they really don’t care if they got one of the top three quarterbacks, then I suppose they will stand pat. They should be able to get someone Lamar Jackson at #12 if they like him.”
Go get the guy, the man that will lead the Bills for the next dozen years or more.