Brandon: Bills to review benefits of Toronto games

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm •  Published: December 4, 2013
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills center Eric Wood was not at all surprised hearing team president Russ Brandon raise concerns whether Buffalo loses a competitive edge playing annual home games in Toronto.

Brandon first questioned the benefits of the "Bills In Toronto" series during a meeting with Wood and fellow team captains about a month ago.

"He knew that a lot of players have expressed some harsh feelings toward Toronto," Wood said Wednesday. "And he basically told us as captains that he was going to do whatever it takes around here to win. And that's something he wanted to address."

Brandon went public with his concerns during his weekly show on Buffalo's WGR-AM earlier in the day. While noting the Bills' games north of the border have boosted the small-market franchise's revenues, Brandon added that they haven't paid off in wins.

Following a 34-31 overtime loss to Atlanta on Sunday, Buffalo dropped to 1-5 in Toronto since the series was established in 2008.

"It has been a challenged market there, and certainly has not translated into enough wins for us there," Brandon said. "Nothing comes above winning. When I took over the reins on Jan. 1, I said that was the No. 1 focus, and that will be the No. 1 focus. That's one of the reasons that this will be reviewed in a grand manner."

Brandon stopped short of saying the Bills would consider or be allowed to opt out of the four remaining years of the deal, which they renewed in January with Toronto-based Rogers Communications.

"I'm going to look at everything. I'll just leave it at that," Brandon said, before being asked a second time whether the Bills can opt out. "My focus in this organization is simple, to put ourselves in the position to win championships and sustain success. Period. Nothing comes above that."

Wood has been among several players who have criticized the series. He called the games in Toronto "a joke" last year following a 50-17 loss to Seattle.

Last week, receiver Stevie Johnson questioned whether the warm-weather Falcons "fixed" the schedule in getting to play indoors at the domed Rogers Centre, and avoid the wintry conditions — and traditionally more raucous environment — at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

The loss put a big dent in the Bills' chances of staying in the AFC playoff race. At 4-8, Buffalo plays three of its final four on the road, beginning with a trip to Tampa Bay (3-9) on Sunday.

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