The following is a transcript of comments on Monday from Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix, CEO Russ Brandon and wide receiver Stevie Johnson.
Johnson on Monday signed a five-year contract to remain with the team.
The transcript follows:
General Manager Buddy Nix:
Just to kick it off a little bit here, it’s a good day for us. Our football team got better. One of our philosophies coming in was that we wanted to try to keep our good players here, draft good, develop them and then try to keep them and we were able to do that with Stevie Johnson. It goes without saying what he’s done in the past two years and I think it’s just going to get better. Again, playing against guys that have been here and have gotten out, one of our main goals was to keep guys like him. It took a long time and probably was going to get done because Stevie said he always wanted to be here and we always said we wanted him. If that’s the case it normally works out. I’m going to turn it over to Russ (Brandon).
Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon:
Today is a great day in the organization for Mr. Wilson and for our entire fan base. It speaks to the work that Buddy has done and again goes back to our core philosophy. And as Buddy said to draft, develop and retain. Stevie is another shining example of that. With Kyle Williams last year and retaining Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) with an extension, and Erik Pears and Rian Lindell it again goes to what our philosophy is in the organization. The work done by our team here, our negotiating team, led by Jim Overdorf I’d be remiss not to congratulate Jim and the work that he’s done and also Stevie’s representatives CJ LaBoy and Doug Hendrickson. Again, it’s a great day for our fans and we’re excited to be in this position.
Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson:
I just wanted to say some thanks. First off I want to thank God for everything that he’s put me through, good and bad because it has molded the person I am now. I want to thank Mr. Wilson for taking that chance on me four years ago coming out of Kentucky and using the 224th pick on me. I want to thank him a lot, and my teammates, the whole Buffalo Bills organization for standing behind me through everything. It’s a great feeling. It’s a blessing to be in this organization. This is where I want to be. Everybody knows that. I want to thank my teammates who have looked out for me, basically walking me through things, even the younger guys for looking up to me. That’s pretty amazing right there. I want to thank Coach Gailey for walking in the door and saying it doesn’t matter how you do it or what you do as long as you beat the man. That was great for me. I don’t think I would be the player or the receiver that I am if Coach Gailey didn’t take the chance on the no names that we have, so thank you coach. I want to say thanks to my agent CJ LaBoy simply because I can say a lot but thanks for being the big brother that I don’t have but always wanted, so thank you CJ. I want to thank my family. I want to thank my friends for always keeping me straight no matter what it was. They knew when Stevie was around everybody’s on a straight arrow. They’re not getting me into anything, so I want to thank you guys for being there for me. My wife, Brittany aka Bear, thank you for holding me down through everything. I want to thank the Cook’s. I want to thank Zach, YB (Ya Boy), Dre, Uncle Lou, Jared, Jamie, Moses, Isaiah, all you guys, Baby Essex , Homeslice, Stacey, Todd, everyone, Alicia, Myesha, Deandre, DeMarcus, Marquise, T-Lowe, Dajou, Essence, Coach Fully. I don’t want to leave anybody out. It’s amazing. This is a crazy feeling. I need to thank Steve Johnson Sr. and OG Herm the one who made me that SF warrior that I am that you guys see. I want to thank the city of Buffalo because I represent you guys and to get back to that winning way and that’s everybody on this team. The way you look out for me I want you to look out for my teammates also. We represent you guys. A big thank you to you guys. You guys started this. I want to say to my Mom. I want to say look at your son now, look at your son. I can take care of you guys now. Thank You. Once again to all my fans who showed support throughout my career, Thank You!
On what he likes so much about this group of guys and why he wanted to stay in Buffalo:
This is where I started, in Buffalo. They took a chance on me. I’m not doing them any favors. They did me a favor by picking me. I want to remain loyal to them like they did with me because there could have been times where they could have let me go. This group is the only group I’ve known since I’ve been in the NFL. Why leave now when you’ve got guys turning that corner and who knows? We may get things back this next year and if not this year the year after. There’s a lot of promise here and I love working with these guys. Just waking up in the morning, even on the cold days out here and just coming to Buffalo and being around my teammates. That’s what it’s about. I’ve always wanted to be here.
On how many times QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has called him since the end of the season:
He’s gotten in touch with me quite a few times. He was doing what he was supposed to do trying to keep his guy. It didn’t matter what he was going to say or anybody else, I knew in my heart I wanted to be a Buffalo Bill.
On Fitzpatrick’s new haircut:
It just shows a lot of character on his side. That’s just one person. There are a lot of guys on this team that are like that and willing to ride for each other. I’d do the same for anybody else just like he did for me. He got a Mohawk that says “he’s back” in there so that’s amazing. That’s the type of team that we have - players that are taking care of each other and all want to win.
On if he was tempted to test the open market of free agency:
To be honest with you, everybody in this league wants to see what’s going to happen in free agency and all that but me personally that would have been cool. But I know where I wanted to be so it wouldn’t have made any sense to go see that this team wanted me or that team wanted me. It doesn’t matter. What’s the point of looking at that if you know where you want to be and this is where I want to be.
On if he talked to any other players about free agency about their situation with a new team:
No, I didn’t really reach out to anybody. There were a lot of guys that were already on the team like; Andra Davis and Kirk Morrison. They’ve already told me things like that to start thinking of whether you leave and who knows how it’s going to be chemistry(-wise). I didn’t really have to search. I already had my brothers here to tell me that. That was helpful information that I obtained from them.
On if he’s been able to reflect on the journey that has gotten him to this point in his career:
Yes, everyday. I look at my little brother, Andre Lewis and he’s basically going the route that I’ve taken. Who knows what’s going to happen in the end but I’m reminded of how I got here by every time I talk to him. It’s amazing. It’s a blessing to be here right now talking to you guys on this podium and being a Buffalo Bill since 2008. I remind myself every day and even when I talk to my little brother and to show him it can happen. Just keep working.
On what Head Coach Chan Gailey is referring to when he told Stevie that it doesn’t matter how he does it, just beat the man:
It’s based off of running routes but it’s every way. No matter what you do as long as you get it done and beat the man that’s it. That’s the attitude that we have to have, not just in the receiving room but throughout the team. We’ve got to beat our man and win that individual battle so our team can get the victory. He’s instilling that in us and he’s been doing that since he got here. I think we’ll be a team that people will have to take notice within these coming years. We have a talented group. I feel like when we get to the playoffs, which we can, I think we can matchup with anybody and I think we can beat anybody. I’m just going to focus and work.
On being part of the turnaround for this team:
Getting the deal done has just solidified the fact that I’ll be here and it shows that they have support in me. I want to do all I can to let them know they didn’t make a mistake. Just me being here right now knowing that I signed a contract it just says a lot about them and the organization, not just Stevie Johnson you got paid and now what. It’s not about that. I want to make sure I make them look good. It’s not about anything else.
On if he was optimistic that a deal would eventually get done:
I was pretty cool with everything. I knew the organization and CJ were getting things done. Every time you hear me talk about this I felt optimistic about being here, everyone knows that. It was just a matter of when it was going to get done. It happened so that’s what we’re happy about right now.
On if the contract talks were strictly about dollars and cents:
I believe it was all numbers and just getting things situated and set right. Everything else has just happened. We were just trying to get this contract done.
GM Buddy Nix:
On Stevie’s injuries last season:
The one thing about him, he practiced every day and he played every week, which says something about his toughness and his pride. I think that’s a lot of the reason that his teammates feel like they do about him. You can count on him and you can depend on him. For a receiver he’s a tough guy.
On how important it is to keep guys that they have drafted:
I think it’s big. And Russ said it and Mr. Wilson has let us do it. But it’s important that you keep your own. You can’t build if you’re losing good guys every year and we’ve got a lot of them out there for different reasons. We play against them every Sunday. You can’t keep them all but you need to make the effort to do everything you can to keep them.
On how important it is to find Johnson a complimentary wide receiver to play with:
We’re going to go, and people say we’re cheap and we won’t do that, but we’re going to go after guys that can help us. It may not be receivers. I think we’ve got good guys to go with him. I think Stevie would tell you the same thing. We’ve got talent. Everybody talks about speed on the other side away from him, deep speed. We’ve got guys out there that can run. It’s a matter of keeping him healthy and keeping him on the field. That doesn’t mean we won’t sign another receiver and it doesn’t mean we won’t draft one but I do think we’ve got a good group.
On if he had thought about if they didn’t re-sign Johnson:
I think that’s always a concern and I think it was with us. If you’re not careful you go replace a guy that’s maybe a little lesser talent, costs you more, takes longer (to learn the system) and you take a little step back. I don’t care who it is you bring in. He’s got to learn the system. He’s got to fit in and that sets you back a little bit. Obviously I think about it, this is all I do. I think about it all the time. That was a big part of it.
On if they would have used the franchise tag on Johnson today if they didn’t get this deal done:
I will not answer that. There’s no need to. I don’t have to (laughing). Good question though.
On what was the key day that lead to the agreement:
Jim Overdorf did our basic grunt work. He worked and he met with these guys. He talked to them nearly every day. Again, I go back to I believed Stevie when he said he wanted to be here and then I know we were sincere when we said we wanted him. Those things take time and normally those things come together and normally this is the outcome if that’s the case with both sides.
CEO Russ Brandon:
On if the league has contacted the team about Gregg Williams and the bounty issue:
I’m not aware of any league contact. I think today our focus is definitely on Stevie (Johnson). I put out a statement on Saturday and I’m going to the leave the statement where it is.