(Watch Brandon Beane’s portion of the Bills’ Friday morning conference in the video above.)
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane’s bond has showed its strength in many forms over the past six years at One Bills Drive, and this week proved that once again.
In 2017, the Buffalo Bills welcomed both a new head coach and a new general manager. But this was far from the first meeting for the two leaders.
McDermott came into play following another disappointing season led by former head coach Rex Ryan. After serving as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, McDermott was named the 20th head coach in the team’s history.
The man who months later would be announced as Doug Whaley’s successor, Brandon Beane, used to be another essential piece of the Panthers’ organization.
Before heading up north, Beane had been with the Panthers for the entirety of his NFL career, beginning in 1998. Over the years, he worked his way up to the position of assistant general manager.
His last six seasons with the Panthers were accompanied by a familiar face — McDermott’s. Since coming to Buffalo, the two have been instrumental in breaking the 17-year playoff drought, bringing the team to the playoffs in five of their six seasons, including this year, where the Bills reign as AFC East champions for the third year in a row.
Beane admires McDermott, not only as a coach, but a person. That was once again made apparent during a conference Friday morning, where the two spoke of the difficult, but inspiring recovery of safety Damar Hamlin.
“He knows when they need a kick in the butt, and he also knows when they need a hug,” Beane said. “That’s what’s special about it.”
Beane returned home Thursday after spending most of this week in Cincinnati, keeping an eye on Hamlin’s recovery following the 24-year-old’s bout with cardiac arrest on the field.
“I was in awe watching their strength,” Beane said of the team who kept Hamlin alive.
As for McDermott, Beane thinks “this guy deserves Coach of the Year for what he’s done.”
“What a great job of leading our team back here, getting them home. Just the vulnerability Sean showed, helping us get counselors here,” Beane said. “He’s got this team rock-solid.”
That says a lot about a man who described himself as someone who was more likely to keep difficult feelings bottled up in his younger years.
“I was reminded this year … how real, and this is probably a message for fans out there, how real these guys are. They’re not robots. They’re real people with real families, real issues in their personal lives,” McDermott said.
(Hear from Head Coach Sean McDermott in the video above)
McDermott’s resilience and his strength as a coach and a leader put him above the rest in Beane’s eyes.
“Find me a coach that could have this team at 12-3 with all we’ve dealt with this year. That’s a true testament to him, and I’m glad he’s our head coach,” Beane said Friday morning.
McDermott and Beane have both acknowledged the importance of mental health and having resources available for staff and players.
“One of Sean’s greatest strengths is he’s a great listener,” Beane said. “I think that’s one of the leadership qualities that people leave out that is as important as any of them.”
And McDermott’s blue and red army notices it, too. One of the team’s leaders, quarterback Josh Allen, said Thursday that McDermott “was the perfect man in that situation to handle that.”
“That type of situation, I can’t say enough about what he did, what he said to us in the locker room,” Allen said.
It’s a balance, Beane says.
“You gotta stand up there and be a rock, but sometimes you’ve got to be a human,” Beane said. “I think he’s got that balance.”
Beane says that despite what the Bills have dealt with, he’s “excited” for where they’re at.
“This is a group of winners,” Beane said. “I will forever remember this team, this season, the moments of it … I don’t know if there’s ever a team I’ll be more proud of than this.”
Still eluded by a Super Bowl victory, the Bills have a shot at going all the way once again when the playoffs begin later this month. But first, the Patriots come to town this Sunday.