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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Williams arrives

   February 1, 2001 -- The Buffalo Bills needed a head coach when Wade Phillips had a slightly ugly departure from the job after the 2000 season. After a long interviewing process, they found their man in Gregg Williams. He was hired on this day and introduced a day later.

   The process was remarkable quick. Bills' president and general manager Tom Donahoe had never met Williams until a week before the hiring. Sure, Donahoe knew about Williams, who had compiled an impressive record as the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. Then Williams was extremely well-prepared for his interview, fully outlining his strategy for taking over the Bills.

   It was more than enough to convince Donahoe to hand Williams the keys to the team.

   "I'm eager," Williams said from his Tennessee home in an interview with The News' mark Gaughan. "I'm eager to get started and to meet all the people I'm going to get to work with and to meet the fans of Buffalo.

   "I'm an NFL junkie, and the history of the Buffalo franchise intrigued me. The kind of franchise the Bills have, and the great fans there is part of what drew me to the job, what made me want to go all out for it. What a great place to be."

   Williams wasn't the favorite for the job. Marvin Lewis and John Fox, defensive coordinators from Baltimore and the Giants respectively, were coming off Super Bowl appearances. But Williams pulled off the upset, while Lewis and Fox landed head coaching jobs elsewhere (Cincinnati and Carolina respectively.)

--- Budd Bailey

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