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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: New man in charge

   January 26, 1979 -- Front office change is no stranger to the Buffalo Bills ... as long time fans of the team know all too well.

   The Bills changed general managers on this date. Bob Lustig had been serving as vice president and general manager of the team. However, he left the Bills' organization to become the CEO of a new insurance company that Ralph Wilson was creating in Detroit. You probably wouldn't see a move like that today; it was a sign of how the football business was changing.

    Former Bills offensive tackle Stew Barber, one of the top players from the team's glory days, was promoted to GM on his day. Barber had served as a scout and as an assistant general manager for the team. When he took the job, he became the first, and to this point the last, ex-Bills' player to serve as general manager.

   Barber certainly played a role in the rise of the Bills upon his arrival, as the team returned to the playoffs in 1980. However, coach Chuck Knox probably got more of the credit for that one.

   Barber might be best remembered for the fact that two top draft choices "got away" during his tenure -- Tom Cousineau and Jim Kelly. Barber stayed through 1983, when he was fired and was replaced for a short time by Pat McGroder and then by Terry Bledsoe.

--- Budd Bailey

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