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Future of Bills president Donahoe in doubt

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Jan. 3, 2005) -- Buffalo Bills president Tom Donahoe's uncertain future could be decided as early as Jan. 4, one day after team owner Ralph Wilson held a postseason meeting with coach Mike Mularkey.

Frustrated by the Bills' 5-11 finish and failure to reach the playoffs for the sixth straight season, Wilson promised to make changes to his management structure, but only after he met with his coach. The meeting took place at Wilson's office in Detroit.

Donahoe, spotted at the team's headquarters Jan. 3, did not take part in the meeting.

Numerous media outlets reported that Wilson is scheduled to be at Orchard Park on Jan. 4 to announce what changes he's decided to make. Buffalo's WGRZ-TV and WIVB-TV both cited unnamed sources in reporting that Donahoe will be fired.

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold declined to say whether a news conference has been scheduled.

Bills Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy reportedly has been approached by Wilson to serve in an unspecified management post.

Levy, who turned 80 years old last year, did not return several messages left by The Associated Press.

Levy led the Bills to four consecutive AFC titles in the early 1990s before retiring after the 1997 season. He's currently an NFL broadcaster in his native Chicago but remains close to Wilson.

Mularkey's job is considered secure, although the coach will likely have to agree to shaking up his staff after his offense and defense finished among the NFL's worst this season.

Mularkey is scheduled to address his staff on Jan. 4.

Last month, Levy told the AP he is a big supporter of Mularkey.

Donahoe, who also serves as the Bills general manager, tops the list of uncertainty after failing to build a playoff team in five years at the helm. Buffalo has a 31-49 record -- tied with Cleveland for the third-fewest victories -- during that span. Except for Houston, which joined the NFL in 2002, the Bills are the only AFC team to not make the playoffs since 2001.

The Bills haven't qualified for the postseason since 1999, the six-year drought matching the team's longest since the NFL merger.

Donahoe also has been faulted for hiring coach Gregg Williams, who was dismissed following the 2003 season after going 17-31 in three years.

The Bills produced in their first season under Mularkey, rallying from a 1-5 start to finish 9-7, but missed a shot at a playoff berth with a season-ending collapse despite playing against Pittsburgh's reserves.

The Bills struggled this season, slowed by injuries and a sputtering offense under first-year starter J.P. Losman, who was eventually benched in favor of journeyman backup Kelly Holcomb.

Donahoe is the only Bills executive to hold the post of president in the franchise's 46-year history.

Assistant general manager Tom Modrak is considered a candidate to take over the team's football operations should Wilson elect to dismiss Donahoe.

Modrak, who has spent 29 years in the NFL mostly in scouting and personnel capacities, is in his fifth year with Buffalo. He joined the Bills after spending three seasons as Philadelphia's director of football operations.

Russ Brandon, the team's vice president of business development and marketing, would be considered a candidate to oversee the franchise's business operations.

Brandon has been credited for marketing the Bills into a regional franchise with his decision to shift the team's training camp to Rochester in 2000 and reaching sponsorship deals with many of the city's major corporations.

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