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01-06-2010, 08:34 AM #1
Bills special teams coach opts out of final 2 years
Bills special teams co-ordinator Bobby April opted out of the final two years of his contract because he doesn't expect to be part of the team's plans once it hires a new head coach.
"I didn't want to go through the whole ordeal," April said in a phone interview Tuesday as he cleaned out his office at the team's headquarters. "At this point, I just think it's time for me to move on."
He said his last day will be Friday, ending a six-year term in Buffalo during which the Bills special teams perennially finished among the NFL's best.
April's decision came a day after the Bills released their entire coaching staff by informing them they can look elsewhere for jobs. The coaches, however, remain under contract until their future with the team is determined once a new coach is hired.
April wanted to formally free himself of his contract so other teams know he is available, while also clearing up any ambiguity left by the Bills' statement. Despite being relieved of their obligations, the coaches still had to follow NFL rules and receive the Bills permission to speak to other teams.
"This way, if someone was interested in me, I wanted to make my status clear," he said.
Also factoring into April's decision was a belief he no longer had a future with the Bills after **** Jauron was fired in November. April also held the title of assistant head coach, and felt snubbed when the team promoted defensive co-ordinator Perry Fewell to finish the season as interim head coach.
"The interim coaching deal, I expressed to Russ how I felt about it," April said, referring to chief executive officer Russ Brandon. "I'm going to leave that between Russ and I."
Fewell had a four-hour interview for the head-coaching job with Bills general manager Buddy Nix on Monday, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the team would not discuss the coaching search.
April joined the Bills in 2004 after a three-year stint with St. Louis, and was one of the few Bills assistants retained when Jauron took over in 2006. April completed his 18th season in the NFL after breaking into the league as a tight ends/special teams coach with Atlanta in 1991.
April had the out-clause written into his contract after the 2008 season, when speculation about Jauron's future was being raised. April said he wanted to keep his options open if Jauron was fired.
"I had chosen to work for Mike Mularkey and **** Jauron, and may not have had a choice on the next one," April said, referring to the team's two previous coaches. "I didn't necessarily want to work for somebody I didn't want to work for."
April was credited for overseeing a golden era for Bills special teams. Led by punter Brian Moorman, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, the unit finished first three times in the annual end-of-season Dallas Morning News rankings, which are regarded as the standard by the NFL.
Place-kicker Rian Lindell has also been consistent under April. Despite often playing in harsh wintry conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Lindell hit 49-of-50 field-goal attempts under 39 yards in his past four years.
Injuries and free-agent losses contributed to the unit's inconsistency this season, though Buffalo did finish in the top 10 in four statistical categories.
"It was a great run," April said, crediting his players for their effort. "I have no regrets and am as grateful as I can be."