Insider Dishes on ‘Most Volatile’ Shakeup in Bills’ Front Office

Terry and Kim Pegula

Getty Bills team owners Terry and Kim Pegula at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2019.

When the Buffalo Bills announced they had “parted ways” ways with executive vice president and chief operating officer Ron Raccuia last month, the move came as a major surprise.

Bills co-owner Terry Pegula thanked “Ron for his many years of hard work and dedication” in an official statement, but what caused the sudden exit of Raccuia, who had overseen the daily operations of Pegula Sports and Entertainment since 2017, and was the lead negotiator in solidifying the Bills’ new $1.54 billion stadium after co-owner Kim Pegula fell ill, was shrouded in mystery.

The Athletic‘s Tim Graham did a deep dive into the situation and shared on August 5 that he’d spoken to 11 insiders with direct knowledge of “how the relationship collapsed” between the Pegulas and Raccuia, “the most trusted Bills business voice outside the family,” he wrote.

“On the field, Buffalo has been a model of NFL stability since 2017, building a perennial Super Bowl contender under general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott. The front office, meanwhile, has been among the NFL’s most volatile over the past five years. A procession of executives has been jettisoned,” noting how a multitude of execs have been ousted since 2018.

While Raccuia also issued a positive goodbye statement, few people believed he left on good terms. Did Pegula’s right-hand man, the public face of the Bills’ front office, quit or get fired?

“People on both sides say (Raccuia) was fired,” Graham reported. “Two people close to Raccuia say he was ‘blindsided’ and ‘heartbroken’ by Pegula’s decision. Interviews revealed Raccuia’s tenure ended because he operated with too much autonomy after Kim Pegula’s debilitating cardiac arrest in June 2022.”

Ron Raccuia Had a Better Working Relationship With Kim Pegula

While sources told The Athletic that New York Governor Kathy Hochul despised how “arrogant” and “obnoxious” Raccuia was amid stadium negotiations, the Bills received $850 million in public money for the project, a huge win for the billionaire team owners. Despite his success, Terry Pegula just didn’t vibe with the exec as his wife did.

“A person involved with the decision said Terry Pegula prefers a blend of executives reporting to him instead of one person,” Graham wrote. “Besides, three sources said, Pegula just doesn’t fancy Raccuia, who became known for an unapologetically aggressive business approach to negotiations and with employees.”

As for Raccuia, he “regretted his failure to pivot from her management style to her husband’s. Lack of communication was said to be a significant sticking point for the multibillionaire.”

Replacing Raccuia is John Roth, a friend of Pegula’s for 12 years, who previously took over business operations of the Buffalo Sabres, the Pegula-owned NHL team, and Pegula Sports Entertainment. The Bills also hired Kathryn D’Angelo as general counsel and senior vice president of business administration, Josh Dziurlikowski to be senior vice president of finance and business administration, and Penny Semaia as the vice president of stadium relations.

Terry Pegula Named Himself President, Insinuating Kim Pegula Won’t Return

Terry Pegula

GettyBills co-owner Terry Pegula at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2023 in Orchard Park.

In the aftermath of Raccuia’s exit, Terry Pegula named himself as the Bills’ president, a double role which only five other NFL team owners have procured, per The Buffalo News, Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, New York Giants’ John Mara, Pittsburgh Steelers Art Rooney, Cincinnati Bengals’ Mike Brown, and Minnesota Vikings’ Mark Wilf.

While Pegula also took on the position of CEO, it’s his title as president strongly insinuates his wife won’t be returning to her job with the team. After keeping Kim Pegula’s medical emergency under wraps for nearly nine months, Jessica Pegula detailed her mother’s near-death experience, and the subsequent severe aphasia she’s experiencing in an emotional essay for The Player’s Tribune in February.

There’s since been progress in her recovery. In a surprise move, even to Jessica, her father took Kim Pegula, 54, to watch practice on July 30, her first public appearance since suffering cardiac arrest 14 months ago. She watched again on August 6.

“I didn’t really know he was taking her to training camp,” Jessica Pegula told The Buffalo News. “He was like, ‘We’re here at training camp, and she’s doing great.'”

The tennis pro is happy to see her mom “getting back and doing more normal things and trying to live a more normal life is part of her therapy and rehab,” she said. “Not just sitting inside and doing PT (physical therapy) for hours, which she does. Which is great, though, because we get to actually enjoy things with her.”

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