Niagara Gazette — The boys all wanted to talk about the Buffalo Bills.
And they did. But only after Paul Lancaster, director of player engagement for the Buffalo Bills, talked seriously to them about planning their lives.
Lancaster was the keynote speaker at the Male Summit, held Friday at the Doris W. Jones Family Resource Building and sponsored by the Niagara Falls Municipal Housing Authority.
The 150 males from the city's middle and high schools had just come from seminars covering topics from health to relationships and career goal setting. Lancaster brought the messages home with a discussion about goal planning and executing plans for brighter futures.
"The underlying theme here is transition. I'm in the business of transition. I help my players transition into the league, I help my players transition into their second contract, if they're lucky enough, and I help them transition out of the league," he said. "Your entire life is about transitions."
After his speech, the energetic young audience got in a few questions about the Bills.
"How long has it been since the Bills went to the Superbowl?" asked one young man to the chuckles of those around him.
That question was answered by another Buffalo Bills staffer, Niagara Falls native Pat Mathews, assistant director of customer service for the Bills.
"We really don't look in the past," he said, adding: "I can tell you we will be in the playoffs in 2014."
Another student asked "Do you think E.J. Manuel was the right choice last year?"
Mathews also answered that one, noting: "If he was standing here in front of you guys you would see ... he's a leader, he's smart and he's very intelligent. Our answer is 'yes.'"
In a week where the regional media is examining discussions on whether the Buffalo Bills might find a home in Niagara Falls, Mathews is the one Falls native who has regularly brought the Bills into the community.