McCormack Alum Bill Munson, NFL’s Longest-Tenured Team Employee
June 30, 2021
In its 50-year history, the UMass sport management program has turned out more than its share of distinguished alumni throughout all spheres of the sports world. But when it comes to tenure with one team, Bill Munson takes the (birthday) cake!
Munson, who graduated with his MS in sport management in 1973, recently completed 44 years with the Buffalo Bills—that’s the longest tenure of any employee in NFL history.
How did Munson, a Buffalo native, find his way to the Bills organization? That story begins with his time in Amherst.
As a graduate student, Munson taught an undergraduate kinesiology course while also assisting with the UMass women’s gymnastics team. Munson, who had been a gymnast at Kent State, worked out in the early morning hours at Boyden Gymnasium. Dick MacPherson, then the head football coach at UMass, also frequented the gym before the sun rose.
One morning after a workout, the two sat down for coffee, when MacPherson asked Munson about his plans for the future.
“I told him I applied for an internship with the New York Yankees and Boston Celtics, but that I wanted to get back closer to home with either the Buffalo Bills or Buffalo Sabers,” Munson said.
A few days and few phone calls later, Munson had landed an interview with the Buffalo Bills.
“MacPherson spoke with Lou Saban, who was the coach of the Bills at the time, and there I was with a three-month internship in 1972,” recounted Munson.
At the time, the Bills were constructing a new stadium in Orchard Park, where the team still plays today. As part of his internship, Munson was handed a hard hat and tasked with showing Bills season ticket holders where their new seats would be in the new stadium. Little did he know, that would be a turning point in his career.
“I worked with over 400 season ticket accounts over the course of three months,” Munson recalled. “The fans sent letters back to the owner to thank me for my help. One day, the general manager said to me, ‘Come on in the office, our owner wants to meet you. He wants you to fly to Michigan and have a meeting with him.’”
A few days later, Munson was named an assistant to the general manager and oversaw ticketing and marketing and became the assistant stadium manager.
“44 years later, I never left,” Munson said.
Munson was a jack of all trades in the Bills organization, as he worked in nearly every department, outside of coaching the team on the field.
“I did not care what kind of work they gave me. When I went for my internship, I did what was given to me,” Munson said. “Forty-four years later, I had held 13 different positions, from executive VP, senior VP, I scouted players, signed players, and worked on contracts. I did everything but coach in my 44 years.”
At the end of his illustrious career, which officially began on Sept. 1, 1973, and ended exactly 44 years later, the Bills threw Munson a retirement party. Hosted by ESPN’s Chris Berman, the goodbye party featured a video message from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell’s message: “Your record won’t be broken.”
“I talk to Roger a good bit,” Munson said. “I knew him when he was with the New York Jets. We have always kept in touch. That was a high point in my career, along with being able to go out when I wanted to.”
After all the years and the success in Munson’s career, he said UMass was the key starting point that got his career on the fast track.
“UMass is the Cadillac or Mercedes Benz of sport management programs,” the proud alum said. “The success that McCormack graduates have is among the best in the country. There is no question UMass put me on the right path. Nothing comes close to the legacy of the UMass program.”
In his retirement, Munson still keeps tabs on the leaders in the Bills organization while enjoying his freer schedule.
“The good Lord was good to me, and I was brought up right,” Munson said. “I was so appreciative of any opportunity that was afforded to me. I am very thankful for the career that I had.”