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Trip back to Latrobe is special for Doug Whaley


LATROBE, Pa. -- Before he watched his Buffalo Bills go through a joint practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday, Doug Whaley took time out to take part in a ceremony for one of his mentors.

The Steelers dedicated a bench to former scout Bill Nunn Jr., who died earlier this year.

"A lot of you guys who know me know that he’s one of the main reasons I’m in front of you today," Whaley said.

Nunn worked for the Steelers for 47 years, and was credited with finding many of the players who helped the franchise dominate during the 1970s, when it made six trips to the Super Bowl, winning four times.

The Bill Nunn Memorial Bench overlooks Chuck Noll Field, where the Steelers practice at training camp.

“For the last many years, the first stop I would make, and the first stop many people would make on the way down to practice would be right here,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II told his team's official website. “Bill would be sitting here, and I would sit here for a few minutes with Bill getting the wisdom of the day. We thought it was an appropriate place to have a permanent marker and a place where people could come and sit in the same spot where Bill sat.”

Whaley started his NFL career in the Steelers' personnel department, working closely with Nunn.

"The main thing is that if you believe it don’t be afraid to step on the table and make the deal," Whaley said of what he learned from Nunn. "Obviously, you guys can see that that’s something I do."

The obvious example of that would be Whaley's bold move to trade up for Sammy Watkins in this year's draft, giving up a 2015 first-round pick in the process. Whaley said Nunn's influence was in the back of his mind the day he pulled the trigger on that deal.

"If you believe in it and it’s fair -- don’t be crazy -- but if it’s fair then go ahead," Whaley said.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.