Born: March 7, 1955
William Joseph Peter Francis Devaney was born March 7, 1955 in Red Bank and grew up in Leonardo. Billy was a three-sport star at Mater Dei High School in New Monmouth. He was obsessed with preparation, studying opponents’ strengths, weaknesses and tendencies along with his coaches. Billy received a baseball scholarship from Biscayne College in Florida. His dream was to play in the NFL, but since Biscayne didn’t field a football team, this seemed unlikely. This was actually pointed out to Billy by Dolphins coach Don Shula, who attended the same church. Shula and Miami scout Bobby Beathard helped Billy get into Elon College in North Carolina, where he joined the football team as a defensive back—and realized that he would not make it in the NFL. At least as a player.
After graduation, Billy worked for Pan Am. He maintained contact with Beathard after he became the Redskins’ GM and got a job as a part-time scout in the early 1980s. In 1983, the ’Skins hired him fulltime. Billy’s obsession with preparation and analysis—and his encyclopedic knowledge of each year’s draft, made him a valuable asset for Washington for the rest of the decade. The team’s 1987 Super Bowl championship roster included many players Billy scouted or acquired.
Billy followed Beathard to San Diego, where he served as the Chargers’ director of player personnel from 1990 to 2000. The Chargers won the AFC title in 1994 with a core of young players Billy had helped put together. On the other hand, he was one of the proponents for drafting Ryan Leaf.
During the 2000s, Billy worked in the front office for the 49ers, Falcons and Rams, holding the GM position in Atlanta and St. Louis. In 2016, Billy joined the player personnel staff of the University of Nebraska under coach Mike Riley, with whom he had worked in the 1990s with the Chargers. The Cornhuskers went 9–4 and 4–8 in his two seasons in Lincoln and he was fired along with Riley at the end of 2017. In 2018, Billy was hired as GM of the Atlanta Legends, one of the eight teams in the newly formed Alliance of American Football, which was scheduled to begin play in 2019.