My thoughts on the fans and Channel 2’s take on Stephon Gilmore

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Career high and low at same time
(Note: This first block is about me. If you want Gilmore stuff, just scroll down)

So before I get to Stephon Gilmore, I want to share a personal story about “bad-mouthing” Buffalo. Frankly, whenever someone says something even kind of negative about the region, it strikes a chord with me. And no, not in the “HOW DARE THEY SAY THAT!” way. It’s more of a “He didn’t really say anything bad, you dipshits” way. It burns my ass because I’ve felt over the years that certain pockets of the media and fans basically go Incredible Hulk on something there’s no need to get pissy about. I’m a bit jaded when it comes to getting pissed off about stupid stuff.

For those who don’t know, my day job is in television. I am a casting director for reality TV shows. I have worked in the field since I made the move from Buffalo to Queens 15 years ago. I’ve had a lot of highlights and a lot of lowlights just like anyone who works in any profession. I don’t think, however, I’ve ever had a moment where a high and low came together as quickly as it came when I went to cast a show in Buffalo.

In 2010, I was a casting associate producer for a major network show that had a major star attached to it. The series was about couples who argued with each over stupid pet peeves, and we were doing casting events all over the country. At these casting events, couples from those cities would come in and talk about their spouse. At the time, we were looking for cities outside of the typical major cities and we were looking for that 25-50 age range.

“Why not Buffalo?”

That’s what I said to my boss at the time. I mentioned that Buffalo is a great city and people there are passionate about everything. I also told them that if we went there, we would get a TON of local publicity. I did everything I could to sell that place and my bosses were eventually sold.  In the 3 days leading up to the Buffalo event, I was interviewed by The Buffalo News and Art Voice and even did a radio spot with Brad Riter. I’m not gonna lie, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was coming home to cast this show with my boss and we were going to have casting events at a few public places. The thought of having my name publicly mentioned in my hometown as one of the producers for this show really put a smile on my face.

When we got to Buffalo, I had to make one last media appearance at Channel 2. I was interviewed by, I believe, the assignment desk person and they asked a bunch of questions and I really put over Buffalo. I mentioned how I was from there, how the people were passionate, how we think it is a perfect city. All that crap. Then I offhandedly said something that immediately made me think, hmmm. I hope they don’t take that the wrong way. I said something along the lines of “Everyone knows that if you are from Buffalo, you enjoy a good argument and are passionate about your side, and you don’t take kindly to being told you are wrong.” It may have been a bit more direct, but I thought I was able to get away with saying that because, well, I was from Buffalo and we are a bunch of angry knuckleheads.

So, that night I went to my parents’ house with my boss to have dinner. I knew I was going to be on Channel 2 and was excited to see how they would promote our casting events. Of course, even with all the nice things I said about Buffalo, what did they play? You guessed it. The quote that made it sound like I was shitting on Buffalo for being a bit angry. There wasn’t any mention that I was from there, it was just that sound bite. After the clip played, Mary Alice Demler came back on camera with a mocking laugh and flippantly said, “WHERE DID HE GET HIS INFORMATION FROM?!”

I was pissed off and embarrassed. Now, sure, I said that, and those were the consequences of it. However, because our show was airing on their channel, I thought it was idiotic for them to have this shitty sound bite attached to it. Our show being successful would be good for them! My boss laughed it off and said “Well, your town probably hates you now.” My parents were annoyed and at that point, I was wishing I had pushed for Rochester. The fact that they picked the sound bite that made me sound anti-Buffalo wasn’t an accident. In fairness, they did switch that bite out with a more generic clip from my interview on the next broadcast because they probably realized they were shitting on the show that aired on their network, but the damage was done for me personally. I was not on Channel 2’s side as this seems to be a bit of an MO for them. They enjoy playing the heartstrings of those who become enraged whenever someone mentions anything as innocuous as what Stephon Gilmore said.

Gregg Williams mentioned that he’d wanted Drew Brees in 2001 and said that if he had got his way, he would still be in “cold” Buffalo.” WAIT! HE SAID COLD?! HOW DARE HE!! RELEASE THE HOUNDS!!” Channel 2 had a recap of his interview and had a direct email to the Saints so fans could voice their displeasure with him. Terrell Owens was shown in the crowd at the slam dunk competition in 2009, and Charles Barkley said on the broadcast that there wasn’t much to do in Buffalo. Guess what Channel 2 did? They recapped his comments and had an email to hit up the Turner executives so we could all tell them that Charles Barkley sucked. Don’t even get me started on the throwaway comments by Tom Brady about Buffalo hotels back in 2011. That was embarrassing and made the city and media appear to have the thinnest skin possible.

Channel 2 isn’t the first outlet to do this here. There are two narratives in this town that most LOVE to play up that I fucking despise:

  1. The blue-collar narrative about grinders and lunch-pail athletes resonating with the people of Buffalo
  2. Turning anyone who mentions Buffalo in a non-blowjob into the enemy

Channel 2 is more guilty of #2 than anyone else. They play to the insecurities of the lunatic fringe who get pissed off at anything an outsider – or even a poor hometown producer – says about their region.

Dissecting Gilmore’s tweet
Look, I’ll be the first to say that I’ve always had a soft spot for Gilmore. Maybe it has to do with the fact that no other player over the last 25 years has gotten more crap from media and fans for being a pretty good football player. There have been times when I thought Gilmore struggled – his first 2 years, for example – but then he turned it on in year 3 and 4 (PFF ranked him in top 12 as CB). He struggled at the start of last year, but turned it on at the end. However, it didn’t matter. Everyone on my feed and in the media seemed to think he was overrated. I always thought the print guys/TV guys didn’t like Gilmore because he wasn’t quotable. We all know if you aren’t a decent enough soundbite, you are dead to them. As for fans, well, maybe they expected him to be Deion Sanders or maybe they just couldn’t get over the fact that he didn’t look happy after he was drafted. After he left for New England, I was hoping we wouldn’t mention him again until the Bills played him. Sadly, I was wrong.

Now, when I first read this, my assumption was that he was talking about the Patriots fans. He used their hashtag and seemed to be directly talking to them because he was talking about how “My people” get to see him on TV for the first time because, well, he hasn’t played for them yet. This isn’t a stretch when it comes to thinking. How many Bills players have tagged the #billsmafia after being signed or have said prior to their debut that they can’t wait to play in front of them? Shit, all of them have! They all do it. Why this has not even been remotely discussed is beyond me.

The other thought was that Gilmore was talking about prime-time games and that “his people” were his friends and family who weren’t able to watch his games in Buffalo because they live in the Carolinas. Now, if we believe that is the case, what is the problem? He’s telling you a fact! A fact that, when the schedule comes out, Bills Twitter is on fire about because they are pissed off that we did not get any games under the lights! We have all complained about how the Bills have been dreadful as fuck when it comes to being on prime-time.

Hell, NBC Sunday Night Football has NEVER put them on the schedule prior to a season and the only time they were flexed was because the other team – the Patriots – were undefeated at the time and the Bills were lucky enough to be .500 and playing NE that week. The Bills haven’t had a home Monday Night Football game since 2008 and they went from 2010-2014 without playing on ESPN. Thank god for that shitty ass Thursday Night Football package or Gilmore’s family might have thought he was out of the league or pathologically lying about being in the league in the first place.

There is nothing here to be pissed off about. He didn’t say, “Fuck my old fans. Pats fan are where it’s at!” or “Fuck Del and the Billsmafia! I’m all about Barstool Sports!” Like, this is such bullshit. There is nothing to see here at all! Why are you so fucking mad at this? Look, I’m going to root against New England and Gilmore when they play the Bills. I hope Sammy Watkins burns Gilmore. But Buffalo fans and parts of the media are acting like the most hypocritical ex-boyfriend ever. You hated Gilmore when you were with him, you begged him to get fucking lost and were counting down the days until he left you, and then when he did leave and actually looked happy about it, YOU CAN’T STAND IT! You make it all about you! These people hated Gilmore yet they just seem to not be able to get over him. It is so small-time it is beyond me.

Javad’s miss
I don’t know Jonah Javad personally. We have followed each on Twitter two different times. I had a DM exchange with him years back in which I applauded him for having fun on the air with his sports stories. As someone who wanted to be a sportscaster in college and was taught to be as robotic as humanly possible  – which I hated – I thought it was pretty cool that he was being a bit more hip. I also have a few Twitter friends who are very friendly with him and he’s put over all the good stuff Del has done with the #billsmafia.

However, his take on Gilmore seemed to be completely contrived in order to appease the same legion of fans who just want to be loved. One of the first things they teach you about presenting a good story is the need to get both sides. I know in TV you only have like 2-3 minutes to get your shit out on a local sportscast, but he did not mention any of the following:

  • Gilmore was a pretty good player here.
  • The Bills didn’t want to even come close to the money the Pats offered him.
  • Bills fans were absolute assholes to him while he was here.
  • He’s going to a team that is LIGHT YEARS better than the Bills.
  • Gilmore had 4 different coordinators in 5 years.

Probably should have been mentioned.

Look, Jonah has already said he’s NOT a Bills fan. I agree with him as he’s been very critical of the team over the years. However, while he’s not a fan of the team, he’s definitely a fan of the team’s fans or in this case, his viewers. It feels like his goal was to kiss the asses of a portion of the fan base who view him as a bit of a purveyor of fan justice when it comes to others besmirching the #billsmafia. It is low hanging fruit if anything. 

I’m all for telling a creative story and using pop culture references, but the story has to be at least somewhat accurate and hiding facts in order to support the anti-Gilmore crowd isn’t creative. It is lazy. His takedown was complete bush league. What irritated me the most was that he acted like Gilmore was throwing shade at Bills fans. Um, no. If we are to believe that the tweet was about his fans seeing him on national TV for a change, it was him throwing shade at how shitty this franchise is which happens to be a GIANT-SIZE FACT. And I don’t even believe that was the case. Why does his comment have to subliminally involve Buffalo? Do you think Gilmore was even thinking about Buffalo anymore when he tweeted that out? He’s over us and has moved on.

Jovad’s commentary getting picked up by national outlets not only makes fans look like crybabies, but it also makes Channel 2 appear to have a pathetic yellow journalism slant. As someone who worked in the Buffalo media said to me in a DM, “If this is what fans/viewers/readers want and expect from the media we’re all fucked. This is amateur hour.”

Jonah has ESPN/national outlet written all over him, and while I’d like to say being a good journalist should be a qualification to hit the big time, it isn’t. It is all about entertainment and I’m sure this clip will be a nice get for his reel when he one days interviews in Bristol.

Final word
Buffalo, I like you. I really do. But this whole being pissed off about what others say about you needs to fucking end. You are on the rebound. There have been about 200 stories written about the rebirth of Buffalo. It has been shoved down our throats over the last 5 years. Just focus on and enjoy that instead of freaking out over every little thing. What Gilmore tweeted was much ado about nothing. It may have been the most innocuous thing an athlete has ever said about this town to get that many people fired up. Maybe I have too much of NYC in me now, but we don’t give a fuck. We just shrug our shoulders and go W/E when someone says the city is too crowded and people here are assholes. Have a little confidence in yourself and stop giving a fuck what others think and especially stop adding fuel to a fire that doesn’t even exist. It is a mirage built by insecurities. Who gives a fuck what Stephon Gilmore, a Toronto writer, or anyone else thinks about the region.

And for media folks like the ones at Channel 2 who enjoy these types of stories and exploiting the lunatic fringe who get mad at everything, well, I hope you don’t wake up late at night with a guilty conscience. I’m sure other athletes in this town or in different cities think we are a bunch of rubes, bumpkins, and assholes because you shined a light on something that you gave life to by covering it as cynically and as stupidly as possible.