I was riding my bicycle down Elmwood Avenue on Saturday morning when I ran into a familiar face.
Well, actually it wasn’t that familiar.
But I had seen Channel 4 Sports Director Josh Reed make a brief debut on the station’s 6 p.m. Friday newscast and thought the guy I passed on my bike looked like a slightly thinner version of the new guy.
He didn’t respond when I asked, “Josh?” That apparently was because he had his earphones on while he was jogging. So I turned around my bike, got next to him and asked, “are you Josh?”
He said “yes,” looked at me and before I could introduce myself smiled and said “I know who you are.”
“I’ve been warned about you,” he said.
I laughed. Then I started to think he knew who I was because Channel 4 may have a picture of me it uses as a dart board.
Twelve hours later, I saw Reed deliver his first post-game report on the Bills’ 43-19 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Channel 4 actually gave the late Saturday night game double coverage, with newcomer Tom Martin being the weekend sports anchor and Reed delivering a game report from The Ralph.
Reed noted that Bills Coach Rex Ryan had previously said all three quarterbacks – Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel – were playing at a high-level before adding, “I’m not sure I’d use the word high-level. That is until today.’”
It turns out Reed didn’t need a warning.
Like Martin before him, Reed made a favorable first impression. He has a strong voice and good presentation style, a high-energy level and a little bit of an edge.
I don’t have much negative to say about either Reed or Martin. OK, they initially appear to be a little slick for Buffalo. And they both have their phony smiles down, which seems to be a basic requirement of TV news personnel.
But their introductory performances have been at a high-level. It will take time for viewers to know who they are, but Reed and Martin certainly are an improvement on their predecessors, Steve Vesey and Lauren Brill.
However, they will be working on a station that has dropped its regular sports report at 6 p.m. That made Reed’s introduction on a one-story sportscast at 6 p.m. Friday as unexpected as Ryan’s decision to start Manuel on Saturday.
Speaking of a high-level, that certainly is the case for the ratings for Bills preseason games. The Bills game Saturday played in the late afternoon and early evening had about a 23.6 rating on Channel 7, which puts it in the middle of the three preseason games. It peaked with a 27.6 at 6:30 p.m. The opener had a 21.8 rating and the second game a 27.2 rating.
You could say that proves that the expectations of Bills fans this season are at a high-level.
Play-by-play man Andrew Catalon had a strong game and will be welcome any time CBS sends him to Buffalo this season. His analyst, ex-Bill Steve Tasker, knows the team as well as anyone since he still lives here.
Interestingly, Tasker said that Ryan started Manuel because it was the coach’s plan from the start of training camp to give every QB his turn as a starter and he didn’t veer from it. That insider information was clearly missing from all the media members who cover the Bills and were shocked when Ryan announced in midweek that Manuel would get the start.
NBC analyst Cris Collinworth gave former University at Buffalo star Khalil Mack a lot of love Sunday night during the Oakland Raiders’ 30-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Collinsworth said “he didn’t “want to insult Buffalo” before noting that the Raiders’ No. 1 draft choice in 2014 received only one Division 1 scholarship offer and that was from the Bulls. Collinsworth added Mack “is as good a run player as there is.”
Collinsworth and play-by-play man Al Michaels also had a lot of fun noting that Mack’s favorite movie is “Mary Poppins.” “Toughest guy in football. I love it,” said Collinsworth.