Oh, my! Enberg's spotter shares memories of broadcasting legend - The Buffalo News

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Oh, my! Enberg's spotter shares memories of broadcasting legend

With the Buffalo Bills in a playoff game for the first time in 18 years, play-by-play calls of previous postseason games by the late announcers Van Miller and Dick Enberg are running through my mind.

I'm hoping they are together in football heaven Sunday reminiscing about the Bills' 51-3 AFC title victory over the Oakland Raiders that sent the Bills to their first Super Bowl in 1991.

Enberg's enthusiasm level – exemplified by his "Oh, MY!" after big plays -- made him one of my favorite announcers.

So I reached out to the Buffalonian who knew him best: Mike Gluc. Gluc is a commercial real estate appraiser who traveled with Enberg as his spotter for five seasons.

A few days after Enberg died, Gluc received the announcer's annual Christmas card. "I will treasure this," texted Gluc.

The Christmas card came a few days after Gluc spoke about his admiration for the broadcasting legend and the influence Enberg had on his life.

"Maybe with exception of my parents, he had the biggest influence to that point," said Gluc, who now is the spotter for CBS play-by-play man Greg Gumbel. "Greg and others have added to that."

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"In the sense of the word, Dick was a pure gentleman. Classy and a gentleman. …  He was always extremely nice to anyone he ever met or was in the TV business with. He was appreciative of what all of us did to help him."

Gluc was preparing for a game in Baltimore when he heard about Enberg's death.

"The first thing that hit me was here I am preparing to work a game that -- without him -- I wouldn't be in that position," said Gluc. "There are a lot of people who affect your life. But he changed the course of my life. I truly believe without him picking me I would never be in this position 20 years later and I would never have met Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms, Trent Green and Dan Dierdorf."

Gluc was the spotter for network announcers working the games in Orchard Park in the mid-1980s when the Bills weren't very good. When the Bills became very good in the early 1990s, Enberg was often here with NBC's No. 1 team for a couple of games.

In 1995, when Enberg was teamed with Phil Simms and Paul Maguire on the No. 1 team, Enberg told NBC he wanted a spotter to travel with him and he knew who he wanted.

"He said, 'I want Mike from Buffalo,' " Gluc was told. "And people asked, 'Who is Mike from Buffalo?' "

Gluc traveled with Enberg, Simms and Maguire from 1995-97, with the end coming when NBC lost the rights to American Conference games to CBS in 1998.

Dick Enberg, known for his "Oh, my!" call, finished his career as a TV play-by-play man for the San Diego Padres. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Upon Simms' recommendation, Gumbel hired Gluc as his spotter at CBS and he remained with the No. 1 NFL team for six years. Enberg did play-by-play on NBC for Notre Dame games before eventually moving to CBS.

When CBS asked Gumbel to be the studio host in 2004, Gluc went back with Enberg for the 2004 and 2005 seasons, working with analyst Dan Dierdorf.

It was easy for Gluc, who was Enberg's spotter for four Super Bowls, to spot his toughest moment with the play-by-play man.

In May of 2006, Gumbel called to say that he was going back to play-by-play and was going to be No.2 with Dierdorf behind CBS' top team, Jim Nantz and Simms. Enberg was dropping to the No. 3 team.

Gumbel asked Gluc if he was coming back with him.

"It is hard to say no to that," said Gluc. "I had a great relationship with Greg after six years and I wanted to stay No. 2 because that assured me a playoff game. We also were getting the Pro Bowl game."

Two days later, Enberg, now No. 3, called and asked Gluc, 'Are you with me?'

"I had already committed to Greg," Gluc said. "I loved working with Greg. I knew I had to say no to Dick. I told Dick that Greg was offered No. 2 and it was nothing personal. He was crushed. I felt awful."

Watch: Enberg's call of Bills' AFC title rout before first Super Bowl trip

Enberg's death last month led Gluc to think about all the good times together and Enberg's influence on his life. He remembered the first time he had dinner with Enberg, Simms, Maguire and director John Gonzalez.

"I was in awe for two hours listening to their stories," said Gluc. "Accepting this concept I am sitting with these great, well-known people and they treated me as part of our little family. That's what you become."

He remembered when Enberg took Gluc and his wife, Mary Claire Keenan, on a tour of New Orleans after Enberg learned that Gluc was staying over an extra night after working a Saints game.

"He said, 'The three of us are going out and I am going to show you the town,' " remembered Gluc. "And he did. That was just a wonderful evening where he was such a wonderful host, thinking about other people and not just himself."

He remembered Enberg calling Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego when Denver' quarterback John Elway won his first Super Bowl.

"He invited me and a lot of other NBC people to his house there for a big dinner, serving the Enbergers," recalled Gluc. "They are hamburgers with special ingredients. It was a fun evening just to be in his house."

He remembered working a 2005 game in Green Bay with the wind chill a minus 10 degrees when Dierdorf shocked the California play-by-play announcer, who was wearing $400 leather shoes.

"Dan said, 'We have to open these windows for kickoff. I can’t work in this sterile environment,' " he recalled. "Dick was begging Dan not to open the windows."

The windows were opened and the rush of cold air lowered the temperature in the booth from 65 to zero in about five minutes.

"By the fourth quarter ... his feet were freezing, his body was shivering and he was taking hand warmers to his face because he was having trouble talking it was so cold. Dierdorf and I just laughed. Dick was dressed for a Southern California game. Dick really suffered that game."

It isn't surprising that Gluc has found his work as a traveling spotter much more exciting than his appraisal work in real estate.

"This job offers me the relationships with great announcers, football stars that I met through the years and it enriched my life because of travel and understanding fine dining and, more importantly to California wine."

The annual trips that Gluc and his wife take to California wine country were inspired by Enberg. "He would teach me how to swirl wine," recalled Gluc.

If you're as big a Dick Enberg fan as I was, you might want to swirl a glass in his memory during the Bills game on Sunday.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

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