If you watched former WKBW-TV (Channel 7) sportscaster Nick Filipowski's emotional and tearful goodbye this week, you may have concluded that he was fired.
At the end of a speech in which he professed his love of Western New York, Filipowski said he "unfortunately" had to go and didn't know where his next move was going to be.
According to Channel 7 General Manager Michael Nurse, Filipowski had two chances to stay at the ABC affiliate if he had wanted to remain and he declined both times.
"Nick informed us several months ago of his intention to not renew his contract," wrote Nurse. "He made it clear he wanted to pursue other opportunities outside of Buffalo. I personally asked him if he wanted to reconsider a month ago."
I have no knowledge of why he declined. He could not be reached for comment.
But it might have been discouraging for him to see two newer Channel 7 sportscasters, Joe Buscaglia and Matt Bove, leap over him in importance after former sports director Shawn Stepner left for a job in Baltimore a year ago. If Filipowski had stayed, it didn't appear that he would have a path to advancement.
Buscaglia, who is the sports director, and Bove are stronger on-air and have made a bigger impact. Bove actually seems more comfortable on-air than Buscaglia. (Full disclosure: Bove is a former student of mine.)
The biggest impact Filipowski made was in his farewell address, which got national attention thanks to being picked up by Barstool Sports and led to a variety of reactions from viewers. Some felt for Filipowski and thought it very sad, others over the top. I thought it was both. Still others, unfamiliar with him because they don't watch third-rated Channel 7, thought "Who is that guy?"
I was a little surprised by Filipowski's commentary and not only by the content; I also was surprised that he was allowed to give such a long goodbye after being here only three years.
By saying in his emotional commentary "to be honest I don't know where I am going," Filipowski appears to be taking a gamble of declining Channel 7's offer without having another job. He is betting on his talents. It is a bigger gamble because it is a tough job market out there for sportscasters, with many stations reducing sports coverage. But maybe the national attention the video of his farewell is getting will help him.
Channel 4 sportscaster Tom Martin took the safer and wiser route, deciding to leave when he had an offer from a Kansas City station. He has told friends that he is awaiting the completion of paper work before announcing his K.C. job. He is scheduled to leave in mid-August.