Channel 2’s brief sneak preview Thursday of tonight’s special on Buffalo Bills Owner Ralph Wilson looked pretty impressive.
The hour-long special, “Wilson: The Life, Impact and Living Legacy of Ralph C. Wilson Jr.,” airs at 9 tonight on the NBC affiliate and is repeated at 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
It is anchored by sports anchor Adam Benigni. From the clip shown Thursday on a newscast, the special appears to be a balanced look at Wilson’s legacy that should appeal to viewers interested in history and nostalgia.
Wilson, who is 94, declined to be interviewed or issue a statement for the special, which may lead to some speculation about his condition., The special features interviews with such Wilson supporters as Bills chief executive officer and president Russ Brandon, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and Hall of Fame Coach Marv Levy.It also includes an interview with a Wilson critic, Buffalo News sports columnist Jerry Sullivan, and a legendary general manager who Wilson fired – Bill Polian. During the preview, Sullivan was shown saying Wilson has “embarrassed himself” in recent years with foolish moves.
You don’t generally hear that kind of brutal honesty from TV sportscasters, which is why Sullivan is used for balance and perspective.
There is no question that Wilson has made some hiring mistakes that deserve criticism. But I’m with Brandon in looking more at Wilson’s positives in keeping the team here despite the area’s market decline and giving WNYers a chance to keep it here after he is gone.
In short, I don’t think Wilson gets enough credit. I also don’t think many WNYers realize how fortunate they are to have a NFL team.
People point to the stands being filled despite the years of failing to make the playoffs. But they aren’t always filled and ticket prices here are incredibly low compared to other NFL cities.
When I tell my friends in New York, Denver, Boston and Washington, D.C. what I pay for a season ticket on the 50-yard line — $80 a game – they look at me as if I had gotten the steal of the century.
Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner, who is No. 99 on the Business First List of most influential people in WNY, believes Wilson should have been No. 1.
“He probably is the most influential WNYer in the last 50 years when you think about all he has done and affected people’s way of life,” said Toellner. “Who is more influential than Ralph Wilson?”
Actually, Wilson didn’t make the list, perhaps because he doesn’t live here. Brandon is No. 13.
Channel 2 is preempting a repeat of Wednesday’s episode of “Chicago Fire” to carry the Wilson special tonight. It is airing the repeat of “Fire” at 2:30 Sunday morning for those who want to record it.
Did you hear Matt Lauer channel the late Mayor Griffin Friday morning on “Today”? Lauer advised some vo-workers and viewers “to grab a six-pack” to deal with Friday’s storm.
Speaking of Friday’s storm, I returned from shopping at the Galleria Friday just in time to hear Channel 2 anchor Scott Levin tell viewers that the station was going to cover the storm “with the proper perspective.” Then it spent the entire newscast — except for sports — dealing with the weather and telling us it wasn’t that bad. Some perspective.
Inquiring minds want to know: When is Channel 2 going to start carrying the new graphics package that owner Gannett Broadcasting already is using at some of its stations? Toellner said the plan is to premiere it in late March.
NBC announced late Friday that a repeat episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” will air at 10 p.m. Thursday, which means “Do No Harm” is leaving the lineup after two low-rated episodes. In other words, the network couldn’t afford the harm that “Harm” was doing as a lead-in to network affiliate newscasts like Channel 2′s here.