By Alan Pergament
The Buffalo Bills haven't been very relevant to National Football League discussions over the past 13 seasons, but quarterback Kevin Kolb's concussion put them briefly in the spotlight of ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption" Monday afternoon.
It was the second item in the "PTI" rundown, right after discussing the problems of New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan and his job security.
After footage of Kolb aired, Michael Wilbon asked "PTI" co-host Tony Kornheiser: "Who has the bigger problem here -- the Bills or the NFL?"
Wilbon was alluding to all the attention that concussions in the NFL have been receiving in recent years, including a lawsuit filed by former players with post-career medical problems.
Noting that he watched Saturday's game with his hometown Washington team playing the Bills, Kornheiser said that it didn't even look like Kolb initially had been hurt and that he stayed in the game to complete a touchdown drive.
It was the second straight game that a Bills QB was hurt and nobody initially saw it. EJ Manuel kept playing after injuring his knee the week before, with fans, coaches and announcers Ray Bentley and Steve Tasker initially unaware of when he got hurt.
"I’m not a doctor," continued Kornheiser ."Isn't it possible that some people are concussion prone more so than other people?"
Then Wilbon answered his own question: "The league has a bigger problem. .. They don't want anybody to talk about concussions. Every time you talk to somebody at the league how the league is going to be diminished, how the product is going to be diminished, they give you a stiff arm. But that's what we’re going to see. Because pretty soon Tony, there is going to be a league where there is no defense whatsoever."
(True. But note to Wilbon. Kolb was injured accidentally when a Washington player's leg hit his helmet. It wasn't from a tough hit.)
"That’s 100 percent right," conceded Kornheiser before launching into the Bills problems.
Noting "it was a great franchise for a long period of time," Kornheiser added: "Now they're forgotten, they've been out of the playoffs longer than any other team in the league since the 1999 season, they play a home game in Toronto every single year, everybody assumes they are going to move."
And this from a guy that Wilbon said had a special place in his heart for Buffalo because he went to college at Binghamton nearby. ( Kornheiser noted that the four-hour ride from Buffalo to Binghamton isn’t exactly nearby as any WNY parent of a child attending college there knows.)
Kornheiser continued: "They’ve got no quarterback. How would you like to be the new coach of the Buffalo Bills right now… What do you think about the long-term prospects of being the head coach of the Buffalo Bills?"
Ouch. And he's supposed to have a soft spot for the Bills?
Let's hope Doug Marrone wasn't listening.
The "PTI" duo noticeably didn’t mention a report last week in The New York Times that the network they work for, ESPN, bailed out of a story that it was working on for 15 months with PBS' "Frontline" on head injuries in the NFL because of pressure from the league.
If true, ESPN's bailing out isn’t shocking. The head-scratcher is ESPN even entered into the partnership with "Frontline" for such a story. Didn't it remember its experience with the entertainment series "Playmakers," which was canceled because the league didn't like the depiction of racism, homophobia, drug use, marital infidelity and other questionable behavior by pro football players?
ESPN conceded in 2004 that the NFL's input was a consideration, but claimed it made the cancellation call itself. Yeah, right. This time, ESPN said it dropped out of the "Frontline" partnership because it didn't have editing control.
PBS should have partnered on the concussion story with HBO, a pay-cable channel that doesn’t have to worry about angering the NFL. It doesn't carry games and certainly could live without "Hard Knocks."
Channel 4 assistant news director Pamm Lent is leaving the station on Sept. 7 after 19 years to take a job with New York State, News Director Joe Schlareth announced to the staff Monday.
You probably don’t know her name, but Lent was an important part of the news department as Schlaerth noted in his note to the staff: "Pamm has been a big part of our history here and leaves a legacy that will be tough to beat.”
Lent becomes the third veteran behind-the-scenes person to leave Channel 4 News in the past several months, following Martha Meegan and Vic Baker out the door. Some people inside the station believe she deserved to be the news director.
Traffic Update: When the NFTA's Dave Cash moves to Channel 2 to do traffic reports, it will be for the morning program "Daybreak." Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner said the station is still working out how many traffic reports the NFTA will give during the afternoon’s "First at Five" and
who will do them.
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