Wilson tabs Berman to introduce him in Canton
Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has chosen ESPN's Chris Berman to present him for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Berman will introduce Wilson during ceremonies Aug. 8 in Fawcett Stadium. Former Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, also in this year's class, recently revealed he will have his old defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell, introduce him for induction.
Wilson's choice will be well-received in Buffalo, but probably wouldn't be the same had he been inducted sooner. He was particularly fond of local boy and "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert. The Bills' most famous fan died in June 2008.
Legendary Bills quarterback and U.S. congressman Jack Kemp died last month. A few days earlier, Wilson's daughter passed away. Linda Bogdan was the NFL's only active female scout.
Wilson explained his choice in a press release:
"Chris has been a friend of mine for many years and I thought he would be a great person to introduce me if he would do so. He acknowledged that he would, and I thank him very much, and he will be in Canton with me. Chris really embodies the Bills fans, who have played such an important role in my career in professional football. Professional football is all about the fans and having Chris as my presenter follows that thought."
Berman has endeared himself to Bills loyalists over the years. He would pick their team to win the Super Bowl every preseason. "Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills" is one of his popular sayings. Berman used to quote an anonymous cab driver (the late general manager John Butler) who would correctly identify the Bills' first-round draft choice before it was made.
Berman, the host of "Sunday NFL Countdown" and "Monday NFL Countdown," also released a statement.
"Fifty years in sports, there's only one constant: Ralph Wilson is the owner of the Buffalo Bills. What Mr. Wilson has done for pro football and for the city of Buffalo and Western New York, it's hard to put into words. He remains in it for the same reasons he got into it in 1959: He loves the game of football, and that's apparent in everything he does. It will be an honor to have a bird's eye view to watch him be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially this year, in the 50th year of the old American Football League. He's a man I admire very much and I'm honored to just be there."