By Alan Pergament
When I saw all the tweets that Joe Buscaglia, WGR's Buffalo Bills beat reporter, was sending during the preseason opener with the New York Giants Sunday, I tweeted a message to him asking if he was no longer the sideline reporter during radio broadcasts.
I assumed he couldn't tweet that often on the sideline.
He never answered on Twitter.
But multiple sources have confirmed that WGR is going without a sideline reporter for the first time in recent memory as John Murphy calls play-by-play of the game and Mark Kelso does analysis.
Buscaglia will be in the press box again Friday when the Bills visit the Carolina Panthers in their second preseason game and I expect he will tweet away.
He is expected to go to all the games to be part of the pregame show and halftime intermission and perhaps do post-game interviews.
The idea apparently is to increase Joe B's online content and not clutter the game broadcast with a third participant.
The move is somewhat understandable considering all the restrictions that sideline reporters have to operate under National Football League guidelines.
The sideline also could possibly be the worst seat in the house for a reporter to see what is actually going on, except for when players come to the sideline injured. Joe B sees the game much more clearly when he looks at the "All-22" game film that he uses to do his extremely interesting weekly analysis and grading of how every Bill plays in a game.
The TV networks continue to use sideline reporters, usually women, to fill the announcers in on injuries and add occasional observations.
Once in a while, a reporter on the TV sidelines can provide useful information but most of the time the information isn't very valuable and it can even be a little distracting.
The pace of the NFL game these days also argues against sideline reporters. With plays getting off much faster as coaches follow Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly's philosophy, there often just isn't enough time to hear from the sideline reporter.
I would expect if WGR learns that it is missing something by not having a sideline reporter, Joe B will eventually leave his press box seat this season and get back on the sideline.
Ray Bentley will do play-by-play and Steve Tasker will do analysis of the Bills game with Carolina Friday carried by Channel 7. Mike Catalana, a Rochester broadcaster, will be the sideline reporter. Yes, the Bills still feel they need one on local TV productions of preseason games.
CBS, which stopped using sideline reporters on most NFL games in 2006, has added Tracy Wolfson to its No.1 announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms and reportedly plans to use three sideline reporters this season. It occasionally used sideline reporters last season, with Allie LaForce working at least one Bills game. She is a former Miss Teen USA.