Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 17, 2013

FROM THE VALLEY: Some things should be left unsaid, some can't be

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — At first, I thought it would be best to bite my tongue and not say a word. I seriously agonized over writing this column. No joke. But I felt compelled to respond to something I’d read. It was two separate columns written by the same person - someone whom I’d come to respect and still do - in the field of sports reporting. But this time he was wrong. A rebuttal was in order.

He was so far off-base that I can’t help but try to right the dis-service done to an honest, hard-working family man.

The man who I felt was wronged is newly promoted Buffalo Bills CEO and President, Russ Brandon. A couple columns - published in the last several weeks, - made charges that impugned Mr. Brandon’s integrity, his ability to make decisions and his intelligence.

He was described as a “yes man” and a “moron” in two separate opinion pieces. Why? I have no idea.

The ‘yes man’ accusation insinuated that he (Brandon) was gutless for not telling his boss, Ralph Wilson, “No! I won’t do as you wish.” Supposedly, Brandon should have walked up to the man who hired him and explained that he had absolutely no plans on executing the duties he (Wilson) paid him to do. (Good luck to anyone attempting that philosophy).

And he was called a “moron” for making moves that football people in-the-know agreed upon as bold, gutsy and sound decisions. It was bewildering as to what the thought process was for such a venomous and unfounded attack. (Another reason given for the moron status was because he was charged with not knowing the definition of the word “exhaustive.” Petty? Yes, no?)

Personally, I’m not a fan of caustic journalism. It (malicious chatter) is bad enough in gossip but it seems absolutely uncalled for in the media. It echos too loudly and too emphatically. And leaves the maligned person defenseless - with no (immediate) opportunity to fend-off ridiculously callous charges.

Even though I have a newspaper column that gets published, I am not by any means trained in the field or would be considered a ‘newspaper person’ by those in the business – or out of it, for that matter. But one need not be a chicken to recognize an egg.

Writing with passion is one thing, but writing when emotionally charged is dangerous. Perspectives are skewed and objectivity flies out the window.

Name calling can compromise an otherwise good reporter’s credibility. It reeks of immaturity. And viciously attacking someone because of the way that person goes about his business - before it’s proven right or wrong – smells of someone with an agenda (not to mention Monday morning quarter-backing before it’s even Monday).

Is this writer willing to re-print these articles in a year and admit – if time testifies to exoneration - “Wow, was I ever mistaken!”? Probably not. That’s because those who get the opportunity to scream “I told you so” always do, but seldom – if ever — fail to acknowledge the 99% of the time they’re wrong.

I’ve met Russ Brandon several times. He and my son are good friends; their families socialize. Russ’s son plays ball with my grandson.

How can a guy become CEO and President of a major corporation – aka successful — and be a “moron”? He’s got more brains and class than most of the people I’ve ever met. He’s a gentleman non-pareil, a wonderful family man and a loyal friend (to my son). Performance on the football field were not his responsibilities. He neither taught blocking and tackling nor hired those who did – in the past.

Perhaps this whole situation was just a case of someone not knowing the definition of the word “moron.”

Why it ever stooped to name-calling, I have no idea.

That’s the way it looks from the Valley.

Tom Valley is a Medina resident. His column appears every Thursday. Contact him at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.