By Greg Connors
Today will be the first time this season that CBS NFL analyst Dan Fouts sees the Buffalo Bills play in person. This week, though, he's done enough studying about the team that he could probably give the Houston Texans a few lessons about Buffalo's tendencies.
“The Internet provides every article that everybody's written,” Fouts said this past week, describing his preparation routine in a phone conversation with The News. “There are DVDs from every game that are out there to be watched. I interview coaches on the phone, we meet with coaches and players when we get there. And, we talk to opposing teams, too, about who's playing. It's a full-time job.”
Play-by-play man Ian Eagle will be paired with Fouts for the game against the Texans. Fouts said he knows plenty about this year's Bills from watching them on tape. Where does he seem them in the tightly bunched AFC East?
“[The division] is wide open,” he said. “We get [to broadcast] the Bills next week against New England as well. So there's opportunity there for the Bills to make a dent and stay in the race.”
What does the Hall of Fame quarterback who starred in San Diego's Air Coryell offense think about the Bills' sometimes vertically challenged QB? Fouts was careful in his answer.
“I usually like to wait to see him in person before I give too much of an assessment,” Fouts said. “I know that, like any quarterback, he'd like to cut down on the turnovers. And, if he does that then the Bills have a good chance of winning. But the history has been, with the turnovers, it's tough to overcome at times.”
As Fouts, Eagle, and their writers and producers will no doubt remind us during the broadcast, this is a homecoming game for defensive end Mario Williams. Williams' struggles to make his mark with the Bills are well-known in Western New York. Not so well known is exactly what has been ailing Williams' wrist, and what procedure did he have done on it last week. Fouts is willing to give Williams the benefit of the doubt about his injury.
“I think the biggest problem has been that his wrist has been bad all year,” Fouts said. “When you play a position like that, you need two arms and two hands to play. Hopefully he'll be better this weekend.
“And he'll be jacked up [facing his former team], there's no question. I think that's a good thing. He'll make his presence felt because it means something to him.”
Fouts is a veteran broadcaster, having called pro and college football games on CBS, ABC, ESPN and other outlets. He has worked with Dick Enberg, Dick Stockton, James Brown, Verne Lundquist, Jim Nantz, Jack Buck, Brent Musburger and Keith Jackson, among many others. He is now in his third season working alongside Eagle.
“I'm happy working with Ian,” Fouts said. “I hope that people notice the chemistry we have. We work hard together but we have a good time together as well. I have worked with the greatest of all time - when you look at the guys I've worked with -- and I would put Ian right up there with them.”
Peters strikes back
A Zen question for a Sunday morning: What is the sound of one fist punching?
The punches were of the verbal variety last week, when former Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters reacted on Twitter to a tweet from WGR Radio's Mike Schopp. Peters had appeared on the station's team-sponsored morning show, Sabres Hockey Hotline, on Tuesday to discuss the NHL lockout. Schopp did not find Peters' opinions very enlightening.
“This defense by Andrew Peters of the hockey players' position on WGR is embarrassing and pathetic,” Schopp tweeted.
Peters, a frequent guest on the station, didn't appreciate being called out by the radio host. (Do radio guys ever just settle things in the room? Do they have a room?)
Here is a sampling of Peters' comments that he tweeted to Schopp:
• “It was gutless ... plain and simple!”
• “Ya well why should i just go away? i fought to defend my teammates, why would i not fight to defend myself.”
• “Your mouth sets off car alarms MIKE”
• “You would think that. if polls read fans 75% in favor of players you'd be whistling a different tune. and dont say you wouldn't”
• “That to me is embarrassing and pathetic. keep catering to the listeners. do you have a thought of your own on this matter?”
• “Nope, im sorry but he touched a nerve today. if he can write that what he did, so can i. so can you.”
• “ I didn't know that voicing my opinion was worthy of such a disrespectful tweet. next time you come after me, do it face to face.”
• “Oh, one last thing ... my argument is from my NHL experience ... yours? oh thats right, you have to read the paper first.”
Schopp did not reply publicly to any of Peters' tweets. Reached by The News on Friday, Schopp said he was not tempted to reply to them, and then “respectfully declined” further comment.
If Schopp should happen to be paired with Peters at next summer's WGR golf tournament, that would be a group worth bidding for a spot in.