Same as it ever was: Jerry Sullivan vs Bruce Smith, 1997

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

Bills Safety Jordan Poyer and sportswriter Jerry Sullivan have been going back and forth for a couple of weeks now… But there’s nothing new under the sun.

I recorded this 1997 postgame exchange between Jerry and Bruce Smith at the WBEN studios on Elmwood Avenue from a live feed coming from Rich Stadium.

With the static from our wireless microphones, it’s hard to hear exactly what Jerry is asking Bruce, but most of Bruce’s response is pretty clear.
“You a punk ass motherfucker once you get (interference),” said Bruce, to the laughter of the assembled reporters, photographers and players.

“I know you’re going to say it,” said Bruce. “I know you ain’t gonna stop.”
The first clear words we hear from Sullivan on the tape are, “(something) stop being an asshole…”

To which Smith replied, “Oh, I’m the asshole! I’m the asshole! Oh yeah,” before turning to another reporter and calmly telling him, “Go ahead, man.”

That year, I produced Bills games on the radio. For years, we’d run the postgame show without a delay. My timing or the exact order of events might be off, but I think we started running a delay on the player press conferences after Thurman Thomas stormed away from the podium microphone one time yelling something close to, “half of you ain’t ever put on a jockstrap,” but with the word “fuck” worked in there somehow.

I think I have that audio somewhere, but I couldn’t find it today.

Anyway, that running live on the radio earned me a strongly-worded note from my boss about trying to make sure to avoid those sorts of words going out on the air if possible.


When this Bruce Smith interview aired live, I was able to “dump” out of delay—so the WBEN audience never heard Bruce Smith call Jerry Sullivan a “punk-ass motherfucker” on the radio. The problem was, with the 1970s technology we were using at the time, there was no way for me to hit dump a second time so quickly and avoid allowing Jerry and Bruce calling each other assholes on the radio.

Back in those days, while there were relatively few ways to hear or see full press conferences, it just so happened one of the local tv stations—I don’t remember whether it was 2, 4, or 7—aired this press conference live on its post-game show.

The complete exchange between Bruce and Jerry was aired live on TV and talked about for weeks on sports radio talk shows on WBEN and WGR—as well as in letters to the sports editor as published every week in the Sunday News.

Jerry Sullivan & Bruce Smith

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.