Jul. 18, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal as Bills Open Training Camp

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Looking back, perhaps multimedia journalist Chris Brown ’94 was destined to end up at 1 Bills Drive in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Consider how he met his future wife – and loyal Bills fan – Tracie Lopardi Brown ’95 his sophomore year in Erie Hall.

“My roommate lived down the street from Tracie in Tonawanda,” he said. “The first time I went to her house one weekend, she showed me videotapes of her family dancing in the snow after the Bills made their second Super Bowl – and I thought, ‘What kind of people are they?!’”

Then there’s the dubious distinction of spending all four years at Geneseo watching the Bills … lose the Super Bowl.

That’s a far cry from his youth on Long Island, when Chris spent nights glued to sports radio listening to the Islanders win four Stanley Cups or Knicks basketball.

Back then, he bled blue-and-orange, but today, it’s blue-and-red. As the Bills Insider for Buffalobills.com, Chris connects Bills fans worldwide through his website reporting.

“It’s interesting traveling and working for the Bills because all of your media training preaches that it’s about objectivity and credibility,” he explained. “I believe I achieve that in my writing, but I had to develop techniques of reporting without inserting opinion, and that’s difficult to do.”

Chris owes a large part of his success to Geneseo, which he supports with his time and through alumni giving. He serves the Alumni Council as co-chair of the 1994 class leadership committee, speaks at campus events for students and is a member of the Roundtable Athletic Association.

“I remember my first campus visit to Geneseo on just an awful rainy day, trudging through the tour,” he recalled. “Despite the weather, there was just something that appealed to me … Geneseo seemed like the right setting.”

His intuition proved correct. In class or on the field – he was co-captain of the men’s soccer team – Chris made the most of his Geneseo experience.

That included three internships to gain a competitive career advantage – at WFAN-AM in New York City, the first-ever all-sports radio station, and with the Rochester Americans and Geneseo’s Sports Information Department.

“I never realized how important organizational communication with Dr. Roseann Hartmann was until I entered the working world,” he said.

His first job? The night shift at oldies radio station WJJL-AM in Niagara Falls, where he covered town council meetings and put together a weekly Buffalo Bills report. That led to Buffalo’s WGR-AM, where he rose to Bills beat reporter in 1997.

From there, he joined Empire Sports Network, and then became editor of the new Bills Digest. In 2006, he joined the Bills as lead journalist for the team’s website, complementing that role as a pre-game radio analyst and television show co-host.

Chris knows that if it weren’t for the game-day sacrifices made by Tracie – a fulltime partner at a law firm – his career would not be possible.

“Tracie is a true football widow, handling things on weekends with our children,” he said. “She’s the reason I’m able to do something I really love.”

And to think it wasn’t his first plan.

“I didn’t have the NFL in mind when I declared communication as my major,” Chris said. “I thought I’d be doing basketball play-by-play.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -- By Tony Hoppa

You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills. His reports can be found at www.buffalobills.com.