by Paul Peck, Buffalo Sports Page
The title is a little misleading. I didn’t almost kill the legendary Voice of the Bills. But I thought I might have, or at least thought I might have been there. In the Aud Club. When it happened.
The Sabres Thursday night celebration of the Aud has all of us reminiscing about the old building at the foot of Main Street. While I have wonderful memories of great sports events at the old building, I will never forget that pregame meal in the Aud Club.
It was late 1980’s, just after I arrived in town in the summer of 1988 to work at Channel 4 as Van’s sports producer. Not being a Buffalo native, the Buffalo sports scene was new to me. Being the amazing person he was, Van made sure to take me around and show me what I needed to know.
That included going to Sabres games after the 6pm sportscast, and that meant a media dinner at the Aud Club. The legendary dark-paneled, ornate room was crowded that night, full of Sabres fans along with the local media members.
Roast beef was on the menu, I remember.
About halfway through dinner, Van starts to look pale. I also noticed he was starting to sweat. He looked sick. Before I could ask him if he was feeling all right, he looked up at me and said “Wow” in a pained tone of voice.
So immediately the terror came over me.
“Is the legendary Voice of the Bills having a heart attack in front of me in the Aud Club?”
What do I do? Is there a doctor here? Probably, it’s the Aud Club!
I just started at Channel 4, and now Van is going to die on my watch. What do I do? I started to look around the room and see who I could ask for help.
Meanwhile, Van is sweating even more and hanging his head and wiping his brow and….not looking good.
I would later learn that Van had a tendency to be..a little theatrical. In his calls of the Bills, in his sportscasts, in his personality and even when he wasn’t feeling well.
So as he’s sweating, so am I.
“Van, are you going to be OK?”
No answer. Just more sweating and an even more ashen look.
Finally, as I’m about to jump and scream “Someone Save Van Miller!”…he looks up at me and says:
“Boy, this horseradish is hot.”