by Maria SCRIVANI
He has a great seat at every Buffalo Bills game, including playoff and Super Bowl
contests, plus locker room access to players and coaches. Whats routine in the
workaday world of Vic Carucci would be a dream come true for many Western New Yorkers.
But the veteran Buffalo News football reporter, author and broadcast personality, says
the beauty part of the perks that come with the job is having his whole family share in
Wife Rhonda is a major pro football fan, having grown up in Rome, New York, in a
sports-loving household. Daughters Kristen, 12, and Lindsay, 8, while not avid fans, have
enjoyed such benefits as traveling to the Pro Bowl with their parents.
With (left to right) Lindsay, Kristen and Rhonda at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
Vic, who hails from Whitesboro, near Utica, was the sole fan in his home until he made
a career of writing about football. Now his parents Victor and Mary Anne Carucci
who still reside in Whitesboro, and brother John, a car salesman in East Syracuse,
are converts to the Bills creed.
Family gatherings at holidays revolve around the football schedule, and sometimes that
means Vic is on the road with the team. In April the Caruccis get the Bills schedule, and
Rhonda says it becomes her Bible for family plans.
Vic Carucci at age 9.
Still, first things usually have a way of coming first, and it was a family event that
caused Vic to miss Super Bowl XXIII. He was in Miami a week before the big game between
Cincinnati and San Francisco. He brought along brother John in lieu of the very pregnant
Rhonda. The doctor had reassured Vic that the baby wasnt expected to arrive for
another four weeks, and he should go ahead on his assignment.
Sure enough, he received an emergency phone call the Thursday before Super Bowl Sunday.
He and John rushed back to Buffalo. By the time Vic arrived at the hospital, his second
daughter had already been born. That Sunday the family enjoyed watching the Super Bowl on
TV together, its newest member sleeping soundly in her cradle. It was, Vic says, the
best possible reason to miss a game.
Quiet family moments are hard to come by when football season is in full swing, so the
Caruccis, who along with their Yorkshire terrier, Coco, live in East Amherst, have learned
to savor their time together. The reason it all works is
sitting right over there, Vic says, pointing to wife Rhonda. Her strength in
keeping the household going when were in season when my schedule is nuts
and her interest in what Im doing are crucial to maintaining our happy family
I know I am speaking for countless Baby Boomers when I say there never seems to
be enough hours in the day. But no matter how busy you are pursuing your career and
striving to bring security to the people you love, I think its crucial for a family
to never forget that it is, indeed, a family. I think its critical that we, as
parents, make certain our children always identify with that rather than with something
When we can sit down and have a meal together, we really cherish it. We rarely
allow interruptions, but sometimes it happens like at 5:30 p.m. when were
about to sit down at the table, and Ralph Wilson calls back. Its really hard to get
him, and Rhonda understands that thats a call I have to take.
Rhonda wears a gold necklace shaped like a Buffalo Bills helmet, a gift from Vic. The
two met when his brother was working with her brother at a radio station. A love of
football was something they shared from the beginning.
Vic, a graduate of Utica College where he studied journalism, says he wanted to be a
sportswriter a football writer, in particular since junior high school.
I remember watching a CBS-TV feature on Bob Oates, the legendary L.A. Times
football writer, he says. The premise of the story was A day in the life
of an N.F.L. writer. I thought it was great a guy could, A) get into the game for
free, and B) have one of the best seats in the house, while getting paid for it! I figured
Thats for me. Little did I realize there was so much more to it than
that. Ive since come to view Game Day as a very long, very hard day at the
Recalling his boyhood, he says, On Sundays you could find me in the living room
with a football field grid pad and markers in front of me, charting the games on TV. I had
a little stopwatch, and Id time the hang-time of punts.
In those days he was a huge fan of what was then the Los Angeles Rams, who
were usually playing on the 4 p.m. national broadcast. His passion, he says, Held up
the family meal on Sundays.
At the ripe age of 40, Vic Carucci looks big enough, and fit enough, to have played
some ball himself. But he says he never seriously considered choosing the life of an
athlete. I played a ton of sandlot football and baseball as a kid. I was the one who
organized all the games, and kept the statistics. We played morning, noon and night.
But I realized, early on, instead of pursuing playing, and yet still wanting to
be around the game, I could be a writer.
In high school he began stringing for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, earning $7.50 per
story covering the school sports scene. By the time he graduated from Utica, he was hired
to cover college football for the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Tapping out one of his first stories as a high school stringer.
I learned on the fly, Vic says, and then I got my big break when the
guy who was covering the Philadelphia Eagles left unexpectedly. They decided to take a
chance on me.
The break turned incredibly lucky when, in his second year with the Courier-Post, the
Eagles went to the Super Bowl. Vic Carucci was catapulted into the company of such
nationally-known football writers as Larry Felser of the Buffalo News. When Vic won a
national writing award the next year, it was Larry Felser who talked to him about an
opening in Buffalo. Vic was hired after the 81 season.
Bills fans can certainly relate to what he identifies as highlights of his career.
I thought it was the greatest thing when the Bills went to the Super Bowl the first
time, he says. (That campaign was the subject of one of his books, The Buffalo Bills
and the Almost-Dream Season, published in 1991.) I had covered them in their
2-and-14 years, and now it was all the way to the top.
As a walking encyclopedia on the Buffalo Bills, Vic Carucci, along with
other Buffalo sportswriters, became a celebrity himself during all the Super Bowl hype,
appearing on national television. While acknowledging the excitement of covering one of
the best teams in the league, he hastens to point out that his job is to be a neutral
observer, a role that best serves the fans.
With (left to right) brother, John, and former Bill and co-author Conrad Dobler.
The biggest asset I must have in my readers eyes is credibility. People
have to be convinced you can be trusted to tell them whats going on.
A sportswriters take on the performance of the Bills is unique. Generally
its easier to cover winners, Vic notes, but a losing team produces more
news stories. Anything prolonged winning or losing can be difficult to
Its clear that, whether theyre winning or losing, writing about a
professional football team is a dream come true for Vic Carucci. I like the
travel, he says. Sometimes Rhonda joins him, and Vics mother usually stays
with the girls.
I really love dealing with the variety of people this job presents, and I like
the whole process of gathering information. I like to be the one who knows something about
something before anyone else, and I like being the one to tell the story.
Hes also very good at telling the story, with numerous state and national writing
awards to his credit. Most recently Vic Carucci received the Associated Press Sport
Editors Associations national feature writing award for a Buffalo News
magazine story on Bills wide receiver Justin Armour.
But Vic says the highest honor of his career came in 1993 when his peers voted him
president of the Professional Football Writers of America. He was given a distinguished
service award for his two-year term heading the national organization of 500 print
journalists regularly assigned to pro football.
Presenting Joe Montana the George Halas
Award as President of
In addition to his book on the first Super Bowl season, Vic has written three other
books in collaboration: Jim Kellys Armed and Dangerous, Fred Smerlas By a
Nose, and Conrad Doblers They Call Me Dirty. He was also chosen among the
nations top football writers to contribute four chapters to the highly acclaimed
coffee-table book, 75 Seasons.
Each week through the NFL season and monthly during the off-season, Vic can be heard on Buffalo radio station WBEN as co-host of the Thursday Night Huddle, an hour-long call-in show. He also co-hosts a weekly television program called Fan Forum on Empire Sports Network during the season.
He is a special correspondent for Sports Illustrated, and a regular contributor to
several other national periodicals, including The Sporting News.
An ongoing project is Vics collaboration with Jack Kemp on the latters
And so, from Vic Carucci, you can expect that the best is yet to come ... encouraged by
his familys dedicated support and
Maria Scrivani is a free-lance writer from Buffalo, NY.
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