On Monday, a longtime Buffalo sports columnist named Jerry Sullivan joined the presciently named Buffalo sports podcast Trainwreck Tonight to chat about the Bills. A clip of Sullivan from Sunday's Jets-Bills postgame press conference had been going around: In it, he tells Josh Allen that the Bills offense "doesn't look like an offense that's good enough to win the Super Bowl right now," to which Allen responds, "OK."
Elsewhere, reaction to Sullivan's more-of-a-comment-than-a-question was less polite. During the Trainwreck Tonight taping, the hosts read a livestream comment from viewer Amy, who made a crack about Sullivan driving people away from the show rather than attracting viewers. To defend himself against these charges of being an unlikeable jerk, Sullivan launched into a fascinating tirade. "Women, be better than this," he said. "Because the worst fans really are the women. They don't get critical journalism. They're all wannabe cheerleaders. You know what I mean? It's always—it's a dangerous avenue to go down to criticize women in general, because they're better than men generally, but [here the hosts of the podcast made an assortment of skeptical noises, yanking on Sullivan's figurative leash while he clopped down the avenue] as fans, they don't get it, as fans."
Sweeping claims like this, calling into question the sincerity and savvy of women watching sports, aren't new. They generally aren't worth engaging with, either; the terms of the argument don't make sense to begin with. "Please take this imaginary test you will never, ever pass," the misogynist says. Sorry, man, I have better things to do than that. Sullivan's weirder offense is that he has no clue who he's talking about. Local sports columnists should, at the very least, be in touch with their communities. And the women in question may be women, but they are also Buffalo Bills fans. These are our meanest and most maniacal people. Approach any woman in Buffalo right now with the question "Dane Jackson. Thoughts?" or "Run game?" I think you will hear a lot, and I'm certain none of it will be cheerleading.
The podcast issued an apology, one that's kind of adorable in its clumsiness. It begins "Last night on Trainwreck Tonight 273, comments were made by a guest." (First mistake right there: Comments should NEVER be made by a guest.) It ends with "Our community is great because of everyone that encompasses it."
Sullivan also apologized for comments he recognized were "uncalled for and insulting to women." Having been caught in 480p, he was quickly fired from his newspaper job with the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union-Sun and Journal, and reportedly also fired from his gig at the local TV news station. But women shouldn't be so quick to cheer this development. Sullivan appears to have recently added the phrase "women's sports advocate" to his Twitter bio, and he tweeted today that women's sports stories in Buffalo will now sadly "go untold" without him writing them. I can't think of a better way to demonstrate your feminist commitment than to lump women fans and women athletes into one indistinguishable blob and then to use women's sports as a shield.
The worst columnists really are the Jerry Sullivans.