Just a couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of being able to talk to Sal Capaccio. Sal currently covers the Bills for my local sports radio station, which is WGR 550 in Buffalo, New York. Additionally, he’s the sideline reporter for WGR’s Bills broadcasts, and he hosts a podcast he founded in 2017 titled SalSports…and Stuff. During my time with him, we talked about his path to WGR, some notable moments he had as a Bills fan, and what his plan would’ve been for Buffalo entering the NFL Draft.
When I asked Sal when he first knew he wanted to go into sports media, his response wasn’t one that showed he was interested in this career his whole life. While he grew up a huge Buffalo sports fan in Cheektowaga, NY, he told me his first job choice as a child was to be a game show host. It wasn’t until middle school, when he realized that you could go to school for sports broadcasting, that he knew that this was going to be the field he wanted to pursue.
Over his career, Capaccio has done play-by-play calls both locally in Buffalo and in the Englewood, Florida area, where he moved after graduating from Syracuse University. However, the best game he called, he told me, was local, as it was a Buffalo-Canisius college basketball matchup in KeyBank Center (the home of the Buffalo Sabres) that ended up coming down to the last shot.
Before coming back up to Buffalo, Sal spent over a decade working at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood, Florida. In addition to coaching the school’s JV football and girls track teams, he also taught social studies at the school. After asking how this experience prepared him for his current roles, he specifically mentioned his football coaching role in helping him learn the off-the-field aspects of the game. We all see the on-the-field product, but the little moments and intricacies of football on non-gamedays, Capaccio said, were the most crucial in helping him be a better analyst for the sport.
Capaccio’s big break in helping him get a spot at WGR was the fact that he was the first person to break the news that Terrell Owens was signing with the Bills in 2009. He credits that as being a huge moment for him, mentioning that it grew his image in the Buffalo area and made it easier for him to adjust when he finally made the move back home.
When I asked Sal who his favorite person was to interview, he mentioned multiple names that he really enjoyed talking to, both on WGR and on his own podcast. This included Goo Goo Dolls member Robby Takac, Sabres DJ DJ Milk who he had a heartwarming interview with after Milk’s son tragically passed, and some of Capaccio’s childhood idols in Bills legends Thurman Thomas and Steve Tasker.
When you ask a Bills fan what their favorite moment has been as a fan, you’re almost certainly going to get one of three responses: “The Comeback” in 1992 vs the Houston Oilers, the 1990s Super Bowl run, or breaking the playoff drought in 2018. So I decided to switch things up and ask Sal what he feels is an underrated moment that he’s experienced throughout his years in Bills fandom. His response was a game that I myself had never heard of in Buffalo’s 1988 Divisional matchup versus the Houston Oilers. This was not only Buffalo’s first playoff game in seven years, but it was also the first home playoff game in Buffalo’s current Highmark Stadium, which at the time was Rich Stadium. The game itself ended up being great as well, as Buffalo won 17-10 and #BillsMafia tore down the goalposts as we moved on to our first ever AFC Championship.
I conducted this interview with Sal exactly a week before the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Thus, I had to ask him what he felt the Bills’ strategy should be in this year’s edition of the event, in which he responded that they should go best player available. Did Buffalo follow this plan in selecting Gregory Rousseau? You can decide. Finally, the last thing I asked him was if he had any offseason storylines for me and other Bills fans to follow. He mentioned the wide receiver position as one to keep an eye on in training camp as while Isaiah McKenzie should make the 53-man roster, guys like Jake Kumerow, Duke Williams, Isaiah Hodgins, and recently Marquez Stevenson will be battling out for just one or two spots. Additionally, a name Sal says Bills fans should keep an eye on? DE Efe Obada. Obada is a very raw prospect, having only played football for eight years, but he had 5.5 sacks for Carolina last year and he is extremely athletic. His story is great as well, as he went through multiple foster homes as a child and only got into American football due to hearing about it from a friend.
Special thanks to Sal for this opportunity! You can find his podcast SalSports…and Stuff on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.