Smack in the Mouth

by Billy Weaver

They say you have to have thick skin to survive in this  business, and after 12 years on the job I'm just now starting to see exactly why.

I had a big smile on my face following East Carolina's win  over SMU on Saturday. As an alumnus of ECU, I take great  pride in seeing the Pirates win on the football field. That smile was wiped away when a friend asked me if I had  a chance to read the message board on "Boneyard Banter." A website dedicated to ECU fans. Let's just say that some Pirate fans don't think too highly of my ability as a  commentator on the ECU television broadcasts. Granted,  everyone has a right to their opinion and I am all for  freedom of speech, but I have to say the words "idiot" and  "moron" have a way of smacking you right in the mouth.

Yes, I know, I'm a "public figure" and fans say they have a right to criticize the product put on the air. I agree 100 percent. I've criticized a number of public figures in my day. Then again it was for things like an NFL player shooting a pregnant girlfriend or a major league baseball player disgracing the game by taking performance enhancing drugs.

Some of my critics have a problem with the fact that I am not a former college or NFL football player. These are the same people that constantly rip the broadcasting ability of ECU radio color analyst Carlester Crumpler and he's third on ECU's all-time career rushing list.

Others (New Bern Sun Journal Sports Reporter Jeremy Slayton) find much more important things to gripe about. In a recent newspaper article Slayton writes "Anything would be better than hearing WITN sports director Billy Weaver use the term "lowering the headgear" over and over again during an ECU broadcast."

Let me go on record as saying I would NEVER publicly criticize one of my colleagues. But according to many of the same ECU fans that criticize me seemingly on a weekly basis, Slayton ranks ahead of me on the "Most Hated List" of media members. Seems as though ECU fans took exception to rest of his article, particularly the part where Slayton suggested WITN show the ECU-SMU game on tape delay so that he can have the privilege of watching the USC-Notre Dame game from the comfort of his couch. Of course he had nothing better to do on Saturday since he didn't make the trip to Dallas to cover the game.

Just goes to show you what goes around comes around. Now I know why former ECU football coach Steve Logan never read the sports page, internet websites or watched sports programming on television during football season.

Some ECU fans actually appreciate the job WITN does in televising ECU football. David and Shirley Martin actually went as far as writing me a letter saying "Just wanted to thank you and Jeff and WITN-7 for your coverage of ECU sports, particularly football. The ECU-SMU game was outstanding with a victory in Dallas. We look forward to all the games that are broadcast on radio and television. Thank you for making them available to us."

Despite the criticism, I will continue to do my best on every ECU broadcast for as long as I'm allowed. I'm an ECU fan and this is the best job in the world!

Billy Weaver