Ed’s Vault: Chuck Knox Show That Almost Wasn’t

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When you’ve covered a sports team for over 40 years, there is a bit of sadness at the news another former Bills player has passed away. It’s another reminder of our own mortality for sure, but many players and coaches hold a spot in my memory bank – which is overdrawn about now – and Mike Kadish is one such player.

Although he died over a year ago, I realized the other day I had some thoughts about Mike and that Bills team coached by Chuck Knox that some of you old-timers like me might enjoy.

Kadish died March 19th, 2023 at the age of 73 after battling Parkinson’s Disease for several years, and his family has donated his brain to be studied for the effects of CTE which, unfortunately, are part of a huge price many NFL players pay for enduring head on collisions over a period of years.

Right here I’d like to thank sponsor Atwal Eye Care, which performed highly successful cataract surgery on both my eyes a few months ago, and BluTusk Tech of Orchard Park. Need a new computer on an older one fixed up? Go to them!

Mike Kadish was a (6-5, 270) Defensive Tackle who was an All-American at Notre Dame, drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1972. Yep, that’s the year the Fins went undefeated – a record that still stands – but Kadish didn’t play that season due to an injury. He received a big SB ring however, which he was always quite proud of.

Mike Kadish Facebook Page.

Kadish barely had time for lunch before he was part of a trade that sent him to the Buffalo Bills, just about the time the Bills had landed Chuck Knox as head coach in the late 70’s. Despite winning five straight NFC West Division titles with the LA Rams, they parted company and Bills owner Ralph C Wilson convinced him to shuffle off to Buffalo.

Part of the allure for Knox, who had plenty of other suitors, was the proximity of Buffalo to his hometown of Sewickley, Pa, which is basically a Pittsburgh suburb. Chuck loved the glitter of LA and all its trappings, but he was the son of a steel worker who still had his blue collar mentality.

He also had some talent in Buffalo with Joe Ferguson at QB and a roster with some players. Knox brought in several former Rams players he was familiar with, and you suddenly had a team with some talent and characters as well. Isiah “Butch” Robertson, Phil Villapiano, Conrad Dobler and others helped the Bills win the AFC East title in 1980.

By now Kadish had several seasons under his belt, but was still an effective nose tackle with the Bills. Kadish’s wife Diane – I knew them fairly well – was a forceful woman in Kadish’s life and the kind of lady you want on YOUR team. When I interviewed them at their home about his contract holdout before the season, Diane was more fired up about it than Mike, who for years became an NFL Players Rep after he left football.

About this time, Ch2 landed rights to the Chuck Knox Show, and as WGRZ-TV’s Sports Director, it was automatic I’d be host of the weekly show. I was really pumped about it, because Knox was a “big time” NFL coach.

We went to lunch a few days before the show, and I mostly listened as he told stories about the Rams and life in LA. Fascinating actually. At one point I said to him – much as I did later before doing the Jim Kelly Show with Jim – that doing the show meant, for the credibility of both of us – we had to agree now that we wouldn’t avoid any controversial subjects that would pop up. We’d acknowledge the situation, and once Chuck gave whatever answer he wanted to give, we’d move on. My role wasn’t to grill him, but I didn’t want to come off as a shill for the team either.

Chuck was fine with this, until 15 minutes before our first broadcast, scheduled to start at 8 p.m. LIVE on a Monday night on Ch2. Chuck asked me what we were going to talk about as the season was just a couple weeks away, and at one point I brought up the fact that Mike Kadish was holding out, and where were we on that? We were literally putting on our microphones on the set as we talked.

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Chuck: “We’re not talking about Kadish. This is the Chuck Knox Show (he actually pounded his chest as he said this), and don’t bring it up. When I signed up for this show I didn’t know if the host would be you or some guy off the street”. I can hear these words exactly even now!


Still a naive single guy with no woman (like wife Deb) to keep me in line, I said something I’d never have said few years later: ”then I’m not doing the show. You need it more than I do”. I started taking off my mic. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d really thought this out, but the arrogant way he dismissed me was too much.

By now it’s only a couple minutes to the show open, and a producer walks out and says “Are we doing the show?” I said “ask him”. Chuck stands up (I was already standing to take off the clipon mic) and puts his arm around me and says “Calm down Ed. If it means that much to you, we’ll talk about Kadish”.


Mike and Diane told me more than once their plan, after Mike retired, was to pack up everything and move to St. Thomas. And they did it, and I visited them once when our cruise ship stopped in St. Thomas. They had a small furniture store, and their house was mostly open, with a view of the ocean to die for.

Eventually, and this happens, they became disenchanted with St. Thomas and moved back home to Michigan.

Back to Knox.

Knox intimidated me, and that first show was the worst on-air performance of my entire TV career. I could feel it. I just wasn’t in control, and I’m still hoping no tape of that show ever surfaces.

But that changed quickly, and Chuck’s wife Shirley was partly responsible for that. She was/is one of the classiest people I’ve ever known. She helped me learn how to deal with Chuck, who would often put on a show in the control room for the crew before the actual show. “When I was with the Rams, we had the Fearsome Foursome….we had Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Rosie Grier and Lamar Lundy….we had guys that could come GET CHA.”

A few times I tried to coax Knox into doing that schtick on camera – it was hilarious – but he’d just laugh it off.

One time, and this is how I’ll always remember Chuck, he invited me to his home in Orchard Park for a couple drinks just before Christmas. He had on this bright red sweater with a Bills logo in front. He says “See this sweater? I’ve got one just like it for you. Azar (Rick Azar, Ch7) only got a white one.”

And now we don’t have Rick around either, but they’ll always be a part of the Vault.

Again my thanks to Atwal Eye Care and BluTusk Tech.

Editor’s babble: We oldies live for these stories :) Always thought Chuck Knox was more bluster than bad guy, and Ed’s post confirms my (long ago) suspicions. We are grateful for Ed’s contributions to our blog. You can also find Gramps on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed. is sponsored by 26 Shirts

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