Interview with CBS Analyst Steve Tasker

Many remember current CBS Football analyst Steve Tasker from the Bills of the early 90s who made it to four straight Super Bowls. He will go down as one of the greatest special teams players in NFL history. Whether it was blocking punts or delivering a crushing hit onto an unsuspecting kick returnman regardless of his 5-9, 185 lbs frame, Tasker always made the big play.

Aside from the Super Bowls, Tasker had many other career highlights. He was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl seven times on special teams, earning the MVP in 1992. He finished his career with 204 special teams tackles and 7 blocked punts, statistics unlikely to be replicated. His accomplishments as a receiver are not to be looked over as he collected 51 receptions for 779 yards and 9 touchdowns in his career. That is an average of 15. 2 yards per reception, demonstrating his ability to make the big play.
After retiring from football following the 1997 season, Tasker joined up with CBS Sports as a game analyst.

Dan Goldman: At Northwestern you majored in communications. Did you ever consider that you would do broadcasting?

Steve Tasker: Yeah that's why I got into it. I always wanted to do that and I was lucky enough that football gave me an easy door to step into the business I am in now. I always wanted to be on the air perhaps in radio or in television.

DG: How did you get started at CBS?

ST: I retired from the NFL in 1997, which coincided with CBS getting the package to do the AFC games for the NFL. They were hiring all new people. I got a screen test with them and they hired me. It was that simple and I've been there ever since.

DG: What is it like to work with play-by-play guys like Gus Johnson and Don Criqui?

ST: Well all of the people I work with at CBS have been great. They are really professional, they know what their doing, they've been great to me. I've really enjoyed all of the people I've worked with at CBS.

In your eight years as an analyst, how do you feel you've progressed?

ST: Well you always just try to be yourself and I'm getting to the point where I'm much more comfortable on the air. I think people can sense that and I think that's very important. Once you get there, the rest is just really being yourself, calling the game and talking about the game in a way you feel comfortable doing. That's what I was after from the very beginning.

DG: What do you enjoy most about covering the games?

ST: Well, the best part about it for me after having been a player is the fact that there is no scoreboard for us in the booth. We don't really care who wins, what we want is a competitive game. And for the player of course, that's not what he wants.

DG: Do you find it hard to be unbiased when covering Buffalo Bills games?

ST: Not really, it was one of the things I was concerned about in the beginning when I got the job. But now, I don't have any problem, I just call the games, I feel it's more easy to be unbiased now, than I did to begin with.

DG: Is there ever a time while you are in the booth that you miss playing?

ST: No I don't really miss playing. I miss being in really good physical shape. The team that I played on, those guys don't exist anymore. They're all gone. That was the fun part about playing, playing with the guys on my team. I do miss them, although though I see them a couple of times a year.

DG: You are a lock for the Bills Wall of Fame, but many members of the media including Peter King have suggested that you should be the first special teams player to enter the Hall of Fame. How do you feel about this?

ST: Well it's nice of them to say, but I don't lie awake nights wishing I were in the Hall of Fame or wondering why I'm not. I loved my time in the game and if that's where it ends that'd be great. If I can get into the Hall of Fame it would be a dream come true. There's a lot of things that have to happen before that's a possibility and I'm flattered that I'm mentioned in those terms.

DG: Your career included Pro Bowls, Super Bowl trips and big plays. If you had to pick one highlight, what would it be?

ST: Personally it would probably be the Most Valuable Player of the Pro Bowl. That was a fun day and a fun game to be a part of, as all the Pro Bowls were. But to be the MVP of that game is pretty special for me.

DG: You played for Marv Levy for a long time and did some broadcasting with him. Do you think he and Dick Jauron will be able to lead the Bills back to the top of the division in the next few years?

ST: Yeah I think they can do it. They certainly do all the right things; they make all the right decisions. They both see the game the same way I think that is important. Marv Levy has the ability to look at himself back when he was a head coach and understand what he wanted from his general manager and make sure he gives that to his head coach. I think they will be very successful together.

DG: Did Marv Levy's return to football surprise you at all?

ST: No, it didn't surprise me. I knew he wanted to be and I know he's a quality individual. And there's always room for quality individuals in the league. I knew someone would recognize that and give him a chance to be part of the organization. I think the Bills are very lucky to be that team.

DG: You did the color commentary for last week's preseason game. Who impressed you the most?

Well they were playing against a very good football team in Carolina, those guys have high expectations this year and rightfully so. But I was impressed with the way the Bills bounced back from a very slow start and looked good in the last three quarters. JP Losman, once he calmed down and was in the game for a while, he started to play much better. I think he found some guys he liked and stuck with them. It was obvious from up where I was that some of the throws he made were kind of nervous, hurky-jerky throws and his footwork was really the reason he was so inaccurate at times. The guys he was throwing to were the right guys, they were the ones who were open, and they were the ones in the progression he should've been throwing too. Those are always hugely important, especially for a young quarterback.

I'm sure you get this question a lot, but I have to ask, Losman or Holcomb? Who do you like in the quarterback competition?

ST: Well right now I think JP Losman is the frontrunner. Dick Jauron said yesterday that JP because of his play in thee game against Carolina, is the frontrunner. He's taking most of the reps in practice and that says a lot about what the team feels like. He's been doing some good things in practice and that says a lot about where the team thinks he is. He has the leg up.

Do you have any predictions for this year?

No, I quit predicting because it's impossible to predict week-to-week much less a month in advance. I like the Bills chances; I think if they stay healthy, they are going to be very competitive. But right now, I don't think their roster is made up of a club who can lose a lot of starters to injuries and still overcome that. They need their key guys to stay healthy.

You and your family still live in the Buffalo area. What keeps you there?

ST: Well we've always loved it here; it's been great to us. We have no intention of leaving, our children were all born here and they are all very happy here.

DG: That's all I have, Steve, thank you very much for doing the interview.

ST: No problem

,i. Dan Goldman is a journalism major and writes a sports blog for

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