Voice of the 'Noles reflects on passing of Burt Reynolds

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 7, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Burt Reynolds was an FSU football player and lifelong Florida State fan.

The Voice of the 'Noles, Gene Deckerhoff, shared some of his best Burt Reynolds memories with us.

"In 1954, he had a 54 yard run."

Deckerhoff read an account of Reynolds' most famous play.

"FSU got its biggest offensive play of the day. Buddy Reynolds broke loose for 54 yards," he read about the 1954 FSU/Auburn game.

So when he was at FSU he went by Buddy?

"He went by Buddy. His real name was Burton," Deckerhoff said. "Bobby called him Buddy, but Bobby calls everybody Buddy."

Deckerhoff has been sifting through 40 years of photos, mementos and memories since Reynolds' death on Thursday.

"He loved to tell stories - funny - always a great sense of humor, very proud of his craft," Deckerhoff said. "He was a good guy. He liked people. He was not one of these standoff-ish guys and he loved football and he played football and if you had anything to do with football you were his Buddy."

What do you think his legacy will be?

"His legacy will be Smokey and the Bandit. I love that movie," Deckerhoff said with a laugh.

Deckerhoff first met Burt Reynolds when he worked as the sports director here at WCTV.

"He came to town to see a football practice and I was working at Channel 6 and I went out there and videoed him. I didn't get a chance to interview him, but I videoed Burt Reynolds meeting the football team."

Deckerhoff never imagined then that he'd go on to do play-by-play for Reynolds' USFL football team, the Tampa Bay Bandits, and record "Great Moments in Florida State Football" with Reynolds for more than 20 years.

"Burt wanted to come up and do the Great Moments in the locker room and we did," Deckerhoff said as he held a photo of the two of them in the FSU football team locker room.

"The old commercial that I wrote was the 'Bobby Bowden Show.' Bobby tells it like it is. Burt tells us how it was and the Seminoles give you all the excitement you wanted and then some," Deckerhoff said. "I thought it was great television."

Deckerhoff called Reynolds a loyal and legendary FSU alum.

He recalled visiting Reynolds at his home in Jupiter, Florida and his home near Hollywood, California.

"He used to drive people in Hollywood crazy because he was always pulling for Florida State. They had Southern Cal fans and UCLA fans and Big 10 fans, but he was a Florida State fan and everybody knew it," Deckerhoff said.

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