The well-earned adulation that Mewelde Moore is enjoying in Steelers Nation right now is accompanied by a rather inconspicuous irony on the part of the Pittsburgh press.
Consider this sampling of Post-Game articles from Pittsburgh’s two dailies.
Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette elevated Moore to the status of Willie Parker clone, offering:
But not even Tomlin could have imagined that Moore — a player he pursued and signed as a free agent in the offseason — would do such a fine Fast Willie imitation….
Where has this guy been?
His colleague at the Tribune-Review, John Harris, was equally effusive:
…Yes, the same Mewelde Moore who could barely get on the field in the Steelers’ first four games. The same Mewelde Moore whose lack of playing time was so glaring that people were beginning to wonder if the Steelers made a mistake signing him as a free agent.
Content to play second fiddle to no one, the Post-Gazette’s Gary Dulac doubled down with his praise:
Mewelde Moore had runs of 27, 19, 13 and 11 yards in rushing for 99 yards on 17 carries… Moore looked so fluid and elusive it makes you wonder why the coaches waited so long to use him.
The biggest question to be asked after the comeback victory is not how the Steelers managed to beat the Jaguars with five starters out of the lineup and a sore-armed QB with one day of practice under his belt. Rather, it’s why in the world was Mewelde Moore not used sooner?
There you have it. No less than four times did the press take the Steelers coaches to task for keeping Moore under wraps until the Jacksonville game. We’ll address the legitimacy of the “Why didn’t Moore play sooner?” question later, but the more pertinent question is, “Why didn’t the media do more to tell Steelers about Mewelde sooner?”
A Little on Moore
The Steelers signed Mewelde Moore on March 3rd and the Post-Gazette’s article on his signing ran all of 40 words (click here to check for yourself.) Ok, that was also the day that Ben Roethlisberger resigned, so of course that overshadowed the news about Moore. You’d figure a more thorough article would follow a few days later?
A key word search of the term “Mewelde Moore” on the Post-Gazette’s website yields 127 articles, with roughly 100 coming after Moore had joined the team.
Yet, from his signing in March until October, the Post-Gazette did not run a single, solitary feature on Mewelde Moore. His name got mentioned a lot, but mostly in oft recycled phrases like, “It may be a reason they drafted Rashard Mendenhall in the first round and signed Mewelde Moore as a free agent. Moore is likely to play on third downs because he can block, catch and run….”
The Tribune-Review’s coverage was somewhat superior, offering an article of 204 words, which at the very least included quotes from Mike Tomlin and Mewelde Moore.
To clarify the contrast however, Steel Curtain Rising’s commentary on Mewelde Moore’s signing ran 306 words, commenting not only on Moore’s past performance, but also his likely impact on the overall composition of the backfield, and the insights Moore would offer into Mike Tomlin’s ability as a talent evaluator.
John Harris of the Tribune-Review at least earned some bragging rights, as he was the only member of the Steelers media corps to do a feature length story on Moore, which ran in late May.
Outside of that, Steelers fans who wanted to know more about their team’s new running back had precious little in the way of information. In fact, the article that speculated that Moore would be an impact player came from outside the Pittsburgh media, with one writer (don’t remember who) from either yahoo.com or Pro Football Weekly offering the Moore would provide a boost to the Steelers backfield.
- Steel Curtain Rising attempted to find out Moore about sources from Minnesota. These efforts bore little fruit, but they were also completely pro-bono.
The Post-Gazette assigns two beat writers to the Steelers, plus three columnists who write about the regularly. The Tribune-Review has one full time Steelers beat writer plus at least three or four other columnists who regularly write about the team.
So out of those ten writers, only John Harris thought Mewelde Moore was important enough to warrant a feature-length story during the off season?
There’s nothing really wrong with that, but now that Moore is showing that he does have something very real to contribute, it’s a tad bit hypocritical for the media (John Harris excluded) to be jumping up and down exclaiming, “Why Mewelde Moore play sooner?”*
The more pointed question that they themselves should be answering is “Why didn’t you pay more attention to Moore in the first place?”
- Steelers Nation’s appetite for news on the team is voracious.
The Pittsburgh media generally does a good job, but they must keep in mind that quantity does not substitute for quality. Case in point, there was probably more written about Anthony McFarland’s non-signing this off season than there was about Mewelde Moore.
- Which story is having more impact on the Steelers fortunes in 2008?
The Pittsburgh media simply dropped the ball on Mewelde Moore this past off season.
*For an answer to this question, click here.