Watch Tower: Gene Collier Weighs in on Jeff Reed

Gene Collier, one of Pittsburgh’s best sports writers, if not simply the Steel City’s best sports writers has weighed in on the Jeff Reed incident.

With his usual flair for prose, he takes a different track than the one taken by here, namely that Jeff Reed and Santonio Holmes situations are sufficiently distinct to warrant different treatment by Tomlin.

While Collier’s column hasn’t compelled Steel Curtain Rising recant, he offers some excellent arguments.

The Danger of Double Standards

Collier doesn’t find a great deal of distinction between Reed and Holmes‘ respective infractions of the law. Fair enough.

He also goes at great pains to indicate that Holmes, whose case was ultimately dismissed on a legal technicality, was quite cooperative with the police. That’s important because cooperation with the police is at the very root of Reed’s legal troubles.

Collier is of a similar mind to Steel Curtain Rising as he too finds it difficult to believe Mike Tomlin’s explanation that Holmes was not suspended for disciplinary reasons.

Like most good writers, Collier saves his best punch for last. In concluding his article he offers:

No one’s in a better position to know when to deactivate a player in these situations than Tomlin and his superiors, so when I tell you Reed should stay home until after the Vikings game, it’s only because a lot of times, just the appearance of inconsistency can be its own locker room malignancy.

Excellent point, here’s why.

Double Standards and Locker Room Discord

Most people forget, but before he became a coaching genius in New England, Bill Belichick had a horrible run as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Belichick’s record as coach of the Browns makes him look like a dunce’s dunce.

The one time I read about Belichick contrasting his experiences with both teams he shared that one of his mistakes in Cleveland was that he had not held all players to the same standard.

But one does not need to look outside of Pittsburgh for examples of havoc that double standards can wreak on a team.

In late 1999 I met a friend of Troy Sadowski, who told me that the back up tight end for the Steelers had confided in him that Bill Cowher lost much of the team when he took Kordell Stewart out and then put her back in on that dreadfully rainy day in Tampa.

This kind of third-hand information can be dangerous, especially when it comes to Kordell Stewart (how many different friends can we remember who insisted “well, my buddy’s the cop who….). But can you imagine any other player getting back into a Steelers uniform, let alone a game after getting in Cowher’s face?

What It All Boils Down To

If Collier’s got an interesting insight, one must also remember that the differences in which the Steelers organization treated James Harrison and Cedric Wilson dwarf any double standard between how Tomlin dealt with Holmes and Reed.

  • Curtain’s Call: Few accepted Tomlin’s pubic explanation over why he benched Holmes and why he’s playing Reed. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether or not the players bought whatever message Tomlin delivered behind closed doors in the locker room.

For Die Hards

Perhaps my eyes are deceiving me, because I could not find the reference on the web, but I do remember reading this week that Santonio Holmes was not fined or docked a week’s pay by the when they benched him for the Giant’s game last year. That may be the case, but I do remember and have found an article saying that the Steelers did fine him at the time.

That’s just something to mention here in the Watch Tower because the story seems to have changed, but no one seems to have picked up on it.

Thanks for visiting. To read more media analysis of those who cover the Steelers, click on the Watch Tower tag (and scroll down).

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2 thoughts on “Watch Tower: Gene Collier Weighs in on Jeff Reed

  1. This is the plain and simple truth. Jeff Reed knows how to kick in Hines’ Field and it’s been shown that other kickers have a tough time consistently doing it. Every game counts and when you’ve got a guy that has won games again and again, he is needed. This one against the Purple People Eaters could easily be close. Why jeopordize this game because of Jeff’s inability to stay out of trouble. He wasn’t carrying a gun and shot himself in the foot, was he? He wasn’t drunk driving. He was just drunk. The other time his temper got the best of him and he took it out on a paper towel dispenser. He didn’t hurt anyone but himself. Try to find a new kicker after the season, but don’t jeopordize this one, especially since you have a Super Bowl calibre team. In the meantime, Jeff needs to seek some help for his issues.

  2. Stegmasterj,

    You’re right, very right.

    Suspending a kicker is much, much more complicated than suspending someone else.

    And at least on the surface, that is what Mike Tomlin’s decision comes down to. But Collier raises a good point about double standards, so I thought it was interesting to explore.

    With that said, looking at the results of the poll, most of our readers are tired of the subject, which is understandable.


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