Watch Tower: Two Sides to the Terry Long Story

To those of you who have not yet checked out the PG Plus, the Post-Gazette’s paid subscription section, it is well worth the four bucks a month (even if you get paid in Argentine pesos).

Although the season is two months over, and the Steelers have over six months to go before their next regular season game, Ed Bouchette is keeping his daily blog filled with lots of interesting news.

The Full Story Behind Tim Lewis’ Firing

What is particularly enticing is the “behind the scenes” pieces he is throwing out there. One of the more recent articles dealt with Tim Lewis’ exit when Bill Cowher fired him as defensive coordiantor in 2003.

Fans will recall that the Steelers defense played badly in 2003 — not just the secondary, but the pass rush and the run defense.

Mike Prisuta, for so long Tribune Review’s top Steelers columnist, told his readers to expect that Lewis would be the first to get the axe. When the season ended, Cowher did can some coaches, but Lewis was not among them. A few days later, Lewis was gone too. At the time Cowher explained that his decision to fire Lewis resulted from “philosophical differences” that arose in their post season meetings.

While that is basically true, Bouchette adds a whole new dimension to the story. In the interests of paying proper respect to Bouchette and the work he has done, I won’t recount all of the details here. Suffice to say, the way Bouchette paints it now, Lewis created his own self-fulfilling philosophy.

The Terry Long Story

This past week Ed Bouchette delved into the Terry Long story. Bob Smizik recently wrote about the GQ article the featured Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Pittsburgh brain pathologist who took on the NFL over brain trauma.

Omalu, who examined the brains of former Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Webster, Terry Long, and Justin Strzelczyk, all of whom played offensive line for the Steelers, and all of whom died untimely, and in the case of the latter to, violent deaths.

While praising Omalu for being a trail blazer on the issue of the long-term impact of concussions and brain trauma, Bouchette goes into, dare way say, Watch Tower mode, going at pains to share with readers that the Terry Long story has two sides.

Bouchette points out that Long, who tested positive for steroids in 1991 prior to his final year in the NFL, had been a serious steroid abuser. He goes on to say:

Long was an obvious steroids user who grew way beyond proportion and became a starting guard in the NFL. He was one of the more difficult players I ever had to deal with and seemed to fall into the category of steroids rage.

He also points out that the initial autopsy report, which diagnosed Long’s death as coming from brain trauma, was wrong because Long committed suicide by drinking anti-freeze.

Steel Curtain Rising shares Bouchette’s sentiments, that the head trauma issue is a very serious one that the NFL has ignored for too long. We also salute Bouchette for stepping out and insisting that the story be reported accurately.

Speaking of Reporting….

If Bouchette’s posts on PG Plus answer a lot of questions that Steelers fans might have been having, they also raise another one.

Why are we only finding about this now?

In the case of Terry Long that answer is pretty easy. The article in GQ was published in October, and Brochette had other things to do.

At least as far as the brain trauma article is concerned. Steroids is a whole other issue. Bouchette described him as an “obvious steroid user,” and says he saw Long slip into ‘roid rage.

If that is the case, why didn’t the Post-Gazette report on it then?

And what about Tim Lewis?

That was a fascinating story that gave fans a “fly on the wall” view of how Bill Cowher ran the Steelers. Bouchette might not have had all of the facts in front of him when Lewis got the boot, but must surmise that he came about them a long time ago.

If that is the case, why is he only sharing them with his readers now? Steel Curtain Rising intends to ask at his next on-line chat.

Interested in seeing critiques of Steelers press corps? Then click here to read Steel Curtain Rising’s Watch Tower.

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