Watch Tower: BSTC Bests the Professional Press. Again + Willie Colon

After nearly six months of dead air and make news articles, the Steelers media buzzed alive as the lockout ended and the NFL went back to business.

The Steelers filled their biggest need first, re-inking Ike Taylor to a 4 year contract. In analyzing the dynamics that led to the deal, Homer J. from Behind the Steel Curtain shed a little light on what has long been a question of mine.

Homer J. traced the Steelers M.O. all the way back to Mike Tomlin’s first interview with the Rooneys, revealing:

…Tomlin came prepared, and his degree of preparation knocked everyone’s socks off. He brought two bound books with him. One was an analysis of every player on the Steelers’ roster. The second was an analysis of how to build what he had into a championship team. [Emphasis added.]

The fact that Mike Tomlin came to the interview with a detailed plan and blew the Rooneys away has long been known.

But the Watch Tower has always wondered:

  • What are NFL head coaching job interviews are like?
  • Specifically, what was in Tomlin’s “detailed plan?” How did he bowl the Roonys over so persuasively?

For years the Watch Tower has kept an attentive eye tuned towards articles that might answer those questions.

But no professional reporter ever provided anything of any substance. Behind the Steel Curtain’s Homer J. did it in passing in an article about something else.

As has the Watch Tower has observed before and no doubt will again, Behind the Steel Curtain once again provides its readers with information that eludes the professional press. (Full disclosure, yours truly expect to become an occasion contributor to the BTSC team, hopefully as early as next week.)

Clashing Over Willie Colon – Score One for Scott Brown

The Steelers re-signed Willie Colon to a 5 year deal late last week, and while the Tribune Review’s Scott Brown signaled this, the news likely came as a surprise to anyone who relies exclusively on the Post Gazette for Steelers news.

In reporting that the Steelers were making Willie Colon a priority, Brown wrote “Linta [Colon’s agent] said he is cautiously optimistic that he and the Steelers will reach a deal that keeps Colon in Pittsburgh.”

Ed Bouchette’s reporting painted a very different picture for his readers. He’s been saying in chats and PG Plus posts for a long time that he did not think the Steelers wanted to sign Colon to a long-term deal. (Gerry Dulac offered a different view, as the Watch Tower recounted last spring.)

On Wednesday Bouchette went so far as to instruct readers:

Don’t look for Willie Colon to sign with the Steelers, even though they have put him among several players who they considered priorities right now. Agent Joe Linta has said all along that he believed the Steelers would not offer him nearly enough compared to what he believes Colon will earn elsewhere. Linta’s reaction yesterday did not change his opinion. The bottom line is, the Steelers do not believe strongly enough in Colon for whatever reason to give him a big contract. Colon wants more than Max Starks makes and that isn’t going to happen. [Emphasis Added.]

This of course, amounts to a double whammy.

First, you’ve basically got two reporters from different papers indirectly quoting the same source and providing very different interpretations.

And it’s obvious from this quote that Bouchette had little idea that Max Starks was a day, if not hours, away from getting the axe.

Yet, even after the Steelers cut Max Starks, Bouchette doubled down, insisting that Colon almost certainly headed out of town. Talking about the offer the Steelers made Colon, Bouchette recounted, “I’ve heard they made such a low-ball offer to Colon that it turned him off…”

To be fair, Bouchette followed up that observation by reminding readers that Colon was close friends with Ben Roethlisberger and that he wanted to stay with the team.

In certain parts of the blogesphere, bashing Ed Bouchette is common. Not so here, as the Watch Tower has praised him repeatedly. However great some of Bouchette’s sources may be, he’s repeatedly been caught flat footed when it comes to contract negotiation, and he explicitly missed the boat on:

Bouchette was also so confident that the Steelers would do nothing in free agency in 2010 that he went on vacation during the first week – and the Steelers promptly went out and signed Antwaan Randle El, Arnez Battle, Will Allen, Jonathan Scott, and brought Larry Foote back.

Bouchette also went firmly on the record saying that “hearing no talk about talks” told him that Mike Tomlin’s contract was not going to be renewed in 2010; the Steelers renewed Tomlin’s contract shortly thereafter.

John Harris the Happy

This edition of the Watch Tower ends with well-wishes for the Tribune Review’s John Harris, who passed the time during the lockout inventing new ways to remind readers of how valuable Ike Taylor was to the Steelers and how jealous suitors were lining up to snatch Taylor away form the Black and Gold.

Well, it is doubtful that Art II, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin were listening, but they did get Ike re-signed, so we should suppose that makes John Harris happy.

Thanks for visiting. To read more analysis of the media that cover the Steelers,
click here to read more from Steel Curtain Rising’s Watch Tower.

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