Watch Tower: Calling Out Mike Florio, Revisiting Mike Tomlin and Kordell Stewart, and Taking Our Own Medicine

NBC Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio attracts attention to himself. Last month Florio drew the ire of Steelers Nation by taking Mike Tomlin’s William and Mary Hall of Fame induction speech and twisting it so far out of context they it was unrecognizable.

Fellow scribe Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain immediately pounced as did Steelers Depot and Dan Gigler of the Post Gazette’s Blog ‘N Gold.

Then I watch Tomlin’s speech (click here for the full video) and now I question whether or not Coolong was harsh enough.

But the purpose of Watch Tower’scritical eye is to analyze and understand what drives the coverage that the Steelers get in the press.
  • So the Watch Tower went right to the source:  Mike Florio himself.

I sent Florio a message, asking if he’d read the full text of Tomlin’s speech or viewed it (Florio quoted passage, citing Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column).

I inquired if he weighed the context of Tomlin’s and if he’d sought comment or clarification from Tomlin or the team. One imagines that Burt Lauren, Steelers Communications director, would take Florio’s call. Finally, I asked Florio if he really did want to insulate that Tomlin condoned attempts to injure players.
The response from Florio?
  • Despite repeated attempts, Florio chose not to respond.

The professional press criticizes bloggers, often rightly, for hiding behind anonymity as they poison the well of public discourse.

But the fact that Florio put his name beside his attacks fails to make him any better.

He could have responded to my inquiry in several ways. He could have defended his work, offered a mea culpa or even dismissed the question with a hearty “who the hell are you?”
Instead, he chose silence.
  • And for that, the Watch Tower calls out Florio as a coward.

If you’re going to make scandalous charges about one of the classiest individuals in the NFL Mike, then man up stand behind what you write.

Kordell the Best Between Bradshaw and Ben?

Kordell Stewart surprised Steelers Nation yet again with his “retirement.” Stewart generated more controversy than perhaps any man to wear the Black and Gold and his decision to call it quits 10 years after leaving the team drew a variety of responses.
None were more puzzling, however, than Ron Cook of the Post-Gazette.
Reflecting on Stewart’s career Cook concluded, “He was the Steelers’ best quarterback between four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw and two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger.”
Two paragraphs later Cook doubled down:

Stewart once predicted he would make the Hall of Fame. He fell considerably short, but he was better than everyone on this list: Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, David Woodley, Scott Campbell, Bubby Brister, Steve Bono, Todd Blackledge, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Jim Miller, Kent Graham and Tommy Maddox. They are the other Steelers quarterbacks who followed Bradshaw and preceded Roethlisberger.

  • Cook makes a bold claim.

The Watch Tower takes no issue with Cook’s opinion, he’s entitled to it and there’s an argument to be made to support. But successfully making such an argument requires marshaling evidence that Kordell was better than Neil O’Donnell at least, and perhaps Tommy Maddox.

Cook doesn’t do that. He probably didn’t have the column space, but his piece would have been far more interesting if he had.
Mike Tomlin’s Contract
Earlier this year he suggested that Tomlin might resent Art Rooney II’s forcing him to fire Bruce Arians so much that he’d decline to renew his contract. Regular readers will remember that the Watch Tower took issue with Cook then for not backing his analysis up with any reporting.
Cook mentioned the Arians firing, but took a different direction and in doing so raised the possibility that Steelers Nation will get an answer to a long-unanswered question.
Cook reasons that market dynamics dictate a significant raise for Tomlin, in the range of what it Bill Cowher could have commanded in 2006.
  • Many believe that Cowher simply because the Steelers would not pay premium dollar for a head coach.

Personally I’ve always felt that the Steelers probably would have met his price had he indicated that his future was in Pittsburgh. But we never got to find out because Kaye Cowher was already in the family’s newly purchased home in North Carolina, hence the Rooneys declined to open their check books.

If Cook is right we could find out just how ready the Rooneys are to pay top dollar for a coach in a few weeks.

Love for Troy Smith, No Love for Mewelde Moore

The Steelers lost Mewelde Moore when he signed with theColts and decided to part ways with Troy Smith. You’d figure that Moore’s departure would merit more attention than Smith.
That was not the case, at least in Pittsburgh’s to leading dailies. News, let alone a story, about Mewelde Moore’sdeparture was no where to be found on either website save for a brief mention in Seth Rorabagh’s “Morning Links” column on PG Plus.
  • In contrast, Smith’s departure drew short stories in both the Tribune Review and Post Gazette.

Moore’s departure was widely forecast, but he was an unsung hero in the Steelers 2008 Super Bowl season and deserved more of a send off. Nonetheless, the lack of coverage was fitting as in 2008 the press largely ignored Mewelde Moore until injuries forced him into the line up (click here for that story.)

Steel Curtain Rising Takes Its Own Medicine

The Watch Tower bright lights do not discriminate, not even when it comes to its home site.
When news broke that the Steelers planned to keep Marcus Gilbert at right tackle I jumped to the conclusion that meant they were therefore were by default (given that they won’t be so dense as to start Jonathan Scott or Trai Essex there) handing the job to second round pick Mike Adams.
  • As it turns out, Marcus Gilbert did see time at LT during OTA’s and word also circulated that the team might give Max Starks a look.

Two pitfalls of the internet are haste in getting “content” on a page can lead to sloppy judgment and that nothing generates hits like a negative headline.

So be it. Yours truly fell prey to both of those and I duly accept my comeuppance.

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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