Watch Tower: Breaking Down Emmanuel Sanders Coverage, Non-Coverage of McLendon and Redman Stories

Emmanuel Sanders signing, a run on Steve McLendon, Isaac Redman staying in Pittsburgh. And that doesn’t even count the 2013 NFL Draft. It has been a busy few weeks in Pittsburgh, and this edition of the Watch Tower shines its light on how those stories were (or weren’t covered) by the Steelers press corps.

Money Don’t Buy [Emmanuel Sanders] Love

Don’t blame Emmanuel Sanders next season if he pulls a Greg Lloyd like black out of the Pittsburgh media, because if the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association were calling the shots, Manny Sanders would be an New England Patriot now.

Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider set the tone when news of New England’s interest in Sanders broke:

Can’t agree with anguish of #Steelers fans. And I really can’t understand the Patriots here. Give me the third-round pick for Sanders.
— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) March 16, 2013

Ed Bouchette wrote a full length story declaring that keeping Sanders would be a bigger risk for the Steelers than letting him go, and labeling the choice a “no brainer.” For Mark Kabloy of the Tribune-Review, the one year nature of the Sanders tender was the deal breaker.

Dale Lolley honed in on Sanders injury history and also against the short-term nature of the deal, although Lolley should be credited for reporting on a split between the front office and the coaches on what to do about Sanders (although ESPN’s John Clayton broke the news, duly cited by Lolley.)

To find Love for Sanders, you have to go to Peter King of Sports Illustrated who devoted points 6 and 7 of his “Ten Things I Think I Think” of his MMQB column to the Sanders situation. First he blasted New England for its half-hearted, short term offer to Sanders, and praised Sanders, citing his team-high 14.2 yards per catch average.

Ivan Cole of Behind the Steel Curtain also wrote a strong defense of the Sanders signing, although BTSC’s readers voted overwhelmingly for the Steelers to take the pick and let Sanders walk (full disclosure I also write for BTSC.)

So You Say Sanders Had Multiple Suitors…

After the Steelers matched New England’s offer for Sanders, Dale Lolley immediately told his readers to expect a long-term deal to be worked out.

  • Not so fast, shot back Sanders agent Jordan Woy, indicating that Sanders had “several offers” from NFL teams.

Ed Bouchette followed up the story, writing:

Whether he plays for them beyond that is problematic, and the Steelers had to know that when they decided to keep him for another year.

The New England Patriots weren’t the only ones to offer Sanders a contract in free agency, and the Steelers might not be able to keep him beyond next season. [Emphasis Added]

Woy’s statement is woven in pure agent talk. Of course he’s supposed to say his client had plenty of offers (although if that’s the case, then why sign the one that is only for one year?)

But were there really teams lining up to throw money at Sanders? The average fan has no way of knowing, and relies on beat writers for that insight.

  • Unfortunately, Ed Bouchette offered none.

He writes as if the multiple offers for Sanders were a matter of fact, yet gives his readers zero indication as to whether he has verified this claim with any sources, be they named or unnamed.

The Watch Tower has praised Ed Bouchette for his journalistic acumen before and no doubt will again, but the Post-Gazette’s readers deserved more from the “Dean” of the Steelers press corps on this one.

In fairness, though, Bouchette at least covered that aspect of the story whereas the Tribune Review appears to have ignored it.

McLeondon Coverage and… Non-Coverage

Steelers Nation got a jolt last week when news broke that the Green Bay Packers were working out starting nose tackle Steve McLendon, in news broken by the Baltimore Sun via Twitter.

Both Mark Kalboy and Ed Bouchette commented on the story via Twitter. Behind the Steel Curtain wrote a story on the visit and then a follow up suggesting that the Packers might simply be trying to pressure their own nose tackle B.J. Raji into extending his contract.

Ed Bouchette followed with a story on PG Plus, but readers of the regular Post Gazette online got nothing. (As PG Plus still refuses to take my money, I am unable to comment on the quality or depth of Bouchette’s story.)

In contrast, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review printed nothing on the story. A look at their main Steelers page as of 2:00 pm Eastern on Saturday 4/20/13 reveals nothing at all on Steve McLendon. Nothing on his visit to Green Bay, nothing on the 3 year deal that the Steelers signed him to.

The Trib’s writers did comment on McLendon via Twitter to be sure, but offered nothing to readers hungry for more than 140 character bites of information on a story with major implications for the Steelers defense in 2013.

  • The Tribune Review earns a big, black mark for its non-coverage of the McClendon story.

If You Happened to Want to Read More about Redman…

The other X Factor in the Steelers restricted free agent situation was Isaac Redman. They’d been rumors that a team might make a run on him, but nothing serious got published to that effect and probably for good reason as Redman signed his restricted free agent tender on Thursday evening without getting an offer.

  • Not that you would have found out about it by reading the Tribune Review, Post-Gazette, or even Behind the Steel Curtain.

Mark Kalboy did report the news via Twitter, but Redman remains a popular player in Steelers Nation, and his assured return means that he figures to be a major part of the Steelers rushing offense in 2013 and those two facts should have warranted more substantial coverage.

Steelers Black Out News on Visits in Advance of the 2013 NFL Draft 

Early in the month news of the Steeles pre-Draft visits flowed freely, and it was clear that they were evaluating a lot of linebackers.

  • Then suddenly, the news stopped.

This is not the first time the Steelers have tried to keep their pre-draft visits secret. Ed Bouchette shared this news with his readers a few off seasons ago on PG Plus, although if memory serves, he was able to uncover and publish the identities of several visitors.

Perhaps he did the same this year on PG Plus. Again, as PG Plus won’t take Watch Tower’s money, I have no way of knowing.

Jim Wexell did report on Twitter that Sio Moore visited the South Side on April 11th:

Sio Moore visiting today. Talked to him at combine. He wore glasses and seriousness reminded me of a Singletary, Kirkland. Great 3rd rd buck
— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) April 11, 2013

The average fan has little way of gauging whether it is easy or hard for reporters to find out who is making visits to the Steelers in advance of the 2013 NFL Draft if the Steelers refuse to announce those visits.

But readers should have been informed of the news black out, instead of simply suffering a sudden stop of information.

Ta’amu Takes a Cheap Shot from Steelers Depot

Shortly after news broke that Alameda Ta’Amu had pleaded guilty to a number of counts stemming from last fall’s drunken rampage on the South Side took a cheap shot.

Ta’amu was unfortunate enough to have a friend tweet an old photo of him holding a liquor bottle in the back seat of a car.

  • Ta’amu made matters worse by being dumb enough or at least inattentive enough to retweet it.

The website Steelers Depot pounced on the move, suggesting that Ta’amu was out the night before “celebrating” his relatively light sentence, and later updating the post suggesting that the fact that Ta’amu had his “friend” take down the photo was an admission of guilt.

However, as Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain pointed out, the photo was taken during the day and during the spring or summer, lending credibility to Ta’amu’s insistence that the photo was an old one.

Steelers Depot’s suggestion little more than a cheap shot, and BTSC deserves credit for calling them out on it.

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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