Watch Tower: James Harrison Slights Ben Roethlisberger, Profaning the Terrible Towel and More…

The Steelers took to the field vs. the Titans looking to answer a lot of questions. Suffice to say, Steelers Nation didn’t get the answer it wanted. But that led to a lot of interesting stories for the Watch Tower to shine its light upon but ironically the biggest story had to do with the week to come.

Silverback Scales Big Ben?

For as big as the Steelers loss to the Titans was, perhaps even bigger news is the impending match up with the Bengals which of course bring James Harrison up against his former team.

  • In both the Steelers and Bengals locker room both factions studiously avoided providing (almost) any bulletin board material. 

The “story” as told by the Post-Gazette, Tribune Review, and ESPN was that James Harrison held no grudges, that this is all part of the business.

At least that’s the line that Ralph Paulk, Scott Brown, and Ray Fittipaldo held to in their stories based on the weekly conference call with opposition players (Ray Fittipaldo in fact parlayed the interview into two stories.)

There was one rather glaring exception, and it was only reported by free lance reporter Jim Wexell. Harrison had no ill words for the Steelers, but he did slight their most prominent player, Ben Roethlisberger.

As reported by Wexell Harrison had this to say on his Steel City Insider site:

Harrison did punch one Steeler in the gut. “They had a rough one,” Harrison said of the Steelers’ last game. “They lost their best offensive player they had in Maurkice Pouncey.”

To his credit, Wexell made no attempt to blow the quote out of proportion, but did remind readers of how Harrison ripped into Roethlisberger in his infamous Men’s Journal interview in July 2011.

  • Regardless, Harrison’s comment offers real news value.

If he’s trying to snub Roethlisberger by default, then that’s news. And if he sincerely believes that Pouncey is the Steelers best offensive player, that’s also news.

One can only speculate as to why this angle of the story was completely ignored by rest of the Steelers press crops. An easy conclusion is that they succumbed to pressure from the Steelers PR office. But that makes little sense upon further examination, as Wexell himself is a correspondent for Steelers Digest.

Either way, Wexell deserves credit for reporting on something that his colleagues ignored.

Steelers Supposed to Suck, Yet Still “Underachievers”

Few pundits preseason pundits picked the Steelers to do anything, but few were as strident as SI’s Don Banks. In his annual prediction column, Banks was merciless when it came to the Steelers, predicting a last in the AFC North finish.

That made his Tuesday column all the more interesting, when he labeled the Steelers as one of the top “underachievers” of the NFL’s opening weekend.

  • So if the Steelers are really supposed to be bad, then how can they be “underachievers?” 

Banks never addresses that. To be fair, he did list underachievement as one of the weaknesses heading into 2013 saying Injuries, age and underachievement will combine to produce Pittsburgh’s worst season since the Steelers plummeted to 6-10 in 2003.

  • Banks’ post-Titans critique also had its flaws. 

However, Banks all but declares the Roethlisberger era to be over in Pittsburgh.

  • Lest accusation of homerism should let fly, both Ben Roethlisberger’s short term health and longevity are very much in danger.

But if the story on the Steelers in NFL week one was “underachievement” then Banks picked the wrong poster boy in Roethlisberger, as he managed a pretty good game with very, very little help.

Profaning the Terrible Towel

The Post-Gazette’s Dan Gigler brought a very important story to light in his Blog and Gold column, when he informed his readers that the Steelers are desecrating the Terrible Towel with logos from other teams.

  • That’s right, you can now get your Terrible Towel with Steelers and Titans or Jaguars logos printed on it.

This is near blasphemy and Gigler deserves a shout out for reporting it.

Lolley-Le’von Axis…r

Veteran Observer-Reporter journalist Dale Lolley did a little bit of his own Watch Towerism this week by calling out the rest of the press crops over the handling of the Le’Veon Bell injury.

Le’Veon Bell of course is the Steelers 2nd round draft pick who was all but anointed as the next Franco Harris/Jerome Bettis on the strength of a strong training camp, only to fall prey to a lisfranc injury in camp.

This fact was reported widely in August, although the severity of the story quickly diminished as it became clear that Bell didn’t have a lisfranc tear, unlike Matt Spaeth.

Bell himself had told reporters that he might return by week two, but that story got cold water thrown on it. Regarding the press’ handling of this pattern of events Lolley observed:

From the beginning, I reported that Bell had a Lisfranc injury. And, despite what some were reporting, Mike Tomlin never said Bell didn’t have a Lisfranc injury.
He only said Bell didn’t have a Lisfranc tear like the one Matt Spaeth did and that they were hoping he would recover without surgery.
The initial estimates on his recovery – not from the Steelers, but by reporters – was six to eight weeks.
So now, a story is written saying Bell will be out another month. That would put him right in line with the six to eight weeks that was being reported from the beginning of this thing.

Kudos to Lolley for his effort to keep a story in context and to hold his friends and colleagues accountable, albeit without naming them.

Lolley also offered some level headed thinking both immediately after the Titans game and on the Monday afterwards.

Wallace Watch Starts

In the 1990’s the Pittsburgh Steelers “enjoyed” an annual tradition of off season free agent exoduses. Perhaps none were as intently watched as Mike Wallace’s decision to bolt to Miami for a cool 13 million per year.

  • The Steelers made it very clear, very early they were not going to pay Wallace that kind of cash.

One of the reasons why was that Wallace resented having to share the spot light with the likes of Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.

As many fans know, Wallace’s Dolphins beat the Cleveland Browns, but Wallace was limited to one catch for 15 yards. Dan Gigler shared a Miami Herald article which painted a picture of a deeply disgusted Wallace who had to be consoled by the team’s general manager no less.

For their part, Behind the Steel Curtain also offered its own piece, comparing Wallace to Keyshawn “Will You Just Give me the Damm Ball”  Johnson.

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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