OTA’s and mini-camp are over. The Steelers 2014 draft class has been selected and signed in a year where Pittsburgh was more active in free agency than ever, and its not even July 1st. Yet, as the true “off season begins” the Watch Tower has plenty to shine its lights on.
Ed Bouchette Wins the McCann Award
The Watch Tower is of course not about the Steelers, but about the scribes that cover them. And in this respect there is no bigger news than the Pro Football Writers of Association honoring the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette with the prestigious McCann award.
The announcement came last week, and Bouchette will be presented with the award in Canton, Ohio at the NFL Hall of Fame’s induction ceremonies. As Gerry Dulac observed, that’s a fitting locale considering Bouchette’s role in helping Steelers like Lynn Swann and John Stallworth earn induction.
Regular readers will no doubt not that Bouchette has often been the subject of the Watch Tower’s criticism. Indeed, that criticism comes not in spite of Bouchette’s winning of the award, but because he deserves the award and is held to such high standards.
And the Watch Tower has seen fit to honor Bouchette with praise just as often as it has found fault. The more notable pops the Watch Tower has given Bouchette include:
- Getting the Bruce Arians story right in 2010 when so many reported he’d been fired
- Reporting that it was both fellow assistant coaches and not just Ben Roethlisberger that had difficulties with Todd Haley in 2012
- Calling out inaccuracies in reporting on the role of head trauma in Terry Long’s death
- Standing up for Hines Ward’s right to be informed of his benching
- Peeling the onion skin off of the Steelers draft decision making process, getting his story right from Bill Cowher
And those are only the major stories that the Watch Tower has singled Bouchette out for.
It’s also complemented him on getting Joe Greene on the record regarding his feelings at being passed over as Chuck Noll’s successor – one of the more underreported stories in Steelers history. And Bouchette has also shared morsels such as the back story to Tim Lewis’ firing back in 2003, which paved the way for Dick LeBeau’s return.
Steel Curtian Rising and the Watch Tower only came into existence in 2008, and Bouchette has been writing about the Steelers since 1974 and the McCann Award is for lifetime achievement. While the Watch Tower can’t offer a systemetic evaluation of Bouchette’s body of work it can point to two examples.
- First is his 1993 book, the Dawn of a New Steel Age, which is by far the best “insider” book there is.
- Second is this piece from December 1988, on the day Steelers Nation stood still amists rumors that a rift with Dan Rooney would send Chuck Noll from the Steelers.
Take a look at the article. It represents one masterfully fine piece of journalism, and reveals just why Bouchette’s colleagues chose to award him this high honor.
This bud’s for you Ed Bouchette, you earned it.
Bouchette, Latest in Long Line of Pittsburghers to win McCann Award
While Bouchette is the first Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer to win the award, he is not the first Pittsburgher. The Pittsburgh Press’ Pat Livingston won in the 1970’s. Vito Stellino won the award in 1989 while at the Baltimore Sun; prior to that he’d written in Pittsburgh. ESPN’s John Clayton, another former Pittsburgh Press scribe, won the award in 2007, followed by Len Pasquarelli who is a Pittsburgh native.
To 4-3 or Not 4-3….
Longtime Steelers scribe from the Washington Standard-Observer Dale Lolley stepped out to do a bit of Watch Towerish analysis of his own recently.
Lolley took issue with a about a potential Steelers switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3. And while he names neither the paper nor the author, the story in question was penned by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Allan Robinson.
Lolley pulls no punches when assessing his colleagues work, observing:
@ Here is how misinformation gets passed along.
One of the local newspapers did a story quoting a couple of national analysts – nobody from the Steelers – about how the team could be considering a shift to the 4-3 defense.
One of the analysts is an NFL Network guy.
A day after the story runs in said local paper, again, with nobody from the Steelers saying anything of the sort, the NFL Network starts tweeting that the Steelers are considering changing to a 4-3, with the source being their own guys answering a question.
- That’s a pretty damming critique, unfortunately, his initial criticism of Robinson fails to hold muster.
Lolley chides Robinson for “quoting a couple of national analysts – no nobody from the Steelers…” That would be a major flaw in Robinson’s piece. Except that he does offer his reader quotes from Cameron Heyward and Mike Tomlin.
- It is hard to say how such details escaped Lolley’s attention, but the oversight does go a long way toward neutering his criticism.
The later part of Lolley’s commentary, however, amounts to a very a legit criticism of how the NFL Network specifically, and the current NFL “news” cycle works in general. He should have kept his focus there.