The Watch Tower has been dim for quite a while, but its lights shine again today with a focus on a major Steelers media figure manning up, making a story out of a non-story and draft war room nuggets.
Bob Labriola Mans Up
Dick Haley’s death marked the passing of yet another of the architects of the Steelers Dynasty of the 1970’s.
As Haley’s role in building four Super Bowl Championships doesn’t get the attention that Dan Rooney, Chuck Noll, Art Rooney Jr. and Bill Nunn Jr.’s roles do, the Watch Tower made an extra effort to soak up as much as possible from his eulogies.
- But in reading Bob Labriola’s eulogy a quote from Dick Haley sounded familiar.
So the Watch Tower reached out to Ron Lippock who seemed to have published the quote before, and the Steelers Takeaways author confirmed that the quote indeed had come from his 2012 interview with Dick Haley.
Lippock contacted Labriola, and to his credit the editor of Steelers.com immediately manned up:
It has been brought to my attention that some of the Dick Haley quotes used in a recent story came from an interview done by Ron Lippock for Steelers Takeaways. Here is a link to the complete interview:https://t.co/Mye0CEMwwF
— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) March 14, 2023
Rampant content stealing is a depressing downside of the digital age. Often, if not most of the time, it it’s not a question of who has the idea, the insight or who is breaking news, but who has the ability to push it to their followers. Rarely do those who engage in that behavior recognize it let alone apologize for it.
Bob Labriola, who assuredly made an honest mistake, acknowelged it immediately and made things right. In doing so, he set an example for all of us. Good for you Bob.
Mitch Tribusky Staying with Steelers – The Non-Story of the Century
Art Rooney II does his annual State of the Steelers sit down with the press after the season is over, and he rarely, if ever, speaks after that.
- But the flip side is that the Steelers President isn’t coy.
Yes, he is guarded with his words. But if he says the Steelers are leaning in certain way, expect his lieutenants to follow in that direction. After the 2009 season he said the Steelers need to run better. And guess what? The Steelers ran better in 2010. In January 2017 he said the Steelers would probably draft a quarterback, and sure enough they picked Joshua Dobbs.
Except the opposite happened.
When Omar Khan spoke to reporters at the NFL Combine a month later, reporters asked him if Tribuisky would be back, Khan confirmed he would, and the exchange spawned dozens (if not hundreds) of stories from both bloggers and the professional press alike.
- But you’d figure that the “story” would have ended with Khan’s comments.
Except it didn’t.
One month later reporters asked Mike Tomlin about Tribuisky at the NFL Owners Meeting, where Tomlin confirmed (again) that the Steelers were keeping Tribuisky. And again the exchange spawned dozens (if not hundreds) of stories from both the professional press and bloggers alike.
In the past the Watch Tower has wondered, “If a reporter breaks news and it doesn’t go viral is it still a scoop?” with Jim Wexell getting Ben Roethlisberger on the record confirming his plans to return before the Jaguars playoff game, only to have Roethlisberger say the same thing after the loss and have it treated as “new news.”
- Here, the opposite has happened.
Each of the Steelers top three officials all confirmed that Mitch Tribuisky was in the team’s long term plans, yet somehow both bloggers and writers kept spinning yarns about scenarios that would see him leave Pittsburgh right up until Trubisky signed signed a contract extension.
Who knows? Maybe next off season reporters can try coaxing Khan, Tomlin or Rooney into saying, “Yes we’ll wear dark jerseys at home and white ones on the road next year” to see if that generates page views.
Donahoe’s Reveal on Steelers Draft Strategy in the ‘90’s
Tom Donahoe joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1986 as a BLESTO scout and quickly rose to Director of Pro Player Personnel and Development in 1989 before ascending to Director of Football Operations in 1992, upon Chuck Noll’s retirement.
Still, Donahoe’s service to the Steelers from ’86 to until early 2000 make him one of the organization’s most informed insiders from that period. Yet, he’s seldom spoken about the organization since leaving.
Jim Wexell has changed that in a big way to the tune of a 4,301 word interview as part of research for his book On the Clock, the History of the Steelers Draft. Wexell shared the full interview with Steel City Insider subscribers last spring.
The interview is a pure gold for Steelers history buffs, as Donahoe shares insights into how stars from the ‘90s like Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson, Dermontii Dawson, Levon Kirkland, Joel Steed, Darren Perry, and Chad Brown made their way to Pittsburgh.
Donahoe also offers draft room back stories about players such as Alan Faneca, Hines Ward, Deshea Townsend and Aaron Smith who’d go on to help Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin win Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII.
Any one of Donahoe’s 36 answers would suffice to earn Wexell Watch Tower kudos, but here’s an exceptional exchange:
Q: Did it hurt you guys economically not having the new stadium in free agency?
TD: It was a challenge. But we always tried to prepare for the guys that we thought were probably not going to be here to replace them. Maybe not to the same degree but we would at least have a player waiting in the wings where we wouldn’t have to just go out and buy a free agent. Although we did that the one year with Kevin Greene. He was a great pickup for us at that time. But Chad Brown was a tough loss.
Tom Donahoe’s answer might not qualify as “news” or a “revelation” for fans who suffered through those annual free agent exoduses during the 1990’s. But, to the Watch Tower’s knowledge, this is the first time that someone from the organization actually confirmed that anticipated free agent losses shaped the Steelers draft strategy in the 90’s.
And for that Jim Wexell earns a double dose of Watch Tower Kudos.