The Steelers may have reached their bye week, but there’s plenty for the Watch Tower to shine its light on including LeGarrette Blount’s departure,a persistent error in the Steelers media guide, and some kudos for “Matt C. Steel” a contributor to Jim Wexell’s Steel City Insider.
Being Blunt on Blount
A glaring negative that shines through the Steelers win over the Titans was LeGarrette Blount’s decision to go AWOL during the game’s final moments. Once the news broke, speculation immediately turned to what action Mike Tomlin would take to discipline him.
The interesting thing from a media analysis stand point, is how the press covered the event. As the Watch Tower has observed, the press that covers the Steelers, generally know more than they print, which isn’t to say they’re remiss in holding back.
But that insider knowledge does influence coverage of news that sees the daylight of public consumption, and Blount going AWOL is a perfect example. For example, at 1:15 am Dale Lolley made this observation:
If Blount did, indeed, leave before the game was completed, that was not a good, or smart, move by him. I’m sure head coach Mike Tomlin will have some kind of punishment for him, even if it’s not made public.
While that’s a reasonable observation, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette clearly outhustled him (and much of the rest of the Steelers press corps.) Theirteen minutes before Lolley pubished the above on his blog entry, Bouchette landed this bombshell:
Blount has been an internal problem for at least a month for the Steelers and sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is dragging down star halfback Le’Veon Bell, even though that obviously was not the case Monday night when Bell ran 33 times for 204 yards.
Bouchette also offered that one player told him privately that the team should have left Blount in Nashville. While few specifics of how Blount was a “problem” surfaced, Ray Fittipaldo got Antoino Brown, Maurkice Pouncey and Cameron Heyward on the record endorse the decision to cut Blount.
Journalism professors are fond of saying that “the media’s role is to prepare the public for what is to come.” Well, Bouchette didn’t predict the Steelers would cut Blount, when they did it wasn’t a surprise based on his reporting.
The Bud’s for you Mr. Bouchette.
NFL Network Strikes Again?
The Steelers of course needed to replace Blount. Before news broke that Josh Harris was being promoted, speculation turned to available free agents, with Cleveland’s Ben Tate chief among them.
The NFL Network immediately jumped on the story, with Aditi Kinkhabwala tweeting:
Can tell you: someone on Steelers staff called someone on Browns staff this am and asked about Ben Tate's release (per one of the someones)
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 18, 2014
Kinkhabwala made her tweet at just before four pm. However, ESPN’s Scott Brown fired back with this about 90 minutes later:
But running back Ben Tate, who was waived by the Browns on Tuesday after falling out of favor in Cleveland, has not drawn any interest from the Steelers, a source told ESPN.
Differing stories in a situation like this isn’t necessarily fodder for the Watch Tower, but Kinkhabwala’s track record with these stories is. Back when the Steelers fired Jack Bicknell, she claimed to have foreseen the move, yet could produce nothing to back up that claim. The Watch Tower commended Dejan Kovacevic for taking her and the NFL Network to task.
- Brown’s story doesn’t mean that Kinkhabwala didn’t actually talk to someone who told her that the Steelers made inquiries with the Browns about Tate. Such conversations may have taken place.
But the Watch Tower is inclined to believe Brown….
Persistent Error in the Steelers Media Guide
The problem with incorrect facts being reported is that they get repeated, and if it happens often enough conventional wisdom leads them to become accepted as true.
For example, the Steelers traded Huey Richardson at the end of his second training camp (to the Redskins for an 8th round pick), yet more often than not, you’ll see it reported that he was cut.
- It’s one thing for scribes to get these facts wrong – it’s another when the Steelers themselves are the source of the error. And so it is with the Steelers History section of the Steelers Media Guide.
Page 316 of the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide reads like this:
In 1988 the team suffered through its worst campaign in 19 years with a 5-11 record. The next season got off to an similar start with losses of 51-0 and 41-10 in the first two games as the offense failed to score in the first month of the season…. [Emphasis added.]
Sounds about right doesn’t it? The 1989 Steelers started off in total disaster only to finish in the playoffs. That is true.
But the Steelers offense most certainly did score during the first month.
In fact, Bubby Brister hooked up late in week 2 with Louis Lipps to add window dressing to a blowout. But the Steelers didn’t stop there. Merril Hoge, Tim Worley and Mike Mularkey all scored touchdowns in the ’89 Steelers week 3 upset of the Vikings. The 1989 Steelers scored touchdowns in week 4 vs. the Lions.
- These facts are all well documented, including in the Pittsburgh Steelers 1990 Media Guide.
Yet year after year, the Steelers PR office keeps reprinting the same mistake. The error first surfaced in 1997. Yours truly wrote a letter (yes, a pen and paper letter) and the next year the error was corrected. But the Steelers PR man moved on after 1998, and the error resurfaced again in 1999 and has remained since then.
In an effort to catch their attention, Santiago Murias, Vice President of the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires, even sent letters (yes, pen and paper letters) in 2003 and 2004 pointing out the error.
Yet they keep printing it, year after year.
- For the record, the Steelers offense did once go a month without scoreing a touchdown. That happened in 1990 under Joe Walton.
Perhaps this public calling out will prompt a correction.
5 Minutes of Fame for Matt C. Steel
A few weeks back the Watch Tower looked at the work of Matt C. Steel on Jim Wexell’s Steel City Insider site, complementing him on his detailed, nuanced critique of how and why Todd Haley’s offense was struggling early in the year.
One of the points Steel kept hammering was how effective Ben Roethlisberger was as a quarterback using play action under center.
Late in the game vs. the Titans, Steel got his wish (available 11/23/14, watch now before Goodell’s YouTube police find it):
Sometimes, it is really fun to be right. Here’s to hoping you’re right more often as we close down the season Mr. C. Steel.
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