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October 8, 2008 - John Mehno
Heard this story from a reliable source:
Steelers linebacker James Harrison was waiting for a radio reporter after practice the other day. He had an issue to discuss with him.
Apparently at some point in the wild 'n' wacky morning show, someone opined that Harrison bore a strong resemblance to an actor. The person who made the comment made an unflattering remark about a facial trait he thought the actor and Harrison shared. It's doubtful that Harrison heard the comment, but he certainly heard about it. He was waiting for the radio guy after practice and made his thoughts known.
Here's the deal: There will always be a certain amount of friction between athletes and media types. We have different agendas. If you run into a conflict over a story, that's part of the business. As long as you handled it ethically, you can defend your position.
But when you go the air and make fun of the way someone looks, you'd better be ready to hear about it. A lot of radio people get a free pass because they never visit the locker room. They're never around to answer for what they say. I know a newspaper guy who got a radio job, and he said the toughest part was distancing himself from rude remarks other members of the morning team made about players. He had to face the players; the DJs didn't.
Somewhere along the way, I decided this was the guideline when I wrote something critical of someone: Would I be willing and able to defend what I wrote in a face-to-face meeting? It's a good rule to follow, because sooner or later you might find yourself with an offended player or coach in your face.
It happened the other day at the Steelers.