PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers are powerful.
That manifests itself in ways that go beyond their chain-moving offense and stifling defense.
Last week, during a routine post-practice interview scrum, safety Ryan Clark took exception to a question from radio talk show host Joe Bendel.
Soon the interview session turned into a contentious one-on-one between Clark and Bendel.
Witnesses report they were nose-to-nose until another player and a Steelers publicist stepped in between them.
KDKA-TV had its camera rolling and caught the exchange on tape.
Given the level of coverage the Steelers get, and TV's fascination with confrontations, you'd think that video would be a big deal on the KDKA's newscasts.
It wasn't seen at all.
Why? News director Anne Linaberger didn't respond to an email seeking comment, but here's a guess:
TV stations live in fear of angering the Steelers.
Get on their bad side, and watch helplessly as your competition gets one-on-one interviews with high-profile players that fit perfectly during ratings sweeps.
Need a Steelers player for some image-polishing charity campaign? That availability might hinge on whether the team views the station as friend or foe.
Football teams don't just play games on Sunday afternoons. They hold the leverage, and they know it.
That doesn't automatically mean the Steelers put pressure on KDKA to keep the Clark-Bendel dust-up off the air.
Could be that KDKA was just saving that as a "Hey, we did you a favor" card that could be redeemed later.
Some radio stations, including rights holder WDVE, broadcast the audio. It would have been instructive to see what happened.
But according to KDKA, nothing happened.
First fumble of the season.
Just play football
The Steelers have a full preseason to figure out the new NFL rules, then stay within them.
Things were rocky last year when the NFL tried to make changes during the season. Players and officials were confused.
There's clarity this year. The players have had been instructed. They don't have to like the rules, they just have to follow them.
The Steelers wouldn't worry so much about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell being judge and jury if they weren't always in his courtroom.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.