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Mehno: Steelers will miss Harrison

Commentary

March 11, 2013
By John Mehno , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - James Harrison will play for someone else next season, and there's a good chance he'll play well.

By the end of the last season, it became apparent that Harrison was healthier than he had been in some time, and he was again becoming a force on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

His Steelers career ended on Saturday with the announcement Harrison had been released. He and the Steelers couldn't agree on new contract terms to help the team's salary cap situation.

Harrison is 35, and his injury history is lengthy. He had two back surgeries and wasn't at full strength for the first half of last season. He's a risk because of the cumulative effects of the injuries. That said, other teams will probably be lining up to sign him.

Even if Harrison can only play at a high level for one more season, he could help someone's defense.

This may have been a necessary move for the Steelers, but it's risky. The player behind Harrison on the depth chart was Jason Worilds, who has not shown he's ready to play regularly in the NFL. There could be some help coming in the draft, or the Steelers could sign a free agent to help at outside linebacker.

But for the moment, a position that needed to be strengthened during this offseason just got weaker.

Copy cats

It's no surprise that Fox will launch an all-sports network this summer. ESPN is printing more money than the U.S. mint, and that kind of success gets noticed in boardrooms.

That's why NBC has the sports network that shows NHL games, and why CBS just started a national sports radio network, whose programming airs locally overnights on 93.7 The Fan. Nobody expects to take down a monster as big as ESPN, but even chipping away for a piece of the action can be profitable.

The surprise is Fox's selection of Regis Philbin to host a daily show. Philbin is 81 and has no visible sports credentials beyond being a loyal Notre Dame fan.

Philbin, whose greatest success has come on daytime TV, seems an odd match for a network trying to attract young males. Then again, opposite ESPN screamers like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, maybe a comforting presence is smart counter-programming.

Special lesson

New Pirates hitting coach Jay Bell guarantees he can teach his hitters how to bunt. It would be even better if he could teach Pedro Alvarez how to avoid 180 strikeouts.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

 
 

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