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Hard to teach Steelers history

Commentary

October 27, 2013
John Mehno (jmehnocolumn@gmail.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - Professor Mike Tomlin was teaching history to the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.

According to players, at least one of the team meetings was devoted to a crash course on the animosity that has existed between their team and today's opponent, the Oakland Raiders.

Tomlin reached back to the 1970s, when the rivalry burned hot with on-field issues (George Atkinson clubbing Lynn Swann like a baby seal), courtroom issues (Atkinson suing Chuck Noll for his "criminal element" comments), and unfounded accusations (Al Davis went to his grave believing the Steelers let part of the Three Rivers Stadium turf freeze to neutralize the Raiders' passing game).

In between all of that, they played some pretty memorable football, including three consecutive AFC Championship games.

But will any of that register? Many of the current players are so young, their concept of the "old days" is Brett Favre playing for the Packers.

Ike Taylor, a relative graybeard, pointed out that he was born in 1980, after the Steelers' run of four Super Bowls in six seasons had ended.

Even Tomlin missed most of it. He was born in 1972, which means he was honing those snappy answers in elementary school when the Raiders were allegedly greasing their jerseys with Vaseline.

It's a rich history, the kind of thing that unfolds nicely in those NFL Films productions. Is it relevant to what happens today? Not really.

But when you're 2-4 and trying to salvage a season, it's worth a shot.

Bonus money

Much has been made of the fact the Pittsburgh Pirates will receive an additional $25 million in national TV revenue.

The problem is every team is getting the same windfall. When that happens, it usually means that salaries rise, which pretty much negates the increase. It happened in the early 1990s when CBS came in with bundles of fresh cash.

Suddenly top of the line players like Barry Bonds and Doug Drabek were making $5 million a year. That jump caused the Pirates ownership to freak out and get itchy to sell the team.

The Pirates will have more money to apply to payroll. So will the Yankees and Dodgers. This benefits the players, not Pirates fans.

New career

Remember Lacee Collins, the Root Sports in-game reporter who was abruptly dismissed during the 2012 baseball season?

She's now attending law school at the University of Arizona.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

 
 
 

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