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Steelers could go Hollywood this season

Commentary

March 26, 2014
John Mehno (jmehnocolumn@gmail.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers may have some guests at training camp this summer.

The Steelers are one of the teams under consideration for "Hard Knocks," the HBO series that takes a behind-the-scenes look at one NFL team.

There are two criteria for being the subject of the show: The team has to have missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons, and the head coach has to remain the same through that stretch. The Steelers qualify on both counts, having posted back-to-back 8-8 seasons under Mike Tomlin.

Only HBO knows if the Steelers will be this year's team, but TV tends to like the Steelers. Even as their record has declined, they still show up frequently in national showcase games. The Steelers have a national fan base, and they have some big personalities.

Under the league's contract with TV partners, the Steelers have no choice.

"If we're picked, we're picked," general manager Kevin Colbert told KDKA-TV this week.

And if they're picked, HBO cameras and microphones will be everywhere. HBO has access for "Hard Knocks" that goes beyond the traditional media boundaries. Team meetings are recorded. So are coaching staff meetings. The cameras follow some players away from the field.

The Pittsburgh Penguins got similar treatment several seasons ago in advance of the NHL's Winter Classic. It makes for very interesting television.

It's what TV calls a "reality series," and like most of them, there's as much "reality" as the producers decide to include.

Colbert is a hockey fan, and he says he enjoyed the shows that featured the Penguins. It stands to reason he may not be quite as happy having the cameras pointed at his team.

The Steelers aren't nearly as open as they used to be, but they still offer more access than a lot of NFL teams. Bill Belichick's New England Patriots, for example, limit access severely.

It might be uncomfortable for the Steelers to be part of "Hard Knocks," but it would be a great bonus for Steelers fans.

SUBHEAD: Falling short

Andrew Lambo was given a great opportunity, and he whiffed.

Lambo was optioned to the minor leagues on Tuesday, failing to show enough to become the left-handed part of the Pirates' platoon at first base.

The Pirates never said so, but the job was pretty much Lambo's to lose. He lost it, putting up terrible numbers to earn his ticket back to the minors.

At the moment, it looks like much-traveled Travis Ishikawa, who has had good numbers in exhibition games. But he profiles as a 30-year-old who is with his fifth organization in five years.

The guess here is the Pirates are still looking for a better solution at first base.

SUBHEAD: One more reminder

The Guess How Many Games The Pirates Will Win This Season is in full swing at my "Mainly Mehno" blog at altoonamirror.com.

Get your guess in and you'll have a shot at winning the not-so-big prize. Full details at the blog.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

 
 

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