Steeler pregame show worth listen


Getting ready to watch the Steelers-Kansas City Chiefs playoff game tonight?

Before you do, listen. Seriously, find the Steelers pregame show on radio, about 45 minutes before kickoff if you can, and listen to the question-and-answer session with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and reporter Bob Labriola.

While the coach’s pregame Q-and-A session was long the province of play-by-play man Bill Hillgrove, Labriola has been handling the assignment more often this season.

Both are proven veterans covering the team, but Labriola elicits a little more from the coach.

Last week’s best example came when Labriola himself shunned an easy storyline.

He asked Tomlin if cold weather was less a factor in games anymore because of better athletic apparel.

To his credit, and with a dose of honesty, Tomlin agreed that was the case and added another caveat. He said almost all stadiums have heating systems under the turf these days, so that makes cold weather even less of a factor.

The give and take was good. Not earth shattering, but at least honest, getting away from a cold weather cliche. It was good radio.

In fairness, Labriola misses sometimes, and he did on a different question last week.

That was when he asked how the Steelers’ 5-1 record in division play would translate to the playoffs. Well, since the division includes the hapless Browns and underachieving Bengals, it was hard to believe 5-1 meant as he intimated.

The question sounded like a softball.

Still, that’s nit-picky and rare. For folks who want to “see” the Steelers better, listening first is a good idea.

Tuner tidbits

n     One thing the national championship game again proved, despite the number of ESPN outlets, was that the specialized on-air spot of football rules analyst generally remains an uninformative, untalented wasteland. Aside from standout Mike Pereira at Fox Sports, nobody does the job well. The rules analyst is a good idea but it falters when the analysts do not make their points effectively or quickly.

n With the Steelers game on NBC, the “Sunday Night Football” duo of Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth gets the assignment. Many consider them one of the sport’s best duos. They might not be my No. 1 pairing, but Collinsworth certainly ranks as one of the NFL’s top color commentators.

Sampsell comments on TV and radio for the Mirror. He can be reached at