Archive for January, 2007

Super Envy
January 30, 2007

As Super Bowl XLI draws near, Kelly and I could not help but remember where we were just one year ago – at the Super Bowl in Detroit as the Steelers captured the coveted “One for the Thumb” after 26 years of trying.

While the game was a glorious moment – as was the parade that followed– the week in the Motor City was not. Kelly spent mornings standing in sub zero temperatures in front of the team hotel in Pontiac, Michigan. I handled the chilly evening live shots. That’s also where we stayed for the week leading up to the game. Trust me – Detroit in February is not where you want to hold the Super Bowl.

The reason I recount this week is because it reminds me of a feeling I had shortly after the game. A feeling that was almost unfamiliar to me – a feeling was jealousy. I’ll explain.

I followed the Steelers that season from the start of training camp. Seven months of watching practice, talking to players and covering games. Seven months of experiencing the highs and lows of a season unlike any other. When they won the championship, I was genuinely happy for many of the guys I had gotten to know. It was wonderful seeing them reach the ultimate goal and that I had been part of this amazing ride.

But I got a different feeling when they got their rings. While it was wonderful to see the Steelers get their jewelry, it was somewhat sad to realize that you would not get one. I even had a jealous feeling. Not that I went through the practices and the games, but I felt like part of that team that made this journey.

But I am reminded of a line from a movie called “The Paper”. It starred Michael Keaton and Robert Duvall as leaders of a New York City tabloid. This gritty and funny glimpse into the newspaper business featured a quote uttered by Duvall. When speaking about a day he spent following around Pablo Picasso for a story, Duvall said “We move in their world, but it is their world and not ours”.

What does that mean? It means that as reporters, we get to witness history first-hand. However, we are only observers who have been granted access to their worlds. We are not a part of it. Whether separated by money, fame or fortune, these people live in a world much different from ours. While we have relationships, we are there only because of our professional roles.

Something I have tried to keep in mind when I shake hands with anyone in the Steeler organization – and that big Super Bowl Ring comes into view.

( photo courtesy of )

The "Ex" Files
January 26, 2007

I have never thought of Pittsburgh as a big city. Rather it’s a small town, where there are only three degrees of separation between you and the person next to you. I learned that lesson once again — twice this week.

Monday, I was doing a live shot at noon in the cultural district when I heard a voice from behind say “Hi, Andrew”. I turned and looked — and was startled. It was a woman I had dated almost nine years ago. We chatted briefly before she went on her way to her job at the Center for the Performing Arts. I could chalk all this up to coincidence – except deja vu struck the very next day.

While on a story with one of our new college interns, the young woman told me we had a mutual connection. Seems when she was in sixth grade, her best friend’s mother dated me. Wow! Flashbacks to almost ten years ago.

My wife, Sharon, used to call me a “serial dater” because these meeting have happened before when Sharon has been with me. I guess I did date a lot before finally getting together with Sharon eight years ago. In fact, you could call Sharon an “ex” because we actually broke up the first time we dated — then got back together when we realized we were meant for one another.

The point here is that dating – believe it or not — is like shopping: You have to try on many different sizes before you find the one that fits. I tell Sharon that I dated a lot because I was searching for that perfect person – and finally, I found here. I think she buys into it.

One more bit of coincidence: Those two women I told you about? Both were named Jane.

January 22, 2007

OK, I’m stepping back into sports for a moment. The topic is the story that everyone is talking about – the hiring of Mike Tomlin as Steelers head coach. Normally, my predictions are way off, but I want to show you my blog entry from January 8th:

“Of course, and you heard it here, do not be surprised if Vikings assistant Mike Tomlin gets the job. He is in the coaching mold of a Bill Cowher and this team has a history of hiring coaches who are often under the radar. Tomlin would be consistent with that coaching history — and would be the first
African-American head coach in Steeler history.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Click here to watch the video of Andrew’s report which aired that night on WTAE Channel 4 Action News.)

I just wish I had put some money down on this prediction. Truthfully, I did not do this to gloat, but rather say that the Rooneys did the right thing by hiring the man who best fits the mold they were looking to fill. If I presented you his resume and took you back in time 15 years, it looks the same as Bill Cowher’s credential list.

I’m excited to have a young energetic up-and-coming coach, but I have to admit that I am disheartened by the discussion on Steeler message boards everywhere – including here. People who have a problem because he is a black coach, and those who actually believe the Steelers hired Tomlin “because” of his skin color. Steeler Nation, let’s get a grip: Do you really believe this franchise – which is on the verge of another playoff run next season – would hire someone who was unqualified just to satisfy a quota? If you do, then some of you are not smart enough to understand the game of football to begin with.

We have two franchises — the Colts and Bears — which are going to the Super Bowl with black head coaches, and yet Pittsburgh is debating whether a black man can lead the black and gold. This is troubling because I have seen how open-minded Pittsburgh can be. For this to become a question of race makes our town – which is on the rise – take a giant step back to a time I’m sure none of us want to remember, whether we are black or white. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, let’s not judge Tomlin by the color of his skin but rather the content of his character — and his record next season.
Good luck

No Smoking Signals
January 19, 2007

Right off the top, thanks to everyone who has written responses to my blog. I know it takes time and effort just to read this — and even more effort to write back. Of all the blog entries I have written ( from my taste in music to newsroom hijinks )none has gotten more response than the one I wrote about my wife’s efforts to beat the addiction of smoking.

Sharon has made it five weeks – and seems to be winning this difficult battle without becoming a bear. While it’s her determination and effort that make it possible, you have had a major impact. Thanks to all of you who that have written messages of encouragement, suggestions and even your own personal stories. I have given all of these to Sharon and she has not only been touched, but has become even more determined not to lapse back into the habit.

One e-mail particularly touched us. A woman by the name of Lisa wrote to me and told me she had been on the verge of quitting. She said my frank discussion about my wife’s battle finally got here to take action. Lisa is now smoke-free for a month. It’s not only wonderful to hear Lisa is kicking the habit, it’s flattering to know my wife’s decision helped to get her in motion. Way to go, Lisa!

However, I read something yesterday that left me angered and disturbed. It was reported that tobacco companies have actually increased their nicotine content in recent years. No doubt an effort to retain the smokers they do have and get youngsters addicted at a faster rate. As a journalist, I’m never supposed to take sides, but I find this strategy insidious and hope the government will stand up to big tobacco and prosecute these “drug pushers in businesss suits” to the fullest extent of the law.

Good luck to all of you fighting to beat this addiction — and thanks for those of you who have helped the person in my life succeed in kicking the habit.

Keeping the Dream Alive
January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Day

For many of you, it’s a holiday and a three-day weekend. For me, it’s a day at the office but it’s also a day to celebrate a man who obviously has made a difference in my life. If not for Dr. King, I doubt I would enjoy the full benefits and liberties of American life. His dream of racial equality and harmony has been achieved — for the most part.

However, I received a reminder in the mail last week of just how far we still have to come. A postcard was sent – unsigned – from the Rochester area. I won’t say exactly what was written on the postcard but let’s just say it was at best unflattering and at its worst racist. It played to stereotypes and left me feeling somewhat angered and insulted. It reminded me that we still live in a country where race often defines our roles and how we are viewed.

It was the first bit of overt racism I have experienced since coming here 12 years ago — and that’s staying something about our region and area. Of course, I’m not naive enough to think that because I don’t hear it that racism doesn’t exist. As much as I wish the world was color-blind, I know better.

That’s what I have always enjoyed working in television news. Our newsroom is made up of people of different races and background – all working towards a common goal and purpose. Even on the set, our morning newscast represents what Dr. King sought to achieve. Look at the makeup of our crew – it’s two black men and two white women working as one with none having a greater role than the other.

I hope someday Dr. King’s dream will be completely fulfilled. I know we are heading in the right direction, but I also know we have work to do and miles to go before we reach that ultimate dream. Have a wonderful holiday everyone.

( MLK photo Courtesy: Associated Press )

Going Back to What I Know Best
January 8, 2007

I have purposely avoid discussing the topic of sports in my blog because I no longer cover the daily sports news, now that I am co-anchoring the morning news. That does not mean I don’t still have opinions, insights and thoughts on the games that people play after 15 years as a sports reporter.

Bill Cowher — the only Steeler coach that I have known — resigned after 15 seasons last week. While I believe his accomplishments are worthy of the hall of fame – someday – I was genuinely surprised as to how Steeler fans reacted to the news. I always thought there was a real connection between the hometown coach and the fans. But after watching some of the man-on-the-street reaction, I saw fans as indifferent and some even saying the time was right for a change. Think I’m not seeing the bigger picture? Consider this: Unlike when Jerome Bettis retired, I have yet to hear anyone chanting “one more year” for the chin.

I think this is because Cowher — while successful and consistent – failed to deliver more than one world championship. Remember, he coached the Steelers to six AFC title games – and only won two of them. In this town, we celebrate champions, not near misses. Remember: The Steelers best team of all-time ( by those who follow football history ) was the 1976 Steelers, but their failure to win it all leaves them as just a footnote in football history.

Who should get the job? I know Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm well having spent time with both of them away from the football field. I believe that one of them will leave if they don’t get the job and it’s my opinion Ken should be hired. Not just for what he would bring to the table as a coach, but also because unlike many of today’s sideline leaders he would not take off after a couple of season for the riches of another job. Ken realizes a contract is a contract and knows that being the head coach of the Steelers — if he does well — could be a lifelong job. Of course, and you heard it hear, do not be surprised if Vikings assistant Mike Tomlin gets the job. He is in the coaching mold of a Bill Cowher and this team has a history of hiring coaches who are often under the radar. Tomlin would be consistent with that coaching history — and would be the first African-American head coach in Steeler history.

Holiday Highlights
January 5, 2007

As promised — we snapped some photos of our Christmas week celebration. Before hitting the road, we took part in what’s become a holiday tradition — Shopping Day –scheduled every year for the Saturday before Christmas. This year, Ciao Baby in Market Square hosted a Saturday of food, drink and fun. Here I am with three of the founding members of the tradition – Tony Dias, Roy Powell and Bob Loch:

Sharon and I first journeyed to Chicago, to visit my mom and dad. We had dinner with them as well as my cousin, my aunt, Sharon’s cousin — and my brother, Brian. Here’s a picture of me and my “little” brother:

The best part of spending my holidays at home is getting to see my mom and dad. We usually get together a few times a year. Dad says he went to church as prayed for a grandson. No pressure, dad. Still, I love him and my mom. Here’s dad and I mugging for the cameras:

A Happy New Year to all of you and the special people in your life.

Take a week off … and look what happens!
January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!

I take one week off and look how much the world changes. We lose a godfather, a former President and a despot. They say these things happen in threes and such is the case with the deaths of James Brown, Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein.

We will always be able to enjoy the wonderful music of the godfather of Soul. Meanwhile, the death of Gerald Ford while not surprising because of his age was very sad because he is the first President I can actually remember. The years after Watergate were tumultuous and Ford provided calm leadership that helped guide us through the storm.

While Ford will not be remembered say one hundred years from now, he offers a lesson that our modern day leaders could learn from. Ford found consensus building the way to move the nation forward at a time of a deep divide. It would be nice of our leaders in Washington today could put aside their petty bickering, infighting and backstabbing and work together. That would truly be a tribute to the late President than these public tributes.

As for Saddam, I could not understand why there was so much ridicule of Fox News when they had the headline “Hanged!” in bold letters on the front page of their website. Some critics accused the cable network of celebrating the death of Hussein. Hello? Does anybody remember what a tyrant this man was? He was compared by both democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives to the anti-Christ himself – Adolf Hitler. Now, upon his hanging, suddenly some people are getting religion and trying to mark this as a somber occasion. Hey, I don’t want to see someone die, but if someone had it coming to them – it was this guy.

But all this pales in comparison to the story that rocked the world while I was away – Rosie vs. Trump. You could not escape the verbal confrontation between the Donald and the O’Donnell. Look, I don’t like Rosie but Trump is no better. Frankly, I would love to see these two locked in a cage and fight it out. It would make a great PPV event. Other than that, I could care less about these two fools and it’s a shame they get any press at all.

I’ll be back later this week with photos from my Christmas vacation in Chicago.