Archive for January, 2009

A Final Thought From Tampa ….
January 30, 2009

Dateline Tampa …

It’s a strange feeling as I wrap up Super Bowl week and head towards Super Sunday and the Steelers vs Cardinals. Here I am at the biggest party in America and there is nothing but bad news surrounding me. Every time I turn on the TV and watch local or cable news and each time I reach for the newspaper, I see it. It’s the grim economic news that is no longer shocking to the system.

Each day this week, while I have been asking Ben or Troy about Sunday’s game, there has been news of layoffs at major corporations. A few thousand here and a couple of thousand there. It adds up. At last check, nearly 100,000 people been laid off during the time I have been here in Tampa.

You also here the stories from other media members here. They talk about their companies where furloughs and firings have become the norm. It’s frightening to all of us because we really do not know if we will be the next one to be shown the door.

What makes it’s so difficult for me is that I hear this news every day before I go out and talk to athletes about a football game. Yes, the Super Bowl is important because it is the single biggest one-day sporting event in the world. That being said, whether Ben Roethlisberger will be nervous on Sunday matters little when compared with whether a father of four will be able to feed his kids. The Steelers drive for a sixth Lombardi Trophy pales in comparison with the fight for a small business to stay open.

Is it fair … or just … to have this exercise in excess amid these difficult economic times?

Sometimes I feel like Caesar fiddling while flames are burning all around me ( I think that is the narrative, correct me if I am wrong ). It’s just such a strange juxtaposition. Still, this is the Super Bowl and perhaps a chance for America to forget all its fears and anguish ,… if just for a few hours. For  the people of Pittsburgh, winning the game may not make their economic lives better, but it will make them happier …. perhaps until the recovery happens.

There will be a recovery, right?

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Super Bowl Thursday
January 29, 2009

I just got off the air with Jim and Randy from the DVE morning show on radio row at the media center here in Tampa. Those guys are fantastic and two of my favorite people in the world. They not only do smart, funny radio but have hit just about every Super Bowl party – and hit them hard.

As I joined them on radio row, I told them the story of how I went to media day with a red sweater vest on not realizing what it meant if the viewers saw me wearing it. I guess I did not think it was Cardinal red, but one of my producers clued me in. I have to say that while I do follow the team and want the Steelers to do well, I am not on the team’s payroll. I will wear Black and Gold from time to time, but I have a Steeler jacket in my closet and Steeler hat … and that is it. I’m a reporter, not a cheerleader.

Back to the big game and with three games to go, I think the players are getting tired of talking to the media … and I would say vice-versa is true. We spoke to everybody on media day Tuesday, then had access to everyone on Wednesday and will again today. Without a compelling storyline ( a.k.a. Joey Porter and Jeremy Stevens from Super Bowl XL ), there is little new to ask these players. This is when you start seeing stories manufactured from the smallest nugget or stories hammered ad nausea like Hines Ward’s knee. Even Hines told me he has had enough of it.

I am seeing more and more Steeler fans and the trickle turns into a downpour. I am getting the sense that Tampa Stadium will look like Detroit come gameday when the overwhelming majority of fans will be waiving Terrible Towels. I think Steeler fans will come out in massive numbers.

By the way, still looking to find my first person sporting Cardinal Red … other than myself.

New Pics From Tampa
January 28, 2009

Sorry to hear abut all the snow and ice back home. I wish all of you could be here. Not just to enjoy the great weather, but also the Super Bowl. In the meantime, take a look at some of the snapshots I have taken ( when  I have time ) here in Tampa.

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The madness of Super Bowl Media Day. Nearly 4000 media members.

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The Super Bowl Trophy on display at the Stadium. Photogs were all over this which is not big deal for us since Pittsburgh alreadyhas 5 Vince Lombardi Trophies.

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 Head Coach Mike Tomlin talking to the media crush at Media Day

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This Steeler fan just arrived from Pittsburgh – without tickets – and is waiting at the team hotel for autographs.

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Little Ben? Nope, just another young Steeler fan decked out in Black & Gold and waiting for his heroes at the team hotel.

I wish I had more time to send photos and add commentary, but I’m really running non-stop. In fact, I’m typing this entry in the courtyard of the team hotel between live shots at 6pm.

Super Bowl Wednesday
January 28, 2009

I survived the Super Bowl media day here in Tampa.

While most consider it tame but past media day standards, I saw enough to give me nightmares for the next few days. There was a spanish-language reporter in a red evening dress, another spanish language reporter in a sexy cheerleader outfit interviewing players and yet another spanish-language reporter dressed like Troy Polamalu. It makes me wonder what I’m missing since I can’t get spanish-language TV on my cable system.

There were no really shocking details to come from the day, but there were so many players to talk to in the one-hour session I found very little time to snap photos. I’m hoping to upload some shots once I get to my laptop ( this is being done on my Apple Touch and it’s not easy ).

The weather has been tremendous and Steeler fans are slowly trickling into town. To be honest, the most creative tributes to the team have come from Pittsburgh based fans and not those here in Tampa. I have gotten so many e-mails and pics from fans on my blackberry with poems, songs and pictures like the one below from the Pittsburgh Public Theatre and the cast of “Metamorphoses” now playing at the O’Reilly theatre. Steeler Nation knows no limits.

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Steeler Fever hits the Cultural Distrtict: The cast from the show Metamorphoses” creates their own terrible towel to promote their show and support the Steelers!

With jsut four days from kick-off, I realize my work schedule down here has not allowed me to indulge in the tastes of Tampa. I usually get up at 4:45am to be on the morning show with Mike and Kelly at 6am. After that, its out to press conferences and interviews with the players all day. By the time we are done, its off to the team hotel to edit stories and sound bites for the 5pm news, 6pm news and our Steelers report at 7pm … as well as shoot and edit pieces for 11pm and the morning broadcast. My day is usually done by 9pm.

I’m so zonked at that point, I usually go back to my room and order dinner at the hotel and then crash at 10:30pm. I’m not complaining because this is life when you are at the Super Bowl, but I wish I could enjoy more of the experience.

Maybe even get in a round of golf.

As for the game, no predictions yet but after speaking the Arizona Cardinals coaches and players Tuesday I do get the sense that they truly believe they can win this game. They are a confident club just naive enough to not realize what is at stake. A 7-point  underdog, they have nothing to lose.

The other thing I am hearing is that the winning quarterback in this game may punch their ticket to the Hall of Fame. Either Kurt Warner of Ben Roethlisberger will win their second Super Bowl Sunday. Of the previous nine players to pull that off, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, John Elway and Troy Aikman are all in the Hall and there’s little doubt three-time winner Tom Brady will soon join them.

I’ll buy the Kurt Warner in the Hall argument because he has taken two teams going nowhere and, in a single season, made them Super Bowl teams. Big Ben? I still think its a little early … but he’s not even 30 and his career is even more impressive and successful than Dan Marino’s.

Once again, thanks for reading … and I’ll upload some photos later today when I get a momemt …. whenever that is.

Super Bowl Tuesday
January 27, 2009

Hello once again from Tampa.

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We survived the first day of Super Bowl week with no injuries and only a few minor technical problems. Yes, the weather is a s beautiful as it looks on TV. With the snow and ice that’s descended upon western Pennsylvania, I must admit its nice to be here.

The Steelers arrived Monday with the cool and confidence of a team that has been here before.Mike Tomlin maybe the youngest coach in Super Bowl history, but he sounds like a seasoned veteran as he talks about his team and what they have to do to get ready for the game this week. The biggest advantage the Steelers might have is the schedule leading up to the game. The Arizona Cardinals ( from the Mountain Time Zone ) have to meet the media at 8am local time each day while the Steelers 11am session is their normal time for media availability back in Pittsburgh.

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Elevator doors at Steelers team hotel – the Intercontinental

Still looking for those Steeler fans. There were a few at the hotel the Steelers are staying at, but for the most part its Floridians who have become Steeler fans and not people from western Pennsylvania here for the game.

Today, of course, is media day. For those looking for news and insights, its not going to happen today. This is the very definition of a media circus. Half  the people that will throwing questions at the two teams haven’t covered a football game all year and likely will ask some of the most inane questions ever like these gems from the past:

“How long have you been a black quarterback?”

“Who has the biggest booty on the team?”

“How will the weather affect the game?” ( Good question, except the game was played indoors that year ).

 

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Sally interviewing Mike and Mike from ESPN Radio

As for me, I’m just going to take it all in and try to enjoy a day unlike any other in sports, or journalism for that matter. Hey, don’t forget, we’ll be live at 5pm with the news and we have a nightly Steeler special at 7pm featuring former Steeler Merril Hoge who always has great insights.

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Steeler team meeting rooms at hotel – the Intercontinental

I’m off! Got to grab breakfast and then hit the bus for the media day madness!

Super Bowl Monday
January 26, 2009

Hi from Tampa where the weather is a balmy 79 today with clear skies and I am not about to apologize for that. After freezing my butt off at the inauguration, I think a little warmth is well deserved if I so say so myself.

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BIG Ben and little Andrew in Super Bowl Media Center

Our gang got in here about 6pm Sunday and checked into our hotel along the Tampa Bay, just a few blocks from the convention center. That’s the media center and, as you can see from the pics, they really do treat us well. We have a game room, refreshments, conference rooms and everything we could possibly need. In fact, if you are with the print media, there is no reason to leave the media center to cover the game … unless you want to see the game.

This is my third super bowl with WTAE and I can tell you I already enjoy it more than the experience in Detroit. It was cold and miserable in the Motor City and thank God we have the story of Jerome Bettis’ homecoming that year, otherwise we would have had little to get us through that experience save for the game.

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They have a pool table in the media center … and I beat Sally two games out of three.

Tampa is doing this first class. If you are coming down here, you will find people in red shirts everywhere to greet you and show you where to go. They have convenient brochures about everything happening in Tampa during the week. There are shows, events and parties. Best of all, the weather should be great for the game. I’m no meteorologists, but the local weather folks here say clear skies and temps in the 60’s for gameday.

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 They also have Madden ’09 for xBox.

Now, let me put my sports anchor hat on for just a moment. My early feeling about this game is not good. I have watched the Arizona Cardinals who have transformefd themselves into the 2007 Patriots in three short weeks. They have a dynamic passing attack, a solid running game and a physical defense. They do what the Steelers do – only better. The line right now is Steelers by 6. Based on that, I would take Arizona.

As for who will win? I’m sure my mind will go back and forth all week long, but right now Arizona looks like the team to beat. Now you might remember I predicted the Steelers would get here after the win over Dallas. I also said that Monday after the game I would not predict a Super Bowl win. That’s because I didn’t know who they would be playing. Now that I know, I’m a little concerned.

However, I have a whole week to talk to players and coaches. Check back with me on Friday when I make my “somewhat” fearless prediction.

Here We Go!
January 23, 2009

It’s hard to believe it was just three years ago we were bound for Detroit for the Super Bowl. Jerome Bettis’ homecoming, the “One for the Thumb” and the Hines Ward’s MVP performance.

Now, here we are again. Except this time, we are headed to a new location. The Steelers go south to Tampa to start to load up the other hand with championship rings. Once again, their opponent is a new Super Bowl entrant: the Arizona Cardinals.

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While we can never predict how the game is going to go, I do know one thing: It will be a week to remember. Great story lines, two very competitive teams and another city overwhelmed by the passion of Steeler Nation. Whether you are heading south for the Super Bowl or watching at home, enjoy the next week. It’s going to fun and we will be there.

Go Steelers! We will see you from Tampa starting Sunday at 11pm!

My View of the Inauguration … with Pictures!
January 22, 2009

Finally made it back. After staying up some 36 straight hours to work, travel and sit outside in the cold, I am back from the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

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The mass of people waiting into the perimeter at 7am.

Everyone I have seen has asked me the same thing: what was it like? Sure, we all saw it on TV, but there is something about being there that eevrybody assumes is different. Something that is more real and lasting. For this event, it truly was better to be there.

To begin with, there were soooo many people. From the crowds that crunched us and nearly crushed us as we waited to get in, to the National Mall being filled from the Capitol steps all the way to the Washington Monument, there were people as far as the eye could see.

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Hundreds off thousands waiting at gate for history to happen

However, unlike other gatherings throughout history, there was no anger and no unhappiness. There was joy, sheer joy on the part of the estimated 1.5 million people. They laughed and chanted. They cheered and cried. They were moved because, as voters, they had decided to move the needle and elect Obama President.

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American flags waving  in mass during the Inauguration.

I met plenty of people from western Pennsylvania. A group of school kids made the journey from Ligonier. There were boys and girls from Schenley High School. I met an active air force officer from Northview Heights and a woman from the city celebrating her 50th birthday.While I saw Americans of all races, creeds and colors, I saw perhaps more African-Americans than I have ever seen in my life. It’s obvious why so many people who look like me were in attendance, but never has so many taken part in this tradition. They waived their American flags proudly and many told me they were “proud to be Americans”. Now a version of that statement got Michelle Obama into trouble on the campaign trail.

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There were lines, but there were more than enough toilets

However, I think I understand what they were saying for the first time as they watched the final chapter of this improbable story play out before their eyes. African-Americans are feeling this pride because they can finally see the promise of this nation being fulfilled with the election of Barack Obama. Promise that for years they had been denied through slavery, bigotry and discrimination.

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The aftermath: The Mall was covered in trash, but volunteers and staff had it looking spotless in less than two hours.

As for me and my feelings? I have to admit I was touched. Sure as a journalist, you are supposed to be unbiased. However, I could feel that something greater was taking place that day. I could feel there was a seismic shift in the way our country looked at our government. I could feel hundreds of thousands of people believing for the first time they were truly part of the process.

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The North Allegheny Tiger Band making its way to the Inaugural Parade.

Most of all, I could feel the history as it was happening. I was not alive when a man walked on the moon, but I was there as a man of color became President.

I was there to bear witness to history. That is all any journalist can ask. That’s all any of us can ask.

Heading to DC … to See History
January 18, 2009

I will not be blogging for the next few days, probably Thursday at the earliest. It’s not because I’m getting lazy, but rather I am off the DC for the Inauguration and don’t plan to bring a laptop with me. Even if I had one, I don’t know when I would have the time or place to sit down and coherently type thoughts about perhaps one of the largest events this country has ever seen.

I will be heading to DC for WTAE  to cover the Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. Many are calling this “historic”, and it is for very obvious reasons. However, this moment is more than that. It has drawn people from all four corners of the country and all walks of life to our nation’s capital to see something very rare: history being made. It’s not often you know when history is going to happen and can book a flight to get there.

Now I know many out there saying here’s another member of the liberal press gushing over Obama. Let me say, for the record, I do not “gush” and as far as being a member of the “liberal” media, I’m in local TV. We don’t enough time to show our political leanings. I am excited because I missed Martin Luther King’s speech in 1963. I was not there to witness Richard Nixon’s departure from the Oval office in shame and I did not see the U.S. Olympic team win the hockey gold medal in 1980.

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This time, I know when history is going to happen. I even have the exact time … and I will be there.

The great unknown in all this is what will DC be like on January 20th. I have heard estimates of 2-3 million people in the nation’s capital to witness this event, but know one really knows. We do know its going to be cold and I do know a number of Pittsburghers will be there. Still, it’s scary and exciting to see how this January day will turn out. I do promise to take lots of pictures from my vantage point. I also plan to bring a “terrible towel” with me, so if you are going and you see a guy swinging a yellow towel, please stop me. Hopefully you are from the region and we can do an interview that day.

Please enjoy the day, no matter where you are, because it is history. It’s not about politics or race, it’s about a shared moment. Something that rarely happens in this country, but when it does, it makes for a memorable moment.

Changing the Name is No Game
January 15, 2009

It seems a little hokey and goofy at first. The Mayor of Pittsburgh dropping the “Raven” from his last name – replacing it with “Steeler” – and changing his name for AFC Championship game week to Mayor Luke “Steelerstahl”.

However, it became very clear as the day went on the Mayor’s decision to play along with a local radio station promotion was a stroke genius and a public relations coup.

Good publicity is what every politician seeks … and Mayor Ravenstahl received it on a national level when he became the youngest mayor of one of America’s oldest cities. He was interviewed on radio stations nationwide and made an appearance on “Letterman”. However, the buzz cooled after that – as did the mayor’s profile. Most recently, as many as three people believe Ravenstahl is ripe to fall and are, or are considering, putting their hats in the ring at a run for mayor.

Then along comes the AFC Championship – and the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, every political figure is looking to get in on the action – usually in the form of a bet with his or her opposite in the other  city. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh’s mayor, his opposite in Baltimore was just indicted by a grand jury. Not the person with which you want to make a playoff bet.

So a local radio station comes up with an idea – why not change the name of the Mayor for the week? Make “Ravenstahl” into “Steelerstahl”. They even have some history behind the move. Turns out “stahl” in German means “steel”. So today, the mayor legally changes his name, going through the formal procedure to make it official.

Well what might draw a chuckle, and perhaps fire up a few fans, hit the news wires later Wednesday morning … and then it took off. In our days of instant information and 24/7 news, you could not turn on your tube or radio without hearing about the new name of Pittsburgh’s mayor.

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You can call him Mayor “Steelerstahl” for the week.  ( Courtesy Pittsburgh Tribune-Review )

From national sports talk radio, which played the stunt for laughs, to CNN and Fox News, the Mayor’s name … and new name .. were everywhere. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann puts the mayor’s move on his nightly “best” list. At last check, I goggled 138 articles about the story.

So why do I call it a stroke of genius? Whether the Mayor came up with the idea or not, it wound up playing into the stereotype that people outside of Pittsburgh have of the city: a town where football rules above all else. It also puts the mayor’s name back in the national conversation – at least for a day. Finally, it puts the spotlight on Pittsburgh in an ultimately positive way.

It may never win him national office, but when people outside our region think about Pittsburgh, mayor Ravenstahl’s name cannot help but come up.

I’m sorry. Make that mayor “Steelerstahl” … at least until Monday.

Steeler Nation: Relax!
January 14, 2009

I was at my desk and, next to me, a co-worker of mine sat down at called up some old Steeler video on YouTube. What did he watch? The final moments of the 1994 AFC Championship game when the Steelers lost to the Chargers in the final minute.

That moment told me all I needed to know about the fatalistic nature of  Steeler nation.

While we are passionate about our team and there maybe no more loyal fans in all of pro football, for some reason Steeler fans start to worry when it comes to this time of year. For that matter, worry seems to be part of the deal.

I cannot tell you how many Steeler fans,  male and female, tell me they are worried: Worried about the Ravens, worried about the ground game, worried about Ben having a bad game and worried about the offensive line. People, we are closing in on double-digit unemployment and we have all lost more than half  the values of  our 401Ks. Worrying about the Steelers chances should be at the bottom of the list.

Then again, I can understand Steeler Nation’s trepidation. After all, after being the team of the 70’s, they couldn’t do diddly in the 1980’s and between 1994 and 2004, they lost the AFC title game four times – all at home. It’s easy to get scared when your team can’t close the deal when they have home field in the game that will earn them a trip to the Super Bowl.

Steeler fans, I implore you, do not worry. The Steelers are the best team in the AFC and have won twice against Baltimore. More than a month ago, in this very space, I picked Pittsburgh to win the AFC and I am not wavering. I feel confident because I’m going on soldi facts and not hunches. I’m using more than a decade covering the Steelers as my inside information.

Be confident … and all will be well. Want something to worry about? Worry about how to get a ticket and a place to stay in Tampa.

“The Bachelor” Post-Show Analysis
January 13, 2009

OK, I admit it.  I’m hooked on the show now. I started watching last week and got caught up in the personalities, the silliness and the train wrecks. As you know, working at an ABC station, I have network programming on every set in the building. I can’t turn away from it, so I started watching the first episode of  “Dad Jason and the 25 women who would be his wife”. The field narrowed to 15 for Monday’s night episode.

My first impression: Jason’s a nice guy with a winning smile and apparently loves to walk around without his shirt. The last observation was not mine but from the other women who apparently had never seen a man without his shirt on before and went crazy for Jason.

He spent time with all the women in this show … and I said early on that Jillian and Shannon were my clubhouse leaders. They seemed to be the most normal of the women there. They didn’t talk about Jason as if he had just come from heaven and was the answer to their dreams.

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The Bachelor with Megan from Sewickley. I was stunned she got a rose, but it’s added some spice to future episodes

Some of  other girls completely freaked me out. Natalie brought the claws out early in this one and Raquel ( with the exotic appearance and sound ) actually stalked Jason and found him in the limo and professed her love for him. Then there is Stephanie who had everyone crying when she told the story of her dead husband. While I felt for her, I was weirded out when she talked about Jason as if he was the second coming of him.

Then, there is Megan from Sewickley. Once again, she showed the world why she has quickly become the most disliked member of  the group … and she found a rival in Erica who would go toe-to-toe with her and they almost had a Jerry Springer-like throwdown.

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The Bachelor with Jillian. She’s figured the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I think she’s the woman to beat.

That’s my general overview of show number two. The only thing that stunned me about the whole show ( other than the women acting absolutely silly and falling all over themselves for this guy ) was that Megan got a rose. What does he see in her? He didn’t even have a date with her. The other thing I noticed was the amount of crying taking place. Shannon cried a bit before going out on her date because Jason kissed the first girl he went out with. Natalie started crying because Jason kissed some other girl and this one girl who didn’t get a rose at the end not only crxied, but admitted to quitting her job before coming on this show.

I know it’s early in the program, but I am going to pick Jillian as the women who will win the bachelor’s heart. She seems to be the kind of girl every guy would love to be with. She’s pretty without being over the top. She’s humble but she’s no pushover. She’s sweet without being sappy.

That’s my overview of show number two. Feel free to discuss, criticize or analyze. Now back to being a guy and getting ready for the AFC Championship.

My Favorite Time of Year
January 12, 2009

I think I have mentioned time and time again that the question I am always asked by viewers and people I run into when I walk down the street: Do you miss sports? I kind  of think of it as a strange question since I haven’t been a sportscaster at WTAE since June 2006.

However, I can answer in the affirmative to that question when this time of year comes around. When the NFL playoffs are in progress, I do miss covering sports. This is my favorite time of year and the one time during the year when I do miss what I did for 15 years of my professional career.

It’s more than just the football games that I miss. I spent Sunday in the stadium watching the game – as a fan. I had a beer, ate chicken fingers and yelled for the Steelers. It’s an odd feeling after spending every Sunday in the press box quietly taking notes as a I watched the contest. While I enjoyed the game, I miss being in the locker room after the game and doing interviews. I miss following a group of guys and getting to know them during the season and watching the journey from training camp all the way to the playoffs.

I do have a front row seat to see how the playoff atmosphere captures the region. From the pep rallies to the merchandise purchases, it’s amazing to watch how a city becomes one and unites behind a team. At least as a news anchor, I get to tell those stories each night but not quite in the same way I did when I was a sportscaster.

I do consider myself privileged to cover the Steelers are ride along with the town as this team advance to 5 AFC Championship games and two Super Bowls as a sportscaster. I’m sure I will have that same opportunity as a news anchor as the Steelers play in next week’s AFC Championship and, hopefully, the Super Bowl. However, it’s not quite the same as it was when I was in sports.

Still, if the Steelers do win that “six pack” championship in three weeks in Tampa, it will be just as enjoyable as being there for their win three years ago in Detroit.

Pittsburgh’s Secret Ingredient
January 9, 2009

There’s a great article in the New York Times today about the Pittsburgh economic renaissance. Entitled “Pittsburgh, There Is Life After Steel“, the story tells its readers about how Pittsburgh recovered from its steel industry collapse of the 1980’s to become one of the nation’s few thriving economies in this current recession.

There really is nothing new in there – as far as Pittsburghers are concerned. The spotlight is placed on the city’s thriving medical and educational industries, on the diversification of the local economy and the fact that Pittsburgh never saw real estate prices skyrocket during the good times. Thus, they are not seeing the plummeting home values others are seeing across this nation. It also credits the western Pennsylvania worker who has chosen to stay and reinvent themselves, learning new skills that will do them good in this new economic reality.

All that being said, I personally think the author missed on other key that allowed this region to stay very livable at a time when economic Armageddon is facing the rest of our country. That secret ingredient: the ability to give to the common good.

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Recognition for a fund-raising job well done at the CFC event Thursday in Pittsburgh: Government employees raising nearly $1 million for charitable causes. The selfless spirit of our region on display.

I will give you an example I witnessed today on the 31st floor of the old Alcoa building. The Combined Federal Campaign is a national effort on the part of  Federal employees to raise money for various charities of their choosing. Today, the local CFC effort reached its culmination with the 3 Rivers CFC Awards event. Mary Beth Buchannan, the U.S. Attorney for western Pennsylvania, served as chairman of the committee and Amy Irvin is the region’s campaign director.

Using funds raised and contributed through the efforts of employees with the IRS, Military, Post Office, Office of Veteran Affairs and many civilian workers in this region alone, they were able to raise nearly one million dollars. With this money, the organizations made donations to many charitable organizations in our region.

It’s just another example – as one of the award winners pointed out – of people in this region coming together. Even when times are tough, western Pennsylvanians have a way of helping their neighbor. Whether its money, time or resources, we seem to always be there for one another. As I have said many times before, while other parts of  this nation have more people and more money, no one has more heart than the people of our region.

So when the New York Times suggests in the article that Pittsburgh could be a model for post-recession success, I would add that the formula that they have cited should also include the human element we have.

The selfless spirit of western Pennsylvania.

Too Good Not to Be True
January 8, 2009

There are days I cannot create blog material than what’s really happening in this insane world of ours. Let me give you two specific examples of truth being better than non-fiction:

Cookie Monster Chooses to Eat Healthy

I had not watched “Sesame Street” in a few years but seeing that the live stage show was in town, I had to make a quick visual trek back to my favorite childhood neighborhood. I turn on the TV and low and behold there is Cookie Monster calling cookies “a sometimes food”.

What the hell?

Turns out, after some research, the politcally-correct and health conscious among us decided a few years back to turn the world’s best known dessert eater in a calorie-conscious chomping machine. He talks about fruits and veggies while only occasionally chomping down on a cookie.

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The show’s producers say they want to teach our young children good eating habits and believe slimming down Cookie Monster’s caloric intake will do that. I guess, but it’s a fictional TV character. I knew that at age 6. Just looking at Cookie Monster should convince any child not to consume a dozen cookies. Do you think they really want to be blue and overweight?

 

Will Congress Bailout the Porn Industry?

How often during this economic downturn have we all joked about asking Congress to bail us out? Well look who is dead serious about a financial aid package:

     “Adult-entertainment moguls Larry Flynt and Joe Francis said Wednesday they are asking Washington for a $5 billion federal bailout, claiming the porn business is suffering from the soft economy.”

The above excerpt is from the Associated Press and it’s an actual news story. It may sound like a joke, but these guys are serious. They say they have seen their profitable industry hit hard times like all others, quantifying it by saying the industry has seen its revenue decline from $18B just three years ago to just over $5B this year.

I laughed at this when I saw it too, until I realize its no different than the car companies and the financial services industries asking Congress for a handout. Just like those industries, the porn business employs thousands of people and there are certain parts of economically-troubled California that depend on the tax revenue from the business. Prior to the downtown, the adult video business was one of the most profitable enterprises in this country.

While I hope this is all a joke and Congress will laugh it off, the truth is after seeing the government bailout enterprises that haven’t been profitable for years I would not put it past them to cough up $5B to help a business that actually has turned a profit …. albeit in backrooms and adult bookstores.