Well, folks, it certainly is the Silly Season. Two weeks of air time to fill up between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. But the report that I saw and heard yesterday really took the cake. And I think I saw it on NFL network around 11am eastern time....but there's a small chance it was on one of the ESPN channels. Anyway, the headline was that Dick LeBeau might not be with the Steelers next year. That was the "tease" before the commercial, and I laughed out loud and stuck around (the tease worked) to hear what line of bullshit they were peddling.
When they got back from selling Viagra or whatever, they got to the story. The "hook" on which they hung the story was the simple fact that Coach Dad's contract is up at the end of the year. From that, they pointed out that he is arguably the most respected Defensive Coordinator in the game and many teams would love to have him. He could kind of pick and choose. They also mentioned that he's not a kid anymore, at least on his driver's license. They didn't mention that he's in better shape in his 70's than most of us were in our 20's. They also mentioned something about maybe being offered a head coaching job, or something like that, but I didn't hear that too clearly. I was laughing too hard.
Then, having built up the straw man, they proceeding to knock it down. They pulled out a Steelers' press release that had been released in response to either their questions or the story. It quoted Mr. LeBeau. "I promise you, if I’m coaching, it will be the Pittsburgh Steelers," LeBeau said. With this defense, with this group of men, they’ll have to run me out of here."
In a brilliant piece of journalism, giving gravitas to this meaningless story, they actually showed a copy of the press release on the screen and highlighted LeBeau's quote. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
Don't worry about the "if." His contract is up, and while everyone knows he will be offered a generous new one, Dick LeBeau is a gentleman. He is not so presumptuous as to say he WILL be offered a new contract. Arthur Rooney II will make that decision. Of course, there is also the off-chance that, God forbid, Mr LeBeau will be hit by a PAT bus on his way to work. That's what the "if" is about.
We all know what Dick LeBeau thinks of his "group of men" and the Steeler organization. And we also know that the Steeler organization and his group of men - past and present - think of their beloved Coach Dad. We saw that on a special night in Canton, and we see it every week.
Coach Tomlin, when asked what he would say if Dick LeBeau were to come in and say he wanted to retire, responded that he would not be available that day to have that conversation. And I'm reminded of the conversation that Dan Rooney had when Superscout Bill Nunn came in to announce his retirement.
"You're not going anywhere," Dan Rooney told Bill Nunn. And more than a decade later, Mr Nunn remains on the Steeler payroll. That's the way the Steelers operate, and how they treat members of the family.
Dick LeBeau isn't going anywhere, either. As others have observed, they'll have to carry him out feet first.
But the main point of this post is not that Coach Dad ain't goin' nowhere. We all knew that, for sure, going in.
The point is that it IS the silly season. The cable sports networks have a ton of time to fill while they fight for ratings, and that's reason to believe even less than normal of what you see and hear. There's still more than a week to go before the Super Bowl, and there's a lot of bullshit out there being peddled.
In this case, they built up a story through their own speculation...a straw man, if you will...and then they knocked it down. And I guess it must have worked, because I stuck around to watch the story and even wrote this post in response.