´ Steel Curtain Rising: Watch Tower: Plain Dealer Provides Excellent Coverage on Bill Cowher, Chuck Noll

Who Deserves the Game Ball for Steelers Victory Over Panthers?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Watch Tower: Plain Dealer Provides Excellent Coverage on Bill Cowher, Chuck Noll

It would be an exaggeration and an overly harsh to suggest that the Post-Gazette might want to discontinue cross linking to the home town papers of Steeler opponents, but the truth is that this practice treats Steelers fans to some very interesting reading.

This past week against Cleveland provides the perfect example.

The Post-Gazette linked to several stories from the Cleveland Plain Dealer that should have left more deliberate readers of the PG’s Steeler coverage scratching their heads. The out of town paper quite simply provided superior coverage in the lead up to the Browns game when it came to reporting on how the Steelers-Browns rivalry related to former Steelers coaches: Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll.

The Bill Cowher Chronicles

Its been little secret that the Browns ownership was going to clean house at the seasons end, and its even clearer that the Browns wanted Bill Cowher to return to the place where he first cut his teeth in the NFL.

Cowher coaching in Cleveland is every Steelers fans worst nightmare, and its been the subject of numerous fan questions in polls and on-line Q&A's run by the Post-Gazette.

Yet, the Post-Gazette did not actually run any stories on the subject, at least until Cowher officially asked not to be considered for the Cleveland coaching positions.

  • The Plain Dealer ran multiple stories on the subject.

That fact is not eye catching in-and-of-itself as the issue had more pure news value in Cleveland than it did in Pittsburgh.

But it’s the angle that the Cleveland stories took that made them significant.

One story quoted Dan Rooney at length, with Rooney expressing his admiration for Cowher, acceptance that Cowher might coach again, while sharing his doubt that Cowher would coach for Cleveland.

All very interesting, interesting enough to make you wonder why didn’t this make news in Pittsburgh? Its not front page material, but Dan Rooney does not give interviews every day of the week, and he was talking directly about the possibility his former coach of 15 years going to the Steeler's historic rival. That qualifies as news to me.

  • The Plain Dealer’s coverage didn't stop there.

They also ran another article where several members of the Steelers locker room were interviewed, and several of them went on the record explaining that they simply couldn’t see Cowher coaching for the Browns. Again, not front page material, but one has to wonder why the Post-Gazette never reported on this.

In fairness, these reports were written by the AP’s Alan Robinson, who is based in Pittsburgh, and not someone from the Plain Dealer’s staff, although that also drives home the point that the Post-Gazette could have ran these articles themselves. (Which they didn’t, at least not on line.)

Plain Dealer Publishes Must Read Article on Chuck Noll

Both the Post Gazette and the Plain Dealer ran stories about the Steelers Browns Rivalry, but here the Plain Dealer simply cleaned the Post-Gazette’s clock.

The Plain Dealer’s Jodie Valade wrote an in depth article on Chuck Noll’s role in stoking the flames of the Steelers-Browns rivalry. I will not do Valdade the disservice of recounting the entire article here, but the writer is a serious journalist who really did a lot of homework.

I’ve been voraciously following the Steelers for 21 years, yet Valadade's article taught me things about Noll that I never knew. Valade beat the bushes not only securing interviews with from former Steelers such as Lynn Swann, Mike Wagner, and Joe Greene as well as his mentor, Don Shula, but he also shares insights garnered from conversations with Noll’s former college roommates, relatives, and even people connected with his high school team.

In addition to being deeply sourced, the article features spectacular writing – you can imagine a Cleveland Browns fan reading it and developing sympathy for Chuck Noll, as outlandish as that sounds.

Valade’s piece is captivating and a must read for any serious Steelers fan.

All of this rasies a very important question, however. Why did devotees of the Black and Gold have to learn this from the Cleveland's Plain-Dealer?


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