John Steigerwald

Column John Steigerwald

John Steigerwald has been a fixture of TV, radio, and newspaper sports in Pittsburgh, and has a Sunday column in the Observer-Reporter.

Birth of Roethlisberger’s child shouldn’t be an issue

Birth of Roethlisberger’s child shouldn’t be an issue

November 10, 2012

To play or not to play. That’s the question that arose again recently when Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman let it be known that, if his pregnant wife gave birth on game day, he would miss the game to witness the birth.

It’s become a local issue with Ben Roethlisberger’s wife getting closer to her due date. She’s going to give birth to their first son in the next few weeks.

It would be interesting to determine how many billions of sons have been born on this planet without their fathers witnessing the birth.

It’s a relatively new phenomenon. I seem to remember a time when the father was the last person the doctors, nurses and often the mother wanted in the delivery room.

At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. Play a football game or see your son being born. Family always trumps work.

And 99 percent of the time it is a no-brainer. But sometimes, when a person accepts a position of responsibility and leadership and the money that goes with it, he should understand that other people’s lives are directly affected by his personal decisions.

A guy whose employer is paying him $100 million to be the focal point of a billion dollar enterprise would be one of those people. That wouldn’t even include all NFL quarterbacks, but it sure would include Roethlisberger – and not necessarily Tillman.

The chances are slim that Roethlisberger will be put in a position to make that call, but if he is, he has to consider the work that his coaches and teammates have invested in the success of the team and the money that his bosses have invested in him and play the game. Fans are not a consideration, by the way. This isn’t about entertainment; it’s about commitment.

He can watch the replay.

n So Pirates owner Bob Nutting spends several weeks analyzing what happened to the Pirates the last two seasons – why and how they managed to engineer two of the worst second half collapses in the history of Major League Baseball – and he announces, on Election Day, of course, that there will be no major changes in the front office.

What would any Pirates fan expect? Free agency season is upon us, and his management staff has proven that it can find mediocre free agents looking for a sucker organization to give them one more paycheck better than any other front office in baseball.

Why change?

n Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau looks younger than any 75-year-old man has a right to look and, amazingly enough, in the last three weeks, he’s actually BECOME younger.

n Why are people – fans and media – so quick to come to the defense of kickers? Last week, Pitt kicker Kevin Harper missed a 32-yard field goal in overtime that would have beaten Notre Dame, and before the ball had passed a foot outside the left upright, the tweeting and the apologizing started.

“You can’t blame the kicker. Pitt had plenty of chances to win.” “If Tino Sunseri had done a better job playing quarterback in the fourth quarter, it wouldn’t have come down to a field goal.”

Well, it did come down to a field goal, and the kid missed it. The snap was high, and that might have had something to do with it, but the snapper, the holder and the kicker simply have to make that kick.

Of course you feel bad for the kid, and you feel bad for a 15-year veteran NFL kicker if he misses a potential game winner, but they don’t deserve to be let off the hook any more than any other player.

Kickers get scholarships and pretty nice paychecks to do something that coaches hope they never have to do. They exist to clean up after all the “if onlies.”

If only they hadn’t tried that pitch out on third-and-goal from the 2. If only the receiver hadn’t dropped the pass in the end zone.

Every kicker knows that he’s getting a free education or a large paycheck because of the possibility that some time, maybe several times, during the season, he’s going to have to come in when the offense fails and kick a field goal to win a game.

When he misses an easy one, he shouldn’t be spared criticism any more than a quarterback who throws a bad interception in the end zone while trying to score the tying or winning touchdown.

It should be noted that Harper hit a longer field goal later in overtime to give Pitt a temporary lead which the defense couldn’t hold.

n Nobody is enjoying the spectacle of Mike Vick’s career going down the toilet more than I am, but I have to say, he has no chance behind that Eagles’ offensive line.

n Halfway through the 2012 season, Bruce Arians of the Indianapolis Colts is the slam dunk NFL Coach of the Year. n Jason Bay was released by the Mets, who still owe him $66 million. He’s ready for his return to the Pirates.

n Chuck Tanner managed the Pirates in the World Series on the day that his mother died.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday sports column for the Observer-Reporter. His website is



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