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.

That’s 15 yards for using code word No. 8

That’s 15 yards for using code word No. 8

March 1, 2014

I’ve spent the last several days trying to get myself to care about what NFL players say to each other on the field during games and I’m just not there yet. There is a movement afoot in the NFL to penalize players 15 yards for using offensive language, especially the “N” word.

Or will that be the only penalized word?

Will there be a list?

What if somebody says a word that sounds like one of the forbidden words? Will the league add that to the growing list of video-reviewable offenses?

Remember when football was a tough game played by tough guys? Changing rules to enhance player safety is one thing, but have players become so sensitive they need to be protected from in-game insults?

If the rule is added, I have a suggestion for the NFL Players Association: At your next convention, compile a list of code words and pass it out to all the members. Include everybody’s favorite insults, no matter how offensive, and assign a harmless code word to each one.

A player would understand that, when an opponent calls him, say, an “apple polisher” he’s really being called something else and he could respond accordingly. Let the game officials and the commissioner’s office try to decipher the code.

Or the NFL could just stay out of it with the understanding that a football field is not a “work place” no matter how badly anybody wants it to be one.

• The Mount Rushmore craze is really catching on. You know, who’s on your Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches?

Who’s on your Mt. Rushmore of NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL players?

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of the “Mike and Mike Show” on ESPN Radio came up with their NFL coaches Mount Rushmore and it didn’t include Chuck Noll. Tom Landry, Don Shula, Vince Lombardi and Bill Belichick were on their mountain.

Noll did a better job than all four when he turned the worst professional sports franchise in the history of North America into the best NFL team ever.

LeBron James took some heat a couple of weeks ago for saying that he thought he should be on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore when he retires and he left Bill Russell of off his mountain.

You have to love Russell’s response:

“Hey, thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I’m glad you did. Basketball is a team game. It’s not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college. I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship in my last year and nine in between. That, Mr. James is etched in stone.”

In writing that’s known as a monster dunk.

• Thursday night’s Penguins telecast included a shot of a statistics sheet from Mario Lemieux’s team when he was 12 years old. It showed Lemieux with 155 goals in 65 games. He was pretty good.

• Have you looked at your cable TV bill lately?

Wonder why you’re paying so much?

Did you know that ESPN charges your cable company between $4.50 and $5.00 per month for every subscriber?

The cable company is charged varying amounts by every one of those 150 channels on your menu. If you’re reading this column, chances are you like having ESPN, and maybe you don’t mind paying four or five bucks a month to get it.

But what about the huge numbers of people who couldn’t care less about sports? They can’t get the stations they like to watch without also footing the bill for you to have ESPN.

The Los Angeles Dodgers unveiled their new 24/7 channel last week and they are charging cable companies $4.50 per subscriber. Not all the cable companies are willing to raise their customers’ bills that much, especially when they will have to raise prices for people who couldn’t care less about baseball.

The Dodgers, of course, have a website called and they are asking people to make sure they contact their cable company and let it know that they can’t miss their Dodgers.

What’s in it for the Dodgers? How about $8.6 billion for 25 years?

What’s in in for the millions of Southern California cable subscribers who have zero interest in Dodgers baseball?

A higher cable bill.

• What would be the baseball equivalent of a 12-year-old scoring 155 goals in 65 hockey games?

I’m thinking it would be about the same as a 12-year old kid hitting 150 home runs in 65 games.

• Pat Hickey, long time columnist for the Montreal Gazette and a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, said this when I asked him to describe what winning the hockey gold medal meant to Canadians: “Toronto is a huge city and the traffic there is as bad as any large city in North America. On Sunday morning, the roads were virtually empty.”

Did you notice any difference in the local traffic last Friday when the United States played Canada?

• ESPN is available in 85 percent of the households in America.

How would you like to be getting $4.50 from every one of those households every month?

That’s a nice chunk of change coming in before a minute of advertising is sold.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.



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