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.

Do us a favor and boo Barry Bonds

Do us a favor and boo Barry Bonds

March 29, 2014

Please, boo Barry Bonds.

The Pirates invited Bonds to Pittsburgh for Opening Day to distract from and besmirch the presentation of the National League MVP award to Andrew McCutchen.

What’s next? A statue, complete with an oversized head, to be placed next to Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente in front of PNC Park?

If you are in the stands at PNC Park, do Pirates fans everywhere a favor and boo your lungs out when he is introduced. Not because he left Pittsburgh for big money. That’s what the Pirates’ stars always do eventually, thanks to Major League Baseball’s stupid economics.

Boo him for what he did while he was here.

Not the home runs and MVP awards.

Not for giving centerfielder Andy Van Slyke the finger when Van Slyke motioned for him to move toward centerfield just before that hit by Francisco Cabrera in 1992.

Not for anything he did or didn’t do on the field. Boo him for the way he treated people who worked for the Pirates. Boo him for all the requests he turned down to sign items for charity fundraisers.

Maybe you could boo him for refusing to sign items to raise money for the family of a PNC Park groundscrew worker, who was killed in a car accident.

Just boo him, please.

Nobody ever deserved it more.

• A union for college football players? What could go wrong?

I’ve been in a few unions and benefited from them all, but I’ve also seen some things that could cause problems on a football team.

Jurisdiction: The union contract, in order to protect jobs, might have to put a limit on what certain employees can do. For example, offensive tackles might have to be limited to, say, three tackle-eligible plays per season to protect the tight ends. The number of option passes thrown by running backs will have to be limited in order to protect quarterbacks’ jobs. Only a union certified long snapper should be allowed to snap on field goals and extra points.

Kickers will be protected by putting a limit on the number of fake kicks.

And a good union would put a limit on the number of blitzes required of linebackers and defensive backs. That can be dangerous and the exertion could shorten someone’s career.

If the head coach is upset and wants to prolong a practice, we’re going to have to provide overtime pay.

I guess halftime would cover the mandatory 15 minute breaks.

Then, there’s the issue of seniority.

Seniors get first crack at any open job. The coach will no longer be able to award work based on anything as subjective as merit. The most senior quarterback gets the start. If the coach doesn’t like the way he is playing, he won’t be able to yank him from the game. The union steward would have to be consulted, and the quarterback would have the right to a hearing in front of a sideline arbiter.

If the temperature drops below freezing, players will have to get hazard pay.

Two weeks paid vacation.

Here’s hoping Northwestern’s football team beats the school’s appeal and unionizes as soon as possible.

The NCAA deserves it.

• How long will it take DeSean Jackson to get another job?

He was one of the best wide receivers and most dangerous offensive threats in the NFL the last five years, and he flourished in Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia last season. The Eagles were shopping him since the season ended, and there were no takers. According to a report on, Eagles management was concerned about Jackson’s association with gang members. The investigation revealed that “a number of Jackson’s associates were either linked to or charged with two gang-related murders from 2010-2012.”

Jackson, of course, denies any affiliation with a gang. But NFL teams don’t just release one of the best offensive players in the league.

You may or may not believe’s story. The Eagles probably do.

Do you think Jackson’s possible gang affiliation came up when the Eagles were shopping him around? Or did the Eagles forget to mention that?

And now that the allegations are out there, along with the reports that Jackson was a bad teammate, who was often late for meetings because he was hanging out with his friends, how long will it take for another team to throw several million dollars in guaranteed money at him?

Will former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who’s been sitting in a 9x7 cell for the last nine months waiting for his murder trial, make teams a little less likely to take a flier on Jackson?

I wouldn’t bet on the Steelers bringing him in for an interview any time soon, but somebody will sign him.

I can’t wait to hear from the owner of the team that signs him at the introductory news conference.

In a sane world, a 27-year-old guy with this kind of baggage would never find anybody willing to guarantee him a dime to play another down of football.

But then …

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter



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