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.

NFL teams not as picky as they used to be

April 5, 2014

Daniel Snyder strikes again.

He’s the owner of the Washington Redskins, and he turned one of the NFL’s great franchises into a laughingstock. Was anybody surprised when he coughed up the money to sign free-agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson? Snyder’s been throwing money at his ineptitude since he bought the team in 1999. Since then, he has had seven head coaches and three winning seasons.

There was quite a bit of controversy around Jackson’s release by the Eagles last week because of a story insinuating the Eagles were concerned about Jackson’s possible gang affiliation.

Jackson is known to flash the Crips’ gang sign every now and then.

Snyder proved a long time ago he doesn’t have a clue about putting together a contender, much less a winning team, and he also made it clear that he still thinks there is a correlation between spending and winning in the NFL.

We don’t know how many teams showed any real interest in signing Jackson, but it’s probably safe to assume that Snyder overpaid. He got himself a really good wide receiver, probably one of the top five in the league. But he also got himself, suspicions of gang affiliation aside, a bad guy.

Have you read or heard any complaints from Jackson’s former teammates on the Eagles?

There’s always the possibility that an immature 27-year-old will grow up when he joins your team, but Snyder made a $12-million gamble on a guy who, according to to Joseph Santoliquito of CBS Philadlphia, was not liked by his teammates and, according to multiple team sources including players, was “blatantly insubordinate, with temper tantrums, cussing out (head coach Chip) Kelly several times in front of the team … and was more concerned with his rap label than he was about winning football games.”

According to the story, many players were happy when they heard he was released.

Yeah, there’s a guy you want to guarantee $12 million of your money.

Put me down as a Chip Kelly fan, though it would have been more impressive if he had cut Jackson immediately after one of his tantrums.

• The Steelers guaranteed LeGarrette Blount $950,000 dollars to be their backup running back next season. They’re expected to use him in short-yardage and goal-line situations. But if you check out his highlights on Youtube, you might get the idea he could be and should be used for a lot more than shorty-yardage plays.

Blount’s nickname is “The Winnebago.” He might not make Steelers fans forget Jerome Bettis, but he could, if given the opportunity, create a running back controversy. He’s a 6-0, 250-pound back who runs people over, makes people miss and has surprising breakaway speed.

In the Patriots’ last regular-season game, Blount gained 189 yards on 24 carries and scored two touchdowns. He followed that with 166 yards on 24 carries against the Colts in the playoffs.

He also was suspended in college for punching an opponent in the mouth after a game and is playing on his third team in three years. So, even the Steelers have become less picky than they used to be.

• The “wooing” at PNC Park is one more example in a really long list of examples of the rapid dumbing down of the American sports fan.

• When you read stories about the NCAA protecting the amateur purity of its football and basketball student-athletes, keep in mind that 39 hockey players, who will be competing in the Frozen Four this weekend, have already been drafted by NHL teams.

• NBC sportscaster Bob Costas went on the Late Night show with Seth Myers Thursday and said America needs stiffer gun-control laws because of all the problems that have resulted from NFL players owning guns.

Costas needs to stop talking about guns.

• I heard rumors there were tailgaters outside South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium where defensive end Jadeveon Clowney held his pro day workout Tuesday. I was too afraid to confirm.

• How do you like Major League Baseball’s replay system so far? You ain’t seen nothing yet. I thought it was interesting that, during a Pirates game in which replays played a major role, home plate umpire Bob Davis was missing pitch after pitch and there was no way to “make it right” with a replay.

• According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers have signed the worst tackling safety, the worst cover cornerback and the most butter-fingered receiver who were available as free agents. The scary thing is that those signings might have made the team better.

• If you want to see why players not being paid is the least of college football’s problems, check out the story about academic fraud on this month’s Real Sports on HBO. My favorite was the football player at the University of Memphis who kept Dr. Seuss books under his bed to teach himself how to read. That’s Dr. Seuss as in “The Cat in the Hat,” which means that Memphis may have enrolled a football player who couldn’t spell football.

Or cat.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the



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