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.

Preseason games not totally meaningless

Preseason games not meaningless

August 23, 2014

Don’t worry, NFL exhibition games are meaningless.

You hear that a lot after the Steelers throw up all over themselves in an exhibition game.

The Steelers sure did just that Thursday night in Philadelphia and I wonder what Troy Polamalu’s reaction would have been if you had run that “meaningless” theory by him just after his sideline tirade.

You remember that, right? He had to be restrained and calmed down by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau?

The game might have been meaningless in the standings, but the Steelers were trying to move the ball and prevent the Eagles from moving it on them. They didn’t do either.

And it didn’t matter which string was out there for either team.

It’s not a good sign when your defense can’t stop the opponents second-team offense, especially when it’s being quarterbacked by Mark Sanchez.

Nobody looked worse than Ben Roethlisberger and that’s saying something, but it’s pretty safe to assume that he’s going to play better.

The secondary is a different story.

If the officials call defensive holding, illegal contact and interference as closely in the regular season as they have this preseason, those guys could be in big trouble.

They might no longer be capable of covering a receiver legally.

• What are the chances of getting the NFL to pay me to watch the Super Bowl halftime show?

Or better yet, how much would it take to get the NFL to forget the 30-minute halftime extravaganza and just take the usual 12-minute break?

In case you missed it, the money-grubbing capitalists who are the NFL decided it’s time to ask the Super Bowl halftime performers to pay for the privilege

Of course, the first reaction from just about everybody is the NFL is greedy.

That would be correct.

NFL owners want to squeeze every dollar they can out of every man, woman and child in America and the dollars they can’t squeeze, they’re happy to have the government squeeze for them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the top choices for this year are Katy Perry, Coldplay and Rihanna. They wouldn’t have to actually buy the halftime show. They would agree to give the NFL a percentage of their post Super Bowl tour earnings.

Here’s hoping all the acts tell the NFL to go pound salt.

If nobody agrees to pay to play, real football fans might actually be spared the over the top, most likely lip-synched or auto-tuned 30-minute delay between halves and get the normal 12-minute break.

It took a few years before the NFL and various TV networks decided a normal halftime break was too short and fans deserved a concert instead of a long bathroom break.

The first Super Bowl halftime show featured the University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band, the Grambling State University Marching Band and trumpeter Al Hirt.

Super Bowl II in Miami settled for the Grambling band.

Super Bowl III, also in Miami, went for the Florida A&M University band and some local high school bands.

That was the year of the famous Joe Namath prediction, when the New York Jets upset the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. I don’t remember anybody saying, “Boy that was a great game, but when are they going to come up with a better halftime show?”

In the ’70s, famous entertainers such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Andy Williams started showing up but they still managed to work in some type of marching band.

As late as 1984, Super Bowl XVIII’s halftime show was the University of Florida and Florida State marching bands. Don’t remember any complaints that year, either,

The NFL closed out the ’80s with somebody named Elvis Presto and a bunch of South Florida area dancers at Super Bowl XXIII in 1989.

When did the halftime show take a turn for the worse for people interested in, you know, just watching the game? It was Jan. 31, 1993 and Super Bowl XXVII with Michael Jackson. The TV ratings went up at halftime and real football fans were doomed.

Let’s bring sanity back to the Super Bowl halftime show. Maybe the NFL could ask real football fans to send in a donation and if enough money is raised, fans who wouldn’t walk across the street to see Katy Perry, won’t have to worry about how to fill the 30 minutes until the second half kickoff.

The 12 minutes could be filled with an old standby act that would be more entertaining than most, if not all, previous Super Bowl halftime shows and it wouldn’t cost more than a couple hundred dollars.

A dog and a Frisbee.

• Le’Veon Bell had another game of averaging less than three yards per carry Thursday night against the Eagles. He does that lot. I was expecting him to run for a career high.

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



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