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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Another ridiculous NFL rule

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Friday column tracks the seriously important returns to the field of James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, both of whom did well enough in the Steelers’ humiliation of Philadelphia last night to have delivered the knockout blows late in the first half.

>> Sometimes it takes game action to uncover whether or not a rule works, so maybe the NFL should take heed on what happened after Polamalu’s interception: He returned the ball 36 yards, only to have Michael Vick, Philadelphia’s supremely athletic quarterback, dive low into his legs to make the tackle.

You should have heard the gasp when Polamalu went down.

He was fine, of course,  but some in the Steelers’ locker room fumed about Vick going low like that, especially in a preseason game. As Harrison told me, “You wouldn’t think he’d hit Troy like that if he was just trying to tackle him.”

That aside, the larger issue is that Harrison was the man who had the best chance to block Vick but “peeled away,” as he put it, because of the new rule.

“I don’t think that’s right,” Harrison said of the new rule.

Maybe someone else should do the lobbying with Roger Goodell, though, huh?

>> Here’s more from 43 …


>> I pushed a while back for Rashard Mendendhall to concede a few carries to Isaac Redman, and nothing I saw last night changed my mind. They switched off series, even early on, and both looked like they had a ton of jump, even behind a patchwork like that really didn’t do much. The Steelers have nothing to lose from a tandem approach, everything to gain.

>> Don’t underestimate the importance of the Pirates doing well the rest of the way, even though they’re way out of it. A big part of what they need to achieve out of this year is a bigger season-ticket base. That’s the lifeblood of the franchise. That’s what creates greater tension for single-game buyers to buy in advance. Ultimately, that’s what allows payroll to go up.

Believe me, the Pirates are aware of this.

>> Congratulations to the Islanders for backing off that stupid planned celebration of the Feb. 11 fiasco. Whether they were forced or not, it’s still a commendable move they probably didn’t have to make.

>> Here is our chat transcript from yesterday.


  1. Bunch of fair weather fans... says:

    Need more guys with this kind of approach year-in and year-out.

  2. Baywatch says:

    Thanks for posting that, Bunch! Really encouraging. Actually, he’s another one I’ve wondered, “Why has he had to stay there all season?”

  3. Dave says:

    I’ve been a fan of your work for a long time now, and agree with many of your positions. However, I have to respectfully disagree with your stance that we all need to formally move on from calling Bob Nutting and the Buccos cheap (column on Aug. 17). I will certainly concede that Nutting has spent a great deal over the past couple months. However, after years (and sorry, but I count back beyond 2007, which we can also agree to disagree on) of attempting to do things on the cheap, I’m not ready to embrace this new-found willingness to spend as a long-term change of direction. As I have written for a number of years now, the Bucs have to do what they are doing to cover lost ground…putting forth equal effort to other teams will mean only slight improvement. Going above and beyond is required. Nutting has done that for a couple months, but the jury is still out on many things, including Nutting’s cheapness.

  4. Happy G says:


    I couldn’t agree more. It was a scary, scary interception return. I was yelling for Troy to get down. And then Vick went low. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if Vick would have suffered a concussion by going in with his head like that? The NFL’s new rule not allowing the QB to be hit on a turnover freed Vick up to make that play. That said, I’m glad both came out of that play healthy.

  5. JAL says:

    JAL’s Sultans of Swing Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3-Pirates Prospects

    Draft Picks Signing Tracker

  6. JAL says:

    7 Rumbunter

    Pirates Rewind: Forgotten Gerrit Cole Quotes

    Billboards, Most Valuable Blog Voting, and RumBunter Did What?

    8 Ohio Valley Athletics

    Righty Reliever Wood Traded to the Rangers

    9 Pirates Tavern

    The Pittsburgh Pirates Continue to Keep Their Word While Closing Out Another Draft

  7. JAL says:

    10 Bucs Dugout

    Minor League Open Thread: Robbie Grossman Draws 100th Walk

    11 Green Weenie

    Working Overtime


    13 Bradenton Times

    Robbie Grossman Makes History in 3-1 Marauder Win

    14 Time Magazine

    Why Baseball Is Avoiding Other Sports’ Labor Woes,8599,2089514,00.html

  8. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    1-Behind the Steel Curtain

    Report From Section 539: Even From Afar, Steelers Looked Impressive In Dominating Defeat of Eagles

    2-Steeler Depot

    Preseason Game 2 Recap

    Steelers Defensive Coverage Stats Preseason Game 2

  9. Curt says:

    The “Dream Team” was dominated last night. Is it too late to jump on the Antonio Brown train? He looks like a real threat.

  10. Drew71 says:

    I moaned and groaned this off season about the state of the Steelers’ secondary. Obviously I had forgotten how much the corners look when you have an active Polamalu back there, as well as effective penetration cutting down the time they have to cover.

  11. @suckmeter says:

    Polamalu played great last night showing his old reckless abandon that has made him one of the most feared safeties in the league. He also demonstrated why is would suck to give him a long term contract extention because it looks like he could get hurt every game, especially after he stupidly tried to return that interception through the middle of the field in a meaningless game.

    I love him as a player, but they should only talk extention if he can make it through the season healthy. That said, he should be third priority after Timmons and Wallace.

  12. Dubb says:

    You also quoted the Brewers GM about the importance of finishing 500 and getting that monkey off their backs so finishing strong and .500 is very important

  13. Naje says:

    Philly played awfully wild and reckless last night… lots of chippy play early in the game. Matthews at MLB was flying around pretty recklessly as were several others. Made me nervous watching the guys standing around after a play waiting for one of their guys to fly into a steelers player’s knees….

  14. chuck snow says:

    Well if you can’t hit the quarterback on a turnover then the quarterback should not be allowed beyond the line of scrimmage.

  15. diehard says:

    I never saw anything about the Islanders celebrating February 11. Did Garth Snow stop one too many pucks with his face? Is their ownership about 5 steps past moroninc?

  16. diehard says:

    Okay – I searched it – so the Islanders were going to host a viewing party for their fans to watch the game (as they are with 7 other games) that the MSG netowork is broadcasting over the summer. Still, it took the team until this week to realize this wasn’t really a good idea.
    Many pro-Islanders comments going on there. They obviously have very different perspectives on that night and the Johnson/DePietro fight from the previous meeting. The Pens started all but one of the fights apparently.

    DK: Amazing, huh?

  17. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    What’s up all???

    @JAL-Glad to see your links moved on over here. Thanks

  18. pghboyinca says:

    Speaking of ridiculous NFL decisons………Suspending Pryor for something that was done before he even enters the NFL? Something that was not a crime or he was never accused of breaking a law for? Is this an admission that the NFL and the NCAA are the ame entity? What is next the NCAA suspening a football player for finding out the kid had detention in high school for falling asleep during an assembly. I owul dbe shocked of the NFL players assocaition or Pryors own legal team did not challenge this.

    I am in no way a fan of Pryor or his actions but this is furthe proof that Goodall is an egomaniac who somehow fancies himself as the most important person on earth.

  19. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:


    At first I liked the idea, but you’re right. Goodell is running a dictatorship….

  20. Arriba Wilver says:

    The Pryor deal is a little more complicated than just Goodell. I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but did the NFL have to let him in the supplemental draft? Apparently not, although they might have gotten sued like the last time they wouldn’t let an Ohio State player in (Clarett?). From what I’ve read the decision on the suspension was an attempt to not have the NFL be a reward for breaking collegiate rules. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s not just about Goodell’s power. Also apparently Pryor and his agent (Rosenhaus) agreed to at least not appeal the decision if he were allowed into the supplemental draft. Pryor’s lawyer, however, is saying he will appeal it and the Player’s Association may be on board on that. I’m not saying any of this is right or wrong, just that it’s not just about Goodell being an egomaniac.

  21. Drew71 says:

    I understand the sentiment to want to do something to Pryor as much for manipulating the NFL (by purposely making himself ineligible after the regular draft to force their hand re: the supplemental draft). I do. I UNDERSTAND it. But i do NOT agree with the decision. Totally inconsistent with how other players have been handled. Are they going to enforce ALL college punishments now? If not, then how do you justify the distinction?

    Keep in mind, as one NFL exec said, the whole point of the supplemental draft is that IT HAS BECOME A DRAFT FOR RULE-BREAKERS.

    Respectfully, I disagree with you guys who are focused on whether Pryor violated law. If he had, that’s still prior to NFL jurisdiction.

    The issue to me is: He did NOT violate a National Football League RULE. There is no RULE against what he did when he manipulated (in a greasy kinda way) the NFL.

    Use the situation to CREATE a rule to bar this from ever happening AGAIN? I’m FINE with that. But just because you, the league, got caught with your pants down (missing a rule) does not give you justification to spank the guy who caught you. Desire to? Sure. I get that. But what you might want and what you should do are often different things.

    So I repeat, there is No NFL Rule Violation and therefore NO justification to take this action. No matter how greasy Pryor’s actions. And let me be equally clear: Pryor was manipulative in the worst sense of the word.

  22. leefoo says:

    Dejan…….Just wanted to let you know that your Steeler writeup made our Patriot News out here in Harrisburg.

    Hopefully, you get some kind of royalty?

    Royal Foo

    DK: Did they spell my name right?

  23. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Bottom line with Pryor/NFL is legality. I can’t recall the NFL taking a college suspension and carrying it into an NFL career.

    But man, I also can’t get past the idea that this kid getting five games is way, way out of whack with other NFL rulings for their own guys.

  24. JMB says:

    Draft spending talk


    Listening to Mike & Mike, the hypocrisy comes from the fact that Pete Carroll just plopped right into a job. I also read that this is over $2500, and OSU made millions on Pryor’s jersey sales.

    The kid isn’t a game changer, and I doubt he will start for anyone this season. However, this is egregiously unfair on many levels.

  25. pghboyinca says:

    JMB, You are hitting one of the msot egregious parts of the whole mess. Where was Goodell whne Carroll skipped town 10 minutes ahead of the sanctions against USC? The NFL and Goodell are pathetic in their hypocrisy and the way they villify young kids but let fat cat coahes play fast and loose.

  26. Arriba Wilver says:

    You guys are right about Carroll and the hypocrisy.

  27. Arriba Wilver says:

    JMB–BA in Callis’ article also lists the highest guaranteed contracts.

    Interesting thing in there, too, is it sounds like the Yankees and Red Sox have been paying the most over slot.

  28. JMB says:

    Of all the big Pirates I want to read about an ext, Tabby is ok, but he’s not my 1st choice.

    Cutch & NW would be my first two choices. At this point, Tabby looks more injury prone than ext. candidate, but it all comes down to the numbers. I have to assume this is a ridiculously team friendly contract.

  29. Drew71 says:

    I do not have a problem with the concept of an extension for the Tabster.

    That said, if it occurs, I still reserve to pass judgment – either way – based on the amount. There’s a difference between concept and execution. (See also: The Plan and most trades 2007-2009.)

    And THAT said, many times rumors get reported as near fact. Yes, heaven help us, even by the Professional Media. So that’s the extent of my comments on the matter unless and until it has become more concrete.

  30. Naje says:

    @JMB – gotta start somewhere… and given that Tabata may have been the easiest to lock up, it sends a message to the others that this front office talk about as a group: Cutch/Walker/Tabata/Alvarez. And you’re right about Tabata and his leg injuries/muscle pulls, etc, probably got a very friendly contract… which, in time, could be a good one to move if necessary.

  31. leefoo says:

    DK…..yes, they spelled your name correctly :)

  32. leefoo says:

    I’m with the opinion. I love Tabata, but its way to early.

  33. leefoo says:

    Did you guys see where Selig is ticked that we spent so much on the draft?

    I wonder if he gets this ticked when the Yankees and RedSox spend so much on CC, Tex and Crawford, etc?



  34. JMB says:

    I’m with you leefoo.

    Selig should focus on the Werth/Howard deals, the A-Gon signing coming after the luxury tax deadline, and the fact a few teams are able to spend 8x+ what other teams can spend on total payroll.

  35. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Foo: Where did you see that about Selig?

  36. Link Mendoza says:

    If the Tabata deal looks similar to the Denard Span deal, $3m per year average, then it is a great deal. Obviously still a lot of risk involved, but at that price it is well worth it. Whether it is a good deal or not will come down to what the final dollar figures will be.

  37. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @JMB: Nothing in there from Selig.

  38. JAL says:

    Selig not happy with Nationals either

  39. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @JAL: Where? There was nothing from Selig in there.

  40. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    It is kind of ironic that Tabata has been out for about a month and a half and quickly in a few days there’s talk about him wearing Clemente’s number, getting a contract extension, etc.

    How about being healthy and becoming a legitimate player?

    That said, I think he will be as good as the other, currently-more “hyped” Pirates like Walker and McCutchen.

    Because of his age and the hitting foundation he has, along with good speed and defense, he has a chance to be an all-around stud when he’s age 25 and up. That’s still a few years away.

  41. Pattonbb says:

    I like Jon Heyman’s stuff as much as anyone, but until I see actual quotes from Selig, who cares. There’s no way Selig comes out and publicly blasts the Pirates or Nats as examples of what’s wrong with the draft.

  42. JAL says:


    True, Selig not directly quoted. Story just says “sources” say that.

  43. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Patton, JAL: Yes and yes.

  44. Drew71 says:

    Correct guys. He’s too much of an evil genius to tip his hand before he pounces.

    And to be honest, even if he feels that way, it struck me as, well, odd that Selig would point out the teams in the room in that fashion, which might be counter-productive to any effort to build consensus towards hard slotting.

  45. AJS says:

    With hard slotting no way Bell gets picked. The only reason the Bucs got this guy was by taking the gamble and showing him the money.

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