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.