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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: ‘Money on the board’


Brief and to the Point …

>> My Monday column looks at the NFL’s epic hypocrisy in suddenly being outraged by bounties.

>> Players paying players happens all over sports and, for the most part, it’s not a big deal. Even in the cases of these Saints and Redskins, a good portion of the money put up rewarded things like interceptions, fumble recovering, special-teams play and the like.

Happens in baseball and hockey, too. And if you need a reminder about the latter, the Penguins’ Matt Niskanen gleefully offered one Wednesday night from Dallas, two days before the NFL story broke.

Niskanen was being interviewed on the bench moments after the Penguins’ shootout win over the Stars. NBC’s Pierre McGuire’s first question — first one! — was whether or not there was “money on the board” in the Penguins’ locker room. Niskanen cheerfully replied that there was.

I’ll say it again: It’s not a big deal. This is highly common when players face former teams, to put up a reward for everyone else if they beat them. It’s a far cry from asking someone to, say, chop off Jamie Benn’s legs. I’d be stunned if James Neal and the Stars’ Alex Goligoski — the other components of that trade — didn’t have similar offers with their teams.

But it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the NFL’s ugliest bounty systems took root in innocuous events like these, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see all four major sports look strongly into eliminating all of it.

>> The Washington Capitals are a wretched, blessed mess. That is all.

>> The Coyotes are in town tonight and, just last week, that looked like it would be a huge challenge for the Penguins. Phoenix’s big Mike Smith went 11-0 with a .952 save percentage in February.

But all you to know about the Coyotes’ last two games is to listen to how disgusted these announcers sound after one of Rick Nash’s goals in lowly Columbus’ easy win the other night.

>> It takes some doing to be named Big East preseason player of the year, then not make the conference’s first, second or third all-star teams at season’s end. Ashton Gibbs was honorable mention.

>> A shout-out here to the Robert Morris women’s hockey team — that’s Division I, for those who don’t follow — won the College Hockey America championship Saturday for their first-ever league title. And they did so by beating No. 6-ranked Mercyhurst, which had won the previous nine titles.

Here are video highlights …


The men’s team had a hugely uplifting win last night, too, beating AIC, 4-3, in overtime of the decisive Game 3 of their first-round series.

If you’re wondering why more attention isn’t paid to the Colonials’ program, you’ve got two easy choices:

1. The local media barely knows the programs exist.

2. Those teams need to get off Neville Island.

One way or another, Robert Morris and the Penguins need to work out something at Consol, which has amazing capability to shrink its visible capacity through dark, heavy curtains.

>> My weekly appearance on the online-only TribLIVE Radio is today at noon. I can’t promise I’ll have much of a voice. Been five hellish days with this flu, with no real improvement. Really strange.


  1. Mark says:

    Pirates have agreed to terms with Andrew McCutchen on a 6 year, $51 Million Dollar deal late tonight! This buys out 2 free agent years. There is also a 7th year club option for $14 Million.

  2. Tim C says:

    Speaking of “Money” Pirates signed Mccutchen to a 6 year extension + option year! How sweet is that! Love seeing the money spent there. Now, Walker should extend hopefully soon and we are moving good! Thoughts?

  3. Mark says:

    Im very happy with this, it shows me something.

  4. Dan1283 says:

    Soccer gets bumped again! Blasted, cruel, cursed news cycle!!!

    Great contract for both sides. McCutchen is set for life now no matter what, but they’ll probably do another deal in 2-3 years. No way in hell is that option ever getting picked up.

  5. Dan1283 says:

    I have to disagree on the bounty thing on one point, which Ron Cook and others made on the sports showdown last night: When a coach is involved and handing out the money, you just can’t have that. Players among themselves? That’s a bit more of a gray area. Stupid, senseless, maybe, but punishable? Who knows. I guess you have to. What if one day it’s a $500,000 bounty on one player in the Super Bowl? I just don’t know. But coaches cannot be enabling, and especially encouraging, this behavior.

    What do you think should happen to Williams, Dejan?

    DK: Best answer I can give, Dan, is to give the column another look. I call the act “abhorrent” and seek a “harsh stop” to it. Asking what took the league so long is anything but condoning the act.

  6. grandpagreg says:

    The announcer for the Coyotes in that clip is Matt McConnell who was the radio voice of the Penguins in the late 1990’s. Tyson Nash is the disgusted one.

    DK: That’s Matt? I should have know that, actually.

  7. TJA says:

    No question…this is great news on the ‘Cutch deal for the Pirates. Nice to get him locked up…with Walker and Tabatha and a few other core players.

  8. mayhay22 says:

    Great news for the Buccos. This seems like a fair deal and I expect the PBC will end up getting the better of this deal based on my optimism about Cutch’s future performance.

  9. JAL says:

    JAL’s Celebrate Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker

    5 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

  10. JAL says:


    10 Toronto Star

    Toronto Blue Jays earn second spring win, 8-5 over Pittsburgh Pirates–toronto-blue-jays-earn-second-spring-win-8-5-over-pittsburgh-pirates

    11 Detroit News

    Small Talk: Tigers’ Lloyd McClendon on the Spring Training scene–Tigers–Lloyd-McClendon-on-the-Spring-Training-scene

    12 Bradenton Herald

    The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2012 exhibition season opened Sunday with many colorful moments.

    13 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Union leader says Braun leak won’t be repeated

    14 Denver Post

    Woody Paige: Baseball in the spring as good as it gets

  11. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    19 Behind the Steel Curtain

    My Friend Played Dodgeball Against a Couple of Steelers and Survived

    Remembering James Farrior, Aaron Smith, and Hines Ward

    In an Ideal World, Hines Ward Would Have Had a Send-off Similar to Jerome Bettis, but it Just Wasn’t Meant to Be

    20 Steelers Depot

    - James Harrison Very Interested to See How roger Goodell Handles Bounty Gate

    21 Steelers Gab

    Steeler Games to Cost More

  12. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    22 Pitt Blather

    Measuring Taylor

    23 Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Opens Big East Tournament Against St. John’s on Tuesday

    WVU Blogs

    24 Metro News

    Jones First Team All-Big East, Bryant Third Team All-Big East

    25 WV Illustrated

    WVU Advances to Semifinals with Win over No. 12/14 Georgetown

  13. JAL says:


    26 Pensburgh

    Mile High Mayhem: Enforcers do some scoring, Pens easily drop Colorado 5-1

    Adrian Dater is whiny and butthurt about Penguin fans invading Denver arena

    27 Real Clear Sports

    A Banner Day for U.S. Soccer

    28 Beaver County Times

    United knocks Tottenham out of league title race

  14. JAL says:

    Title song Celebrate, Three Dog Night 1975

  15. Jandy says:

    @ JAL ~ Celebrate! Good song, and that is what Bucs fans should do with the Cutch deal =)

    Is anyone as happy as I am that the Capitals are a “wretched, blessed mess”? ;)

    I gotta read the column on the bounties before I repond to that…here goes …

  16. Jandy says:

    Goodell is an unmitigated idiot. That is all.

    DK: Seems like there might be some company in the NFL offices in that regard. Lots of bad decisions tends to mean lots of bad advice in any work environment.

  17. JAL says:


    That is why I used the song, had another one slated for today but changed it when I saw the Cutch news

  18. JoeBucco says:

    Bad timing for your article today, DK. It’s baseball season! Miss you being full time in that department (your paper is seriously lacking in Pirate coverage department).

    But wowsa again for the Pirates to get Cutch signed and secured! Way to go Buccos!

  19. JohninOshkosh says:

    Pirate Countdown

    31 Days Until Opening Day

    74 Days Until UEFA Champions League Final (This was supposed to be in honor of Dejan’s soccer column)

    Thirty-one days until Cutch starts leaving bigger tips around Pittsburgh area restaurants.

    Countdown Comment: Yesterday, I was shoveling snow while listening to the Pirates. Woke up to Cutch’s signing. FO got it right. I love spring training!

  20. MSCulver says:

    The bounty thing is comical to me. The QB of my high school football team offered up a bounty to whoever on the defense could take out North Hills star LaVar Arrington back in 1996. The reward was a six pack of Iron City and a dance with his girlfriend, the hottest cheerleader, at the Prom that upcoming spring.

    Sounds like we broke two rules…..bounties and underage drinking…..

    DK: I take it you took top prize?

  21. Jandy says:

    JohninOshKosh ~ B’Gosh I HATE snow. Thankfully we only had about an inch here in Peennsylvania. Keep up the good work on the countdown :)

  22. bigfan says:

    The Niskanen interview was awkward. I dont think he really understood that question when he was asked it.

    DK: Sure he did.

  23. IC Heavy says:

    DK, I honestly do not care about the bounties as they are part of every sport from high school to the majors. But I do believe what you are saying about the hypocrisy of the NFL, but really what else do we expect, it is the most popular sport in the world, you try to keep your warts under wraps. I think the bigger issue is how sports sites are making a huge deal out of all of this like it is the most heinous thing in sports. The lawyer turned sports expert that NBC hired is trying to make the NFL look like the old-west with all of its lawless-ness. Which is ironic since he is single handedly trying to end the NFL as we know it and it is his financial bread and butter, but regardless this is only important to the writers who now have a topic to discuss in the off-season and maybe the IRS depending on how much undocumented money changed hands. For me it just doesn’t matter/change how I will view a football game.

    DK: I appreciate that, IC. Sounds like you got the point.

  24. Jandy says:

    Engelland is not skating, and Strait is recalled…hmmmmmm…

  25. THart says:

    Loved the sarcasm in “NFL ultimate enabler on bounties”. So let’s put the moose on the table. Goodell’s job appears simple…keep the owners out of court as long as possible…and when they end up there, make sure they have a substantial list of actions (recorded by the press and public media) that underscore they are not the ones responsible for long term health and safety consequences associated with playing professional football. It’s all about establishing precedent in the face of exploding financial liability; from Harrison, to player fines, to bounties.

    When it comes to making money, it boils down to risk and return. One must take risks to make above market returns. I’d venture it’s safe to say that NFL owners have made above market returns on their investment over the years…here come the risks!

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