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Morning Java: Tomlin, togetherness and TK

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …


>> The Thursday column takes on the Mike Tomlin saga, now that all the facts are out and the NFL’s penalty has been meted.

Looking forward to your feedback, as always.

>> The $100,000 fine is covered by Alan Robinson.

A sampling of locker room reaction, by video producer Justin Labar

Mike Wallace talks candidly about his year with Todd Haley, by Mark Kaboly.

Random randomness from the scene: If Tomlin was bugged by anything, he sure wasn’t letting it show. Bounced through the locker room at one point, beaming a big smile and shouted, “Let’s stick together!” I can’t and won’t assume what he meant, but it was in quite the upbeat tone. … The media scene around Ryan Clark was pretty funny in that he just pulls up a folding chair, leans back, and the cameras and microphones all come scurrying to hear what he was to say. … Didn’t realize I’d get the day’s money quote out of Clark when I asked simply if he found it fair that the NFL would delay its decision on docking draft picks: “It’s not supposed to be fair. It’s Roger Goodell. When has he been fair?” … LaMarr Woodley continues to make a sight of himself in the locker room, loudly berating or jabbing reporters as he passes through. Which is understandable, really, in light of the reporters being the ones responsible for a $61.5 million starting player losing his job. … Woodley was a limited participant in practice, by the way. Makes him iffy for a third straight game due to a soft-tissue injury, the kind that almost everyone in pro sports believes can be prevented through solid conditioning. … Cam Heyward, on how the Steelers avoided the Tomlin stuff: “We watch cartoons.” Never asked which ones. Terrible reporting. Woodley’s right.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Dolphins news from the Miami Herald.

Here are official game highlights from

>> The Penguins get a superb test tonight from the soaring Sharks, winners of six in a row. But there will be a touch of sentimentality, too, in Tyler Kennedy’s return, by Josh Yohe.

Our Subway Final Word panel on WPXI-TV looked at the Penguins’ many injury issues …

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Sharks news from the San Jose Mercury News.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Pitt’s Aaron Donald is the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Jerry DiPaola reports, and that might be just the beginning.


>> Duquesne needs a second-half surge and Tra’Vaughn White’s 22 to take out UMBC. Chris Harlan reports from Palumbo.

>> The Pirates’ Travis Snider has foot surgery, by Rob Biertempfel.

>> I’ll be with the hockey team in the morning and deep into the night, and right back to the dentist in between. Determined to take a healthy mouth to Russia.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.


  1. Nice column DK. And I agree with you: I don’t think Tomlin is a cheater or liar.

    You are around the guy, I am not. But I am not sure he is a phony. I think he isn’t crazy about interacting with the media and is pretty consistent with how he deals with them , but is also a guy who is ‘charming’ around others.

    Maybe it was just a humbled, not phony, Tomlin that was at the news conference on Tuesday.

    DK: It’s possible. Time will tell. And my description wasn’t really based much on interaction with the media, which is minimal. Other observations. He’s very visible on the facility.

  2. Attention Drew et al SEC fans and Tomlin sideline play commenters. YOU MUST SEE THIS LINK: .

    Do the name Dicky Moegle (Maygull) mean anything to you?


  3. LaMarr Woodley…”iffy for a third straight game due to a soft-tissue injury…”

    SOFT-tissue injury. Oh, the irony.

  4. DK,
    Nice column on the coach.

    If you get a chance, please view the link I posted above. I vaguely remember the game and the play being seen by me on black and white TV.

    Please note the final score of that 1956 Cotton Bowl game between Rice and Alabama.

    (and the relevance to the current situation,)


  5. What the NFL pulled today was a direct hit on Steeler fans and paying customers.
    Wait and see about a draft pick(s)?
    A low-rent excuse for keeping the publicity and talk flowing.
    Roger Goodell and henchmen are lower than rats that live under the rustiest toilets one can find, on a beached ship off the coast of Thailand.
    Rotten to the core…..

    • “… a direct hit on Steeler fans and paying customers.”

      Oh, stop with the martyrdom. You don’t speak for this fan.
      It’s plausible Tomlin wasn’t paying attention to exactly where he was standing. But in the least, it was stupid and irresponsible. And definitely deserving of sanctions. Wouldn’t be surprised if the $100K is quietly paid by the club. The draft choice is the real penalty, if it even happens.

      • Oh….Stop with the justification.
        What Mike Tomlin pays doesn’t mean a hill of beans to me.
        The draft choice IS the real penalty to all innocent parties….And I feel it will happen.

        • The penalty, whatever it turns out to be, IS justifiable.
          “Doesn’t mean a hill of beans to me…”
          In case you didn’t get it the first time, I’m completely unimpressed and uninterested in what is important to YOU. This isn’t about you.

          • Hey……Did you get a bad breakfast burrito or something?
            I don’t like the game the NFL has played on the draft pick.
            That’s my opinion.
            Does opinion have to be approved by YOU here?
            If you decide you can’t take it….Perhaps you can go call the cops.

            • “Does opinion have to be approved by YOU here?”
              Oh, and there’s that old phony canard whenver someone feels the heat from being challenged for a stoopid post: “Boo hoo! I want my free speech!” Like I said above, stop with the martyrdom. (Or don’t stop. See if I care.) But you’re like a Red Sox fan, always complaining how everyone’s making you suffer.

      • This would’ve been a lot worse if the Steelers had beaten the Ravens, which they weren’t apt to do and didn’t, and if the Steelers were in a better playoff position than they currently are. It shouldn’t have happened, but you’d think that at this time, it’s easier for the Steelers to put this behind them and concentrate on the Sunday game versus the Dolphins.

  6. Does anyone remember Tomlin nearly doing this a few years ago? I can’t remember the opponent, but it was a similar situation on a kick return where Tomlin made a motion toward the player. At the time it looked like he wanted to jump out and tackle him but restrained himself.

    • I’m sure EVERY coach has that moment… Woody Hayes actually did step out and punch an opposing player going by. That happening to be Hayes’ final moment.

    • No, but I do remember Bill Cowher “restraining himself” during a blocked kick return against Jacksonville circa 1997, or so.

      • Daily News Wire Services
        POSTED: September 24, 1997
        Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher admitted yesterday he considered tackling Jacksonville’s Chris Hudson as he raced downfield to score on a game-ending blocked field goal Monday night.

        Hudson scooped up the loose ball after the Jaguars’ Clyde Simmons blocked Norm Johnson’s potential game-winning field goal with six seconds to play in Jacksonville’s 30-21 victory.

        As Hudson ran by the Steelers’ bench, an angry Cowher clenched his hands as if he were about to step onto the field, but held himself back.

        “I could have [tackled] him,” Cowher said. “It crossed my mind. But thank God I didn’t.”

        Read more @

        • Wow, yep, that is the event that I was referring to. I would have heavily wagered that it was Tomlin. Thanks for helping my failing memory.

  7. “You had better come with a whole lot more than incomplete conjecture or casual dislike when assailing a man’s character.”

    I see by this comment you must be a new poster, Dejan. Welcome to the blog. Please let Biz know your home town.

    Over time, you’ll find that we live to assail with incomplete conjecture. It’s our favorite blood sport. Especially when assailing guys named Bud, Roger, Bob, Neal and Frank. Occasionally each other.

    Although Thunder is fair game.

  8. I’m sorry…..but LaMarr Woodley is WAYYYY too SOFT for my taste in football players.

    Show him the big $$$ and watch the performance flatten out ….decline….fade away. Not in one year….but now, multiple years…..

    We’ve heard all the excuses. Injuries….he just doesn’t show up. :-(

    Very, VERY disappointing.

    PS: I’m guessing (not hoping) Mike Wallace…will follow down this path…..

  9. With Mike Tomlin, “the standard is still the standard” I think he is a real man (not man crush real) and not a cheater and a liar.

  10. Found the story on Travis Snyder’s surgery quite interesting. When I had some foot problems, it was hard to even hit a golf ball well. He seems like a kid worth rooting for, so here’s hoping that the procedure lets him regain his best swing for this season. I don’t think the Bucs will wait any longer with Polanco coming soon.

    • Yeah, I know it’s Snider; this is what you write automatically when you live in Snyder County.

    • I hope so too, Wild One. Lunchbox showed some promise at times.

    • It’s looked to me since he joined the club that there’s been a lot more wrong with Snider than might be attributed to a toe injury. Things like letting balls down the middle consistently go by, repeatedly swinging at breaking balls in the dirt and having little concept of the strike zone are three that immediately come to mind.

      He’s a good kid but not a major league ballplayer, in my view. We’ll see what happens with him. Clearly, they cannot be considering him as anything more than a platoon bridge until Polanco arrives.

  11. JAL’s Air of December Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Looks Like the Pirates Will Stay In House For Right Field

    James Loney’s Asking Price a Reminder of Russell Martin

    Is First Base Now a Buyer’s Market?

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates rumors: Bucs focusing on James Loney, also interested in Lind, Moreland

    Pirates reportedly think they can be bidders for David Price

    6 Rumbunter

    The Pittsburgh Pirates Shopping Spree Sucks This Year


    Stark: Pirates interested in James Loney, Adam Lind, Mitch Moreland

    8 MLB

    2014 Draft Prospects

    9 City of Champions

    Report: Pittsburgh Pirates among suitors for Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price

    10 Rant Sports

    2013 MLB Winter Meetings: 5 Players the Pittsburgh Pirates Shouldn’t Touch

  12. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Baseball Nation

    MLB Trades: Dexter Fowler and the befuddling Rockies

    12 St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Goold: Are Cards getting better bang for big bucks?

    13 Philadelphia inquirer

    Amaro says new acquisition Lincoln ‘has a big arm’

    14 Cincinnati Enquirer

    No trade talks over Phillips, Jocketty confirms

    15 New York Times

    As Yankees Take Big Bites, Mets Nibble

    16 Los Angeles Times

    MLB players appoint Tony Clark leader, discuss tougher PED penalties,0,5123384.story#axzz2mbHl7RMo

    17 CBS Sports

    Creating baseball’s perfect reliever

    18 ESPN

    The mystery of the Yankees’ remaining $$$


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Seven Trade Ideas for the Winter Meetings

    20 Fangraphs

    Jacoby Ellsbury and Injury Proneness

  13. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Young Money getting together for dinner, says Emmanuel Sanders

    Potential movement on Steelers’ draft pick has to do with tie-breaking scenarios

    22 Steelers Gab

    Steelers Make Roster Moves; Ink G/C Snow To Active Roster


    23 Sporting News

    As World Cup draw nears, US braces for ‘Group of Death’

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: the stories you need to read – December 4, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Simon Despres Is Good at Hockey, so Play Him and Pay Him (Tuesday Slew)

  14. I wonder if Brad from Indiana will make an appearance on today or tomorrow’s blog in regards to the Penguins vs. Sharks game tonight? Oh, how he made me laugh with his less than glowing comments about Tyler Kennedy!

    I thought Josh Yohe’s article on Kennedy’s emotions about returning to Pittsburgh was great. While I *almost* feel sad about TK sitting out during the playoffs last season I still think it was the right thing for the team’s chances to win the Cup. TK was never the same after Jordan Staal left. Who am I kidding? Neither was I!

    I see that TK has 11 points for the Sharks so far. Good for him.

    I wonder how many shots Kennedy will take this evening? I’m thinking four. We shall see…

  15. “I also think he came across as an epic phony in that Tuesday news conference, flicking on the charm when it suited his needs.”

    I guess there’s no need being aloof and arrogant with the media when you’re looking for them to convey your message.

  16. Roger Goodell is only interested inthe Las Vegas oddsmakers view of then Tomlin incident. The NFL bows to the bookies on every turn and Goddell is worse than his predecessors. Why fine teams that do NOT report injuries if NOT to enable the gamblers to set odds? No other league has ever done this.

    Ryan Clark acuurately sumarized Goodell in his coment……

  17. Steelers will go ape sh** over any attempt to penalize them with loss of a draft pick. Tomlin made an error is judgement. Yes and I am in the Rooney rule camp. But that is a cause for some real push back on any attempt to do so. RG has to know that Ray Anderson has damaged the brand of the take no prisoners Steelers and I suspect Tomlin will play the role as required. But make no mistake the Steelers have viewed this move from a contact sport to a contract sport as not in the best interests of the actual game.

  18. From AJ Mass of ESPN:

    With the news that Justin Morneau has signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies worth around $13 million, any hope that the Pittsburgh Pirates would be able to bring the veteran back into the fold for the 2014 season went out the window.

    According to’s Jayson Stark, the Pirates now see James Loney as their “top choice” at first base. However, he is by no means the only candidate to fill the hole in the Pittsburgh lineup. Stark also mentions Adam Lind and Mitch Moreland as players the team has inquired about, but either of that duo would need to be acquired via trade.

    The Tampa Bay Rays have expressed some interest in bringing Loney back to the team, but the only other serious suitor had been the Rockies, who were believed to have been interested in the first baseman had they been unsuccessful in landing Morneau. Clearly, they are now out of the picture.

    The longer the Pirates wait on Loney, the more likely other teams will begin to come knocking on his door, especially once Mike Napoli signs a deal causing the teams involved in his pursuit to begin to explore alternative options. Don’t be surprised to see them act quickly.

  19. I hope I get a chance to see that film about Dock Ellis someday (referenced below in Sports). I won’t get a chance to get to Sundance (maybe the Trib can send Dejan there for the premier !) and those films don’t usually pop up at the Oshkosh Cineplex.

    If ever a ballplayer made a good subject for a film, it is Dock Ellis. One of my favorites. I am a sucker for athlete stories with human foibles.

  20. Jandster, love the new avatar….very monstrous! :)

    Was out of town and caught up on the NYI game yesterday. That was a good team win. NYI played hard and pens kept it together after some sloppiness. Tanger looked better as the game went on too.

    Just one thought…I’m certainly not familiar with the teams practice and morning skate habits but with the pens being notorious for horrible to sloppy starts maybe disco can adjust so that things are slanted to the morning skate more often. For all I know maybe they already have done so but at some point patterns shouldn’t be ignored and I would atleast look into adjusting and slanting things over to the morning skate to get the rust off and get the legs going on game day a little more.

  21. I guess there is one city now less likely to get an NBA franchise than Pittsburgh: Mexico City.

  22. According to both the American Chiropractor Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, soft tissue injuries occur mostly because of overuse (repetitive motion) or the result of a single episode, and they really aren’t preventable no matter how much exercise you do.

  23. crap!

    From the Pens’website:
    Note: Malkin left the morning skate early and missed the power play session. Units adjusted below.

    1st PP: Letang, Niskanen up top. Crosby, Kunitz, Neal down low.
    2nd PP: Maatta, Ebbett up top. Jokinen, Sutter, Kobasew down low

  24. Mr. Aoki was just traded to Kansas City. I’m crestfallen.

  25. Our blogmeister sounded a little combative in his column this morning. Guess he needs more novacaine……………….

    For the record, I dont think Tomlin did this deliberately. He has been fined for it, good. Some would argue a one game suspension. But this draft pick stuff is goofy, to say the least. Just another case of GODell NOT doing the correct thing, or having any consistency.

    Aside form the “money quote”, Ryan Clark needs to shut up,…….. the sooner the better. I dont see him and his contract, and his mouth being here next season.

    Lamar Woodley. Another mouth hurting the team. Production over pontification, Lamar. Too much speaking, not enough sacking.

    Yep, but with these “leaders”, and their lack of production…….. the Steelers sure do look like a playoff team. (Sarcasm alert).

  26. Malkin is out tonight. Lower body, day to day.

  27. So I thought I’d come in to see how everybody felt about the Aoki trade.

    NMR will be pissseddd

  28. If you focus on Tomlin’s head during the video, you’ll see that he turned to look back before he moved out of the way. Its kind of like seeing a truck approaching you in the rear view mirror while at a traffic light. Do you turn around to watch it hit you or do you immediately take action to get out of the way?

    In full disclosure, I don’t think Tomlin is a very good coach, specifically his game management errors and personnel decisions. If an incident like this casts doubt on the integrity of the Steelers as an organization, I think he should be let go at the end of the season based on the overall performance evidence. As Pittsburgher fans we like to hold ourselves to a higher standard. That being said, I think the current punishment is fine. I might have even tacked on a suspension and forced him to resign from the Competition Committee. But I don’t think losing a draft choice is warranted and shouldn’t have been threatened.

    • The forfeiture of draft picks is insinuating this was a group effort in the organization.
      Similar to NE and NO who had multiple people involved in the project.
      It’s literally impossible that this was anything but a knee-jerk reaction (at best) by Tomlin.
      If anything….Tomlin should’ve been suspended for a couple games or more.
      The dangling threat of draft pick loss to the innocent is as low as it gets.
      A stunt to further the publicity of the situation…..

  29. More updates from the Pens’ website:

    •Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net tonight vs. the Sharks
    •Defenseman Rob Scuderi is in his fifth week of recovery after undergoing surgery for a broken ankle
    •He has progressed and skated now four times, and last two have been more rigorous
    •Forward Tanner Glass is 12 days deep into his recovery from a broken hand
    •Glass has been skating as well with Rob and he’s probably another 5-6 days away, maybe a week away from joining the team in practice

    In addition, forward Chuck Kobasew said after morning skate he is ready to play after missing the last 17 games with a lower-body injury and it is now just the coaches’ decision. “It’s been great to be back out there with the guys,” he said. “Wait for the coaches’ call and see what happens. I feel really good.”

  30. Hollywood has now attempted the uncastable: Gal Gadot is your new Wonder Woman.

    She is Israeli. I wonder if she knows Krav Maga. Wonder Woman would know Krav Maga.

  31. A source has told Jory Rand that the Pirates will not acquire David Price. OK, a source has told me the Pirates will not sign Robinson Cano.

    Boy, this is pretty easy.

  32. My favorite player is on the ice tonight in Pittsburgh. Joe Pavelski is a legend in my State. He led the Stevens Point (home of Disney’s fictional Liz and Maddie !) high school team to a Wisconsin State Hockey Championship. Later, he led the Badgers to an NCAA championship. I had the good fortune to meet him when he was in high school. Great family and great kid.

    Hopefully, he leads my nation to a Gold Medal in Sochi.

  33. Gotta go get the car inspected. Maybe catch you Loonies on the game thread later…be good ;)


  35. Oshkosh B’Gosh,

    I watched your boys last night.
    Those kinds of games happen: best thing I can say about the Badgers is that they won!

    It’s better to win U-G-L-Y than lose pretty!!!

    But hey . . . . Wisconsin is ranked ahead of my Blue Devils.

    I was pleased that DUKE kicked Michigan’s tail. Talk about a game not as close as the score indicated.

    • UGLY is too good a word, Groat. Forty-eight points and the win ? Yuck.

      Absolutely ridiculous to be ranked ahead of the Blue Devils. Tough week for Big Red, though. At Virginia and then intrastate rival, Marquette. I think Bo Ryan secretly doesn’t like being undefeated. Likes to lie low.

  36. Mariners supposedly offering Cano 230-240 MM for 10 years, per MLBTradeRumors

  37. Mr. OshKosh (B’Gosh):

    Just saw some Bucks highlights.
    I see the “Mecca” floor is back in Milwaukee………….. not the original, but an updated one.
    Best floor in NBA history. I got excited when I saw it. (But I didnt get my underwear in a bunch).

    The Bucks may be awful, but they have the best floor back!

  38. OK, hadn’t heard that. Thanks.

    $7-8 million holdback per team seems pretty steep for a “rainy day fund,” but it is Monopoly money.

    Knowing the baseball owners (ex. Collusion), could be their clumsy attempt to hold down salaries because of the flood of extra cash.

  39. I’ve been saying the same thing for 20 years, and I’m still wrong. ;-)

  40. Looks like the Mariners are taking the “we tried” strategy to a whole other level.

    • What are you thinking Milo, really, do you think its just a ploy?

      I’m asking, not arguing.

      • No, I think they’re serious. But it kinda reminds me of the A-Rod / Texas Rangers marriage. Or Pujols in Anaheim. It probably won’t even take till the All Star break for both sides to realize they’ve made a huge mistake. In the end I think the Yankees will let the Mariners do all the heavy lifting then swoop in at the end and get their man.

        • Yeah, Cano can be playing them (Yanks), but from what I’m reading, and yup, for the little that is worth, Yanks won’t go north of 200 million.

          They have spent their pass go money, but until ARod is settled, they can’t go all in, or at least that is what I’m thinking

  41. No hockey thread yet, or at least not one I can find

    Anyone got the chuzpah to let Dejan know?

    Last time I sent him an email, well, never mind ;-)

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