The Pitt vs. Penn State Rivalry and Other Things Best Left in the Past

I helped the Pitt Panthers defeat the Penn State Nittany Lions for the national championship in 1994.  I was Eleven.

It was played in the stadium made up of both my parents and the neighbors backyards.  I rolled out from intense pressure and threw my neighbor Johnny Lavia the game winning pass in the corner of the end zone.  He had to dive around my neighbors tree to haul it in.

Funny thing is that just two weeks later we both defeated Penn State to win the NCAA basketball tournament, which that year was played in his parents backyard.  He was the starting shooting guard that made the last second shot under pressure and I was the power forward who tipped it in for the win.

We played for Pitt and we played against Penn State because that was the rivalry, and even though it was no longer the year’s marquee game of the eastern football schedule we were surrounded by family members and neighbors who remembered when it was.

I remember the last Pitt/Penn State game at Three Rivers Stadium. Yes, THAT Three Rivers Stadium.  Pitt won 12-0.  It was a weird game.

A freshman at Pitt or Penn State would have been 2 years old when it occurred.  The rivalry hadn’t been meaningful for a solid decade before that.  Perhaps that is why this current version of the rivalry feels slightly meaningless.

The kidz don’t know their history.

I remember sitting at old Pitt Stadium when my cousin Mark would take me to games in the mid to late 90’s.  I remember singing along with the thousand deep student section as they changed the words to the Pitt Fight song so that it said “Freshmen suck! Penn State sucks!  P E N N S T SUCKS!”

It really didn’t make much sense.  They hundreds of kids that make up the current student section don’t sing it anymore.

Pitt Penn State Pitt Stadium 1998
A view of a sold-out Pitt Stadium for the Pitt-Penn State game in 1998. (John Beale/Post-Gazette)

Let’s get to the point…….

The rivalry is never going to be what it used to be, because for very different reasons neither Pitt or Penn State will ever be what it used to be.

Continue reading The Pitt vs. Penn State Rivalry and Other Things Best Left in the Past

Steelers Draft Prediction: First Round

Here we go….

My annual predictions on who the Steelers will select in the NFL Draft/my annual adding to the record that either I don’t know anything about football or the Steelers draft whoever they want no matter their needs.

Yes.  I started my writing career as a football writer.  No.  I am no longer a football writer.

Take that in consideration when you make your comments.

So even though it likely won’t mean anything to those in the Steelers war room, let’s take a look at the Steelers main needs and how they compare to the draft class’ strengths.

Primary need: Cornerback/Safety

Secondary need: Defensive Tackle

It is so obvious that the Steelers need a cornerback that it is unlikely they will draft one.  Hell, be honest, would you be shocked if they took yet another linebacker?

This year could be the year for a cornerback though. (The Steelers last CB taken in the first round was Chad Scott in 1997)  Things seem to align. The Steelers have the 25th selection of the first round, putting them in prime position to get the 3rd or 4th best corner on the board.  Jalen Ramsey is a top 5 pick and Vernon Hargreaves will be gone soon after.

This leaves Mackensie Alexander of Clemson, Eli Apple of Ohio State, William Jackson of Houston, Kendall Fuller of Virginia Tech, and Artie Burns of Miami.

Of this group the two that interest me the most are Apple of Ohio State and Burns of Miami.

Apple is a winner.  The Steelers have a penchant for selecting Buckeyes.  He fills a serious need.

Of the cornerbacks my selection would be Apple.

But the Steelers could also go the Defensive Tackle route, and to be honest this may be their best bet.  This is the strongest defensive tackle draft class in some time and with the loss of Steve McLendon, who wasn’t very good anyway, they have a giant hole right in the center of their defense.

The three most likely targets for the steelers will be Andrew Billings of Baylor, Vernon Butler of Louisiana Tech, and A’Shawn Robinson of Alabama.

Of these three I see Billings as the most likely choice.  All three are 3-4 nose tackles.  All three will likely be solid.  Butler may be a bit of a stretch at a position where there is no reason to reach and Robinson has been trending downward in recent mocks.

Here is a brief bio of Billings from DraftTek:

Billings slots into the void at Nose Tackle left by Steve McLendon’s departure in Free Agency. The Steelers would like a NT who can play some as a one-gap DT in sub-packages to spell Heyward and Tuitt. Billings shows on tape as an explosive penetrator, almost unblockable one-on-one, but he’s of the stature and powerful build to play a 2-gap NT in the base defense. The Steelers did not bring him in for a visit but sent everybody but the groundskeeper to his Pro Day and took him out to dinner to see what he’s about. The Steelers take lots of fliers on late-round defensive linemen like LT Walton, Nick Williams, and Dan McCullers who are Size/Weight/Agility prospects with decidedly mixed results. Here in the first, they can pick up a player with good tape from a power-5 conference who has similarly-unworldly agility for his weight (4.94- 40, 32″ vertical at his Pro Day) without the long odds.

Continue reading Steelers Draft Prediction: First Round

Pitt is not it, the Military Bowl is not legit.

I sat in my Aunt Deb’s living room watching the Military Bowl with two college kids from Penn State who were young enough to not know that there was a time when Pitt was in fact it.  I am barely old enough to know, and most of what I know comes from youtube videos and legends.  I remember Alex Van Pelt as a child, but I was too young to really get it.  The Walt Harris run to Dave Wanstache era I remember vividly, well some of the games I remember vividly, and others I remember a general blur.  I cross-eyed view of a moment in time that could have met something if they could have won one more game a year.  I time when you were more afraid of Toledo than WVU, because those weren’t the types of games we lost.  What we have now is some weird hybrid of tradition and the truth.  Pitt is no longer it, and in the ACC they seem out of place, and out of their element.  Gone is the days of the Big East.

The Military Bowl saw Pitt face Navy, at Navy.  Yes, you read that right.  Our 9 wins this season got us a road game at a military academy, while th midshipmen were on Christmas break.  So not a ton of people were there, they couldn’t fill a smaller stadium.  Pitt ran the opening kickoff back and it was downhill from there.  They seemed unprepared for the Triple Option at worst, and at best they simply couldn’t stop it.  As always Pitt was out of their element, playing a gimmick team in a cold weather bowl game that happens to be at the opponents stadium instead of neutral ground.  They represented the ACC although they are past the mountains, against an AAC team that has been independent until recent history.  There were no traditions at all.  Pitt was once a warm up team that Pitt would roll over before starting their Big East schedule.  Now they were thoroughly outmatched, all though it was the most successful team the school had in the better part of a decade.

Tyler Boyd played his last game as a Panther and went out in a fashion that reminded me of Jonathan Baldwin.  I hope Boyd succeeds in the NFL, in spite of his status as an elite prospect Baldwin did not.  Maybe Boyd will, but I’ve seen it before.  There is something small missing.  It’s all or nothing with that kid.  Just as it is with Pitt.

At least we are going in the correct direction, that is until Pat Narduzzi is gone and we have to rebuild.  Once again used as a stepping stone, by men who are going to fail at the next level, but have earned their way onto the center stage.  Pitt isn’t even off-broadway in comparison to a show like Michigan State’s.  It’s outer Newark.  Near the port, before the toll road.  In a renovated gas station owned by a wall street guy turned drug addict turned reformed drug addict, turned Newark resident.  Pitt is a childs play in that guys backyard compared to the elite schools.  It wasn’t always that way, but now it is.  It’s fairly plain to see, and it is extremely disappointing.

They do not have a campus stadium, they do not have a rabid fan base.  The casual fan has tuned out on Pitt football.  It’s not what it used to be, to the point it’s not worth noticing.  Pitt is on that Cincinnati, University of South Florida, University of Memphis level of non-relelvent, where once in a blue moon they will get mentioned by some sports pundit as a sleeper who months later admit he was wrong on that one, and Pitt isn’t the kind of team that comes through in the clutch.

I miss the good old days of Rod Rutherford and Larry Fitzgerald,  Tyler Palko and Darelle Revis, Shady McCoy and H.B. Blades.  It’s all gone now, and that is OK.  Because life should not revolve around Pitt football, and the Pittsburgh sports fan is better off having one less distraction from the teams worth being a fanatic of.

1960 World Series Game 7: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Yankees

It’s the moment I grew up hearing about, but never saw, other than the last little clip of Yogi Berra watching Maz’s homer going over the left field wall.  MLB network showed the Kinescope of the broadcast that was made for Bing Crosby, part owner of the Pirates, a few years ago and I do not have the rights to show it, but let’s be honest, absolutely no money is made off of this website, it is only lost, so lets just play it cool and sit back and watch Game Seven of the 1960 World Series.

 

The Moment I Realized That Gerrit Cole Is A Bad Mother Fucker

Which one is it?
It’s the one that says bad motherfucker…

I was at work in Brooklyn watching the Pirates game on a laptop via MLB.TV.  Carlos Gomez hit a long ball to center off of Gerrit Cole and flipped his bat.  He ran slowly at first like he had hit a home run in that obnoxious way that he does.  As he came into third Cole has some words for him and then Gomez flips his shit and Gerrit Cole turns into Jules Winnfield’s wallet.

cole

It was the moment I realized that Gerrit Cole was a bad motherfucker.  If you’ve never seen it, or you would like to view it again here it is in all of its glory.

The look on Cole’s face says it all. He’s not taking it from that sack of shit Carlos Gomez.  He’s a bad, bad man.

With Cole it’s not just the arsenal of pitches, or his complete command, its something much more than that.  Gerrit Cole is a bad mother fucker at a time when baseball needs as many as it can get.

Pitt vs. #18 Ohio State — 1988

It is crazy to think that for a majority of the history of college football Pitt vs. Ohio State was a legit rivalry.  These two teams are in such different places in the college football landscape these days with Ohio State being a destination for the elite coaches of the football world if and when a job opens up and Pitt being a stepping stone to schools once tiers beneath them.  Even in the 90’s when these two teams still played it was one-sided and awful if you were rooting for the Panthers.

So let us take a look back to a simpler time, the late 80’s, when Pitt was still respected and their games against the Buckeyes both still existed and were competitive.  From the New York Times, who has taken a similar route as Pitt in terms of reputation since 1988 if I may say so myself, like that little zinger fellow snobby sports fans?

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 17— Adam Walker ran for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns, scoring twice in the first six minutes of play following Ohio State mistakes, as Pitt routed the Buckeyes, 42-10, tonight.

Walker, a junior who played sparingly last season behind the tailback Craig (Ironhead) Heyward, scored on runs of 4, 23 and 2 yards as Pitt raced to a 28-3 halftime lead.

The quarterback Darnell Dickerson, constantly beating Ohio State’s defense to the outside on option plays, scored twice and rushed for 88 yards on 11 carries as the Panthers beat Ohio State for the first time since 1952. The Buckeyes had won seven of the last eight meetings, including three in a row.

The 42 points were the most against Ohio State since the Buckeyes’ 49-42 victory over Illinois in 1980. The loss was Ohio State’s worst since a 40-7 defeat to Washington in 1986.

Some Ohio State players said before the game that they had wanted to get even with Pitt (2-0) for routing its former coach, Earle Bruce, and his Northern Iowa team, 59-10, two weeks ago.

Ohio State’s Carlos Snow returned a kickoff 100 yards, the third-longest kick return touchdown in Ohio State history. Penn State 23, Boston College 20

 

The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Steelers Fans Reaction to the Mike Vick Signing

So Mike Vick now plays for the Steelers and everyone has an opinion, and they are all entitled to that opinion, an equal amount as everyone is to have an opinion on said opinion…and so on, and so on.  This is a subject in which I immediately have this feeling maybe I shouldn’t touch on, so I will make it short and sweet.

Michael-Vick1My first reaction was that it was a bad signing due to the distraction it would bring.  People are going to be upset, and they really, really are.  The few points I’ll leave out but feel as if should be mentioned are that, as noted by Marky Billson of Athlon Sports, that this is not the first time the Steelers have had a player of questionable character on the team.  In fact take a look at our starting quarterback and the questionable things he has done in his past.

There is also something to be said about the argument that Mike Vick isn’t really all that good anymore, which is likely true, but I don’t think many people actually want to see him play, because that would mean Ben was hurt. Backup quarterbacks are backups for a reason.

So let’s make this little article about Steelers fans reaction to the signing and how not surprisingly myopic it was.

First of all… I do not condone Mike Vick’s actions.  I think they were way past the grey, wavy, spotted line of moral and immoral, but let’s be honest he went to jail, he did his time, and his life has been completely ruined.  As far as we know he’s never done it again, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to forgive him. To each their own.  They can do as they please.

In trying to piece together my thoughts I had a moment of clarity in a Facebook post from future DECA contributor CJ Johnson who simply wrote:

I’m going to say this and leave it alone.

I hope, one day, someone is able to grant you forgiveness and the opportunity to redeem yourself. No matter what you’ve done. No matter whom you’ve hurt, I hope you’re granted that gift.

‪#‎thatsamightyfinelookinhighhorse‬

People of Pittsburgh, I’m sure that you are all perfect human beings unlike me.  I’m sure you’ve never made a regrettable decision and you never will.  Personally I’ve made a few mistakes a long the way, including one major mistake that I won’t bring up but you may be familiar with if you know me well enough.  What I learned from that mistake is that you have to apologize and admit that you were wrong, not only for your action but for the pain and embarrassment it caused others, and if you are lucky you will be forgiven.

Perhaps not by everyone, but by the people closest to you.  You take that forgiveness and use the positive energy to ensure you never repeat your actions.  It makes you think differently about life.  It makes you realize that you don’t need to be the one pointing out others flaws.  We are all flawed individuals, its OK.  You just got to try to be a little better each day.

If you are in the camp of you will never forgive Mike Vick that is fine. That is your right to be that way.  Dog fighting is deplorable.  It is truly sickening.

If you are in the camp of you are never going to forgive the Steelers for signing Vick I per-forgive you for your hypocrisy.  It is all right.  We all get worked up from time to time and say things we don’t mean.  Some of the worst things I have ever said have been to the people I love the most.  Thank gosh for forgiveness, eh?  Or I would be quite a lonely gentleman.

In general football players are kind of immoral. The NFL is immoral.  Until earlier this year it was a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry that enjoyed tax exempt status.  You want to get on your high horse?  Get angry about that.  Seriously, just think about that for a brief moment.

What about the children?  Well…. if you’re a parent who allows your child to make professional athletes role models than that is on you, not the athlete, when your child becomes disappointed in their actions.  Believe me, I was Mark McGwire’s biggest fan as a young one. Lesson learned.

I’m not saying you have to forgive Mike Vick, I’m not saying you have to like him.  However you did forgive Big Ben, and what is the difference between the two? Hmmm….

I just hope when you make your big mistake in life you get to experience the forgiveness Mike Vick never will, because it will make you a stronger person. And really life is too short to get worked up about the backup quarterback of your favorite football team.

The Time UFO’s Appeared Above Three Rivers Stadium and Altered The Course of History… For a Few People.

So…. I was on the internet and stumbled upon something and I felt the need to share it with you.  Supposedly in October of 1979 during a Steelers – Cowboys day game UFO’s appeared above Three Rivers Stadium and were visible on a national broadcast.  The announcers and crowd even took notice.

 

Just let that all sink in for a second…..

Well I wanted to believe so badly, but come on.  I made the assumption that these were the ranting words of a yinzer who had just been introduced to the internet in 2010.  He came on the internet, he told a story about the time he saw aliens during a Steelers game on a defunct Angelfire message board, he learned there was porn on the internet, he got real into it for like three days, and then his lady caught him and he wasn’t allowed to use the internet anymore.  That was it for him.  The only trace of his internet presence was a rant and it had somehow spiraled into an urban legend.

But then I saw it…. there was actual video of the broadcast.  Not only was there video but there was a man who had ufo-pittsburgh-steelers-dallas-cowboys-2been looking for it for years.  He goes by the handle InterjunctionEast and the video below is from his YouTube page.  If you like this story go and subscribe to his channel.  He seems like a pretty interesting dude.

Anyway Interjunction East found the video and posted it online and then he posted more…

First the video….Skip to around 50 seconds.  The gist is that the broadcast was on commercial break and suddenly cut back to the game.  On screen, clearly visible, are two UFO’s hovering above the stadium.  The broadcasters make mention of it and they go back to the game.  For the next minute or so there is a weird vibe in the stadium and an odd penalty occurs.

Towards the end they go back to the UFO’s and one announcer says, “There it is! Now what is that?”  The other announcer answers.. “it’s saying take me to your leader….I don’t know…”

 

For more clips of the UFO’s visit InterjunctionEast’s YouTube site.

 

The story is more interesting than that though, as it seems InterjunctionEast isn’t the only one who remembered.  While not much has been written about the event the story and video made its way to AboveTopSecret.com, and the person who posted the story who goes by the handle Elouina added some more details.

After the video resurfaced on YouTube in 2011 Elouina used them to craft her story.  She introduced the situation to the internet like this:

In 1979, I was told of a UFO being seen over 3 Rivers stadium. The man that told me was a neighborhood man that I chatted with sometimes. He told me to not tell a soul! And seemed very concerned that I kept my promise. But I was perplexed as to how a stadium UFO would be a secret. No one ever could provide any additional information. And I remained in the dark for over 30 years.

Elouina than finds another description that she found online in which another person had told a story about seeing UFO’s at the game.  I am posting this story below, but I am leaving it as is.  Pittsburgh is misspelled every time and as a native Pittsburgher it is hard to look at.  So is Steelers.  Also, it’s not really well written at all.  It’s better if you read the person’s actual writing though than read a version that I cleaned up.  This way it still has its “I might be a crazy person, but only maybe” charm.

Someone using the handle XPOSE UFO TRUTH 1970’s wrote:

I was watching the game on TV in Santa Barbara CA. between the Pittsburg Stealers and Dallas Cowboys in October 1979 from Three Rivers Stadium Pittsburg PA. During a commercial break around the 2 minute warning while Chuck Conners was sales pitching a toy gun, the commercial was cut abruptly and the picture went back to the stadium. The screen showed a metallic disk (10-30 ft.) spinning like a coin (1-2 rev per sec) on a table at height about equal to the top of the stadium. Pat Summerall’s excited voice came on saying “We don’t know what it is we are showing you…it just appeared in the sky”. He repeated several time “I can’t believe what I am seeing”. Tom Brookshire ,the color man, said “Oh that…that’s just an illusion”. Summerall disagreed and said “Well if they land, they’re gonna say “take me to your leader”. The crowd got very quiet…you could hear a pin drop in the place. A penalty was called on a Dallas player because he failed to get into his stance …was just looking up at the sky. Pittsburg was winning 14 to 3…they had the ball and were running out the clock. The game ended with the camera on the disk till the end. I never heard or read a word about in any media. I didn’t want the game to end…I wanted to keep looking at the disk. I felt sad when the picture changed. I was attracted to it some strange way. It changed the way I look at life and the creedance I give our government and media.

 

This is the first mention that I saw of language such as “It changed the way I look at life and the credence I give our government and media.”  It was not the last.

On a blog called BravoNewWorld an unnamed blogger lays out a case that after the story resurfaced a half decade ago the media and government used WTAE’s Sheldon Ingram in a disinformation campaign, basically arguing that Sheldon-Ingram-jpgIngram was doing the bidding of the illuminati and media and you know, whoever it is that owns them.  They end their rant, which also uses the video from InterjunctionEast as evidence, by saying “Question Everything.”

Here is the WTAE “cover up” story and here is BravoNewWorld’s blog post:

It was only a matter of time. Once a recording of live NFL coverage of two UFOs over a 1979 match up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys hit YouTube, there was bound to be a coverup in the local media for the Pittsburgh market.

Uncharacteristic of a television news station, a story completely bereft of video has shown up on their website.  The focus of the story is an interview with Bridgeville resident Scott Wethli who claims his uncle invented kites fashioned from mylar designed to look like UFOs, and that the objects in the video are those very kites. 

“This is a UFO kite,” Wethli said. “It’s intended to look like a UFO, exactly.”

“The ones he flew over the stadium are the ones he’s made, with that Mylar,” Wethli said. “That’s why they’re shiny up there.”

There’s no video or image supplied by WTAE.com for their viewers’ reference.  If there were, they’d immediately be confused.  Those two objects were clearly emitting rapid flashes of actual light in a constant pattern, not just reflecting the sun as their alleged mylar surfaces twisted randomly in the wind.  In fact, the footage suggests these objects were traveling at a decent clip.  Did Wethli’s uncle pull them behind his car?

Honestly, a few good points, but perhaps more interesting is that the only comments on the site are from InterjunctionEast, who wrote:

Interjunctioneast here… Fancy finding this article. You know, after this event happened, I was told by a confidant, that this was the real deal. And that the government was involved. And to never tell a soul that I knew this. Thus why I searched so hard for the video many years later. Which BTW, was very difficut to find. Most games from that era were a breeze to find. The UNCUT version of this one, very difficult… Yes I say uncut since the UFO’s were cut from my first copy. I am still on the fence about this. Kites, or not kites….

 

And I don’t know… maybe that is just where it ends.

 

Some people think they saw a UFO in 1979 during a Pittsburgh Steelers game, and for some of those people it really had a profound effect.  I don’t know what happened, but I really don’t think that a dude from Bridgeville named Scott Wethli knows either. That’s not saying anything bad about Scott or Bridgeville, it’s just saying that there is no evidence and therefore it remains unidentified and it was flying and it is an object.  So…… it’s a U.F.O.

 

And honestly its kind of weird… and that is how far I am willing to dig into it because I understand the people who wrote the stories used above.  They thought it was weird and then they thought about it too long, and then they got weird about it.

 

It happens.

 

Somewhere, right now, no matter what time it is, no matter what day it is when you are reading this somebody somewhere on this earth is having an experience they can’t explain.  In fact multiple people in multiple locations are sharing this experience of not being able to explain what they are seeing.  Some will brush it off and some will always look for the answer until they lose it in a sea of all that is unexplained.  It’s really all up to the individual.

 

In reality, this story wasn’t about the UFO’s.  It was about InterjunctionEast and his perseverance.  They saw something.  They took note of it.   It had an effect on them. They never dismissed their gut reaction and eventually they found evidence.  That evidence caused other people to come forward and now the world knows….. something.

 

Whether you believe it is that UFO’s floated above Three Rivers Stadium in 1979 or if it’s that you believe people believe that UFO’s floated above Three Rivers Stadium in 1979…. that is what is up to you.  What do you believe and why?  What do you know that you are right about and what are you willing to never question?  What is your UFO above Three Rivers Stadium and how long are you willing to go to find the truth?