Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’

September 11th, 2009

America’s Game Needs a Slight Tweak

Ever since it debuted in November 2006, I’ve been a confirmed fan of America’s Game, the series chronicling the seasons of every team that’s ever won the Super Bowl.  I like it so much, I programmed my DVR to automatically record every episode I hadn’t already seen, and last night I got my first look at the installment about the latest Super Bowl champ, the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was a quality production, but as has been the case whenever the series has looked at a more recent Super Bowl winner, I came away feeling a little bit cheated.  Why was that?  Simply put, as time has gone on, and the gap between a team winning a Super Bowl and being profiled by NFL Films has shrunk, these films aren’t anywhere near as illuminating as they could be.

Don’t get me wrong, these documentaries are first class, and the effort put in by the people at NFL Films is more than evident in the finished product.  But I can’t help but feel that these documentaries would be better if we waited a few more years after a team won a Super Bowl before putting the interview subjects in front of the cameras.

Here’s one example of how that’s already worked.  While everyone knows that Joe Namath led the New York Jets to victory in Super Bowl III, there were a boatload of other talented players on that team, including Gerry Philbin, a defensive end who recorded 14.5 sacks for the Jets in 1968.  And when NFL Films decided who to interview about that magical season, Namath, Hall of Fame wide receiver Don Maynard and Philbin made the cut.

And thank God for that, because it was Philbin, a no-nonsense Buffalo native who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, who made the show.

Instead of engaging in the usual Namath hero worship, Philbin unloaded on his former teammate, criticizing his work ethic. But that wasn’t all.  Philbin also went to great pains to mention that Namath’s teammates had conspired to elect the quarterback as team captain not in recognition of his leadership abilities, but rather  in order to inspire him to start taking more responsibility in the way he conducted himself on and off the field.

Now, if the Philbin interview had taken place in the Spring of 1969, only a few months after Super Bowl III, would he have been as willing to take a shot at his star quarterback as he was almost 40 years after the fact?  Given Philbin’s demeanor, I’d have to say he very well might, but we shouldn’t doubt that distance from an event can often provide additional insight and perspective that simply isn’t possible in the immediate aftermath.

So what’s my suggestion?  Instead of pumping these documentaries out every year, why not wait 5 years after a Super Bowl win to produce them?  Who knows what sorts of stories might ripen with the passage of time?

 
September 1st, 2009

Could Steelers and Penguins Coverage End Up Behind a Pay Wall?

PPG masthead

That’s not an idle question. With newspapers all over the country scrambling for ways to generate new sources of revenue in an ad market that seems to be crashing, I guess it isn’t a surprise that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is thinking about experimenting with a pay wall:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said "PG+" would be a "members-only website with interactive features and exclusive content" available to subscribers for 36 dollars a year or for 3.99 dollars a month.

It said "PG+" would not replace Post-Gazette.com, the newspaper’s current website, but would feature "a new stream of exclusive blogs, videos, live chats and behind-the-scenes insights into the news of the day."

If there’s any newspaper in the U.S. that could get away with this, it would have to be the Gazette. Think about it for a moment: thanks to several waves of migration of natives who are incredibly loyal to the city of their birth, the Post-Gazette probably draws a massive amount of traffic from outside its circulation area — with much of those eyeballs desperate for news about the Steelers and the Penguins.

With that in mind, I could easily see the Post-Gazette keeping their basic game night coverage on the free side, while moving supplementary coverage behind a pay wall.  If you want an example of how it could work without much disruption, just take a look at ESPN.com, where the WWL provides a ton of free content with a significant portion of content inside a pay wall for their subscribers.

I wonder if we’re going to have to pay to read Seth Rorabaugh?