They're not making fans with quite Kirven's pedigree anymore, because out-of-town media, a status to which I am reduced, are now barred from all Steelers practices. In '73 I was welcomed to everything but team meetings, and one player offered to tape those for me surreptitiously. I declined; I knew if anything interesting went on, someone would fill me in.
Here are some of the rules for people covering the Steelers today:
Media members are prohibited at any time from reporting which players take repetitions with the first, second or third team, etc., as well as how many repetitions players take during practice.
Media members are prohibited from blogging or tweeting during practice.
Media members are prohibited from socializing with players or coaches at any time during practice.
At no time will media be permitted to interview members of the Steelers' organization in the lobby or parking lots without prior consent from Steelers p.r.
On the other hand, Media does have the right to report what they are told by coaches or players.
Whoop-de-doo. Maybe I'm too sensitive, but these rules chill my ardor to talk to current Steelers. It's like being told you have only certain very limited access to the girls' dorm. I want to say, Hey, I'm a gentleman. And anyway these girls are way too young for me.
Actually, the current Steelers I talk to strike me as too mature. Ryan Clark, the defensive back, is so grown up about having to wear a big, uncool-looking special helmet after suffering two concussions in three games. "I'm not afraid of getting hurt," he says. He just doesn't want to miss playing time under the league's concussion rules. "It's a precaution put in place to protect tough people from themselves—take it out of the hands of the players, who would play through anything."
Sensible. Commendably uncrazy. But ... one time Joe Greene got so fed up with being held in a game against the Eagles that he grabbed the ball away from the Philadelphia center and flung it into the stands. And walked off. "We watched the ball spiral into the seats," recalled Andy Russell. "It seemed like it took forever. There we were: We didn't have a ball, we didn't have a left tackle. It was like he was saying, O.K., if you won't play right, we won't play at all."