Though Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Monday that quarterback Dennis Dixon will start Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Falcons, the Steelers apparently weren’t happy about the decision of one or more members of the media to report that Dixon took the first-team reps at practice on Monday.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pasted into his blog on Wednesday the contents of the team’s media policy, which had been given to the media earlier in the day. “There’s really nothing new to it, but the Steelers want to re-emphasize it after people began reporting that Dennis Dixon was running the first team in practice on Monday,” Bouchette writes. “That’s supposedly a no-no.”
The irony here is that one of the “people” who “began reporting” that Dixon got the first-team reps on Monday was . . . Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Twice.) And we’re having trouble finding other “people” who committed that specific transgression. Alan Robinson of the Associated Press didn’t do it. Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review didn’t do it.
The summary of the team’s media rules and regulations begins with a clear, bright-line rule regarding the issue of practice reps: “Media 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.” (Emphasis in original.)
And the memo contains this admonition to the “people” who reported on the number of reps taken by Dixon: “Media that continue to violate club policies may have their access to
the team’s practice facility or on game days subject to review.”
The secrecy seems a little unreasonable, since most teams include one or more players or assistant coaches who would blab to someone in the media (or to someone who can then blab to the media) the identity of the quarterback who took the first-team reps at practice, which then would allow the information to be reported. Moreover, with Tomlin acknowledging on Monday that Dennis Dixon will start Sunday’s game, the violation seems to be minor at best — unless Tomlin announced the starter only because word was already out that Dixon had gotten the first-team reps.
The fact that Bouchette published the list of media rules raises other interesting (at least to us) questions. Did the Steelers suggest that he should do it? If so, were the Steelers expecting a stronger acknowledgment/apology from Bouchette that he’d violated the rule? Or did Bouchette post the policy on his own, and will the Steelers be upset that he blew the whistle on their policies and their procedures for enforcing them? Finally, was Bouchette’s recent decision to blast the “national media” for repeating Tomlin’s comments to Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of Sirius NFL Radio part of an effort to make amends with the organization for letting the cat out of the bag regarding Dixon taking the first-team practice reps?