Pittsburgh Sports Report
September 2000

Press Box View
Was That Wrong?
By Scott Robertson

When you write opinion columns, as I attempt to do every month in this space, there are occasions when things happen that are completely out of your control and render your opinion, for all intents and purposes, stupid.

And, when you hang out at a place like Duke's Station in Bethel Park (never mind how often), you find there is no shortage of people willing to tell you how stupid. Over and over and over.

I am normally a loyal guy, willing to give just about anyone the benefit of the doubt, or, at the very least, a chance to prove me wrong.

Thank you, Kordell Stewart.

And Gene Lamont.

I've tried, I've really tried to support you two guys. I've made all the arguments in your behalf. Even made a few up that didn't make much sense (although they fooled a few folks at Duke's).

But this is it. I'm off the bandwagon. Or bandwagons. You guys have got to go. Obviously, Gene, with you, it's just a matter of another month or so. Kordell, buddy, you may last a little longer than Gene, but I'm thinking by about next May's mini-camp, you'll be in the history books, too.

Kordell, the preseason performance you put together during the games at home should be enough to seal your fate. I know the offensive line wasn't together, and that the top two running backs didn't play. But 1-for-13?

Not that you can read it all into the numbers. I know statistics are like hookers - you can do anything you want with them. Here, though, to me, is the play that sends you out.

It's the preseason opener against Dallas. I believe it was the second catch of Plaxico Burress' career. A short slant across the middle. You threw the ball behind Burress, who stopped, turned, made the catch and headed down the opposite sideline for about a 15-yard pickup.

Looked great on the stat sheet. Would have been a touchdown if you'd hit him in stride.

That, to me, is the problem. After years of buying the arguments that the beat-up offensive line or a new offensive coordinator every year were preventing you from reaching the levels you did in '97, I've seen the light. The fact is, you just don't throw the ball accurately enough often enough.

When you were good, it's because Yancey Thigpen and Charles Johnson made plays for you. This year, folks expect Burress and Troy Edwards to do the same. I'd rather see you make a play. A passing play that required throwing the ball to a receiver on a short route, with precision, timing and accuracy. I don't think it will happen.

And all those balls batted down at the line of scrimmage? Not always the offensive line's fault. If you look at the same receiver long enough, some defensive lineman or linebacker will get his arms up in front of you. I know those guys aren't all that smart, but there are a few things they can figure out.

Miami might be a nice place for you. Chan Gailey is there, and they certainly aren't building any Super Bowl hopes around Damon Huard, Mike Quinn or Jay Fiedler. Heck, you beat Quinn out once, maybe you can do it again.

Now, on to Lamont.

Gene, I know you can't be blamed for Jason Schmidt's bad arm, Francisco Cordova's bad elbow, Kevin Young's bad knees or Kevin McClatchy's bad judgment, but for crying out loud, come up with a plan and stick to it!

Let's see, we're going to give Chad Hermanson a chance in center field. No, no, wait, we have to see what Adrian Brown can do at this level. But Brian Giles is going to play right field - I mean center. Oh, I mean left, because we have to see what Emil Brown can do at this level.

Not to mention Alex Ramirez.

By the way, I finally get the five-year plan now that Giles, Ramirez and Enrique Wilson are here. It was to wait five years for Cleveland to develop some good players. Good job!

Here's what turned me against you, Gene. We got this Dan Serafini and brought him up for one start, or so you said. I remember it clearly - you said he'd start against the Giants, then go to the bullpen. Wasn't going to be a starter, because we had to look at Bronson Arroyo.

Lo and behold, Serafini became a starter and Arroyo is in the bullpen.

How can the players be expected to follow the leader when the leader looks like he doesn't know where he's going?

Now, it looks like he's going out of town.

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