Notebook: Game-day tips

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b>On Tuesday, Steelers Coach Bill Cowher cut off an out-of-town reporter who'd implied Cowher wanted "one for the thumb."

"I'm looking for any finger personally," Cowher corrected. "They're all open."

So on Wednesday, at a press conference starring team president Art Rooney II, the reporter was more careful. He asked Rooney if he had any rings from the organization's championship seasons.

"I have two out of four," Rooney said. "I was not working full-time for the team for the first two."

So this would be one for the middle finger?

"I guess you could say that," Rooney said, before touching on a number of topics.

-- On Bill Cowher, the coach whose contract Rooney extended before the season:

"I'm very disappointed that Bill wasn't named coach of the year. I think he should have been, with that kind of season, the kind of job he did this year. With all due respect to Marty (Schottenheimer), I was just surprised and disappointed that somebody who coaches a team to a 15-1 record, including 14 in a row, which is only the second time it's ever been done in the history of the NFL, wouldn't be coach of the year."

-- On the development of the North Shore:

"We are on schedule. There are a couple projects that are out there that we are waiting for them to fall into place so the rest of the project can fall into place, that being the parking garage and the light-rail system."

-- On the playing surface at Heinz Field:

"I think the field will be in good shape. With the relatively warm January and December, we actually had some grass grow on the field. We expect it to be in pretty good shape."

The purpose of the press conference was to allow Rooney to update fans on some of the details surrounding Saturday's 4:30 p.m. event.

Citing the possibility of flooding in the city, Rooney urged fans to pay attention to local media for updates on traffic problems.

Rooney also cited the large crowds stuck at the entrance gates in reminding fans the weather will be too cold to wait until the last minute to enter the stadium. He said the gates would open at 1:30 p.m. for access to The Great Hall. All other gates will open at 2:30 p.m.

Hank Williams, Jr. will sing the National Anthem and at halftime will host the national finalists for the Punt, Pass and Kick competition. The coin that will be used for the pre-game toss is from Iraq. It was sent to the Steelers by marines from the 3rd Aircraft Wing.

"There are several Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio people in this particular squadron," Rooney said. "The commanding officer who actually sent the coin happens to be from Findlay, Ohio. I would imagine he has an interest in certain players on the team as well."


Two Steelers missed Wednesday's practice. Linebackers Kendrell Bell and Joey Porter were sent home with the flu.

"It was hopefully a 24-hour thing," said Cowher. "We didn't want to take any chances getting them around the rest of the players. Both guys will be back tomorrow ready to go."

Jets quarterback Chad Pennington also missed practice with the flu. Since the Jets didn't practice Monday or Tuesday, Pennington has yet to practice this week.

Also missing the Jets' practice Wednesday were back-up quarterback Quincy Carter (personal reasons) and reserve linebacker Kenyatta Wright (foot). Wright is listed as probable, as are Pennington and defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson (thigh).

Defensive end John Abraham has missed the last five games with a sprained knee ligament and is questionable this week. Last week, Abraham, the Jets' best pass-rusher, intimated he didn't want to risk further injury since he's in line for a big new contract this coming off-season. Coach Herm Edwards defended Abraham.

"He just couldn't go full speed," Edwards told Pittsburgh reporters. "Sometimes, what's right for the team is not playing if you're not healthy. I know a lot of players that want to play and they say, 'I'm going to play.' And then all of a sudden, two or three snaps into the game, they're out. Now you lost a player and you lost a spot. Now you're short a guy. So I think the players are always going to do … what's right for the football team."


Cowher on whether the spirit of the late Art Rooney, Sr. is still with the team:

"Well, it is through (chairman) Dan Rooney. I never met The Chief but everything I hear about him certainly sounds a lot like the guy that is in this building every day. He walks down to the locker room and he is out at practice. They are very similar people, very unassuming, very down to earth and have a great feel for people. The guy is very proud to be from Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh should be very proud of him."

Steel City Insider Top Stories