Questions, questions, and a few answers

The final week of the Steelers' spring drills came to an end with several new questions popping up. Jim Wexell found humor in some of them and more questions in others as he shares his thoughts at the summer break.

These are the thoughts of a sportswriter who's worried he started a little late on his vacation plans and is now in danger of being shut out:

• I wonder if Bill Cowher has a house or two available in mid July on the Outer Banks.

• Bill Cowher the vacation broker. That's as good a guess as any coming out of the media these days concerning Cowher's post-retirement plans.

• Someone – I think it was me – asked Cowher a serious question with a slap-happy smile: What – heh, heh - do you think you're going to do in retirement?

• He answered with a big smile and joked about how much he'd miss the media. The point is that Cowher has nothing to do in retirement. The guy didn't get in THAT kind of shape to walk the beaches of North Carolina with his wife.

• I found the whole line of questioning preposterous. I mean, Cowher hates golf, and is still far too competitive to join the media. I found his remarks about taking it a year at a time to be a thinly disguised negotiating ploy. I didn't even run the quotes.

• Perhaps that makes me a poor newsman, but I just wasn't about to bite on it. Cowher is two years from the end of his contract, which is the traditional negotiating period between he and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he deserves a raise into the $8 million per year club with Mike Holmgren. It all makes too much sense, and I can't blame Cowher for doing it.

• So anyway, my vacation. It looks like it'll be spent fixing up the home this summer. Yeah, what a blast. But I made it up to my wife by grabbing a two-bedroom condo at a resort in Fort Lauderdale for the first week of February.

• Someone called me from a radio show the other day and asked me what I thought of the Steelers' chances of playing Feb. 5 in the Super Bowl in Miami. I said I hadn't given it much consideration.

• I asked Ben Roethlisberger to give this question much consideration: Who will be his underrated receiver to watch this season? Answer at the end.

• Roethlisberger gave someone – I think it was me – an interview after the team's final practice of the spring. He was cordial and thoughtful and respectful and then after it was done he blew off a mob interview because of the presence of Channel 11, which, according to the Beaver County Times, had filmed the towing of one of Roethlisberger's vehicles weeks earlier. It's the same station that had parked outside his home while he was injured last season, so I can't blame him a bit. Perhaps the upper management at Channel 11 will give grieving widows some room next time, too.

• The Steelers hope this will blow over soon. The star player boycotting one particular TV station opens a Pandora's Box of issues, mainly: Where is the line for a law-abiding news agency?

• Perhaps losing a post-minicamp, pre-summer interview with the star player was penalty enough. If Roethlisberger persists picking on one station, he'll eventually have to stop talking to all media.

• The reaction in Pittsburgh to the Baltimore Ravens' acquisition of Steve McNair was different than that in the rest of the country. Steelers fans believe this was a coup for the Ravens, a team that's never had a good quarterback, let alone a quarterback with a history of killing the Steelers. The thinking around the rest of the league is that the Ravens simply got older with the expensive and immobile McNair.

• The money could have been better spent on the future, yes, but the Ravens weren't going anywhere with Kyle Boller. The addition of McNair should only hasten Boller's departure and the transition to a better young quarterback, and Steelers fans can't like that.

Marvin Lewis should've held a press conference and ripped himself for bringing known criminals into the Cincinnati community. Instead, he ripped the known criminals for embarrassing the organization, i.e. Lewis, with their recent crimes.

• The best Steelers player this spring was Roethlisberger. The next best was Heath Miller. The big tight end will be matched up deep more often with little people. And Miller will run over and through said little people once he gets the ball.

• One particular Roethlisberger to Miller deep ball was just about to nestle when outside linebacker Andre Frazier recovered to knock the pass away. Someone from the front office standing nearby began talking about Frazier's resemblance to Charles Haley. As for the play, I can't get the snapshot out of my mind. Frazier did look like a big, agile defensive end loping downfield to break up that pass.

• That's the guy's name I wrote down next to Manny Lawson's when I watched N.C. State's bowl game – Andre Frazier. What a value the undrafted 2005 free agent linebacker could become.

• Speaking of undrafted 2005 free agents, here's the answer Roethlisberger gave to the question about the underrated receiver to watch this season: Nate Washington.

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