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Steelers Daily News & Links: Sunday Ticket Lawsuit, Harrison on Steroids?



Pittsburgh Steelers LB James Harrison
Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison runs out before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 29, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Steelers Daily News & Links: Your daily stop for all of the news and links from the Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL and around the Sports Now Group.

🏈 Pro Football Talk: Via Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, a class action attacking the Sunday Ticket approach will go to trial in June. If the league loses, the damages award could be more than $6 billion — or the cost of the Commanders at its recent sale.

Earlier this month, the NFL took an “L” in its effort to have the case dismissed by summary judgment, a common tool for corporate defendants to avoid juries by arguing there’s nothing for a jury to resolve. The judge denied the NFL’s motion. Trial had been set for February 22; it has since been delayed to June.

The core argument is that the NFL and the Sunday Ticket provider (previously, DirecTV) have created a “premium product” that must be purchased in a full-season, every-game bundle, with no option to buy the ability to buy a smaller package, such as the games featuring one specific out-of-market team. Indeed, Sunday Ticket is regularly marketed to fans who live in one market and who want to watch a team that plays in a different market. To watch, for example, all Packers games if you live in Pittsburgh, you have to plunk down the trumped-up price for the entire package, covering every team and every week.

The end result is an alleged monopoly for the Sunday Ticket provider and an alleged conspiracy to create it. The presiding judge rejected a long list of arguments from the NFL as to why it should win the case without a trial.

🏈 During a recent appearance on “The Steam Room” podcast with Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley, former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher said his four AFC Championship Game losses all hurt more than his Super Bowl XXX defeat at the end of the 1995-96 season to the Dallas Cowboys.

“Losing the Super Bowl, that was tough,” Cowher said. “But you had the whole two weeks. You had the whole hoopla that went in. And there was finality in that game. It’s over, and a week later, everyone’s watching basketball.”

“The (conference) championship games? I lost four of those,” Cowher continued. “Every one of those games came down to the fourth quarter. Every one of those games we could’ve—or should have—won. Then (you) watch the team that beat you go to the Super Bowl. All the stories are being told about them; you’ve got to listen to them for two weeks. You can’t get away from it. The season is still going on.”

Along with losing Super Bowl XXX, Cowher lost AFC Championship Games at home in 1994, 1997, 2001 and 2004. He finally got over the hump and won Super Bowl XL at the end of the 2005-2006 season.

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🏈 Dane Brugler of The Athletic said West Virginia center Zach Frazier is recovering extremely well after suffering a broken leg against Baylor on Nov. 25.

“Spent some time today at OL Masterminds with the great @BigDuke50 (Duke Mayweather). Zach Frazier was RUNNING on the treadmill while I was there. The same Zach Frazier who broke his leg on November 25! Crazy recovery. He is the top center in the draft for several teams,” Brugler wrote on X.

The Steelers are in need of a center, so I’m sure they’re doing their due diligence on Frazier, who played his college ball just 75 miles south of Pittsburgh.

🏈 Former NFL linebacker Will Compton accused Steelers legend James Harrison of using steroids. Former Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, Compton, and the two hosts of the podcast, Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney were discussing how insane the videos Harrison posts of himself working out are. From him squatting six plates, to the videos of him throwing a heavy medicine ball across a volleyball court, the hosts then ask if the former players definitely thought Harrison was on steroids. Lewan shied away from making any accusations, but Compton spoke up. “I think so.”

🏈 Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph said on the Ramon Foster Show that he played free once he was inserted into the starting lineup at the end of the year.

“I think I felt free. I felt a sense of complete freedom and nothing to lose because I really didn’t have anything to lose,” Rudolph said. “I thought that maybe this would be my last year, or maybe I could squeak another year out if somebody gets hurt or goes down in training camp, or maybe you get an opportunity or a call, maybe the Steelers want me back. But I think it’s a fun place to be when you’re not playing with angst or anxiety or trying to make a mistake. I just wanted to score points and win the game each week, and I think simplifying that in my head made it more fun.”

🏈 Speaking to 93.7 The Fan in 2023, former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Leyland remembered fondly how Art Rooney, Sr. aka “The Chief” would visit him during his first very difficult season as manager in 1986. Saturday would have been Rooney’s 123rd birthday.

🎂 Happy Birthday to former Steelers wide receiver/running back Dwight Stone, born on January 28, 1964 in Florala, Alabama. Stone originally signed with Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent in 1987 and was the only undrafted free agent to make the opening day roster. He was an outstanding special teams gunner and kick returner for eight years with the Steelers. He was timed at 4.20 in the 40-yard dash and did 28 reps on the bench press (225 lbs.). Former Steelers head coach Chuck Noll said that Stone had “beep beep” speed and was “the fastest player I’ve ever coached.” Stone caught 152 passes for 2,460 yards and 12 touchdowns (16.2 average) for the Steelers from 1987-1994. His best seasons was in 1991, when he caught 32 passes for 649 yards (20.3 average) and five touchdowns.

📅 Sunday marks the 28th anniversary of the Steelers’ 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, Arizona. Steelers quarterback Neil O’Donnell threw two interceptions to Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown to set up short touchdown drives in the second half.

📅 On this day in 1969, the Steelers selected North Texas defensive tackle Joe Greene at fourth overall in the NFL Draft. Greene went on to have a Hall of Fame career and win four Super Bowl titles with the Steelers. He’s considered universally as the greatest Steeler of all-time.

Greene’s No. 75 jersey was retired in 2014, only the second number in franchise history ever to be retired at the time. Greene was selected to the Pro Bowl 10 times, including eight straight years from 1969-76. He was a five-time first-team All-Pro selection, 11-time first-team All-AFC selection, NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice (1972 and 1974) and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969. He was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, the 1970s All-Decade Team and the Steelers 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Greene was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Steelers Hall of Honor in 2017.

📅 Also on this day in 1971, the Steelers selected Penn State linebacker Jack Ham in the second round of the NFL Draft. Like Greene, Ham also won four Super Bowl titles with the Steelers in the 1970s and has a bust in Canton.

Ham was named the Football News Defensive Player of the Year in 1975, and was selected to eight straight Pro Bowls. He was named All-Pro six times and All-AFC seven times. He retired after the 1982 season with 25 sacks, 21 fumble recoveries and 32 interceptions to his credit. The combined 53 takeaways are the most ever by a non-defensive back. Ham was All-Pro six times, All-AFC seven times and selected to the Pro Bowl eight times. Ham was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Steelers Hall of Honor in 2017.

🎥 Saturday marked the 54th anniversary of the Steelers drafting Terry Bradshaw (first round) and Mel Blount (third round). Bradshaw was selected at first overall, which is the last time the Steelers had the No. 1 pick. The Steelers won  a coin flip with the Chicago Bears to get the No. 1 pick. Bradshaw and Blount both won four Super Bowls with the Steelers and had Hall of Fame careers.



Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Marcus Patterson got the winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Montreal Canadiens in overtime.

Pittsburgh Baseball Now: Former Pittsburgh Pirates utilityman Adam Frazier has a new home for 2024.

Pittsburgh Sports Now: Pitt basketball came back from down 19, but lost on a last-second shot at Miami.

West Virginia Sports Now: WVU football could be losing another assistant coach.

Nittany Sports Now: Penn State cornerback Daequan Hardy loves the idea of playing for the Steelers.

Pittsburgh Soccer Now: Pitt grad Jackson Walti has signed with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.