Big Lead Sports Bar


Is That "Mark" as in "Marked Man"?

ESPN Radio 1250's Mark Madden has had a tough week with the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Wednesday, I reported the possible feud brewing between the city's top-rated sports radio host and the city's best wide receiver on the topic of autograph fees. On Thursday, according to Madden, another shoe hit the floor: the Steelers asked WTAE to remove Madden from their Sunday night sports show over using the word "jackass". If the station refused, the Steelers would no longer make players available to WTAE for interviews. I believe this is called "hardball".

On his show today, Madden cited several examples of the Steelers controlling the local media's content. To support his theory, I started thinking of other instances in the not-too-distant past. Was there not a similar story last year about Bill Cowher and Rob Rossi centering around one "Fast" Willie Parker? As the link provided would explain, the answer is "yes".
I knew there was a Steeler Mafia. I had no idea how deep it ran.
(photo via SteelersMafia MySpace page. Check it out for more Steeler pics & content)

Example #2: the Ben Roethlisberger Drunk Pictures from Deadspin. They made the internet rounds during the playoff run, but funny, you never heard much about them on local TV, which beats every "Steelers off the field" angle thoroughly into the ground...
Well, it turns out that WTAE DID plan on running a piece, but the initial response was so negative, that news editor Bob Longo killed the story before it ran, according to a Deadspin article.
You'll never see this photo in the Fedko Zone

There is no doubt Steelers have an incredible amount of influence on most of the media outlets in our city. When Roethlisberger had his accident, it was the only story on each of the local 11 PM newscasts for the first 20 minutes. No world news, no national news, no local news, no weather, just Big Ben, Big Ben, Big Ben. Then they kick it to sports and rehash the accident again! This was absolutely a huge story, but when is enough enough? That day simply reinforced the old axiom that Pittsburgh has a "football problem"...of course, that also reinforced that the city's "trusted news sources" have one as well.

Are these the real editors of local news content?
(photo via SteelersMafia MySpace page)

The real problem is that journalistic integrity has absolutely gone out the window in this country; Pittsburgh is merely a reflection of the national problem. I don't even have a degree in journalism and I can see this. Teams have become too close with the TV/Radio/Newspaper outlets in this city. For example, if media outlet X is a partner of the Pirates, can we really expect to get fair and balanced coverage? Or will certain anti-Pirate stories be killed for fear of damaging the business relationship?

Let's face it: the Steelers equal more TV ratings, more listeners, and more newspapers sold. That would explain half the team having their own TV shows, players making regular radio appearanes, and the team dominating the headlines beyond the sports section. So the media has every incentive to maintain a solid, pro-Steeler relationship in order to receive adequate access to players and storylines. In their mind, it's just business. But that's exactly the problem: the relationship has gone beyond subject and author; now we are talking about two business partners. More coverage for the Steelers equals more jerseys sold, more Terrible Towels waving, and a fan base that has grown to include thousands in every state of the U.S.A.

I must admit, I'm very disappointed in even having to write this article. I often viewed the Steelers on a pedestal, as a bit "better" than other pro sports organizations. They always carried themelves with such class, with such dignity...trying to get stories buried seems like something I'd expect to hear from a New York or Chicago team. Throwing one's weight around to get their way makes the franchise look like a big, bad bully. I would argue that's even an uglier picture than any one a local media member could paint. But what do you expect? They are part of the very league that buried a television show - ESPN's Playmakers - because it hit a little too close to home for their liking. This situation seems like nothing more than a case of history repeating itself.

Let's hope a horse head doesn't show up in Madden's bed this weekend


Bic said...

I agree with what you said, I listen to Madden while he was talking about this today and it sounds like crap.

It's his job to critize the team when it's appropriate and when you're 3-6.

Maybe get a coach who gives a damn about the team and helps them win and this wouldn't happen.

Anonymous said...

he gets raked over the coals on steelers boards because he doesnt have his nose up their asses like everyone else, especially at channel 4......they had to fire him, otherwise they wouldnt be able to do their stupid fucking "steelers behind the scenes" their secret salon "who cares?"

Anonymous said...

Madden's act is a tired one.

He's best suited for his true love, professional wrestling.

In any other setting, he's nothing more than an antagonistic, uninformed blabbermouth.

Anonymous said...

yeah, but he's successful, bitch.

Anonymous said...


You are turning into a true "Muckraker"! Keep up the solid investigative journalism and sarcastic commentary. I love it!

People, if you really want to know what's going on in Pittsburgh sports, the only places you can get the "unfiltered information" is on the Mark Madden Show and and at Mondesi's House.

The rest of these people are nothing but a bunch of shills for the Rooneys and Cowher. F them!!!

Anonymous said...

Duce Staley = Fredo Corleone.

Simply a case of the media being super lazy these days, what with the internet, talk radio and cable news getting all the scoops. For example: all the news stories about gas prices. Let alone the fact that anyone over 16 already knows how high they are, we are told that 'consumers are outraged'. Really?

Jeff A.

The word verification thingie that I used to post this had 'poon' in it. True story.

Anonymous said...

It's bad enough listening to Madden let alone looking at him. He's nothing but a loud mouth jerk. I am glad he's off TV. Now I only wish he'd be canned from radio too.

Anonymous said...

Blah... more Madden schtick. Insult Steelers. Insult Steeler fans. Possibly invent a rumor about the Steelers that may or may not be true.

Yinzers go wild. More Yinzers listen to his crappy show. Madden makes more money. Same morons that bitch about him still listen.

Didn't Howard Stern perfect this act on a larger scale about 25 years ago?

Being as though I can care less whether Mark is employed or not, I could care less that the Steelers might want him fired.

Anonymous said...

Madden would NEVER kiss the Steelers' asses. It would take away from the time he spends blowing the Penguins.

Anonymous said...

Has TAE rolled over on this yet? What's taking them so long? I would be shocked -- SHOCKED! -- if it took longer than a nanosecond. Not only are the electronic types in bed with the team, they're getting out of it every morning and asking "What can I make you for breakfast after I blow you, hon?"

Beano Cook's three worst inventions of the 20th century:

Income tax

Artificial turf

Local news

And who's watching their AAA lineup when the "Sports Showdown" is on at the same time anyway? Andrew "What do we think about this, guys?" Stockey is just awful.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous person #1,

I believe that Madden gets raked over the coals on the Steelers message board for a good reason.

The people on that message board are Steeler fans. Madden has ALWAYS said that he hates the Steelers and their fans.

It's not a case of a guy rightfully criticizing a bad team. He does it even when they're good. It's probably just a shock jock ratings-getting technique. Steelers are the biggest game in town, so if you constantly rip them in public, you will get attention.

So forgive people on a STEELERS message board if they don't like a guy that has claimed to hate them and their team for years now.

Anonymous said...

Madden is a jerk-off. I remember him wearing a Levon Kirkland jersey during some pro wrestling event. Isn't he a bit old to wear a Steeler's jersey? Does he not have a clue how ridiculous he looked in that XXXX-L jersey? He makes me want to puke! Please do me a favor quit listening to him and get him off the airwaves. They shouldn't be polluted with the vile spewing out of his piehole.

Megatron said...

I say lay it down how it is. That is pretty weak to bump his show over some comment. This isn't Nazi Germany. What is going on in Pittsburgh? Are they burning books down der at Heinz field? Was this just an excuse maybe? I am concerned for Madden though. I heard the Steelers Secret Police have revealed that he is a former KGB agent, and get this, he is reading books about the Steelers, and memorizing the information to one day pass down this information to future generations! I also heard he is taking happy pills and plans to infiltrate a genetics laboratory at Saint Vincent College training camp posing as Art Rooney to take a space flight to Titan, one of Jupiter's moons, like in the movie GATTACA starring Ethan Hawk. God's speed Mark!

Unknown said...

Megatron you are truly "Out there"