Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Cope with that -- motorcycle pushed off the nearest bridge and other cycle tidbits.

Myron had some good advice for Tommy M and Ben R -- Steeler quarterbacks. He suggested that the two, if they still have a brain in their heads that God gave them, that these motorcycle riders should take their bikes to a bidge and push them off.

If nothing else, get rid of the cycles for the sake of the 50 other teammates.

I'm not keen about sending wheeled lumps of trash into the rivers -- or off of bridges due to "green concerns" -- but I agree with Myron Cope's advice.

Today we were driving to swim practice and Rt. 51 between the Liberty and Ft. Pitt tunnels and traffic went to one lane. In the other lane, police already on the scene, was a car with a bent fender and a motorcycle on its side in a couple bits. A guy was flat on his back on the pavement.

We offered a prayer in our car driving past. Sadly, somewhere, calls went out to some family to meet at the hospital.

Creepy as Myron Cope offered the advice on the 11 pm news. Fedko also reported that it is 40 days until the start of the Steelers season.

In other bike news -- today I took the training wheels off of my youngest son's bike. He's 7 and not good -- yet -- on his bike. In the city, our opportunities to bike ride are self-made.

Tomorrow I'll try to get to the bike shop for new tires and a tune-up of my Trek 520, 1982 model, $420 retail. It is a budget racer. With my triathlon ambitions, I had better put some time on the road and trails.


Anonymous said...

By Steel City Sports
Date: Jun 21, 2005

Myron Cope, the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers the last 35 seasons, has retired. The noted sportscaster, author and after-dinner speaker has been the color analyst for radio broadcasts of Steelers game since 1970. He won’t be replaced on what will be a two-man team of Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin. Following is the complete transcript of the June 21 press conference at Steelers headquarters:


Good morning ladies and gentlemen and thank you for joining us here this morning. I first would like to introduce Mr. Gene Romano, the senior vice president of programming at Clear Channel Communications who has an important announcement.


Good morning. As most of you here are aware, Myron has experienced various health concerns over the past few years, particularly last year with some voice problems. We had a meeting with Myron yesterday and he informed us that he is retiring. We’ve been very fortunate to have Myron as part of the (W)DVE family for a number of years, but over the past 35 years it’s been just pretty amazing, Myron’s ability to carve out a memorable position and earn the respect and admiration over the years with not only Pittsburgh Steeler fans, but Pittsburghers in general. You know, Myron has accomplished so much over his career, and we’ll distribute a bio, which certainly is evidence of that, but I think Myron’s greatest accomplishment is the sort of bigger-than-life magnitude of his ability to again earn that admiration of respect with not only people in this region but all over the country. I think sometimes in our business the word legendary is thrown around quite a bit, but really there are only a handful of broadcasters in America that have truly earned that title of legendary and Mr. Cope is on the top of that list. When you think about the unique and passionate love affair between the Steelers and this community, I don’t think there’s any denying that Myron has helped fuel that emotion and that bond. Myron, we’ll never forget your unique approach, the lightening-quick wit and intellect, the amazing analysis and perspective that you’ve shared with us, and certainly the twisted sense of humor and insight over the years.


I’d like to, number one, thank Myron for so many years of having so much fun with Steeler fans. I think that Myron put the color in color analyst. I think his style and the way he broadcast the games, the way he interacted with fans, really, I think, brought our fans closer to the team and made our team more a part of things than maybe other fans did across the country, and for that Myron we thank you.
I would like to announce that to allow our fans to really show Myron their appreciation for these many years that on Monday night, Oct. 31, when we play our Monday night game here in Pittsburgh, it will be Myron Cope Night at Heinz Field. It will give our fans a chance to show their appreciation, and really fans across the country their chance to share in wishing Myron well. Hopefully, Myron, your retirement days aren’t too tied up yet that we can put that date on your calendar. Finally, I’d like to present to Myron the game ball from the last game that you broadcast. Even though it wasn’t a Steelers victory I think we did set a record for most Terrible Towels at a Steelers game at that game. Certainly, the Terrible Towel will be a way that Myron will continue to be a part of the Steeler game-day tradition for many years.
We’re going to try one more time to reach Ireland.

DAN ROONEY (conference call)

Thank you. I’m calling from Ireland and I would like to thank Myron for the great contribution that he made to the Steelers for so many years. He was heard at all the important games with us since the seventies. And the big thing, Myron made it fun. He always made it fun for everyone, the fans especially, but the players, the coaches, front office, and me and my father before me. I’d just like to say Myron we wish you all the best. You have our regards always. I’m looking forward to seeing you often.


Hey, Dan, it’s great of you to be here one way or another. What time is it in Ireland?

Dan Rooney: Four in the afternoon.

Myron Cope: Oh, that’s OK. Hey, it’s very nice of you Dan and let me say this, and I told this to Art the other day, the great thing that helped me throughout my career was that you guys never interfered with me. You never told me what to say, what not to say. The only time you ever beefed about what I said was one time when you invited me to dinner in Cleveland to argue that I was wrong when I said on my talk show several times that it was lousy that you guys had joined the NFL parade by charging people, season-ticket holders, making pre-season tickets mandatory, part of the package, and I said that stinks. You invited me to dinner and we argued, I guess, for two hours and neither one convinced the other.

Dan Rooney: I’m sure of that. I’m sure of that. They were great times and that’s why it was a great relationship, Myron.

Myron Cope: Well, you picked up the tab that night.

Dan Rooney: Well, it was great and you always were terrific and you were professional, and the big thing is how those players of the seventies, and all the way till now, but when we have those affairs and you come, they all really think so much of you. You were really part of it. You were part of the team. The Terrible Towel many times got us over the goal line.

Myron Cope: Well, OK. You should’ve given me a tip for that one. But I have so many friends from the various football teams, and I always felt that I could be objective. That was part of my job, even though they were friends. It’s kind of sad to me that some of the media today are even under orders not to be friends with the people they write about, to form friendships. Maybe there’s – well, I’m sure there’s – sound logic behind that, or some logic, but it is kind of sad because I’ve got so many guys from those teams you speak of, and others, that I can call friends.

Dan Rooney: Well, that was really true. There was many a night we sat up and we would have all the writers there with us. Of course, in those days we didn’t have a hundred writers. We only had five. But we would get in a lot of arguments about what plays would be called and everything else.

Myron Cope: Well, you and I are now talking too much about the past, which is something I’ve always tried to avoid.

Dan Rooney: Alright, Myron, it’s been great.

Myron Cope: Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s kind of strange to be up here instead of out there. I’ve never been here before. But, OK. Jerome, with a quad, he’s probable.

Ben, with a cracked head, he’s out. Oh, before I forget about it … maybe some of you could deliver a message for me to Ben (Roethlisberger) and Tommy Maddox, namely that if they still got a brain in their head, the brain God gave them, they’ll take their motorcycles to the nearest bridge and push them off, if for no other reason than they’ve got 50-something teammates depending on them. I don’t know if that’s ever crossed their minds. So, if you can, deliver that.

The press release relates that Joe Gordon – and many of you know him. He was with the Steelers in an executive capacity for so many years. He had like 10 titles but he worked with the media. Joe very recently dropped into my house and told me that I had at many times told him that if he ever detected me slipping in the broadcast booth, losing a step you know, he should tell me and I would retire. So recently he told me that at my home. And I guess, Joe, I thought about it for about 10 seconds and I said I’m done. But I want to put that in perspective. Two days before that, Joe and I were on the phone one evening and he was asking how I was doing, and he said to me, ‘Do not go another year in the booth. You’ve got 35 years in and with your health –.’ That’s what he did. My slipping, he attributed it to my health problems. But anyhow, he said, ‘It’s too punishing for you to go another year. It’s too physically taxing.’

Well, I rejected that advice because I recently started voice therapy at the UPMC voice center, headed up by Dr. Clark Rosen, my physician there, and they have treated many other notable singers out there. But anyhow, I recently went into voice therapy there and I’m very hopeful that my voice will be back, at least to broadcast quality, by the time pre-season starts. I also recently entered physical therapy, swimming-pool therapy, three times a week as an out-patient at Health South Harmarville, and I am much experienced there and I know it’s just a tremendous place. So I’m hoping they can do something with my legs. So I told Joe, no, I could do another season. So having failed with that line, he came over my house and laid it on the line for me, that I’d been slipping and there’s no greater authority, and it takes a very special friend to tell you the truth when he knows it’s going to hurt. I thought it over later, created situations in my mind, from broadcasts last year, which was the worst of my years in terms of difficulty, and I said he’s absolutely right. I could see it: situations that involved, for example, the clock, and strategy as it related to the clock, or a seldom-invoked rule, and I remembered that I was shutting up in those circumstances and leaving it to Billy and Tunch, which I had never done before. I wasn’t sure of myself in other words. It was a little tough getting around and I guess it wore on me. So anyhow, I’m done.

Folks, I’m open to questions.

What are you going to do on Sundays?
I’m going to watch the game, or be at the game. I’ll see how it goes, whether I want to be there or watch it, but I’m going to be not an iota less interested in the ball team than I’ve ever been. In the mail the other day, Sports Illustrated sent me a piece I did. They’re re-publishing it in an anthology. I did it in 1944. No. I did it in ’73. I was 44. And I’d forgotten all about it, but I read how I – this followed the Steelers winning their first divisional title – and I wrote about one thing and another about the Steelers. Right off the bat I related how I was sneaking into the games when I was 13. So I’ll still be interested.

Have you ever considered writing as a career?
Matter of fact, I have in mind a book. I’d rather not go into details because I don’t know if I’ll do it. But I have in mind a book, which would be my sixth book.

What was your greatest thrill in the booth?
The answer is a disappointment because it was so obvious. Oh, I wasn’t in the booth though. Franco’s Immaculate Reception. I was in the stupid practice in those days of leaving the booth with two minutes to play because I had that locker room show to do and I was afraid of getting caught in the crowds or whatever and not making it in time. So I figured they wouldn’t miss me in the last two minutes. Well they didn’t that day either ’cause (Jack) Fleming did a great call. But that was my greatest thrill, sure. You know, Franco (Harris), on the 30th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, he called me up and he said, ‘Let’s have dinner.’ Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Nice place. Fine. He said ‘We’ll celebrate it.’ Just Franco and me, I thought it was lovely. You know, I made friends. But at dinner he gave me as a memento, it was rolled up, a photo of him running to the touchdown. And my God, behind him, in the background, on the side was the great street-fighter Joey Diven. I wasn’t in the photo, but I was in the end zone. He ran straight to me in the corner, yelling: Come on, Franco. If you look at some of the films, you’ll see a little guy in a trench coat, from behind, with a bald spot, and that’s me. Franco gave me this photo and I of course put it on the wall. And I just looked at it about a week ago, and he had inscribed on it, ‘Believe in miracles.’ And I said, you betcha, because I had one from a doctor, Michael Finikiotis, a year ago last May that enabled me to come back for another season. I saw that ‘Believe in miracles,’ I said, well. Then when Joe called me, tried to talk me out of continuing, I said the heck with it. But then he gave me a good reason.

Could you talk about your relationship with Jack Fleming and Billy over the years?
Well, much of it was spent fighting. We were great pals. But you know, I was a real trial for Jack because I was asked by the Steelers and the radio station – WTAE, which had just gotten the rights – to be the color analyst. I says, I don’t know anything about that. They said, ‘Give it a shot.’ OK. Well, I knew nothing. I got into radio and TV in the first place by accident. I never studied to be a broadcaster but that’s a long story. Anyhow, I went in the booth not knowing what you’re supposed to do, and Fleming would get so angry. He would turn beet red and at the first commercial break he would leave the booth and go out in the hall or whatever it was to cool off and come back when the play resumed. There was a time, the first year I believe it was, in Philadelphia and Frenchy Fuqua ran like 80 yards for a touchdown. Fleming is trying to describe the play, and one rule was the audience cannot hear when two people talk at the same time on a mike on radio. The audience can’t make out what they’re saying. But I don’t know that and I’m on my feet yelling: Frenchman, quit looking behind you! He keeps looking like this for who’s going to tackle him, and I’m yelling like that and Fleming, oh my God, was he mad. But the bottom line is we became great friends, very personable friends, and I have missed him since his unfortunate death.

What do you say to the fans who’ve listened to that voice the last 35 years?
Well, it’s going to come back, or most of it, I do believe. But the fans, I’m so glad you brought that up ’cause what has happened since the last season, all the time in the off-season has been to me remarkable and overwhelming. It seems like almost every time I leave the house to go somewhere, people stop me, strangers you see, and they say very sincerely, it’s evident, ‘How are you, Myron? How’s your health?’ Or similar words. And I say, OK, coming along, feeling better every day, great. And then they say, ‘You gonna be back this year?’ And I’ve been saying you betcha. So in that fact, if I’m disappointing people, I’m sure they understand. But the obvious affection has been just indescribable to me. The fans have been just wonderful.

What advice would you give young sports journalists?
I’m not big on giving advice, but I would tell them, you know, there will be disappointments, unexpected turns in your life, in your career, as I have had. There’ve been a couple of them: from newspaper guy to magazines to broadcasting, one thing and another. But if you put everything into it that you have, it’s probably going to turn out good, a change for the better.
I don’t know if this is to the point, but I used to get these letters from young guys, high school, college guys, telling me they wanted to be a sportswriter, they’ve been a sports fan all their life, they know the statistics inside out, and blah, blah, blah. And I would tell them that doesn’t matter. Anybody can be a sports fan and know the statistics. You’ve got to know that you are going into something that you have a talent for, a desire for, not on the basis of just being a fan. Whether it supports writing, broadcasting, know that this was what you were meant for. Statistics don’t sell it.

What are your thoughts on being called legendary?
Well, you know, the term legendary, the boys on the morning show, when I do a little thing with them, they’ve always introduced me as the legendary Myron Cope. And I’ve always suspected that the bosses told them, ‘You introduce this guy as the legendary ----,’ but somehow it’s always made me feel like I’m six months from the grave. So I don’t know. And I get that word icon. My God, that had a religious meeting at one time. Somebody at the meeting yesterday said, ‘You’re an icon and you’re liable to become a saint.’ And I said only if Benedictine the 16th says yes. But you know you have to keep perspective. I thought about it, just this morning, that the thing I’m most proud of is my credibility. I think that has a lot to do with what you’re talking about. I’ve always guarded it. I want people to believe that if I say something I know what I’m talking about, at least partially, and that that’s what I believe. I never played devil’s advocate on my talk show in the almost 22 years I had it. I never did because I don’t want to say something I don’t believe in. So I think people have bought me. Hey, commercially it’s been useful. It helped sell products. But really as I thought about it this morning I really was on the alert all the time: Are you being credible, Cope?

You’ve had a varied career. How would you like to be remembered?
I tell you, I’ve often thought that when I kick the bucket there’ll be a little story there and it’ll say: Creator of towel dead. Truthfully, I was I think gifted and educated to be a writer, and I made it as a writer. People think I went into broadcasting for the money. It’s not so. The explanation is in my book “Double Yoi!” You can buy it. But that’s what I was trained to be and that’s what I wanted to be most and that’s what I had a gift for, and so I would like to be remembered as a pretty decent writer. Once tried to get a raise from my editor at Sports Illustrated. I was a contract writer they call it. I was under contract to give them preference, and if they wanted to send me someplace I would be available blah, blah. I was after her again for a raise and she said, ‘My God, Myron, you are now paid as much as any of our contract writers.’ And that included George Plimpton and a few other people. So, OK, I’m bragging a little, but this was what was dear to me. When I first got in broadcasting, some of the guys I could tell they kind of resented it, when I spent time in the press box with the print media, but that was temporary. But, yeah, I’d like to be remembered for my writing.

Any player you became really close to? And how about the Chief (Art Rooney)?
I’d like to think that over the years the Chief and I became very good friends. In fact, I wrote about him, a book about the early days of pro football. He was a chapter in there. I’m sure he had many closer friends than me, but we were pals I’d like to think. The players? Hard to say. I mentioned Franco as a wonderful, lasting friend. Joe Greene, terrific friend. I told you about a doctor, Michael Finikiotis, making me OK for another year a year ago last May. And I was in the hospital because I couldn’t function. I had said there’s no way I’ll ever broadcast again. I’ll be in a nursing home. I was reading nursing home literature. And Andy Russell, he and two other close friends, Sam Zacharias and Bob Pfaff, they did some research and Sam came in my room and said, ‘You’re being shipped tomorrow to Presbyterian (Hospital) where you can see a guy named Michael Finikiotis. And after a week there he diagnosed me as having polymyalgia (rheumatica). It’s not rare, but it’s an uncommon disease. They don’t really know what causes it. When he told me, I said polymyalgia? They took a couple tests. He put me on medication. Bingo. He wanted me go to therapy. I went out for physical therapy for 10 days at Health South Harmarville, and man, I was lifting weights the next day practically. And I kept going good, getting better and better. I had throat surgery last July because they had discovered a little bump that tested positive. They caught it at the earliest stage and said it won’t re-occur, and it hasn’t. I’ve had it tested many times. But I went in for surgery. There were complications and I ended up in intensive care. So it seemed to me like ever since then I was losing the progress that I made, and thus last season was very tough.

How do you see the game today?
It’s been said time and against by millions of us that the money has changed the game. There’s no question about that. And you see players doing ridiculous things. That wideout in Philly (Terrell Owens) who signs a multi-million dollar contract last year and now wants to renegotiate it. One year he played, and that’s intolerable. Coaches. It’s such a terrible thing for them. (Bill) Cowher is masterful, I must tell you, in handling this kind of thing. A classic example is him inviting Ben in and asking that he put a helmet on when he rides his bike, and Ben saying no to him, or declining. You know, in another time, he calls that guy in and says your motorcycle better be sold tomorrow or I’ll fine you a certain amount of money and there’s no argument. This coach, after all, (has) been head coach 13 years. Ben’s 23. Coach has to walk on tiptoes with these guys. It amazes me (turns to Rooney) that your guy can do this so well. You’ve got to swallow your pride. But I still think, that even with today’s players, they’re people. You can – and I haven’t had the opportunity for a long time because I got too old for them – have a toddy, you know, and that stuff. But you can find them to be lovely people and a lot of fun. So, sure it’s changed a great deal to the bad, but there’s still a lot there. And look, it’s still the biggest game in America.

During the AFC Championship Game last year, did the thought cross your mind that it would be your last time in the booth?
No, honestly not. My biggest thing going into the game was it was my birthday and I wanted them to give me a trip to the Super Bowl as a gift. But they came out on the field – and you can replay that game with coaching decisions, whatever – but to me, and it was evident very early, I said on the broadcast I can’t recognize these guys. Both sides of the ball, they ain’t playing their game. To me that was it in a nutshell. Compared to the way they had previously played, they stunk the joint out.

Now that you’ve made this decision, are you OK with this? And do you feel relieved?
Relief I don’t feel. That hasn’t crossed my mind. I’m totally OK with the decision. As I said when Joe left the house, I thought about it all night. I thought about it ever since. In fact, the doctor called me this morning to tell me the latest tests were terrific, my chest x-ray good. I had walking pneumonia this off-season, so I was treated and they took chest x-rays. He said the pneumonia’s gone, the tests were good. I told him the last four days I’ve felt lousy. He ascribed that to the stress of making this decision. But I was OK with it, been OK since, because Joe was telling me the truth. So I’m OK with it, totally. Relieved? No because I’d love to be there.

Anonymous said...

Motorcycle crashes into three girls

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
By Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A motorcyclist, who witnesses said was racing with a friend along Chartiers Avenue in Sheraden last night, lost control of his bike on some gravel and plowed down three girls on the sidewalk, triggering a heated response from the girls' family members.

Lake Fong, Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Police Officer John Stofesky investigates at the scene of yesterday's accident in Sheraden.
Click photo for larger image.

All three girls were taken to Children's Hospital and were in serious condition, police said, and the motorcyclist, who several witnesses said was not wearing a helmet, was in critical condition at Allegheny General Hospital.

Two motorcycles were zipping down Chartiers Avenue, eastbound, between Greenway Drive and DuBois Street, at about 6:45 p.m. Witnesses estimated they were going 70 to 80 mph in a zone with a speed limit of 35.

The man driving a maroon Harley-Davidson hit some gravel in the 2600 block of Chartiers and his bike veered up onto the sidewalk, striking the three young pedestrians, who, westbound drivers said, were knocked into the air.

Keith Williams, of Wilkinsburg, said the girls appeared to be between 12 and 15 years old. They fell next to each other. One sustained a deep gash in her leg, another's kneecap was exposed to the bone.

The motorcyclist proceeded forward, slammed into a parked car and fell over outside Murphy's Family Dentistry. He was bleeding profusely from a head injury, police said.

One of the girls' fathers saw the incident and came running. He began yelling at the injured driver and the other motorcyclist, who had parked his blue Kawasaki KZ-13 and rushed to pick up his friend's Harley. Another upset father or relative joined him shortly afterward, police said.

Williams and several other witnesses held the relatives back, until emergency crews came and finally Officer John Stofesky of the South Side police station quelled the situation. Police conducted an interview and sobriety test on the non-injured driver, but said no arrests had been made.

Police diverted traffic away from the area for more than an hour.

The three injured girls remained splayed near a waist-high chain-link fence in front of 2605 Chartiers while paramedics tended to them.

Roslyn Minous, who lives at 2605 Chartiers with her two children, said she worries daily about the vehicles speeding along the street.

"We can't even cross the street sometimes. They need to really look at the speed limit," she said.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed how many motorcycle accidents there have been lately? Actually, when I first saw this story on the news I was surprised--not about the accident, but that the girls were actually on the sidewalk. If it were in Wilkinsburg they would have been hit on the street as parents don't teach their children to use the sidewalks.