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Steelers Cook: In this instance, some things are much better left unsaid

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

A little angry at Bill Cowher this morning? The man has some nerve, doesn't he? You have questions. Important questions. Quarterback questions. Why Graham on Sunday? Why not Kordell? You don't want to hear Cowher say, "It's pretty self-explanatory." You don't want to see his arrogant smirk -- it's back now that he has won two in a row after losing 18 of 24 -- that all but screams, "I'm the boss and I don't have to explain myself to you or anyone else." Leave the stonewalling to Gore and George W. tonight. You want answers, darn it!


That's one way of looking at it.

Here's another:

What is Cowher supposed to say?

That he has watched Kordell Stewart long enough to realize he's never going to make it as an NFL quarterback?

That he kicks himself every day for not coming to that conclusion before the Steelers re-signed Stewart to a long-term extension?

That Stewart nearly got him fired after last season and he's not going to put his fate in his hands again unless he has to?

That as well as Stewart played in the 20-3 win against the New York Jets and the 24-13 win at Jacksonville, his contributions had less to do with the outcome than the marvelous play of the defense, the fine blocking of the offensive line, fullback Jon Witman and the wide receivers and the hard running of Jerome Bettis and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala?

Kent Graham has had to pick himself up many times in his career. (Peter Diana, Post-Gazette)

That his eyes told him Kent Graham gave the Steelers their best quarterback play -- such as it was -- in more than two years against Cleveland in Week 2 and Tennessee in Week 3 and would have won those games if the defense hadn't stunk?

That Graham threw for 254 yards against the Titans, nearly the combined total Stewart passed for against the Jets and Jaguars?

That Graham can get the ball down the field and Stewart can't and often won't even try?

That Stewart can make a big play only by running or scrambling with the football, which isn't enough to win most weeks?

That Graham sees the field better and makes quicker decisions?

That Stewart is spooked by the demanding fans at Three Rivers Stadium?

That he is spooked by the thought of playing Stewart in front of the demanding fans at Three Rivers?

That the last time Stewart started a home game he threw two horrible early interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals -- the opponent Sunday -- in what became an embarrassing 27-20 loss in November?

That he learned a long time ago the cardinal rule of coaching, which is don't allow the fans and media to run your team?

That the same people who are voting for Stewart in one silly quarterback poll or another around town are the same people who wanted him cut, traded or turned back into "Slash" three weeks ago?

That those same people will turn on Stewart again in a heartbeat when he throws his first interception, even his first third-down incompletion?

You expected Cowher to say all of that?

In other words, you expected the truth?


This is one of those times when the truth is best left unsaid. Graham has a severe mobility disorder. His chances of making it through the rest of the season without another injury are slim. Sooner or later, Cowher will have no choice but to go back to Stewart. The last thing he needs to do now is bruise his fragile psyche by publicly discussing why he believes Graham gives the Steelers their best chance of winning Sunday.

"I feel like I know what I'm doing," Cowher said.

It's his fanny. We'll know soon enough if he made the right decision.

It says here he did.

Certainly, Cowher has done everything right so far, from immediately quashing any chance of a quarterback controversy in his locker room after the game against the Jets to failing to add to the public hysteria yesterday.

Now if he'd only lose that smirk ...

Ron Cook can be reached at rcook@post-gazette.com.

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