Was I too harsh when I wrote my piece yesterday on John Steigerwald and his ill-thought-out article regarding Bryan Stow and his choice to wear a jersey? I thought for a minute that I might have been, it posted and I read it, and wondered if I had illustrated malice and venom to an uncalled for extent. I gave it sixty seconds after it was posted, when I was informed that Steigerwald had made a blog post explaining his article. Uh-oh. Perhaps I'd jumped the gun yet again and let my emotions get the best of me. It was all a misunderstanding and I, albeit unknowingly, had attacked one of my own.
Steigerwald's aptly titled "Thanks For Not Taking It Personally" (currently down due to "high traffic volume") did nothing to make me actually regret anything I said. It just added more fuel to the fire, which I suppose is his intention in this case and overall. Either way, best I can recall: he had more than forty or so comments offering direct criticism to his work, a good portion of them well thought-out comments (which had to be moderated before posting, so I imagine a good deal of them never made it to the public) and the like, to which he offered up only one-line, sometimes one-word, sarcastic and sardonic replies. I could picture him droning on with his "Riiight. Suuuuure. Mmhm," just as easily as I was able to picture him verbally berating Bryan Stow on his way out of the hospital.
It's also worth noting that he says word-for-word "I'm not sorry," so don't feel bad about being critical. He does offer up a weak bit about feeling for the Stow family if they were hurt by his article, but basically holds steady saying he'd do it again. So there's that. I just figured this was a guy who wrote a one-off piece at first that was really bad and deserves a colossal amount of flack for it, but a few emails from folks who read my articles later and .. well, I've got some more perspective on this guy. Make the jump for more.
I received a whole lot of emails yesterday, mainly from people in the Pittsburgh area who have had to read Steigerwald's writing for years now, and I was happy with the response. I'm not going to post all of them, but the most prominent email I received was from Chad Weaver, and that email is below:
I am a 33 year old male who was born and lives just north of Pittsburgh, PA. My father raised me to support everything black and gold (Steelers, Penguins and even our Pirates). Pittsburgh, as well described, is a small market yet dedicated sports town. That said, we have a very small contingency of sports journalists covering our beloved teams. Some are good, some are great and now the country has unfortunately been introduced to Mr. Steigerwald. This guy has chased himself out of several jobs due to his lack of intelligence and unorthodox candor. I believe, he has attempted to resurrect his feeble career by becoming a "shock jock" ala Mark Madden. Imitation is a form of flattery, but it is also a proven prerequisite to a lack of originality. I cannot apologize enough for his words to you and the family of the victim in this matter. As a sports town, I firmly believe all Pittsburgher's are ashamed of his ignorance. He doesn't deserve to work in a field where such ill-mannered opinions can be filtered to the masses.
Emphasis mine. I went back and forth with Mr. Weaver a few times, and enjoyed the conversation. We talked a little about the Giants-Dodgers pregame speeches before the AT&T Park game one of their three-game set, referenced other points of fandom and what it means to the game ... but the biggest thing about this email, to me, is the fact that this guy (and many others) are embarrassed to live within an area that Steigerwald has been known to cover and represent with his writing at one time or another.
Another person described to me the jobs that Steigerwald has been fired for in the recent past, and his general perception around Pittsburgh. One email said that Steigerwald should probably be "more pitied than scorned," talking about how he was actually semi-decent at one point, but kind of just slowly fell off, and is now operating out of something not entirely unlike desperation.
Mr. Weaver didn't have to email me, didn't have to say what he said, but I'm glad he did. The emails from all of them restored a little bit of faith, at least a portion of the faith that I'd lost in sports, journalism and humanity in general with this combination of tragedy plus capitalizing on said tragedy. So kudos to the people who emailed me, and here's hoping nobody surfaces who actually agrees with this affront to journalism and compassion.