Post Backs Off

By Pollack, Joe | St. Louis Journalism Review, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Post Backs Off


Pollack, Joe, St. Louis Journalism Review


Where have you gone, Bernie Miklasz and Bryan Burwell? Scott Linehan and the St. Louis Rams declare war on the media--and you disappear from the scene, probably off to your cozy bunkers on radio and television. Jim Thomas, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's fine football writer, wrote in late July that the Rams were planning to bar the media from attending daily practice sessions.

And they did, in the week before the first regular-season game, and Thomas wrote about it. The first 30 minutes were open for ink-stained and cable-burned wretches to hang around the practice field, observing the goings-on and discussing the quality of the calisthenics while working on their tans, but then, on the Rams' practice field, a horn was sounded and the writers and broadcasters were escorted off the premises.

Obviously, it was closing time ...

I don't know if Miklasz and Burwell said anything during one of their moonlighting jobs, but they did not devote any column space to Linehan's action--a move obviously made with the approval of owner Georgia Frontiere and team president John Shaw.

Linehan had watched the no-media policy at his last two NFL stops, Miami and Minnesota. Of course, if the Vikings had paid more attention to their players than to the media of the Twin Cities, some of the sex-on-the-lake scandal that rocked the team might not have occurred. Safe media are more important than safe sex in the majority of the pro football coaching and ownership world. Following the simple logic developed by Bill Belichick, winning the Super Bowl is merely a matter of keeping the media out of the way. Nick Saban (and what has he won?) at Miami is probably the most restrictive coach in the NFL.

The Pro Football Writers Association (necessary disclosure: I am a dues-paying member) surveys the NFL every year to keep track of these things. The Rams and six other teams are rigidly restrictive in keeping media from talking to assistant coaches.

Only nine teams' practices were open to the media last season, but two of them were the Steelers and the Seahawks, who played in the Super Bowl at the end of the season.

The actions of the Rams and Linehan are disgraceful; the lack of response by Miklasz and Burwell is insulting to their readers.

The Rams have been a proponent of open practices since before they came to St. Louis. But if you want to talk about open practice, let me give you the Football Cardinals. I covered the team for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat when they came to St. Louis in 1960. They played in Busch Stadium at Grand and Dodier. …

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