I was shooting a segment on Mount Washington today and couldn’t resist taking a picture.  35 degrees and sunny? It’s almost spring in Pittsburgh! At least for today! Enjoy the view.

Pittsburgh

The Washington Capitals have dominated the Penguins this season. The Caps won the first two games by shutout, and in Tuesday night’s win at the Consol Energy Center, the Penguins managed just one goal. The rivalry is alive and well, and after what happened to Kris Letang, you can count on some carryover venom when the Pens visit the Caps next Wednesday.  Letang was whacked on the skates by Washington star Alex Ovechkin.  Letang lost his skate edge trying to get back up and went flying into the boards. Ovechkin says he was just trying to get the puck, “I didn’t think it was a penalty…the puck was in front of his feet, take a shot and that’s it.” Letang had an interesting response when asked about the hit, and the claim that Ovechkin was going for the puck, “Apparently my leg was a puck so I guess he thought his stick could go through my legs and or something like that. I don’t know.”

Former Steelers safety Ryan Clark announced his retirement on ESPN today. Clark, who’s 35-years-old, played 13 seasons in the NFL after signing with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2002.  He started at free safety for the Steelers from 2006 to 2013, playing in two super bowls and winning one. He was always one of the solid soundbites in the locker room, and Clark will continue the career he’s already started as a broadcaster.

Will he return or won’t he? The speculation has mounted about Brett Keisel since he tore his triceps in the middle of the 2014 season. On Wednesday night at his annual “Shear Da Beard” event in Warrendale, Keisel said he wants to return to the Steelers, “For when that day comes, I’ll be ready, and by that day I mean the end. But right now I am under contract and I’m gonna rehab and see where things turn out.” Keisel is signed to the Steelers for one more season.

On Monday morning, only hours after leading the New England Patriots to a rout over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship, superstar quarterback Tom Brady laughed off a suggestion that the footballs used by the Patriots were under-inflated. On Thursday, this time in front of cameras and a packed room of reporters, and in a nationally-televised news conference, Brady had a more somber tone, “this is a very serious subject. The integrity of the sport is very important.” Brady says he didn’t know about any tampering with footballs, “I have no knowledge of anything. I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing.” Here are some more quotes from Brady on the subject:

“I didn’t alter the ball in any way.”

“I don’t have an explanation…I get the snap, I drop back, I throw the ball. I don’t sit there and try to squeeze it and determine that.”

“When I pick those footballs out, at that point, to me, they’re perfect. I don’t want anyone touching the balls after that. I don’t want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in them, taking any air out. To me, those balls are perfect, and that’s what I expect when I show up on the field.”

“I feel like I have always played within the rules,” he said. “I would never break the rules.”

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The NFL investigation of the New England Patriots continues, and there are new developments. The NFL found 11 of the 12 balls used by the patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship were under-inflated, and significantly below the league standard. This could make the balls easier to throw, catch and hold on to during wet conditions. The league also found that the referees did check the footballs before the game, so any deflation would have happened after that inspection. The Patriots have deferred all questions to the NFL. The league is not commenting, but Steelers President Art Rooney II is. In an interview with several writers, Rooney said, “I wouldn’t put it on the scale of serious, but, if it is in fact true, it is a violation of league rules that i am sure the league office will deal with in an appropriate way.” The league expects to wrap up the investigation in the next few days.

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Zac Rinaldo of the Flyers is facing a likely suspension after knocking Penguins defenseman Kris Letang hard into the glass during last night’s overtime loss to Philadelphia. Rinaldo’s hit was bad, but his comments after the game were worse, “Yeah I changed the whole game man, who knows what the game would’ve been like if I didn’t do what I did.” Those words are understandably infuriating Pens fans. Rinaldo was offered an in-person hearing with the league, which means he could get six games or more for that hit, where he left his feet and slammed into Letang from behind. The date and time for that hearing have not been set. The league wants more information on Letang’s condition first. Letang did skate with the Pens at an optional gameday skate this morning, but he’ll be a gametime decision tonight when the Pens host the Blackhawks. Head Coach Mike Johnston talked about the hit this morning, but didn’t want to talk about Rinaldo’s comment, “I had just heard what he said, but players making comments, I’m not gonna make a comment on things they say after a game, and certainly it wasn’t a good hit. Any time a player is in a vulnerable position you have to be careful and I think everybody knows that.”

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Lost in a Sunday dominated by the NFL’s league championship games was the news from Palm Desert, California of the death of Tony Verna. He was 81 and had struggled with a form of Leukemia. His was a name lost in anonymity to most, if not all sports fans, but Anthony F. Verna was a pioneer who was legendary for his contribution to television sports. Verna was responsible for one of the most significant technological advancements in the history of the industry, and he carved his place in history 54 years ago. It was 15 days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and 30-year-old Tony Verna, a director for CBS, made a groundbreaking decision during a live telecast of the Army-Navy game. In the fourth quarter of that game, after Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh scored a touchdown, Verna rewound the videotape and showed the play again. Play-by-play legend Lindsay Nelson excitedly broke the news to the television audience that they were watching the touchdown a second time. In an instant, “Instant Replay” was born! One month later, Verna’s idea was put to use again during the Cotton Bowl, and the late announcer Pat Summerall was said to have referred, for the first time, to “instant replay.” Over an accomplished career, Tony Verna directed coverage of the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, and many other major events, but he’ll always be attached to what happened on December 7, 1963, when he earned his rightful place in television and sports history. Verna was a true visionary, and his legacy has been cemented in the annals of television.

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The transition at the top of the Steelers defense is now complete. Mike Tomlin made it official today with the expected promotion of Keith Butler to defensive coordinator. In a statement emailed by the steelers, Butler calls it “the dream of a lifetime,” and says “there are only 32 of these jobs on this earth. I am excited about the opporturnity and I look forward to getting this process started immediately.” Butler’s been with the Steelers for 12 years as linebackers coach. His contract was up and he was able to negotiate with other teams, so the steelers didn’t want to lose him, choosing instead to promote him now. In the statement, Coach Tomlin says Butler’s “passion and energy will be important to the Steelers taking the next steps to being one of the league’s top defenses.”

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The newest Steeler joined the team today. Running back Ben Tate spent time with Cleveland and Minnesota this past season. He gives the Steelers some veteran experience and depth at running back. “I really don’t know i just got here I’ve only been here 24 hours so right now I’m just focusing on the playbook…and everything else will work itself out…but like I say you know I’m just here right now i just got here so I’m trying to fit in and get to know the guys and learn the playbook and do my part.”

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