Bill Neal: Willie Thrower’s 70th anniversary celebration is this week!

Honoring the first Black quarterback to take a snap in the NFL


:10—In the immortal words of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan and Arnold Schwarzenegger…I’M BACK!!!

:09—Here are several of the important Steeler things you just don’t know or refuse to accept: Coach Mike Tomlin will not get fired. #1, never had a losing season. For the record, he’s in the company of Tom Landry, 21 consecutive seasons, Dallas Cowboys; Bill Belichick, 19, New England Patriots; George Halas, 16, Chicago Bears, Mike Tomlin, 16 seasons and counting with the Steelers. #2, It would be a little tricky to explain considering the Rooney Rule hired him; #3, and most importantly, players like to play for him.  That’s huge!

Also…it does make a big difference when you lose a Cam Heyward or anyone of the sort. Yes, it’s the power, the strength and the leadership. But it’s the commitment to winning at all costs that is the Big Miss; You’re wondering why future Hall of Famer Pat Peterson is showing up in the minus column? Being a cornerback is like being a boxer…you can actually lose a step in the middle of the game/fight! But he’ll be there when it really counts. Plus it allows for Joey Porter II to get the reps he needs, slowly but surely; Yes, you continue to ask the question (even though you already know the answer), why does Kenny Pickett keep running out of the pocket?  Does he have happy feet?  Allow me to remind those of you who know better and the rest of you who have never played anything but “catch” in your backyard. You only need to get hit once by a 6’6”, 380-pound defensive lineman with a car note and mortgage to pay before you get happy feet! C’mon man!!!; Lastly, and trust me when I tell ya. Pittsburgh Steeler running back Jaylen Warren will get more time, but they will not start him over Najee Harris!  Why? Harris has back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons! He’s a first-round draft pick, 24th overall…that would be admitting defeat! And you don’t bench an Alabama Heisman Trophy finalist!!! C’mon man!

:08—This just in, the Pitt football team (Panthers) has problems, and they are many!  Quote “The Emperor” Charles Henry Noll.

:07—Speaking of Pitt, and Duquesne, and Robert Morris, and all the other local college and high school teams. Hoop season is here.  Let the games begin.

:06—The Pitt Panthers, led by reigning ACC Coach of the Year, Jeff Capel, will kick off their season Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. at home against North Carolina A&T.  Man, it seems like yesterday.

:05—Speaking of “Playing Basketball,” be mindful and throw up your hands and give a big shout out to hometown champion Jalen Hood-Schifino. JHS hails from an illustrious athletic family of high school, college and pro superstars, both men and women.  But the thing you may not know is he got his “game” from “Bruce Schifino”…not “Drew.” What!?

:04—By the way, in the form of a wrap-up. Your Pittsburgh Pirates once again did not make the playoffs. They did win more games in a losing season this year than last year. Huh!?

:03—Just to prove to you that some things never change and we all fall short of perfection. I don’t know any more about hockey now than I did when I started writing for this historic paper 30 years ago!  But I can tell you this. Your Pittsburgh Pens started their season on Oct. 10 against the Blackhawks. I think they play…in Chicago…that’s all I got. (For your edification, this glorious, amazing publication, the Courier… now 113 years old, is one of the nation’s oldest Black newspapers.)

:02—Lest you had some notion that I’ve laid down my sword, be assured nothing can be further from the truth…NOW IS THE TIME TO RETIRE THE BASKETBALL SHIRT OF THE GREAT SAM CLANCY AND HANG IT IN THE PETERSON EVENTS CENTER RAFTERS! Stay tuned!

:01—By now you’ve seen and heard plenty from me and others about the great Willie Thrower, the first Black man to play quarterback in the NFL. The legend that hails from New Kensington, is being celebrated all week, by committee, family and friends.  On Thursday, Oct. 12, a parade will be held in New Kensington for Thrower, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Also on Oct. 12, the Willie Thrower Homecoming Festival and Senior Recognition Night will be held at 7 p.m. at Valley High School. On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Willie Thrower Community Day and Cookout will be held at the Peoples Library Parking Lot on Barnes Street, beginning at 11 a.m. It goes until 4 p.m. with plenty of events for kids and a Baron Flenory Skills and Drills basketball camp beginning at 2 p.m. Other events include a Willie Thrower 5K Walk, which benefits the American Heart Association, at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15., football camps on Oct. 15, and a live radio broadcast on 93.7 FM (The Fan) on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. at Valley High School.




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