Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Defending champions the Pittsburgh Passion head to Mansion Park in Altoona on Saturday to face the Carolina Phoenix in the hopes of continuing their 20-game win streak and advancing to another league title.

The Eastern Conference Championship kicks off at 7 p.m.

In the twelfth day of public debate over whether or not a man or a group of men purposely released air from footballs, a CMU mechanical engineering graduate student traveled to Phoenix to join the discussion.

Thomas Healy said the deflated footballs the New England Patriots used during the first half of its defeat of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game January 18 could be a result of atmospheric pressure and not foul play.

He is presenting his detailed experimental data to several organizations this weekend before Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Is This Year's Super Bowl Worth Watching Just for the Ads?

Jan 30, 2015
ThisIsNotApril / Flickr

This year a 30-second Super Bowl spot sells for $4.5 million dollars.

With so much money on the line, which advertising strategies are the most effective? How are advertisers changing tactics to get people's attention? And who are they targeting?

We discuss this with Bob Gilbert, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business.

Throughout the segment, Professor Gilbert provides insight on the goals of branding and the tactics used in Super Bowl advertising.

“What we are trying to do is find the right combination of generating awareness and attention, but also generating comprehension… that’s hard to do at the same time. I think Super Bowl advertisers have therefore aired on the side of attention. If you look at a lot of Super Bowl events you’ll find that there’s not as much information about the brand as much as it is a statement about the character about the brand .”

Also be sure to listen out for Gilbert's opinion of the latest controversial commercial from the internet domain registrar company, The ad was originally intended for this year's Super Bowl, but pulled in response to the social media backlash.

Deflate-Gate: A Footall Who Done It

Jan 30, 2015
Keith Allison / Flickr

Did the New England Patriots make it to the Super Bowl by taking air out of footballs in the AFC Championship game?

Are NFL executives dragging out the investigation to avoid having anything come out during Super Bowl week? Have the Steelers ever cheated? We'll put these questions and more to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sportswriter emeritus Bob Dvorchak. 

Dvorchak offers light-hearted commentary about all of the media attention for the deflate-gate scandal.

"When the national discussion for the last two weeks is the air pressure inside a football, I think we’ve turned the corner as far as our priorities of a nation go.” 

Michael B. / Flickr

In case you haven’t heard, the Super Bowl will be played this Sunday. 

While area football fans may have little interest in a game that doesn’t feature the Steelers our guest, Ronald Dick, associate professor of sports marketing at Duquesne University, offers some reasons for tuning in to the big game.

According to Dick, viewers often tune in for reasons other than the actual game.

A recent national poll found that support is on the rise for banning youth from playing contact football before they reach high school.

Robert Morris University Polling Institute and the Center for Research and Public Policy conducted the same poll in 2013 and 2014, asking participants if they would support or oppose a ban on youth playing contact football.

News from the World of College and Pro Football

Dec 12, 2014
Parker Anderson / Flickr

NFL owners have voted unanimously to adopt six game minimum suspensions for domestic or sexual violence and other crimes.

The changes come after the NFL was criticized for its handling of alleged off-field violence by high profile players. But will the players go along? 

John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State, offers his assessment and also talks about the upcoming departure of Pitt football coach Paul Chryst for Wisconsin.

Could a Pitt and Penn State Face-Off Be in the Works?

Dec 4, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh's first road win against the Miami Hurricanes in more than half a century has made the Panthers bowl eligible.

Some are speculating that it could lead to the first football game between Pitt and Penn State since 2000.

Veteran AP sports editor and journalist John Affleck, who was appointed in 2013 as Knight Chair at Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, joins us to sort out the potential bowl game scenarios.

James Harrison's Return to the NFL Brings Controversy

Sep 29, 2014

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus Bob Dvorchak joins us to talk about the controversy over the return of James Harrison to the Steelers. And now that the Pirates have returned to the post-season for the second consecutive year, what are their chances of reaching the World Series?

Florian Christoph / Flickr

The Penn State University football team plays its season opener this Saturday against the University of Central Florida, with a unique spin. The big game is scheduled to be played at the Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Croke Park officials expect the game to bring $30 million into the Irish economy, thanks to an expected 16,000 visitors from the US.

John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism at Penn State is in Dublin with a group of student reporters. He says the success of previous American college football games held in Dublin caused Irish officials to take notice.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Heinz Field’s new executive chef John DiMartini has only been on staff for three months, but he’s ready to roll out 10 new house-made menu items in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers pre-season home opener Saturday.

Available to all fans in the concession areas is the Emperor Burger, named for late Steelers head coach Chuck Noll: a beef patty with shaved kielbasa, onion bacon kraut and Heinz Field Secret Sauce on a brioche bun. Also new to concession stands this season are 8-inch personal cheese and pepperoni pizzas from Fox’s Pizza Den, based in Murrysville.

AFL Quarterback Tommy Grady: A Real "Power" Player

Jul 25, 2014
Jeffrey Gamza / Pittsburgh Power

The Pittsburgh Power, the city’s professional arena football team, are having their best season, ever. They’re undefeated at home at Consol Energy Center and just clinched their first-ever playoff berth. While they don’t get as much recognition as the Steelers, what is life like for the men who play in the arena league?

Tommy Grady is the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Power and says the differences between the two leagues are vast.

“The game of arena football is a lot quicker, the field’s about half the size. We play on that hard turf, which is pretty hard on our bodies. The biggest thing is the speed and quickness of the game. A lot of guys have played in the NFL before, and it’s hard to adjust to the game.”

Broken Sphere / Wikipedia

This Sunday, Super Bowl XLVIII pairs the AFC champion, the Denver Broncos with the NFC champion, the Seattle Seahawks.

For the first time, the big game is being played in the cold weather of a northern city, outdoors. This means there may be some snow, and temperatures are likely hover around freezing. How is the weather likely to change the game?

Super Bowl Viewers to Order 1.23 Billion Chicken Wings

Jan 28, 2014
Anthony Quintano / flickr

While the beloved Steelers won’t be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, residents of the City of Champions still enjoy watching the annual football game.

As one of the largest watched TV broadcasts each year, the economic impact of the football game reaches all facets of the tradition.

Super Bowl revenue includes everything from commercial payments to transportation and restaurant packages. This year the game will be played on February 2nd at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Rebecca Harris, business contributor and Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University explains that this game will be a first for shared hosting by New Jersey and New York, as well as the first time the game will be played outdoors in cold weather conditions.

When Clubhouse Culture Goes Too Far

Nov 7, 2013

While “boys will be boys” may seem a likely excuse for some, in the wake of hazing allegations against Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, many fans believe the teasing of Jonathan Martin crossed the line into inappropriate bullying.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Emeritus Bob Dvorchak says the NFL does exist in a “culture of hazing,” but usually the tasks forced on rookie players are not so cruel.

Night Football Returns To Its Place of Origin

Sep 13, 2013
Mansfield University Blog

One hundred and twenty-one years ago the first night football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The game was between Mansfield University formerly known as Mansfield State and Wyoming Seminary.

The teams played with the help of a new promotional lighting device from General Electric, the light bulb. The setup involved a string of lights wrapped around a wooden pole placed in the middle of the field.

Steve McCloskey, Director of Athletic Operations and Sports Information, says the lighting post “proved to be a detriment” to the game, as multiple “players ran face first into the pole because they had trouble seeing it, or it just kind of snuck up on them.”

Steelers Fall to Titans; Pouncy, Foote out for Season

Sep 8, 2013
Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The Tennessee Titans opened the season in reverse. The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, appear to be the ones backing up.

Chris Johnson ran for 70 clock-chewing yards and the Titans overcame an embarrassing early flub to shut down the Steelers 16-9 on Sunday.

Jackie Battle ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter and Rob Bironas kicked three field goals for the Titans. Tennessee's revamped defense did the rest.

Steel City Hobbies / Wikipedia

Former Steelers offensive lineman and all-pro guard, Alan Faneca returns to Pittsburgh this week, as honorary chairman of the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and Western Pennsylvania’s 25th Family Fun Run and Walk, taking place Saturday.

Faneca was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager in Texas. And despite the condition, he played 13 seasons in the NFL, 10 of which with the Steelers, including a victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL.