Monday, May 25, 2009

Of Pitbulls, Pancakes and the President

James Harrison has had a tough week. First the media pit bulls tried to take a bite out of him for refusing to go to the White House. Then his pit bull took a bite out of his son. The President also took a bite out of a Pittsburgh institution this morning, by starting the morning with a plate full of Pamela's pancakes.

Various stories came out about James Harrison not going the White House. One rumor had it that he is afraid to fly. A Post-Gazette columnist wrote that he should have driven. Really isn't it Mr. Harrison's decision whether he wants to go the White House or not? He earned the invitation by being an instrumental part of a Super Bowl Championship team. Although no one wrote about it in the paper, Harrison's teammate Aaron Smith also did not making the trip. No explanations were provided either by fact or rumor.

Mr. Harrison is not a celebrity because of his political or philanthropic involvement. He is famous because he is an amazing football player. He is respected because on the football field he is aggressive, never gives up, over came long odds and excels. He is a great sports story and an athletic role model. He should not be held up as a role model for other reasons. It's not fair to him. Other Steelers have taken to being role models, such as Hines Ward, Charlie Batch and Troy Polamalu. These players have taken their fame and stood for causes or issues outside of the playing field. They can and should be looked at as role models. The Steeler visit seemed like it went very well, with the players and the President using the time for a good cause, making care packages for the military. What more would have been accomplished if Harrison was there? Would Pittsburgh have been any more or less proud? At least we didn't have the embarrassment of what happened with Joey Porter the last time the Steelers visited the White House.

I wish Mr. Harrison's son a speedy recovery from the Pit bull attack. I am a big dog person, but I really don't understand the popularity of pit bulls. You would especially think that football players would stay away from them after the Michael Vick incident. You are always hearing about pit bull attacks. Do you ever hear about Golden Retriever or Havanese attacks? Golden Retrievers do steal food, slobber and shed on people and Havanese have been know to pee on your feet when they are excited, but you really don't hear about them attacking people. Of all the breeds and mixed breeds that you can chose, why the pit bull?

As far as the pancakes, this a great thing. First of all, Pamela's makes awesome pancakes. The owners have worked hard for years to develop a good business. I remember when it was Papa Joe's on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill. Pamela and her partner improved on the original formula and created a mini-empire that has evolved to six restaurants, all of which have long lines on weekend mornings. President Obama recognized the greatness of these pancakes. He also remembered his populist promises of making the White House more accessible to the public. Little things, like bringing two self-made business owners into the White House kitchen or having football players and the President role up there sleeves to provide service to soldiers, sends a good message.

For the record Pamela's isn't the only place that serves great pancakes in the area. Try the Kaufman House in Zelienople, the GI Day Room in Meyersdale and the crepes at the soon to open Paris 66 in the neighborhood formerly known as East Liberty.

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