Steelers Notebook: Rooney unhappy, mulling action in porn e-mail case

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Dan Rooney is not happy that the Steelers' organization and the words "pornographic video" have been linked, and he may do something about it.

"I'm terribly disappointed," Rooney said yesterday after he arrived back at the team's headquarters from the spring NFL meeting in Nashville, Tenn. "It's not us; it's not our culture."

Offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, hired in January, forwarded an e-mail Friday that he received from Doug Whaley, the Steelers' 10th-year pro personnel coordinator, that contained a video attachment that the Steelers admitted was "inappropriate." Zierlein, by mistake, sent it league-wide, and ProFootballTalk.com reported it on its Web site.

Rooney, the Steelers' chairman, said he will "look into it." An NFL spokesman has said it is a club matter. Rooney said he is considering some sort of discipline for his two employees.

Gardocki is released

Chris Gardocki's days as the Steelers' punter ended when they drafted Daniel Sepulveda from Baylor on the fourth round last month. Yesterday, the team made it official when they released the 16-year veteran.

Gardocki, 37, spent the past three seasons with the Steelers and continued his NFL-record streak of not having a punt blocked in his pro career (1,177 punts). He was consistent and rarely made a mistake and also held the ball for place-kicker Jeff Reed.

His average steadily declined, however, and he was among the second-tier punters in the league the past two seasons. Last year, he ranked 30th among 32 rated punters in the NFL with a gross average of 41.3. He was scheduled to earn slightly more than $1 million this year.

Gardocki attended both of the team's minicamps this year, but did nothing physically on the field. Coach Mike Tomlin said he had a back injury. While there were complaints the Steelers used a high fourth-round draft pick on Sepulveda, Gardocki also was a high pick -- the Chicago Bears drafted him in the third round in 1991 from Clemson. Gardocki punted four seasons with the Bears, four with the Indianapolis Colts and five with the Cleveland Browns before he signed with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in 2004.

Gardocki did not have a good 2005 season, averaging 41.8 yards and coming the closest in his career to having a punt blocked -- a tipped ball that made it over the line of scrimmage. He punted much better in the playoffs -- 43.8 yards -- as the Steelers rolled to a Super Bowl victory.

Gardocki made one Pro Bowl, in 1996 with the Colts when he averaged a career-high 45.7 yards.

Sepulveda, the only two-time Ray Guy Award winner as college football's best punter, averaged 46.5 for Baylor last season and 45.2 in his career.

Another punter, Mike Barr, who has been to the past three Steelers training camps, remains on the roster.



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