Bill DiFabio, a sports announcer from Washington, Pa., traditionally dresses up as Santa for the pre-Christmas press gathering and often pokes fun at the Steelers coach for a few moments. Former coach Bill Cowher often went along with the gag.
Mike Tomlin also played along initially, asking, “What have you got for me, Santa?” and inviting DiFabio to join him at his desk in front of the room.
But when DiFabio commandeered the news conference for more than five minutes, passing out gifts and cracking jokes about fellow sportscasters, the Browns and Cowboys, nose tackle Casey Hampton’s weight and the woebegone Pirates, Tomlin became impatient.
To end the unrehearsed skit, Tomlin ” who could be heard sighing several times throughout the comedy bit ” grudgingly agreed to toss a football to the fake Santa.
“If that will get you out of here,” Tomlin said.
Later, the Steelers said there would be no future appearances from Santa at any of their news conferences.