It was the strangest moment in Tuesday's daylong sports media tour de force, but somehow it fit right in.
He called New York City's well-documented problems of the 1970s a "fable" and essentially said the same about the narrative surrounding Steinbrenner's reign.
"He's not in the record book. You better stop deifying this fellow! He's a terrific guy, but c'mon! He didn't play baseball. He didn't play first base! C'mon!"
Why bring this up here? For one thing, it was hugely entertaining. But it also illustrated an essential truth about Steinbrenner's legacy and how the news media has covered his death.
The Boss was a complicated fellow in a complicated era, and perceptions of him tend to be a function of one's perspective.
For many journalists, fans and baseball people who recall him in the 1970s and '80s, there was no getting around his days as a capricious tyrant, a reality reflected in some blunt remembrances.
But to those who came of age over the past 20 years, and those willing to forgive and forget, all that mattered was the post-suspension Boss, who at last struck a balance between vanity and sanity.
The fact it all was stirred together in the media stew would have been fine with Steinbrenner, who valued attention above all else - other than winning, of course.
In general, media outlets did a fine job addressing every facet of the Steinbrenner prism, and of lining up a remarkable array of people to talk about him.
That includes ESPN, which treated the story like the national one it was despite its New York-heavy aspects.
Fox, by contrast, underplayed it during its All-Star Game telecast.
Granted, the network had a game to cover - and granted I have a New York bias.
But beyond segments at the very beginning and end and short interviews with Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter, there was less than I expected, especially from Tim McCarver, who had an interesting history with Steinbrenner.
What about the Yankees' own YES? It performed well, especially for a network without a formal news operation and with an inherent bias.
The tone understandably was more reverential than in most places, but there were references to the owners' dark side.
Once YES went live from its studios at 1 p.m. Tuesday, the network dove in with a marathon of guests and commentary that concluded with a two-hour special at 6.
Yesterday, YES was back with a show at 2 p.m. that included classic clips from Steinbrenner's 2002 interview with Suzyn Waldman and closed with Bernie Williams playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on his guitar.
Contrary to what some have said and written, YES was not the first team-owned channel of its kind - the Red Sox's NESN long predates it - but it is among the most important of Steinbrenner's legacies.
Hearing kind words spoken about him on his channel certainly would have pleased him. But so would all of the other words and voices this week - discordant, diverse and divisive as they might be.
The Boss would have understood.