Monthly Archives: August 2015

Afternoon of the Living Dead: A Discussion of the Steelers / Bills Preseason Game

AP Photo, Gary Weipert, via WKBN

Although we aren’t focused on current news on this site and aren’t really capable of “rapid reactions,” it did occur to me that we could have a Round Robin sort of game recap/commentary by utilizing the wonders of the interwebs. So this week we have comments from Clark, perhaps better known as PaVaSteeler, Mike, aka Homer J, and myself.

Ivan may also chip in some comments, which I will add in an update. He was mercifully spared watching the actual game because he was attending a board meeting of a group devoted to making life better for victims of human trafficking, which just goes to show that good deeds do actually go unpunished on rare occasions.

This is a test. If it were a real discussion, you would need to go to your basement and weep amongst your Steelers paraphernalia, because the Steelers would have just frittered away one of only 16 regular-season games in a most unseemly fashion.

Please let us know whether you enjoy this format, and if so whether you would like to participate. I suppose we could just have game threads, but frankly one doesn’t see people at their best or most coherent at those times, and I would just as soon avoid them.

If you wish to take part you may contact me via my website, Choral Music on the Edge. There is a “contact me” link on the top of the left sidebar. I haven’t yet figured out how to put a contact form on this site which doesn’t require a phone number and opening hours. And now, down to the business at hand.

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Looking Deeper into The Heart of Steeler Nation: A Guest Article

via Post-Gazette

Note from Rebecca—what follows showed up on Thursday as a comment to Ivan’s article, “The Heart of Hypocrisy? The Can of Worms Opened by the Michael Vick Signing,” which you can read by clicking here, if you haven’t already. I thought the author of the comment made some points which are very much worth making, and wanted to make sure more people saw it. 

I’ve always wondered why we not only have to hate other teams but their players, and have noted that the players themselves don’t hate each other, except for the sorts of normal dislikes one might take to another person in any walk of life. After all, many of them work out together in the off-season, work together as player union reps, and so on. Furthermore, they know they could end up as teammates. And the picture? William Gay, a man many in Steeler Nation derided because he refused to hate Ray Rice, a man accused of same crime which had killed Gay’s own mother. 

But my purpose here is not to write another article. Please read on:

[Ivan’s article is a] wonderful rant and while I agree with you on many levels, here’s my problem with forgiveness as it’s being shoved down my throat by Steeler Nation. (Wow, that sounds nothing like me.)

I really have no problem with [Michael] Vick. For reasons I might describe in a much longer comment, I was over that years ago. But here’s my problem with Steeler Nation. Or at least the visible parts of it on social media. Suddenly we’re all supposed to be about forgiveness, second chances, and redemption. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

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Hide the Women and Children: Steelers Roster Cuts are Coming

Dorian Brooks, Guard

In one way, I love this time of year.

It’s so full of hope. Steelers fans look at the Lombardi case, still devoid of No. 7, and wonder if this is The Year.

Fans of franchises who are perennial losers discuss among themselves the spring draft, free agents picked up, who is back from the previous unsuccessful year but perhaps poised for a breakout season, and so on. The cruel reality of the regular season has not yet reared its ugly head.

Think what must it have been like for Detroit Lions fans in 2008. The hapless Lions had made a business of disappointing their fans in the 2000s. (Actually, for a good deal longer than that.) Here is a list of their records since 2001: 2-14, 3-13; 5-11; 6-10; 5-11; 3-13; 7-9.

You can imagine the breathless wonder with which the win-starved fan base watch them beat in succession the Giants, the Bengals, the Browns, and the Bills.

The only hitch was, those were all pre-season games. As you probably recall, in the regular season they reached their nadir, going 0-16. But I expect the pre-season was thrilling while it lasted.

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Steeler Nation and The Standard of Expectation

via Pittsburgh Magazine

 by Rebecca Rollett

Long ago, in a galaxy far away (or at least 2011 seems like that at times) I wrote an article about then-rookie running back Baron Batch after he tore his ACL in a “meaningless preseason game” and was out for the season. I ran across it a few days ago when looking for something else, and it contains some thoughts which are perhaps worth re-examining.

This week the Steelers signed free-agent quarterback Michael Vick. I think it is safe to say that seldom have so many tweets gone forth, so many teeth been gnashed, and so many statements made which may perhaps later be regretted over the signing of a 35-year old back-up quarterback.

So what on earth do these two things have to do with one another? I may be wrong, but I think the reactions to these two otherwise entirely unrelated things tell us something about ourselves, if we’re only willing to look.

“The Standard is the Standard.” How many times have we heard this said, seen it written? And what standard are we talking about, anyhow? The typical place this phrase is employed is in regards to the loss of a player. It is often followed by something having to do with the “next man up.” In other words, the coaching staff has a level of expectation for how well the team performs, and the assumption is, whoever you put into the vacated spot is expected to fulfill the obligations of the position in the same manner as the player before him. Read more

Congratulations to TE Matt Spaeth!

Let’s all take a deep breath, stop thinking about the injuries and suspensions and controversies, and help welcome the baby daughter of Matt Spaeth and his wife Becky into the world. The fact of her existence, and that it began last Friday, is all I’ve been able to figure out so far, but I’ll update if there is any other news.

The Heart of Hypocrisy? The Can of Worms Opened by the Michael Vick Signing

via EllenTV

by Ivan Cole

Reader Alert from Ivan: What follows is a rant, pure and simple. 

So, some members of Steelers Nation in their righteous outrage take umbrage to the team signing Michael Vick as a backup quarterback.

The most difficult thing about this is figuring out where to begin. Let me start with Chris Kemoeatu.

HBO’s Real Sports is running a feature this month about the former Steelers guard and how his brother, former Baltimore Raven Ma’ake donated one of his kidney’s to save his younger brother’s life.

Touching stuff on one level. But those of us who are blinded by the stars in our eyes and the vision of the Steelers (or any NFL team) being a pure and pristine paragon of virtue at risk of being sullied by the presence in their midst of a convicted dog killer might not want to play close attention to some other aspects of this piece.

It seems that Chris Kemoeatu needed a new kidney in part because of the impact of the ingestion of massive amounts of pain killers upon kidneys that were already damaged in his youth. According to Kemoeatu, Pittsburgh’s team medical staff approved of the practice and of him continuing to play even though his kidneys were operating at only 3 percent. It was made clear in the report that there wasn’t anything particularly peculiar or venal in the behavior of Steelers’ medical staff relative to that of the rest of the league. Just common practice.

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Punt-off: the Pittsburgh Steelers Roster Competition

via FoxSports

Considering the difficulties the Steelers have had in securing an “above-the-line” punter, the current roster battle must be heartening to the coaching staff. (n.b. All quotes in the article will be Tomlinisms. Obviously.)

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Brad Wing was signed in 2014 to compete for a roster spot. He had a rather colorful college career. His last two years at Louisiana State University he averaged 44.6 yards per punt, a school record. He also had a touchdown nullified for taunting, enforcing a new NCAA rule, was issued a misdemeanor summons on a charge of battery, and was suspended from the Chick-fil-A Bowl for a violation of team rules. Read more

Nunn Better: Conversations with Steelers Scout Bill Nunn, Part 3

Billl Nunn and Joe Greene, via Steelers.com

by Ivan Cole

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In the finale Cole talks about the unique group of men when came together at the right time to create the perfect storm:

The Pittsburgh Courier
During my freshman year in college I returned to Pittsburgh on a September weekend to attend something known as the Renaissance Classic at Three Rivers Stadium. The game featured Grambling and Morgan State University.

In those days Grambling’s football team was only slightly less popular than its marching band, and they would travel from Yankee Stadium to Tokyo playing in front of huge crowds. This barnstorming approach provided high-profile exposure for the players and lots of money for the schools. Just another example—like the Courier—of the counterculture that existed in response to institutions dead set on exclusion. Read more

Tales Told by an Old Man: Steelers OLB James Harrison

via USAToday

One of the most frequently misquoted and wrongly attributed sayings in the current lexicon is this, by playwright David Mamet: “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and enthusiasm.” It is not something which plays out very often in the NFL, a young man’s league with few exceptions, mostly quarterbacks.

But James Harrison at age 37 seems to be almost immune to the effects of Father Time. His storied career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, thought to be over twice already, is  a story still being written. For ordinary mortals years in the NFL appear to be pretty much equivalent to dog years, and most players in their early 30s are over the hill, or getting there really fast. Harrison continues to amaze. Read more

Nunn Better: Conversations with Steelers Scout Bill Nunn, Part 2

by Ivan Cole

You can read Part 1 here. This post continues with the interview.

Ivan Cole: Nearly everything I’ve read about you as a scout describes you as an innovator.

Bill Nunn: Because a lot of times they don’t relate to what was really going on. How I started was we [with Dan Rooney] had a conversation when he was just getting started. He wanted to know why I hadn’t gotten involved with the Steelers. I was covering black schools and doing a black All-American team. I was covering a black team every week. He asked if while I was out there I could pass some information on to him. I was a part time employee for the Steelers.

That started in ’66 with the part time. I didn’t go full time until ’70. So, it was almost that Bill Nunn was the black college scout. But from the time Chuck Noll came in, Noll said, “No, we don’t want you just covering black colleges.”

Now again, there were so many black schools that had ballplayers at that time, because you’ve got to remember what was happening down in the South. So I was covering that, but I was also going to white schools like Alabama and places like that. And me being one of the few blacks in the position, they felt like I was able to make some inroads, though I had already established that. But, of course, it helped when I went to big schools such as Alabama because they were beginning to use the black players.

IC: I believe Bear Bryant once said that he wouldn’t be the first SEC coach to integrate, but he wouldn’t be the third either. Read more

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