Photo via Steelers.com
By Ivan Cole
It’s Bonus Week! You get a dose of reality from Ivan to mitigate my (partially) fictitious JuJu adventures…
Some additional observations at the halfway point of the 2017 season
Are the Steelers particularly vulnerable to ‘Trap’ games? Let’s examine the underlying assumption here.
In thinking this, we are essentially declaring that certain opponents cannot possibly win a contest against Pittsburgh unless the Steelers screw up and underperform. It must be and can only be that the Steelers play down to the level of their opponent, rather than the opponent, though objectively weaker, is capable of elevating their efforts to be competitive with an otherwise superior group.
Tuesday was supposed to be my first day at training camp. In fact, I got about a mile from my house in the Mean Green Momma-mobile before I thought to myself, "Wait, aren't the players usually off on Tuesday?" I pulled over, checked the schedule, and the answer was yes, they were.
So yesterday I repacked my cooler bag with St. Vincent's-approved beverages (water, in this case), grabbed my binoculars and a hat and various other necessities, including, for once, a yellow pad and pen, and headed out again. I was rewarded with a beautiful day in Latrobe. It was just the way Mike Tomlin likes it—sunny and hot. Fortunately I got there early enough to snag a seat in the shade, but it was still plenty warm.
As I sat and waited for practice to begin, which it wouldn't for another 45 minutes or so, I observed my fellow thrill-seekers. On my left was a family who had driven up from Atlanta. They were at St. Vincent's primarily because their son, who looked to be eight or so, is a rabid Steelers fan. (He inherited this from his grandfather, a Pittsburgh ex-pat.) His mother said that on the Friday before the Super Bowl the kids at his school were encouraged to wear their jerseys. Apparently the teachers forgot to specify which kind, because the son proudly rocked his Antonio Brown jersey amidst the sea of red. Read more
by Ivan Cole
Usually, my writing is directed to Steeler Nation as a whole, but there is at least one way that the community can be partitioned. There are Pittsburgh fans, and then there are Steelers fans. The common denominator for these two groups is the allegiance and devotion to the Steelers.
Pittsburgh fans are most commonly natives, emigres and expats who are committed to the totality of the Pittsburgh sports culture. Beyond the football team, Steelers fans may be more eclectic, with loyalties that reflect the diversity of their backgrounds. It is a principle desire of a sports fan to realize a championship experience. Indeed, one of the key reasons for the existence of such a robust base of Steelers fans who are not tethered to geographic loyalty. This is based upon the past satisfaction of that desire, (Pittsburgh fans will stick with the team regardless of performance) and a reasonable expectation that it will be fulfilled again. Read more
I really ought to be breathlessly writing about OTAs and how JuJu S-S is playing in the slot (big surprise) and how Senquez Golson is playing in the slot on the other side of the ball (also not much of a surprise, unless you consider it to be a surprise he’s on the field at all.) Or any of a number of things which probably don’t mean very much at this point, because it’s football in shorts.
And while football in shorts is better than no football, there’s still a lot of sorting out to happen before we even find out who takes the field at St. Vincent’s. So instead I’m going to write about something else. Read more
Things are getting a bit tense in Antonio’s world. The six o’clock news had a short segment yesterday evening showing some clips from rehearsal and asking some questions.
One of the questions—does he take the judges’ criticisms personally—was answered in the negative, with AB indicating that as long as Sharna is happy with what he’s doing he doesn’t worry too much about the judges.
But it sounded a bit like whistling in the dark to me, because after all it is the judges who ultimately make the decision. Steeler Nation may be turning out in force and making sure there isn’t an early exit for the couple, but in the end it is a judges’ decision. And you just know that it has to stick in AB’s craw, because he is such a fierce competitor. Whether he has been focusing his legendary work ethic on the task at hand is a question, of course, and one I can’t answer. I noted he seems to have a lot of other things going on as well, and perhaps he overestimated how quickly he could learn. Or perhaps it’s just a lot harder than he thought. Read more
This week, I tackle the wide receivers. Through the seasons, the Steelers have been blessed with wideouts who are winners in the game of life and have what it takes to earn a spot on Going Deep’s Good Guys:
(5). Sammie Coates.
Yes, I know. Sammie Coates has caught one ball in the NFL. His resume as a player is shorter Danny Woodhead standing in a sinkhole. You know what, I don’t care. I love this kid. The whole point of this series is to celebrate the character, the characters and the great players who have impressed me as men. Sammie is a man of character.
Sammie was a third round draft choice in the 2015 draft. He is fast and appears to be motivated to get better. He’s worked hard, both at the college level and now with the Steelers. But that, my friends, just scratches the surface. Read more
photo Joe Robbins/Getty Images—Some future Hall of Famers at Dick LeBeau’s ceremony
by Roxanna Firehall
My wife and I (you may know her as Little Darlin’) visited the Hall of Fame last week, in between catching the Steelers in St. Louis and last Thursday’s game against the Ravens.
I was excited to make my first trip to the Hall of Fame. I became a Steelers fan in 1972. Unknown to me, it would prove the best year ever to join Steelers Nation (even though I’m pretty sure we we not yet a nation). 1972 was the first time the Steelers made the playoffs in ten years. Prior to that, the Steelers went fifteen years without making the playoffs. I can’t even imagine twenty five years and only two playoff appearances.
Since 1972, the Steelers went four years without a playoff appearance only once (’85 – ’88) and three years once (’98 – ’00). Those were the only two stretches in the last 43 seasons when the Black and Gold went more than two years without making the playoffs.
The Steelers made the playoffs 27 times in the past 43 years. During this stretch, we’ve had three head coaches. No other team in the NFL has had such stability. Read more
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Peter Diana photo
Steeler Nation, viewed as a whole, could be said to be bi-polar. One week we’re going to the Super Bowl—the next week we are going to be just bad enough to miss the playoffs and still not get a top-of-the-first-round draft pick.
But when you begin talking to individual fans the general attitude varies tremendously, from the “Black and Gold colored glasses” wearers to the Bob Labriola “I live in my fears” type of fan. Some fans even appear to be downright annoyed when their alleged team does well, disappearing from the commenting flow when there isn’t enough to gripe about.
Steeler fans aren’t any different than any other fans this way, of course. As many of you know I also follow the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the gloom and doom on BucsDugout is palpable as it seems about 97% of the commenters there are convinced the Pirates can’t possibly beat the Cubs in a one-game elimination match, assuming Jake Arrieta pitches it. And you can bet that he will, unless some of his major organs shut down between now and tomorrow evening. Read more