I’m not sure if this is a real article or just a long comment. I do think it explores the complicated relationship I have with professional football. My aim is to I contribute something to the important conversation started by Momma’s article and commented on by several of our wise writers and regular commenters.
Rebecca’s Friday article, “Knowing” the Steelers – Fan Perceptions and Misconceptions was really a startlingly thought provoking piece. As I read her article and the comments, I immediately knew the issues were important and I wanted to consider and share them here at Going Deep.
Baron Batch’s portrait of Troy Polamalu
In a comment on yesterday’s article elpalito said:
We want to like the people we root for. We like to dislike the people we root against. It just makes things ‘easier’.
I certainly agree with this. My admitted reluctance to consider any mitigating factors in Vontaze Burfict’s upbringing which might explain, if not excuse, the sort of person he appears to be would have made it clear, if it wasn’t before. But I think it goes deeper than likes and dislikes.
There is an element of myth to how we view football players—particularly in certain cases. The obvious example which comes to mind is Isaac Redman. For those of you who weren’t active on Behind the Steel Curtain during particularly the early years of his Steelers career, it actually became a joke—so much so that I wrote the following about his locker, which I had seen in my tour of the Southside facility:
Isaac Redman’s locker is—well, I don’t know quite how to describe it. It is as if he put everything in the locker with enormous precision, but the force of his personality disrupted the molecules in the various items a bit. Or perhaps the earth tilted very slightly when he walked away. In other words, it was tidy, almost.
What is it about certain players that catches our imagination? It could be because they have done things in their non-football lives that we admire, although this is fairly rare, given the young age they typically enter the NFL. But Alejandro Villanueva would typify this.
USA Today Sports/Charles LeClaire photo
Today’s article is a twofer. You will get to read about an awesome and beloved former Steeler, and you will get a fascinating health tip. Doesn’t get much better than that in the offseason.
Keisel was in the news lately as his iconic beard was removed in the sixth annual Shear Da Beard event. The link takes you to the Steelers.com video. Be sure to watch it—it’s wonderful.
I haven’t seen any figures as to how much this year’s event raised, but the previous five have raised a total of around $250,000 for the UPMC Children’s Hospital’s Division of Hematology/Oncology.
via Post-Gazette/Lake Fong photo
I’m not a big fan of viewing football games with other people. Or perhaps more accurately, I need to have complete trust in their viewing methods. But even for me, the Super Bowl is different. I’m happy to watch it as the sort of central point of a social occasion.
There is, of course, a huge proviso—the Steelers can’t be in the game. If they are, it’s right back to square one.
I have watched two Super Bowls. The first was the 2008 Super Bowl. I didn’t really care about the Steelers then, and thought football in general was at best incomprehensible. However, I had enough community spirit to accept the invitation. It was perhaps this which sowed the seeds for my later solitary viewing styles. Read more
Mike Tomlin has always made a big deal of the “next man up” attitude. I have always thought this was a necessary concept for the team, but not terribly rooted in reality for the fans. Injuries to good players are going to cost a team because backups are backups for a reason. They lack either the talent or the experience (or both) to be a starter. Or so I thought.
Perhaps more than any season in memory, the injury bug bit the Steelers. It bit hard and often. Yet somehow, someway players stepped in and performed at levels I did not think were possible.
Yet despite the injuries and because many fans are all in with “the standard is the standard,” Steeler Nation is rife with fans who proclaim, ANYTHING SHORT OF WINNING THE SUPER BOWL IS FAILURE.
These fans are long on bravado, short on discernment. This year, the team executed the next man up philosophy at a level I thought was impossible. To say the Steelers failed or that they accomplished nothing is ignorant. The fact that they went as far as they did was a triumph of good coaching and motivated players. The failure to win a Super Bowl does not equate to a failed season.
The Good Guys: Defensive Tackles and Nose Tackles
The good, the bad and the ugly; three dissimilar personalities. Yet as different as they are, they share qualities that go beyond team and position. Each had a great passion to excel and to win. Each was admired by their teammates, not just as players, but as teammates and as men.
They are: The Good – Chris Hoke. The Bad – Mean Joe Greene. The Ugly – Ernie Holmes. If you’re scratching your head, allow me to explain.
3. The Good – Chris Hoke
Chris Hoke is one of the nicest men to wear a Steelers uniform. An undrafted free agent from Brigham Young, Hokie was a reserve nose tackle, spending eleven years with the Steelers. He had sixteen career starts, all in place of injured Casey “Big Snack” Hampton.
Hokie played his college ball at BYU. He completed a two year missionary service in Brussels, Belgium. He was named to the Academic All- Mountain West Conference team in 1999.
As a reserve, not much has been written about Hokie during his career. In 2004, Chris started the last ten games in place of Hampton, who went down with a season ending knee injury. Hokie, barely hanging on to a roster spot was determined to do his best to fill the large shoes of the all-pro Hampton. 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