Category Archives: Steelers History

The Catfish Conundrum: Just How Far Should Fan Loyalty Go?

B40ACB34-C913-4C4B-AA48-C76D3C1136E2-535-000001515E5420ACI 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

Knowing What We Don’t Know, Part 4: More on Mike Tomlin and Coaching in the NFL

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Fred Vuich/AP Photo

By Ivan Cole

On Christmas Day 2016, the Baltimore Ravens were eliminated from both the possibility of earning the AFC North championship and a spot in the playoffs when Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown combined for a game winning touchdown with nine seconds left to play.

In the days following the game, some Ravens fans directed their ire at head coach John Harbaugh and his staff, asserting that the group should be terminated, for, among other crimes, poor clock management. Sound familiar?

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Knowing What We Don’t Know, Part Three: Mike Tomlin and NFL Head Coaching

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Peter Diana photo, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

By Ivan Cole

Part 1 of the series can be found here; Part 2 here.

The revolutionary hiring of Mike Tomlin

One need not be a moral troglodyte or harbor malicious intent to experience a moment of pause when considering whether to make a groundbreaking hire. While it is too often true that the assertion of nonacceptance by others serves as an alibi for one’s own bigotry or lack of moral courage, that does not mean that opposition and resistance is nonexistent.

This brings us back to incrementalism and nonlinearity.

Good intentions badly handled can do more harm than good. This is why Jackie Robinson was so heavily vetted before he was selected to break the color line in major league baseball. Read more

Knowing What We Don’t Know, Part Two: The Rooneys and Race Relations in the NFL

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Bill Nunn, Jackie Robinson, and others: Teenie Harris photograph, via Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh website

By Ivan Cole

I want to thank Hombre for being a source of inspiration for Part One of this series. His first question in the latest 5 Smoldering Questions provides the launch point for Parts Two and Three:

Which of these key Dan Rooney decisions do you think was most consequential to the Steelers present day AND future legacy?

  • a) Listening to Bill Nunn’s complaints about how the franchise dealt with African American reporters and then convincing him to join the Steelers scouting department.
  • b) Hiring Chuck Noll.
  • c) Firing his brother Art Rooney Jr.
  • d) Choosing Bill Cowher over Tom Donahoe and replacing the latter with Kevin 
Colbert.
  • e) Hiring Mike Tomlin (or acquiescing to Art II decision to hire Tomlin)
  • f) Accepting the ambassadorship to Ireland and giving up control of the team.

I cheated and chose both a) and b) as most important, making the argument that to do justice to either demanded that their linkage be acknowledged. I feel that the Rooney (Dan and Art Sr.)/Noll/Nunn collaboration was in the same neighborhood of significance as Branch Rickey/Jackie Robinson, Paul Brown/Bill Willis, Marion Motley, and a handful of other collaborators whose actions resulted in significant transformation, not only in the supposedly trivial domain of sport, but also with significant spillover into the larger society. Read more

First Take on the End of the 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers Season

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via Steelers.com

by Ivan Cole

“I am on record as stating that the standard for success for this particular collection of talent is to make it to the Conference Championship Game. Don’t get me wrong, I will be as disappointed as anyone if the team falls short after traveling so far. Nor am I attempting to inoculate the reader against failure as well. However, I would suggest that we be mindful that given the relative lack of experience in these matters, a winning performance would be a step beyond teams from the 70s and the last decade who needed multiple tries before claiming the ultimate prize.”

This is what I wrote in my last posting, and I am not backing off any of it. The reader may be wondering how I can be such a bleeding-heart optimist considering the events of the last few days. It’s a fair question, so this will be a multiple part post mortem. In the following segments (we have plenty of time on our hands now) I will give my take on where the team is in the larger journey.

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Training Camp for Fans Part Eight: What is the Steeler Way?

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Dan Rooney, Bill Nunn, Art Rooney II, Aubrey Bruce  (Photo Thomas Sabol, The New Pittsburgh Courier)

by Ivan Cole

Pittsburgh was the Silicon Valley of the Industrial Age.

That was the assessment of Howard Fineman, Global Editorial Director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, and former Senior Editor of Newsweek. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Fineman, but we have at least three things in common: We both had newspaper routes selling the now defunct Pittsburgh Press, attended and graduated from the same high school, and wrote articles for the inaugural edition of another defunct publication the Steelers Annual.

Fineman made the Silicon Valley reference in his Steelers Annual piece. Over the years I have found myself constantly comparing this to another statement that disguises extraordinary complexity behind a façade of deceptive simplicity. Speaking thirty years ago at the National Press Club in Washington DC, writer James Baldwin was asked what needed to be done to effectively address race relations. His response: America needed to grow up.

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Setting the Bar Higher: Goals for the Steelers’ Offense

AP photo/Nick Wass

A few weeks back I wrote about the stated goal of the offense to score at least 30 points per game in light of what they actually did last season. Had Ben stayed healthy it isn’t crazy to think they could have done it, although the stinker of a game quarterbacked by Roethlisberger in Baltimore does give one a slight pause. But the offense has just upped the ante, and now they wish to not only score 30 points per game but average 5.0 yards per carry.

I’m pretty sure most of Steeler Nation would sign up for that. Is it realistic? Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review wrote yesterday:

A year ago without running back Le’Veon Bell for 10 games (injury and suspension), center Maurkice Pouncey for the season and tackle Kelvin Beachum for a significant portion of the year, the Steelers rushed for 4.4 yards per carry, which was eighth best in the league.

Good points. But Kaboly also noted that in recent years only the 2014 Seahawks and the 2013 Eagles have done it. (No one managed it last season.)

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