Tag Archives: Brett Keisel

Rookie Indoctrination—The Steelers’ Culture of Service


via Steelers.com

I’ll admit it—I’m a little under the weather. Or perhaps it is the weather that is a little over me. I’m in a very nice part of the world at the moment, but it isn’t very nice in this part of the world. I feel as if I’ve scarcely seen the sun for weeks, and when one has just survived another Pittsburgh winter one tends to feel entitled to some good weather.

And I’ll be honest—I’ve hit a bit of an off-season wall. There is plenty of stuff to write about, but my enthusiasm for figuring out what it might be and actually doing so is at a rather low ebb. Hence I found myself listlessly perusing the video section on Steelers.com, looking for some sort of inspiration. And boy did I find it.

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The Sunday Football-Related Music Post: O Say Can You See?


Via Billboard

In the Week 2 of Dancing With the Stars writeup, I spoke about Hines Ward and how he had taken over “leading” the dance during the second week:

One of the things which I think makes the competition more difficult for the men than the women, and of course more difficult on their professional dance partners, is that the man has to lead. The women dancers can, and do, make quite an effort to disguise the fact that the guy isn’t really in control (and some would say this is a typical female role in life…) but it’s pretty obvious to the practiced eye who is really driving the bus. If the man can’t take over that role fairly early in the competition, it becomes more and more challenging for the woman to choreograph a dance which covers for the lack of leadership.

It’s rather like what occasionally happens in one of the top symphony orchestras. For some reason or other the orchestra has to schedule a guest conductor who isn’t really proficient. I can think of an example with the Pittsburgh Symphony some years ago, when the CEO of a large foreign manufacturer fancied himself a conductor and was basically buying conducting gigs with excellent orchestras through the bait of a very generous donation.

He wasn’t completely incompetent by any means, unlike the time Brett Keisel conducted the PSO in a mercifully brief number, but he wasn’t really driving the bus. I asked some of the players a few weeks after the concert how they handled something like that, and they said “We just follow the concertmaster (the principal first violin.)” This is fine, and the very standard repertoire generally chosen by such conductors, wisely, means that the players have played it, often as a group as well as individually, many times.

But still, something is missing…

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My Two Cents: Adios, amigo!

imageNo matter who you are, how great your career, one day, the Turk will come for you. If you are unfamiliar with the Turk, he is football’s version of the Grim Reaper. One of the toughest things for fans to accept is when a long time Steeler favorite reaches the end of the road. Unless you retire on your own terms, à la Heath Miller, the Turk will come.

The player is often not the decision maker of when his time is up. Occasionally, the Steelers have engineered a peaceful end to the career of an iconic player. More often the “retirements” involve some measure of resistance and/or hard feelings. Rarely, do players perceive that the end is near.  With most highly competitive athletes, there’s always a rock solid belief that there is one more good season.

Often, the great ones can still play, but not at the level which justifies their compensation and its effect on the team’s salary cap.

Therefore, placid dignified retirements are rare. Heath’s departure was classy and low key. Ike Taylor’s farewell lacked drama too, though surely he saw the Turk approaching. The Bus had a fairytale ending.  He was fortunate; life rarely cedes a happily ever after.

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The Archetypes of the Gridiron, and The Real Men on the Other Side

USA Today Sports photo

This article is by guest writer Andrew Swensen, a man I have gotten to know through the Pittsburgh Music Alliance, a cohort of five organizations, including mine, which he put together. The more I get to know him the more I find out about the vast range of his interests and knowledge. We happened to be talking before a meeting earlier this year and discovered we were thinking along similar lines in regards to sports figures. Here are his thoughts:

We love to tell stories. It is in our nature, and we do it all the time – even when we are not aware of it. Our lives become stories as we look for cause and effect, a beginning, middle, and end. On a smaller scale, particular days become a story for us, and a day becomes “good” or “bad” because of the story that we have made from events. This quality has been rooted in our play and our work since the time when we gathered around campfires to pass on our tribal history, and we continue it to this day.

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Things Bigger than Football: Brett Keisel and Da Beard

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.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers All ‘Bust’ Team: Defense

ike-taylor by Ivan Cole

If you missed Part One, let me review some of the ground rules.

‘Bust’ vs. Bust. This is an exercise in irony. So if you are expecting to see the Limas Sweed Story in this piece you will be deeply disappointed. To qualify for this team you have to be a success who is declared a failure before or during the time you are succeeding.

We in Steelers Nation are masters of this sort of thing. There are a number of ways this gets done. The criteria which will receive the greatest focus here will be:

  1. declared a failure before putting on a uniform or playing a game,
  2. not developing in a timely enough fashion,
  3. being fragile, injured too often, having personal conduct issues that supposedly disqualifies a player from receiving our support, or
  4. being declared washed up (old or otherwise done).

There will be something of a bias in favor of the Super Bowl era (some would say that everything Steelers prior to then is by definition a bust), and skewed even further toward the latter years of this period.

Part One detailed the offense and included two players and one coach who would end up in the HOF—Terry Bradshaw, Mike Webster and Chuck Noll. It also included a few others who have a pretty good shot of ending up there as well. Here we will take a look at the defense, which includes at least one HOF player among their ranks. Read more

Character (Ac)Counts: Mentoring the Fledgling Steelers

via Post-Gazette, Peter Diana photo

by Rebecca Rollett

In my (many) years upon this earth, one of the things I’ve found to be universally true is that the toddler remains firmly entrenched in each one of us for our whole lives. The “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too” attitude is part and parcel of our DNA. As we get older and smarter, we learn to disguise this in clever ways. We even, if we really work at it, come to see this as something which should be internally suppressed, as well as just tamed for company manners.

It’s All About the Pie

But it’s pretty hard for almost all of us to not view things from the “how does this benefit me” standpoint. After all, a great many of the things we want in life are part of a pie, if you will. It might be a really big pie, and it might even be an expandable pie, but once the pie has been divided up and shared around, it’s gone.

NFL roster spots are part of a very small, non-expandable pie. If the team decides to keep three quarterbacks or 11 linebackers or what have you, each of those 11 linebackers is reducing the number of other positions available.

But the calculation is even more stark than that. If the team will keep four running backs at most, and if two guys are locks for the position, then the other nine guys in the running backs room can see the writing on the wall. Simple math tells you every guy in the room represents one less chance you are going to get one of the two coveted remaining spots. Read more