Nov 012012

SB Nation Pittsburgh links to a Ben Roethlisberger quote ruminating on whether his draft class may eventually surpass the fabled 1983 QB draft class that included John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino (and a couple other guys named Bob).

“And all four quarterbacks — Matt Schaub, Philip (Rivers), myself and Eli — that were drafted there. I hope we can play well enough that one day they talk about us as maybe the best quarterback draft class of all time.”

Let’s check out the numbers.

Class of 1983 Designation Superbowl Record Passing Yards Years Yardage Rank
John Elway HOF 2-3 51,475 16 4
Todd Blackledge Bust 0-0 5,283 7 245
Jim Kelly HOF 0-4 35,467 11 18
Tony Eason Ok 0-1 11,142 8 154
Ken O’Brien Ok 0-0 25,094 10 62
Dan Marino HOF 0-1 61,361 17 2
Totals/Averages 2-9 189,822 69 80.83
Class of 2004 Designation Superbowl Record Passing Yards Years Yardage Rank
Eli Manning Potential HOF 2-0 29,980 8.5 36
Philip Rivers Mediocre 0-0 25,931 8.5 58
Ben Roethlisberger Potential HOF 2-1 28,566 8.5 44
J.P. Losman Bust 0-0 6,271 8 223
Matt Schaub Undecided 0-0 19,586 8.5 98
Totals/Averages 4-1 110,334 42 91.8

I tend to believe 2004 has already surpassed 1983 because of a superior Superbowl record. 2-9 for 1983? That’s abysmal! Continue reading »

Sep 082010

I’ve refrained from commenting on the Ben Roethlisberger situation until the facts seem to have been borne out and punishment meted out.

At first, there was a lot of outrage throughout Steelers Nation. Not a small number of fans wanted his stank ass traded or flat-out cut. It’s not for me to decide how sincere they are in this wish and how many would really have a change of heart if the the team would go 4-12 or worse without him and not be a true Superbowl contender for years to come.

I’ve heard the refrain – “what would you think if that was your daughter?” in response to those of us who would not have him cut or traded. My response – “what if he was your son?” It is common without our polity to believe that the Steelers stand for something other than just winning; that the team and organization strives to represent the best of this city and its far-flung fanbase. It’s what we have long called, the “Steelers Way.” A little (or a lot) sanctimonious maybe but that’s how many of us feel.

Whatever moralizing we have been doing about how much the character of the organization matters, let’s not forget that Steelers players have gotten in trouble with the law before and will get in trouble in the future. James Harrison was charged with domestic abuse for striking his girlfriend in 2008. Eric Green was suspended for 6 games in 1992 for his second violation of the NFL’s drug policy. And most famously, during the height of the Steelers’ 1970s Superbowl runs, Ernie “Fats” Holmes, a decorated member of the original Steel Curtain, fired shots at a police helicopter that was pursuing him as part of a high-speed chase.

All these players were forgiven by the Steelers management and stand in relatively good stead in the history of the franchise. It bears mentioning that however heinous Ben’s actions, he was never charged with any crime unlike the aforementioned players.

So I’ll ask again, “what if he was your son?” I’d want him to be humiliated. Done. I’d want him to be punished. Done. I’d want him to get help. In-progress. I wouldn’t abandon him. I’d want him to turn his life around and become the human-being that I had always wanted him to become. I would not abandon him.

As concerns Ben Roethlisberger, I’m not claiming to be completely altruistic in this approach. He’s a front-line quarterback. There’s a reason that it took Bill Cowher over 14 years to win a Superbowl; he didn’t have Ben. But if the Steelers do represent the best of our “Nation”, then perhaps we would also do well to exercise another worthwhile quality – forgiveness. No, this isn’t Ben’s first strike. It should be his last. But I’m willing to give him one more chance. (stupid fraking jag-off that he is).

Photo credit:

Sep 012010

Veteran ESPN journalist, John Clayton released a ranking list of NFL starting quarterbacks yesterday. His top five includes Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre.

According to our un-sources, MST has learned that Clayton has been reprimanded by the Mickey Mouse Empire for failing to show proper deference to Brett Favre, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Carson Palmer in favor of the embattled Roethlisberger.

Longtime broadcaster John Madden was enraged when told of Clayton’s opinions and, in the grand tradition of our pilgrim forefathers, swore to beat him senseless with a giant turkey leg.

Apr 272010

Can anyone ever again be like Mike? A few nights ago, I was watching an NBA playoff game (yes, Pittsburghers sometimes watch pro basketball) when they cut away to a shot of Michael Jordan. And I got the sudden urge to watch one of the Be Like Mike ads. So I checked out the original on youtube.

“Sometimes I dream / that he is me / you’ve got to see that’s how I dream to be / I dream I move / I dream I groove / like Mike / if I could be like Mike.”

And in the wake of the Ben Roethlisberger and Tiger Woods scandals, it gets me to thinking whether any athlete will ever again be as beloved as Michael Jordan. Oh I get that Cavs and Jazz and Knicks fans will hate him forever and a day but for the casual fan who remembers him, I don’t think anyone will ever approach Michael Jordan. It’s been too many years and too many comebacks since he was the true force of the NBA, of sports in general, but just watch the commercial again.

It’s possible, even probable, that someone someday will approach his greatness on the court (Kobe Bean Bryant, Kevin Durant?). Someone someday may make more money off the court (Lebron James?). But can you ever imagine another athlete inspiring a “Be Like Mike”-style commercial? That pure, almost child-like sense of awe and adulation. It’s a brilliant spot, really.

Kobe & Lebron get a lot of publicity and have lots of commercials out these days. They’re funny. They’re witty. They really make me hope that Lebron leaves Cleveland. I imagine Kevin Durant will get his own set soon. None of those spots will be the same as the “Be Like Mike” ad. Even before his scandals, I don’t think that Tiger Woods was as big and as awe-inspiring as Michael Jordan.

We all know now that Jordan wasn’t the nicest of gentlemen. He berated his coaches and teammates. He gambled almost compulsively. He drove people nuts. Put simply, he was an ass. But he still inspired that commercial and all that goes with it.

Sorry but I don’t want to be like Lebron James or Kevin Durant. I still want to be like Mike. (And I was an Olajuwon fan).

Mar 042010

It is easy in the wake of monumental sports events to assign too much credit to a particular individual. It is even easier, in hindsight, to assign too little credit. To nitpick over effort given, a missed coverage, a turnover here, or a blown breakaway there. Yet sports isn’t played in hindsight. Nor should it be judged solely out of its immediate context. Balance is the key.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won Superbowl XL, in large part, despite the efforts of their sophomore QB, Ben Roethlisberger. Yet the Steelers reached the Superbowl, in large part, because of Ben’s outstanding play in three road playoff victories at Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver, to say nothing of the Immaculate Tackle on Nick Harper. The Steelers reached Superbowl XLIII, in large part, because of their defense. They won it, in large part, because of Roethlisberger’s last minute heroics.

Evgeni Malkin won the 2009 Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s regular season scoring leader. He led the Stanley Cup Playoffs in scoring, edging out teammate Sidney Crosby by five points and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Playoffs MVP. Yet it was Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby who first lifted the venerable Stanley Cup during the trophy presentation. And it is Sidney Crosby who is consistently seen as the most important player on the Penguins.

Crosby had a ho-hum ride during much of the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament. Until he scored the game winning shootout goal against Sweden in the preliminaries. And then again when he scored the Gold-medal clinching overtime goal against the USA. Despite setting up him brilliantly, it is Crosby, not Jarome Iginla, who is hailed as the conquering hero.

There will be, as always, those who downplay the contributions of players such as Roethlisberger and Crosby if they fail to dominate play at all times. Who will call them overrated and over-hyped and a product of the system. In other sports lifetimes, the same hyperbole was used on Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Lucky and overrated. Surrounded by great players. The team won, not the individual player. No shit, Shirlock.

Yet it can’t be coincidence that such players are the ones who just happen to keep coming up on the winning side, that are practically omnipresent in the biggest moments in sports*.

It won’t always show up on the stat sheet but what do we really mean when we say that a player wills his team to victory. The best players do that., clichéd as that sounds. No one should be defined solely by titles won. However, it is fair to judge them by the moments they own within the circumstances presented to them and the moments they create for their teams of their volition and will to succeed.

So if you want to talk about Willie Parker’s run in Superbowl XL or James Harrison’s romp in Superbowl XLIII, fine. Or highlight Iginla’s or Roberto Luongo’s work for the Canadians, by all means, do so. But their work does not diminish the driving forces and players behind such triumphs. The ones that actually put the puck in the net.

* Dan Marino. A great player, who never won a Superbowl, cursed to play for an overrated buffoon of a coach. I can’t claim to be completely objective on Marino, a Pitt alum, but that’s a post for another day.

Mar 262009

I want a salary cap and comprehensive revenue sharing in baseball. It’s the only way to ensure a proper competitive balance in the sport. It’s the only hope a small market team, such as my Pirates, have for contending on a regular basis. Every game that the NY Yankees or the Boston Red Sox play make this point even more painfully clear to me.

But the naysayers will point out that other small market teams have contended and even won the World Series. True though that may be, it hides the ugly reality that a well-run small market team (such as the Minnesota Twins or Oakland Athletics, NOT the Pirates) can only compete for a couple years in a given cycle. They will build a team, contend for a time, maybe even reach/win a World Series and then watch as their best and brightest leave for the big money spenders, such as New York, Chicago or Boston. Does anyone remember that Manny Ramirez began his career with the Cleveland Indians? Talk about the model small market franchise. The Indians drafted well, managed their payroll, tried to sign their stars to manageable contracts before their hit arbitration or free agency. They made the World Series and then went kerplunk!

World Series Trophy

A salary cap does NOT guarantee that every team will contend. But it does provide cost certainty such that any team, big market or small, will have a shot to retain its hard-earned, home-grown talent when the big money comes calling (without having to revert to the Reserve Clause).

In the NFL’s infancy, New York Giants owner Wellington Mara decided to give up what could have become a Yankees’ sized advantage in monies in favor of comprehensive revenue sharing. Later, the NFL adopted a salary cap that gives cost certainty to all teams. Today, Ben Roethlisberger is in the midst of a $102 million contract, Troy Polamalu is one of the highest paid players at his position and a team like the Washington Redskins is spending itself into oblivion. Well-run teams like the big market New York Giants or the medium market Pittsburgh Steelers continue to thrive by building rather than poaching.

If MLB did institute a salary cap, perhaps the Pirates would continue to lose; that wouldn’t surprise me one bit. But I think Wellington Mara would be pleased with the idea that well-run, well-built baseball teams would be afforded the opportunity to prosper for many, many years, not just 2-3 years.