Tag: Pittsburgh Steelers
Every time the Penguins play the Islanders, as they’re doing tonight, I can’t help but remember David Volek. Oh the name conjures memories of infamy, it does. It was Volek’s slapshot in Game 7 of the 1993 NHL playoff series between the Pens and Islanders that denied Mario Lemieux and company the chance at a three-peat.
It pains us, it does. It burnsss. It freezessss. Volek’s goal places him among the top sports villains of my life.
Not as high as Scottie Reynolds. But higher than Alfred Pupunu. Maybe in the same vein as Mardy Gilyard or Larry Brown (the Cowboys DB) , though Brown’s misdeeds against my sporting life were in a higher stakes game.
There would be no dynasty for the Pittsburgh Penguins of Mario Lemieux. They continued to be among the top teams for many years afterwards but looking back now, damn, that team should’ve won that third Stanley Cup! If not for David #$%^@ Volek.
I suppose with the Superbowl coming up, I should name Ray Lewis or Ed Reed in the list. Long and storied careers full of antagonism but to my recollection, neither have a signature, defining play that cuts so deep. They would likely go on a different list.
No one will likely ever supplant Francisco Cabrera though.
Behind the Steel Curtain makes a very interesting point today while discussing whether former Steelers OL Tunch Ilkin would be a good fit for offensive line coach for the Steelers:
It not as easy as just looking at some of the guys that are currently available and say they would look great in Black and Gold. That is what happened to the Eagles. They brought in Howard Mudd to coach their offensive line after Juan Castillo was promoted to defensive coordinator. If there is a Hall of Fame for offensive line coaches, Mudd would be in on the first ballot. But, he was a disaster in Philly. Mudd likes big offensive linemen because he believes in a vertical pass drop set, whereas Castillo always preferred smaller, more athletic linemen. The overhaul that resulted really impeded their offense. Some guys may teach things a certain way that doesn’t fit with Haley or the players we currently have. That narrows the list, and would obviously bode well for Ilkin if he was interested in the job.
I’d never really thought of offensive line coach as being such a study in varied techniques but after reading that passage, it makes sense, doesn’t it. And because they’re more nitty-gritty than head coach or even offensive/defensive coordinator, perhaps it’s more difficult to customize techniques based on available personnel. It’s easier to stress over a coordinator or head coach’s philosophies, as so many did/have done w.r.t. Tomlin’s background in the 4-3 vs the Steelers current use of the 3-4. But the impact of position coaches shouldn’t be understated either.
In a stunning rebuke of America’s politically-charged society, the Gods of Football chose to punish the Pittsburgh Steelers because some of their fans deigned to pay even the slightest bit of attention to the Biden-Ryan VP debate last night. The Steelers fell to the Tennessee Titans, 26-23 on a last-second field goal, dropping their record to 2-3.
“Political pundits across the nation have spoken about the relative unimportance of this debate to the greater outcome of the President Election in November so we were surprised and disappointed that normally erudite Steelers fans disregarded the science of Superstition and watched the VP debate instead,” said a clearly angry Pop Warner, chief spokesman for the Football Deities. “Even channel surfing between the two is considered bad form. In our estimation, Titans fans’ attentions weren’t as divided so we chose to reward their loyalty.”
Your humble narrator can attest to the scatter-brained nature of the Nation as after the game, he saw numerous Facebook posts and tweets by otherwise loyal Steelers fans who had been commenting on the VP debate during the game.
Let this be a lesson, Steelers Nation. FOOTBALL > politics. The Gods do not care about your political loyalties, or even your level of activity or advocacy. But when your Steelers are playing, TUNE THE FRAK IN!
Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt, Getty Images
One of my recent tweets: “Adam Graves and the New York Rangers should die of gonorrhea and rot in Hell. Want a cookie, son?”
Seriously? I can’t give up a grudge against Adam Graves (and by extension a New York Rangers franchise that hasn’t done anything meaningful since 1994) based on a cheapshot in the 1992 NHL playoffs? #$%^ no!! The Penguins won the Stanley Cup that year despite Graves’ hit on Lemieux and it’s even possible that the hit galvanised the team and propelled it to those heights. You’re damn right I’m not letting go of my hatred.
And that gets me to thinking about the nature and origins of sports hatred.
It’s pretty common knowledge among my friends that I despise the Cleveland Browns. It’s just the way Pittsburghers are raised. But truth be told, the Browns don’t really deserve to be hated. They haven’t been a true threat since a brief window in the early 1990′s. The cRavens are our real rival nowadays and a worthy one at that.
But I remember that brief, annoying period when the Browns rose up; when Vinny Testaverde was considered a threat to our AFC Central supremacy and the addition of the combustible Andre Rison served to put the Browns (the Browns!) as a chic pic to get to the Superbowl. And so I remember what it’s like to hate the Browns fo’ realz and I hold on to that hatred and nurture it and let it fester and boil.
My mom once told me that for all my hatred, I would probably end up with a girl from Cleveland. What a cruel fate to foresee for her son! Formative years those 1990′s were for Maher’s sports consciousness. I hated Mark Brunell and the Jacksonville Jaguars for a time. I even remember hating the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves for beating my Pirates in the NLCS. Do you remember when Steve Avery was good? I f*ckin’ remember! I’d root for the Yankees over the Braves, damnit!
Now don’t get me wrong. I do hate the Ravens. Arrogant, showboating f*cks all of them! But damn, they’re good. And most of them probably already have gonorrhea anyway.
It’s interesting to see how current rivalries are shaping the sports consciousnesses of Pittsburgh’s youngsters. The Ravens may even win a Superbowl but all teams go through down cycles. Just ask the 1970′s Raiders, the 1980′s Oilers, the 1990′s Browns and Jaguars, etc. And rivalries are generally established of shared excellence not mediocrity.
But those who grew up knowing that raw, raging emotion will forever hold the Ravens in ill-regard. They will remember.
Which brings me back to Adam Graves and the New York Rangers. I f*ckin’ hate the Rangers. No, I mega-loathe them. You see, when I was coming up during Mario Lemieux’s Stanley Cup runs, the Rangers were a primary threat to us. The Flyers were pretty mediocre and though people of good conscience must always hate the Flyers in principle, they didn’t get me worked up that much. They do now but it doesn’t have the force of history, at least for me.
And so 20+ years later, 10-year old Maher still demands even more justice! Yesssss… Adam Graves and the New York Rangers should die of gonorrhea and rot in Hell.
… which is probably quite similar to Cleveland during football season. [steeples fingers malevolently]
I drove up to Northampton, MA this extended weekend to spend some some with my sister, brother-un-law and niece. I was enjoying a leisurely time, when on Friday morning, I received a call from my mom that an unkel had offered two tickets to Sunday night’s Steelers/Patriots game in Pittsburgh. Done.
After driving home from Northampton in 7.5 hours (~515 miles) on Sunday, I was subjected to one of the worst Steelers games I’ve seen in years. Just a putrid, heartless display. Embarrassing, really.
The worst part? Although our seats were pretty sweet (section 108, row K), they were directly in front of five guys from Boston. Now I don’t mind that they were loud and boisterous for their team. By and large, they weren’t rude and there was some fun jawing back and forth.
But those accents! OH MY LAWD!! I mean a really thick, thick, Boston/New England accent. Like Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting or Peter Griffin on the Family Guy.
“Let’s go Paaaats!”
“Let’s go boyyyeesss!”
“Atta boy Tommy!”
Horrible, simply horrible. I’d rather hear southern drawls, Long Island or Bronx accents, Midwestern accents, valley girl accents, maybe even Jersey Shore accents than that bile-inducing detritus. Worst regional accent in the world!
Those boyyeess made this the single worst sporting event I have ever attended. (And considering I’m a long-time Pitt football fan, that’s sayin’ something). UGH.
MST: And we’re back with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell: Thanks for having me.
MST: Commissioner, please explain the James Harrison fines and why you chose to dock him mo’ cash moneyyy than other players.
Goodell: We know that, like many football players, if James Harrison wasn’t in the NFL, he’d either be in jail by now or dead. That he comes from Ohio doesn’t help matters. By fining Harrison, we’re letting him know that murder is not an option. He needed that. Even though we condone violence on the field, we can’t cross over into murdaaa.
The fine accomplishes a second aim as well. By suppressing his murderous Ohioan instincts, James will become an even more devastating player in the long run.
I should also add that part of the rationale behind Ben’s suspension was to remind the Steelers’ defense that a quarterback cannot carry a Steelers team, at least until the playoffs. Last year’s fourth quarter lapses ate just not part of the NFL… I mean Steelers’ Way.
MST: A well-conceived plan, Commissioner, and subtly executed. Would that you could have don’t a better job in Superbowl XL. I’ve been trying to deflect criticism of the officiating in the game for years now.
Goodell: I wasn’t commissioner at the time and I can assure you that the NFL will never again put the Steelers Nation through such a trauma. Simply put, planning for a Steelers Superbowl wasn’t part of outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue contingencies.
MST: And that concludes our interview. Thanks for your time, Commissioner.
Goodell: Thanks for having me.
Many non-Steelers fans (concentrated mostly in Cleveland, Baltimore and Cincinnati) have long believed that the NFL gives a free-pass to the warriors from the Steel City. However, it was the recent suspension of Ben Roethlisberger and fining of James Harrison that had Steelers partisans screaming foul.
Moe’s Sports Talk sat down with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to find out his plans to rig the season and hand the Steelers a Stairway to Seventh Superbowl trophy.
MST: Good evening Commissioner and thanks for joining us. Please explain your rationale for the fines and suspensions and how it fits in with the NFL’s favoritism of Pittsburgh.
Goodell: Part of it is to light a fire under the team.
MST: Light? Fire? A? Please, go on.
Goodell: Well, you have to remember that some of the Steelers’ most critical personalities are from Ohio. As such, they lack the proper moral compass needed to contribute both on the field and to be good citizens off the field unless properly channeled.
MST: You mean Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison?
Goodell: Right. By suspending Ben, even though he’d never been charged with a crime, we sent a clear message that he at least needed to act like a human being in order to lead the Black and Gold.
MST: But you could have derailed the entire season if the defense and run game hadn’t carried the team during his 4-6 game suspension.
Goodell: We were pretty confident that it would be a 4-game suspension. And its effect wasn’t solely targeted at changing Ben.
Consider the the case of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, whose previous OC job was with the Cleveland Browns. Naturally, three years in Cleveland can corrupt and break down any individual. By suspending Ben and taking away the Steelers’ best offensive weapon, we helped Arians’ rehab along.
The Steelers started to re-emphasise the rub. This also forced players such as Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall to step up, possibly earlier than they might have with a “Big Ben” character running roughshod over the team.
MST: Brilliant, commissioner. We’ll he back with the second part of our interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after this short break…
Your faithful correspondent spent the past 5 days in LA for a good friend’s wedding reception and was pleasantly surprised to see how crazed the locals are for sports. They’re so passionate that they can’t bring themselves to pay attention.
Amidst the end of the wedding frivolities, it was a group of easterners who broke out into a seemingly random “Pittsburgh’s Goin’ to da Superbowl” chant. Los Angelino’s in our midst brought back the noise and the funk by taking another hit from the hookah. Score: East Coast-1, West Coast-Not Playing.
Admittedly, I did see numbers of people wearing Dodgers or Angels gear (what’s baseball?) and they can be excused for not caring about college or pro football since LA’s pro/semi-pro team is on probation. (Memo to Roger Goodell: This is the fanbase you long to recapture?)
I think it’s safe to say that California’s reputation for not being sports crazed is well-earned. No family shootings or stabbings over sports, no Steelers-polka at weddings? Tsk, tsk. Perspective, schmerspective! I’m getting a pre-nup solely for the purpose of making sure that my childrens be raised to love the black & gold, if I end up with a non-Pittsburgher.
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: behindthesteelcurtain.com
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. They.show.up., 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.