Pittsburgh Invades Canton For NFL Hall Of Fame

 Posted by at 5:03 am  Hall of Fame, Pitt Panthers, Steel Dynasty, Steeler Nation, Videos  Comments Off on Pittsburgh Invades Canton For NFL Hall Of Fame
Aug 062012
 

As the NFL kicks off the a brand new season, this past weekend was all about saying good-bye. Good-bye to former members of the Pittsburgh Steelers who, in the immortal words of coach Chuck Noll, are moving on to seek their life’s work. And also good-bye to two former Steelers and one Pittsburgh native who earned pro football’s highest honor, enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. In both cases, it was a busy weekend for Steeler Nation to bid old heroes a fond farewell.

On Friday, the Steelers held a “Friday Night Lights” evening practice as a sort of thank you to the horde of faithful who make the pilgrimage up to Latrobe for training camp. Fans were treated to a quarterback skills competition where Byron Leftwich evidently impressed with his ability to hit a garbage can at twenty yards and an impromptu heavyweight boxing match broke out between Mike Adams and Cam Hayward. There was also a pregame ceremony with four former Steelers officially retiring as members of the Black and Gold. The photo above shows (from left to right) Joey Porter, Willie Parker, Marvel Smith, and Aaron Smith bidding farewell to the fans.

Some cute chick who does video work for Steelers.com later conducted a short sit-down interview with all four which you can watch by clicking here.

On Saturday, Steeler Nation descended upon Canton, Ohio in what is probably going to be a yearly trip as many of the great Steelers of the Aughts become eligible for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. I’ve been to the HOF a couple times and if you’re a football fan you really owe it to yourself to make the trip at least once in your lifetime. It’s a tremendous facility full of great exhibits, many of them paying tribute to either the Steelers or the rich history of football in Western Pennsylvania. If nothing else, the HOF busts room is a must-see because you literally can’t take three steps without running across a former Steeler.

Speaking of busts, did anybody else notice how amazingly lifelike the busts were this year? It used to be sorta hit or miss (Franco, for example, looked creepily like Shia LaBouf). Guess the NFL has finally started to employ some of that laser scanning technology they use to make action figures look exactly like movie actors. Whatever they’ve done, those likenesses looked amazingly spot-on.

Anyway, the first Steeler to the podium wasn’t a recent retiree but rather veteran’s selection Jack Butler. Butler, who I wrote about extensively on my old site after being contacted by his son, finally achieved the honor his family wanted so badly for him. A defensive back for some wretched Steelers teams from 1951-59, Butler nonetheless retired with the second most career interceptions (52) in an era when teams barely passed more than dozen times per game. His legacy endured, however, as he was named to the Steelers All-Time team, 50th Anniversary team and 75th Anniversary Legends squad.

Butler’s family definitely won the night by wearing those damnable Bumblebee throwbacks with Butler’s name and number on the back. Once again, I can’t embed the video so if you want to catch a snippet of his excellent speech, click here.

Then we had the man who continued the Steelers long tradition of excellence at center, Dermontti Dawson. Dirt, as he was fondly called by teammates and fans, was a seven time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL’s All-90s team. He, along with Rod Woodson, were the two players who bridged the twilight of the Noll era to the unparalleled success of the Cowher years. I caught Dermontti’s speech live and he gave a very touching tribute to the legendary Mike Webster (who was still here in 1988, moving Dirt to guard his rookie season) but NFL.com decided to cut that bit from the highlights for some unknown reason. You can watch what they kept  by clicking here.

Finally, the night’s most memorable speech came from Curtis Martin. Martin never played for the Steelers but he grew up in Pittsburgh and played his college ball at Pitt. Martin’s speech, particularly his asides about not liking to play football and especially not wanting to play hurt, finally explained some things for those who remember his injury plagued and, frankly, badly underachieving tenure with the Panthers. But Martin’s words went well beyond football, talking for the first time in pretty harrowing detail about how he grew up watching his mother being abused by his father and some of the incidents he escaped while running the streets with less-than-desirable friends. His story is truly one of rising from nothing to make good for you and your family and I’d encourage everybody to give it a listen by clicking here.

Mar 122012
 

For those members of Steeler Nation who live outside Pittsburgh and therefore don’t have access to the Post-Gazette, well, consider yourselves lucky. That rag hasn’t been worth reading since John Clayton left to become ESPN’s Senior NFL Insider (as opposed to Junior NFL Liaison, I suppose) and they got rid of Mark Madden. Seriously, I’m beggin’ somebody over at the P-G to pull the plug on Bozo the Columnist’s inane “blog” and bring in somebody who doesn’t think youtube is that portable cushion you sit on to relieve hemorrhoids. I mean, would it kill them to bring in a couple columnists under the age of 60?

Anyway, I do receive the Sunday edition, primarily because I’m an Extreme Couponer. While perusing yesterday’s paper, I immediately noticed the ginormous full page ad taken out by former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith. Smith was among the long-time Steelers released in the Purge a week and a half back. During his career in the Black and Gold, Smith was known primarily for two things: being one of the most underrated players in the league and also for being one of the most classy.

Taking out a full page ad to thank Steeler fans pretty vividly exemplifies the latter. Smith’s message was as follows: Continue reading »

Where Do Steelers Go From Here?

 Posted by at 8:26 am  NFL Draft, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Where Do Steelers Go From Here?
Mar 052012
 

The Post-Gazette is calling it the March Massacre. Being a rabid fan of the television series “Lost,” I prefer to refer to it as the Purge. In a span of three days, the Pittsburgh Steelers cut four veterans who combined had logged over forty seasons in the Black & Gold. Going back a little less than a month, the Steelers cut a total of six players, five of whom at one time or another had been mainstays in the starting line-up.

The latest veteran to get the axe is in some ways the most significant. Linebacker James Farrior was rumored to be on the chopping block since his age (37) and salary ($3.25 million) didn’t appear to fit with the team’s current youth movement. Still, Potsie’s exit comes as a mild surprise because even though his play had obviously declined, he remained a key member of the defense. Farrior’s helmet bore the Mr. Yuck sticker signifying that he alone was Dick LeBeau‘s on-field game general. Of the six players released during the Purge, Farrior is the only one who was still a regular starter at the end of 2011.
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Mar 022012
 

Only one week ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they had renegotiated Ben Roethlisberger‘s contract in order to lower their cap hit by $8 million. That money, in addition to what was saved in several other reworked deals, put the Steelers in line with 2012’s projected salary cap. Many members of Steeler Nation thought the team would sit back, take a breather and spend some time figuring how they wanted to configure their roster for the upcoming campaign. Well, as the old fish story goes, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…

Instead of relaxing, the Steelers have embarked on an unprecedented roster overhaul which has seen them ruthlessly cut ties with several veteran mainstays over the past 48 hours. All day yesterday, Pittsburgh talk radio was dominated by news of Hines Ward’s release. Some people were angry and a few were even happy but most were genuinely sad to see a legendary career end. Before the day was out, word had spread that two more players were set to join Hines as ex-Steelers. Although neither name was much of a surprise.

Aaron Smith has finally run out of time. The Steelers held a roster spot open for him in 2010, hoping he’d pull a Woodson and return from major injury in time to play in the Super Bowl but it wasn’t to be. They did bring him back last season despite injury concerns and having two first round draft picks eager to take the field. About a month ago, Smith attended the retirement press conference for fellow defensive lineman Chris Hoke and was asked about his plans for this season. He clearly indicated a desire to suit up for one last go-round despite playing only a handful of games in each of the previous three seasons. It’s hard to find fault with the Steelers’ handling of the situation as they obviously hoped he’d retire gracefully rather than force their hand. When Smith suffered his latest season-ending injury shortly into the 2011 campaign, it seemed his career was over. Since we now know that Smith will only leave the game kicking and screaming, the Steelers really had no choice but to cut him.
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Oct 262011
 

Sometimes the will is strong but the body simply isn’t able.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were in the news for a couple reasons last Saturday, none sadder than hearing the team had placed defensive end Aaron Smith on injured reserve, ending his 2011 season. Smith going on IR wasn’t sad in and of itself. It was almost expected after suffering four season-ending injuries over the past five years. The sadness came with the explanation that followed which brought to light the unfortunate reality that Smith’s football career is most likely over.

The story behind Smith’s injury is definitely a little bizarre. I often joke on this blog about Mike Tomlin being a master of lies and deceit when it comes to discussing his team’s injury situation. I’m starting to wonder if Tomlin isn’t a liar, it’s the Steeler doctors who make Dr. Nick Riviera look like a Harvard graduate. I mean, they did send James Harrison back on the field with a crushed orbital bone.
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Know Thy Enemy: Tennessee Titans

 Posted by at 5:18 pm  Big Ben, Game Preview, Rashard Mendenhall, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Tennessee Titans
Oct 072011
 

Sit down. Decompress. Put on your favorite pair of comfy slippers. Make a chipped ham sammitch. Get yourself in a nice relaxed frame of mind for what you’re about to read.

The [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] are going to lose to the Tennessee Titans this Sunday.

I know, I know. Way to kick off the weekend, Mr. Positive. Look at it this way, it’s far better to keep expectations low and hope the team surpasses them than set the bar high and then get bummed when they fail to clear it. And if I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow with a smile on my face.

Let’s get right to it.
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Harrison Tosses D-Line Under The Bus

 Posted by at 10:37 am  Aaron Smith, Cameron Heyward, James Harrison, Ziggy Hood  Comments Off on Harrison Tosses D-Line Under The Bus
Oct 062011
 

 

No, no, James…  A BLACK eyepatch…

The [intlink id=”23″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] began to address their offensive line woes with the signing of [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Max Starks[/intlink] yesterday. To give you an idea how poor they’ve been playing, Starks ran with the first teamers on his first day back. Not shabby for a guy the team released because they thought he was washed up. Or maybe he is and a has-been is still a helluva lot better than never-was like Jonathan Scott.

Now let’s get to work on that defense.
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Steelers Already Getting Banged Up

 Posted by at 11:57 pm  James Harrison, Training Camp, Troy Polamalu, Wide Receivers  Comments Off on Steelers Already Getting Banged Up
Aug 022011
 

The first couple years of the Mike Tomlin regime saw training camps so punishing and intense, many veterans blamed them for the injuries which seemed to plague the Pittsburgh Steelers during the regular season.  Last year, Tomlin acknowledged their grumbling by holding practices so light that Latrobe became known as “Camp Cupcake.”  With the new CBA forbidding two-a-days and limiting how many full contact drills can be held per week, the choice of what kind of camp to run has effectively been taken out of Tomlin’s hands.

Yet as we approach the first full week of training camp, it seems like half the roster are among the walking wounded.
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Ironhead Jr. Signs With Steelers

 Posted by at 11:29 pm  Cameron Heyward, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Ironhead Jr. Signs With Steelers
Jul 292011
 

The Pittsburgh Steelers completed deals with their last two unsigned draft picks this afternoon.  Most notably, first rounder [intlink id=”39″ type=”category”]Cameron \”Ironhead Jr.\” Heyward [/intlink]agreed to a four year $6.7 million contract with $3.3 million in guaranteed money.

To give you an idea of how rookies have taken it up the ass under the new CBA, our top pick following our last Super Bowl appearance, Ziggy Hood, signed a five year deal for $8.7 million which included a $6 million signing bonus in addition to another $2.7 million in salary that could double based on various performance incentives.  Not that I would object to being abused to the tune of $3.3 million, mind you.
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