Here I was hoping for a nice quiet off-season for the Pittsburgh Steelers…
Then again, I guess the off-season hasn’t truly started until Ryan Clark shoots his big mouth off about something. I’d really like to know how and when that assclown became the official spokesman for the Steelers’ players. Granted football players tend to have IQs somewhere north of a turnip and, as we saw during the lockout, aren’t really that particular about picking their leaders. Still, one would think there is at least one level-headed guy in that locker room who can step forward and talk to the media without being a divisive influence.
Let’s rewind back to Sunday. Ron Cook wrote a piece for the Post-Gazette that was highly critical of linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Cook used a bunch of words to point out what all of us fans already knew; since signing his big money contract extension in 2011, Woodley’s level of play has fallen off the map. What got people’s attention was a quote about Woodley attributed to an anonymous teammate. “He tells us he works out, but we didn’t see it. He wasn’t in shape. That has to be a reason why he was always hurt.”
Clark, who never met a microphone he wouldn’t talk into, immediately decried the comments as “cowardly.” Again, that’s not really shocking as pro athletes love to invoke this code of silence gimmick like they’re a team of Navy SEALS charged with conducting a raid on an al-Qaeda compound. I have no desire to see the Steelers turn into a back-stabbing circus like the Eagles or Cowboys but the feigned outrage whenever somebody criticizes a member of their own locker room is total bullshit.
The ironic part of Clark’s comments were after decrying a player for criticizing the brotherhood, he proceeded to criticize the brotherhood. Even more shockingly, what Clark said was actually pretty smart.
Clark went on to tell NFL.com that the Steelers clearly have a “a fracture” within their ranks. “That shows that this team that is normally close, you had the Joey Porters, the Alan Fanecas, just down the line, leader after leader, this team was close-knit. It shows there is a fracture in that. I think that is the most disappointing thing about that coming out.” said Clark. So by fracture he meant leadership void. We worried this might happened as the old guard retired and handed the team off to the young guys. Now for the first time there is concrete proof that something is amiss with the Black and Gold.
Hines Ward retired and the wide receiver corps became a group of me-first chest-thumping underachieving idiots. James Farrior retired and LaMarr Woodley went from one half of the best linebacking duo in Steelers history to overpaid and injury prone. Local radio host Stan Savran mentioned on his show this morning that he heard from team sources that Woodley got up to nearly 290 pounds last year. Some of that may be due to not being able to do cardio after suffering his hamstring injury. But as the anonymous Steelers points out, he’s constantly coming down with strains and pulls which are telltale signs of a guy being out of shape.
Going into the final week of the season, rumor had it that James Harrison was playing his final game in Pittsburgh. When the Steelers gave Woodley the contract extension, I’m sure they envisioned him being the guy the defense reloaded around as Deebo faded off into the sunset. In reality, Harrison has been the more effective player by far the past couple seasons. Despite the team being in the salary cap danger zone, I don’t see how the Steelers get rid of Harrison and not worry that a defense already struggling to generate turnovers and sacks gets even worse.
Run a lap, LaMarr.
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Sorry for being overly negative although it’s hard not to be since for the first time in a very long time, the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing an utterly meaningless football game. The last time the Steelers entered the last week of the season with absolutely nothing to play for was the final game of the Bill Cowher era. Actually, there was something to play for that weekend.
The Steelers had been eliminated from playoff contention the week prior but the Cincinnati Bengals needed a win to get in. When asked what would motivate his team to play with nothing on the line, Cowher famously said “Misery loves company.” And his team responded by sending their long-time coach out a winner (and dumping the Bungles from the playoff race) with a clutch TD by Santonio Holmes in overtime.
While this week’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns, aren’t playing for anything either, I have a hard time imagining Mike Tomlin motivating his players in a similar fashion. After all, Fraud Tomlin couldn’t get these guys to play hard when the playoffs were on the line, how’s he gonna get them fired up for a glorified exhibition game?
How bad has it gotten? Local talk shows are taking call after call from members of Steeler Nation who actually WANT the Steelers to lose so they improve their draft position. I can’t say that’s a bad idea. Never forget the 2007 draft where Darrelle Revis went with the 14th pick and while we took Lawrence Timmons one pick later. Timmons has finally realized his potential this season although I don’t think anybody would be crazy enough to argue they’d rather have him over Revis Island. So who knows, perhaps a loss on Sunday is the difference between drafting a shutdown corner or a chronically underachieving linebacker.
Good grief, we’re talking about draft position and hoping for losses. Yes, it has come to this.
STEELERS DEFENSE vs BROWNS OFFENSE
The Browns offense will finish the year near the bottom of the league in points per game and total yards. Rookie QB Brandon Weedon has shown flashes of being a competent signal caller but enters the game having thrown more INTs (17) than TDs (14). Of course, it’s not all Weedon’s fault. Other than fellow rookie RB Trent Richardson, who was on track for 1,000+ rushing and 400+ receiving yards before he got banged up, the Browns don’t have much in the way of offensive weapons. Whoever takes over in the front office will definitely be looking to upgrade the skill positions this off-season.
EDIT: And of course late news out of Cleveland is both Weedon and Richardson are nursing injuries and won’t be active on Sunday. Evidently the Browns want to ensure they’re in position to take the next Revis so they’re endeavoring to field the WORST TEAM EVER. Even back-up Colt McCoy is sitting out because his testicles haven’t descended or some such nonsense. Which means all you loyal season ticket holders will get to see the NFL debut of rookie QB Thad Lewis. THAD LEWIS! SMELL THE EXCITEMENT!
Which brings us to the Browns’ sole motivation this weekend, rescuing coach Pat Shurmur’s job. Shurmur’s only been in Cleveland two years (although Cleveland years are like dog years, one feels like seven) but with a new owner used to winning – he was a minority owner of the Steelers – Shurmur’s wretched 9-22 mark may do him in. Knowing the Browns, they’ll probably fire Shurmur only to hire another retread like Norv Turner although we’ll
worry laugh about that when the time comes. For now Shurmur is their coach and he may very well need a win this Sunday to have any hope of keeping his job.
For the Steelers, this may be the last hurrah for some familiar faces. Casey Hampton took a pay cut to come back one more year and although the team doesn’t really have a heir apparent waiting in the wings – unless you count that drunken imbecile Alameda Ta’amu – he may not be back next season. Then there’s James Harrison. Although our old pal Hennessy will be heartbroken to hear this, there is real talk that Harrison and his $9 million salary will not be back in 2013. I think that would be a mistake since Deebo has shown he can still play at a very high level when he’s reasonably healthy but remember this is the same team that cut Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter when they still had a little gas left in the tank.
It’s the Steeler Way.
Despite a season filled with injuries to key players and lacking in game-changing plays, the Steelers D will almost certainly finish the year ranked first overall for the third time in the past six years. Dick LeBeau has been telling his guys that he intends to come back next season so barring another Bruce Arians fiasco from Art II, our D should still be pretty good next season no matter who he has to coach.
STEELERS OFFENSE vs BROWNS DEFENSE
The only upside to having one more game left in the season is you only have one more game to watch the Steelers’ excruciatingly pitiful excuse for an offense. The defense certainly struggled the first month or so of the season but when the story of 2012 is written our inept offense is going to bear the brunt of the criticism for things going so horrible wrong. And deservedly so.
Todd Haley was brought in to take them to the next level. Instead, everything has gone backwards. Ben Roethlisberger regressed. The Young Money crew regressed. The running game regressed. I don’t know if Boss Todd will be back next year – my money, or rather the money inherited by the Deuce, says yes – but let’s hope things improve next year.
Contrasted with the last appearance in the Black and Gold of some veterans on D, this may be the last time we see some young players on offense in our colors.
Mike Wallace (EDIT: Wallace has a sore hammy and is sitting out. Wow, this really is a glorified exhibition game. Do you guys really expect me to watch this?) and Rashard Mendenhall are undoubtedly playing their last home games in Pittsburgh. Wallace simply wants too much money and while I think he’s a very skilled receiver, he’s not the kind of difference maker worth throwing a huge contract at to keep around. Mendy, well, I don’t think Tomlin likes him and as time has gone on the feeling has become mutual. I think he’s a perfect example of a guy who needs a change in scenery to get their career back on track.
Where that leaves the Steelers, however, is anybody’s guess. If Haley truly wants the Steelers to run the ball more often and effectively than his predecessor, the team probably needs to invest in a top flight back. Neither Jonathan Dwyer nor Isaac Redman have looked like they should be considered featured backs. Meanwhile, we once thought the Steelers receiving corps was an embarrassment of riches but subtracting Wallace and with Manny Sanders spectacular flame-out, we’re left with Antonio Brown and… Jerricho Cotchery?
The Steelers aren’t going to make any off-season decisions based on one game. Mendy can gallop for 250 yards or Wallace can catch 200 yards worth of passes and I’m sure it won’t affect what the team does with them this off-season. What we do know is tough decisions have to be made so we don’t find ourselves in this exact same situation next year. And what is certain is the team that takes the field next September will look quite a bit different than the one we see on Sunday.
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The Monday after a loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers is always interesting. Local talk radio airwaves are usually filled with a mixture of doom, gloom and Monday morning quarterbacking. The level of vitriol increases exponentially when the Steelers lose a game in miserable a fashion. So in the wake of Sunday’s absolute ass-kicking by the San Diego Chargers, I expected yesterday to be a red letter day for yinzer sports talk.
To my surprise, instead of bemoaning Curtis Brown‘s absolute ineptitude or bitching about the stone hands infecting
Young Money Cash Droppahs, the issue on everybody’s minds seemed to be Mike Tomlin‘s decision not to go for a two point conversion in the 4th quarter.
Here’s the scenario. The Steelers were down 24 with about seven minutes left. With Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the starters still in the game, they scored a garbage time touchdown to make the score 34-16. Tomlin kicked the extra point, which left the deficit at three scores (17 points) instead of going for a 2 point conversion which would’ve cut it to 16 (two TDs + two 2 pts).
When asked why Ben was still in the game despite just missing three games due to life threatening injury, Tomlin responded, “We always look to compete.” But when asked why he didn’t go for 2, he said, “We didn’t want to put our special two point plays on tape.” So which is it? If you’re trying to compete, you go for two and cut the margin to two touchdowns. If you’re in full mop up mode, you kick the XP and put your recovering franchise QB on the bench.
Tomlin’s weekly lie-fest press conference is later today and I wager nobody in the rah rah cheerleader local media presses him on this contradiction. That didn’t stop Steeler fans from calling in droves yesterday to call BS on Tomlin’s nonsense. Leaving aside the obvious lie about the “special two point plays” (they couldn’t call a regular goal line play? I’m sure “genius” Todd Haley has dozens and dozens of those in his wonderful offense), why couldn’t Tomlin just tell the truth?
As I mentioned in yesterday’s recap, there was a minor scrum among Steelers Nation during the game as a #fireTomlin has tag started making the rounds. Later that evening, local sportscaster John Fedko went on Triblive Radio (who once offered me a weekly interview segment but reneged so I won’t link to them) and actually verbalized the notion that Tomlin should be fired. Other Pittsburgh sports personalities have been more muted in their criticism but there is definitely a growing backlash against Tomlin amongst both reporters and fans. And he has nobody to blame but himself.
I’m not a johnny-come-lately to criticizing Tomlin. In fact when I wrote for NicePickCowher many years ago, I was the first person online or anywhere to point out his press conferences were utter jokes. All he does is stand there and spout off a bunch of nonsense he thinks sounds good, very little of which is actually true. I was also the first to float the idea that Tomlin won with “Cowher’s team,” an idea which all of a sudden I hear people picking up on only four years after I first floated it.
Look, I don’t hate Mike Tomlin. I don’t even think he should be fired (yet). But at the same time, I think he’s pulled the wool over a lot of people’s eyes and slowly that facade is beginning to fade. He lies constantly and about everything. He lies about injuries, he lies about line-up changes, he lies about strategy. And his in-game management is absolutely atrocious to the point even Bill Simmons has remarked that he’d never bet on Tomlin in a close game. In just the past month alone, Byron Leftwich was left in a game where he was obviously hurt, the running back situation was botched so badly none of them had any confidence and after Sunday’s loss various Steelers from Ryan Clark to Bret Keisel admitted they felt the team “wasn’t ready to play.”
Weren’t ready to play? How does any team in the middle of a playoff race not come into a very winnable game ready to play? That’s on the head coach. A head coach who inherited a team only one season removed from a Super Bowl championship, by the way. If the team hopes to win another before the window closes, Tomlin needs to start doing a much better job before it’s too late. Or else he risks joining George Seifert and Barry Switzer in head coaching infamy.
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Ike Taylor has embarrassed the Pittsburgh Steelers yet again. When we last saw Face Me Ike, he was trying to find his jock after Denver’s Demaryius Thomas ran him all over the field. This coming on the heels on January’s Wild Card playoff game in Denver where Thomas burnt him like a redhead in Acapulco. Ike’s performance led ESPN loudmouth Stephen A. Smith to say, “I didn’t know he was allowed back in the NFL after how he performed against the Broncos.” Ike took offense to these comments and a semi-illiterate twitter war broke out between the two.
Loathe as I am to agree with Screamin’ A, Ike’s showing was easily the worst game I’ve ever seen from a cornerback. And I’ve seen Tim McKyer play.
Fresh off polluting the field with his wretched play, Ike has moved on to polluting our ears with his wretched music. Yesterday a rap song surfaced featuring the musical stylings of some wanna-be gangsta chick (she’s from CANADA, for cryin’ out loud) named Jenna Garcia and the Black and Gold’s own Shoeless Ike Taylor. A 90 second preview of the song was uploaded to youtube although you can buy the full torturous three and a half minute version from iTunes if you feel like flushing .99 down the toilet. Personally, I’d rather spend the money on something more worthwhile, like one of those crusty bear claws you get out of a vending machine.
I led off with Ike and Ambassador Dan Rooney kickin’ it old-skool instead of the clip of the song because I know some of you click on videos before reading my wonderful text. The song begins with Jenna singing, backed by a generic club music auto-beat although admittedly her voice is kinda sexy. About 40 seconds in, Ike arrives to rap some lyrics which sound as if they were lifted from a porno movie. Seriously, his first line concerns Jenna’s vajayjay and how he hopes it feels like a sauna.
Swampy lady parts aren’t high on my dating criteria but, hey, I’m not a graduate of Swaggin’ U.
He proceeds to ask for oral sex, drop a couple F-bombs and brag about the size of his dick. Maybe that’s what he tripped over when Thomas beat him for that 71 yard touchdown. I wonder what Santonio Holmes thinks of his boast.
Anyway, suffice to say this song is very NSFW:
Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to be a Steeler fan but things like this make me wonder if my Black and Gold colored glasses are blinding me to the fact my team really isn’t that different from the circuses we see in Dallas or New York.
Hours after the Denver playoff loss, Maurkice Pouncey pimped some idiotic rap song on his twitter account. When fans rightly questioned whether he should be shilling things so soon after a big loss, he went with the always mature “I’m rich. I’m better than you.” response. Ryan Clark is always shooting his mouth off over twitter or on ESPN. He even challenged a beat writer to a fight last season over some perceived slight. I’m not even going to get into Mike Wallace.
Don’t misunderstand, there are a lot of really good guys on the Steelers. Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu, hell even James Harrison recently donated $100,000 to his alma mater. Okay that might not cancel out smacking around your baby mama but work with me. I realize they’re football players, not choir boys, but the Rooney family used to have a very low tolerance for idiots. Today’s team seems to feature more idiots than any in memory. Part of the blame goes to the Rooneys, who’ve seemingly relaxed their standards. Part goes to Mike Tomlin, who is by far the least discipline oriented coach we’ve ever had.
I will always love the Steelers. Being proud of the guys who represent my team? Not so much.
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Welcome back Yinzers! I hope everyone had a better-than-depressing off season, and made good use of the heat by frying up a few Cap N’ Eggs on the sidewalk. I’m glad to say there was nothing too controversial happening with the Pittsburgh Steelers to write about this off season so I hope you were not dismayed by the lack of my musings. Hennessy has been a busy guy, but I’m eager to kick off another year of cheering, bitching and offering up my biased and often unwarranted opinions for you all to enjoy.
I wanted to start off on a positive note, since this time of year often revolves around maybe, would if and drunk bachelors laying down C-Notes on Super Bowl long-shots in Vegas. Ever-optimistic as I am, I want to skip past all the potential furniture mover’s turned Sunday Superstars, and get right down to two powerful assets Pittsburgh is not looking for in training camp.
It’s a Pittsburgh attribute that has been beaten like a dead Bungal, but once again we walk into another season with one of the best head coaches in the NFL. Mike Tomlin recently locked up a 3-Year extension to his contract, securing his office at Heinz Field through the 2016 season.
Since being handed the keys to the Jaw’s shiny race car, Tomlin has been one of the winningest coaches in the NFL. 2012 offers him a chance to finally forge his own identity. Tomlin gave the team a personality of its own, won over the respect and admiration of long-time veterans, and now has a chance to build his own legacy with the departure of several key players from the Cowher Era.
Dick LeBeau stayed away from the retirement home for yet another season, and is unlikely to miss a step in fooling offenses and quarterbacks all season long. Paired with newly-hired counterpart and OC Todd Haley, Tomlin has the resources he needs to truly craft this team into one of his own.
Thursday’s camp also welcomed home Running Backs coach Kirby Wilson. After a long recovery from the January 6th grease-fire that claimed his Cranberry, PA home and over 45% of his body, Wilson was grateful to be back on the field, under his own power. He was able to coach at the OTAs via use of a golf cart, but with the help of extra sunscreen to ward off the sun he was back in normal fashion Thursday. A big congrats to him and his recovery from a long stretch, and best wishes to his efforts with sculpting a young running game into “Stillers football”. Speaking of the running game…
The Passing Game
Pittsburgh’s passing game has become the Flying Circus and carried the offensive efforts for several years now. Shuffling through the likes of Plaxico Burress, Antwaan Randle El, and the great Hines Ward, Ben and Bruce have been able to craft an effective passing threat year-after-year.
Just as Mike Tomlin refuses to acknowledge a player he can’t coach, I refuse to blog a player that is sitting on his couch acting like the golden goose girl from Willy Wonka. The player that shalt not be named deserves a big-time contract for his play on the field, and a permanent position in the CFL for his attitude. On a brighter note, I’m looking forward to the #17 jersey clearance at Hometowne sports. So let’s talk about the Steelers shall we?
This year will be the first without smiling #86, at least on the playing field, but it is not without its share of talent, playmakers and optimism. Big Ben will try to get in the end zone utilizing Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown, but will also have a great supporting cast with the return of veteran Jerricho “Cotchrocket” Cotchery, and a number of young prospects provided they make it out of the St. Vincent showdown. Alabama’s furious ball-catcher Marquis Maze, 6’-2” Toney Clemons out of Colorado and previous St. Vincent college opponent Tyler Beiler out of Bridgewater are all legitimate contenders for a helmet come September. If I get to hear Cris Collinsworth say “Tyler Beiler” I will be a happy man, so best of luck to him on his tryout.
Despite a presumed change of course under Tee Haley’s direction, Steeler fans can rest comfortably knowing there’s a good chance Pittsburgh will put together another solid pass and catch performance this season.If Haley and Wilson are able to mold the running game into a more dominant presence, we can only expect Ben and his shiny new O-line to build on an already impressive passing effort.
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Kordell Stewart retired yesterday as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Wait, what? I thought he retired a long time ago in order to take a job as back-up dancer at It’s Raining Men.” Actually, the artist formerly known as Slash has been a B-team (actually more like D-team) NFL analyst over at ESPN since 2008. Considering barely literate jackasses like Keyshawn Johnson are given prominent air time at the four letter, that should tell you how highly they value Kordell’s broadcasting skills. Which is too bad because the few times I watched their nigh unwatchable First Take program (mainly to catch of glimpse of foxy Dana Jacobson), I thought Stewart offered some decent insights.
Then again, I’m an unapologetic Slash fanboy. I’ve always found the level of vitriol directed at him by Steeler Nation to be absolutely ridiculous. Leaving aside the rednecks who hated him because he was black and the bigots who couldn’t stand that he was gay, the vast majority of Steeler fans disliked him simply because he committed the mortal sin of never winning a Super Bowl. I never understood that being some magical bar Yinzers hold up as the only worthwhile proof of football skill.
Unfortunately, I hear this line of thinking from Steeler Nation all too often and it drives me crazy. It’s the same reason you can’t have a rational discussion about coaches because all too often you’ll hear some nonsense like, “Mike Tomlin won two Super Bowls. Bill Cowher won one. Therefore Tomlin is the greatest coach since Paul Brown!” That’s like saying Kim Kardashian must be way more beautiful and talented than Mila Kunis because more people watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians than watched That 70s Show. The reason fans clamor for Cowher to come rescue their team at the end of every season is because Cowher’s level of success is unparallelled in modern football. The only other coach who comes close is Bill Parcells. Tomlin? Well, he did a good job of not killing the golden goose he was handed but we have yet to see if he can win consistently with teams of his own.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand focusing on the Super Bowl. When all is said and done, hoisting the Lombardi should be the ultimate barometer of your season. However, football being a team game, I don’t see that as the sole measure of a player’s worth. After all, if you only allowed Super Bowl winning quarterbacks into the Hall of Fame, there’d only be about 30 of them in Canton. I don’t think anybody is going to argue the greatness of guys like Warren Moon (who also fell victim to being an African American QB), Jim Kelly, or Pittsburgh’s own Dan Marino, even if they never won the big one.
Kordell Stewart made Pro Bowls. Kordell Stewart took the Steelers to playoffs. Kordell Stewart appeared in multiple AFC Championship games. In 30 other NFL cities, those accomplishments would make him a beloved figure by the loyal fanbase. In Pittsburgh, all it’s earned him are shrugs and withering comments.
For two seasons, Slash was the most fearsome offensive weapon in football. Fantasy footballers go nuts over Michael Vick or Cam Newton but look at some of the stats Stewart put up during his time in Pittsburgh. In 1997 alone he accounted for 32 touchdowns (21 passing, 11 rushing). THIRTY-TWO TOUCHDOWNS. He also passed for 3,000 yards in an era not quite as wide open as it was today and throwing to some truly horrible wide receivers. Andre Hastings? Charles Johnson? Big Ben wouldn’t throw for 2,500 yards let alone 4,000 if he had those guys as his targets. When Slash had Plax and Hines in 2001, he went back to being a 3,000 yard passer. Besides, anybody that watched Kordell during the late 90s remembers how terrified defenses were of him. He could throw the ball 45 yards or tuck it down and outrun the entire defense all by himself. He was undoubtedly the best hybrid pass-throw QB ever even though he never gets the credit that overrated dog rapist in Philly seems to get.
Anyway, I’m glad Stewart got to retire a Steeler. It’s a silly custom, signing a one day contract so you can file your official retirement papers as a member of a certain team, but I applaud the Steelers for going along with it. By doing so, they’re at least acknowledging what a great player he was for them and the vital role he played in some really memorable seasons. Hopefully, some day Steeler fans will also give the third best QB in Black and Gold history the credit he deserves.
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I love Mike Tomlin.
His place in Pittsburgh Steelers history is almost irrelevant. Chuck Noll was the architect of the greatest team the NFL has ever known. Bill Cowher set a standard for excellence almost unrivaled in modern football. Granted, Tomlin has appeared in one more Super Bowl and has one more Lombardi in about a third of the time it took Cowher to win his first but let’s remember Tomlin was starting from a much better place than either of his predecessors. Noll inherited a franchise which was the laughingstock of football. Cowher took control of a team which had made only one playoff appearance in seven years.
Comparatively speaking, Tomlin was given the keys to a Ferrari and simply told not to crash it. Building a champion is a lot harder than guiding one to another trophy. The team Tomlin won a Super Bowl with in his second season was for all intents and purposes the same team Cowher won with three years prior. And the team which has appeared in yet another Super Bowl since then is basically the same squad as the first two. The true test of Tomlin’s coaching acumen will come as the Hines Wards and Troy Polamalus fade into retirement and he has to retool the team with a new crop of stars.
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How’d you spend your weekend?
The Pittsburgh Steelers spent theirs filming a scene for a little flick by the name of The Dark Knight Rises. This may mean little to some of you but to a comic geek like me, it’s the perfect melding of my two favorite things in the universe. Words cannot express how anxious I am to see this film. This news is even more exciting to me than the prospect of seeing Art Rooney’s great-granddaughter’s tits in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, James Farrior, Ryan Clark, and several other Steelers took on the guise of the Gotham Rogues for a scene set at Heinz Field. The Gotham coach was played by none other than Bill Cowher, who was greeted by a raucous ovation when introduced to his beloved hometown crowd. I’m not sure what the scene entailed (mostly because I tend to avoid spoilers) but the tire tracks and appearance of the Tumbler seem to indicate Batman is chasing someone into the stadium. I realize Bane is basically a juice monkey but I swear if they make him an ex-football player…
While Pittsburgh has become Hollywood East in recent years, the team had a special “in.” One of the team’s minority owners is a producer on the film and he was the guy who steered production away from Chicago (the location used in the first two films) to the ‘Burgh. Yes, the Steelers have minority owners, a by-product of Dan Rooney having to buy the team out from his brothers and sisters a few years back. Thanks, Roger Goodell, you prick.
Anyway, as if one needed additional incentive to look forward to The Dark Knight Rises next summer, now we can also look forward to seeing our favorite Steelers flee in terror as Batman rampages over their field. This already in addition to scenes filmed all around town, including some at my Alma mater, Carnegie Mellon. I wish I had the time to sit around Heinz this weekend but I learned my lesson years ago after I spent six hours in the Igloo for a split-second cameo in Sudden Death. Speaking of which, where’s my IMDB page?