A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of the weird little quirks of this season has been the fact NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football has featured really good games. Last night, the Colts overcame a horrible first half to eventually edge the Titans and take commanding control of the AFC South. If the Pittsburgh Steelers were remotely in the playoff race, the Titans losing would be the important key news coming out of last night. But these are strange and unsettling times, my friends.
Going into halftime, the insufferable announcers teased “Steelers in Disarray” as one of the topics of discussion. Who should show up but alleged “insider” Ian Rapoport, to once again repeat his asinine and wholly unsubstantiated “scoop” that Ben Roethlisberger will be traded this off-season. This time, as to lend credence to Rapoport’s apparently made-up rumor, they brought somebody named Mike Silver out to add the Steelers are happy that Ben is studying harder this year but still displeased he’s “no Peyton Manning” when he’s away from the facility.
The crowning jewel on this comedy of misinformation was the earth-shattering news that GM Kevin Colbert was at last night’s Clemson game, apparently to scout quarterback Tajh Boyd.
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The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Forbes recently polled fans in order to find the most disliked NFL players. For the third consecutive year, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger cracked the top five. I’m not going to belabor why Ben is on the list – at this point, the Milledgeville story has been beat to death and I don’t think anybody is going to change their opinion about what happened in that dingy stinky bathroom stall – except to say I truly think today’s Ben is not the same as “Bitches, Take My Shots” Ben.
For one, he settled down with a nice Pittsburgh Girl. He went back to Miami (Ohio) and completed his degree. Finally, he became a father. In fact, Ben and his wife Ashley recently announced they have second child on the way.
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Yesterday, the Sporting News released their annual poll naming the NFL’s Dirtiest Player. For the second year in a row, Detroit Lions thug Ndamukong Suh took the title as voted on by a sampling of his peers. Somewhat surprisingly, an offensive lineman took the second spot. The ironically named Richie Incognito was recognized by enough of his fellow players to earn that dubious honor.
As usual, the Pittsburgh Steelers were well represented.
The Steelers had a lock on top spot for quite a few years. First, there was Hines Ward, who had a nice run of three of four years in a row. For the record, Hines was not a dirty player. Guys just resented the fact he played every snap and he played them hard. If you ever watch NFL wide receivers on iso-cam, 90% of them jog leisurely down the field on running plays. Hines looked to block or hit somebody, which made a lot of defensive players mad. As a result, he was frequently called dirty when all he did was play every snap.
When Hines started slowing down, and the NFL started getting worried about vicious hits because a lawsuit was coming, James Harrison became the new whipping boy. I’m not going to lie, Harrison definitely deserved his rep as a head-hunter. At the same time, the vast majority of his “illegal” hits came between the whistles in the context of a football play. Guys like Suh, who stomp downed opponents or hit them late are a different case entirely.
With Hines retired and James sidelined most of the year, I thought perhaps the Steelers would finally disappear from the list. Or, if they did show up, they would be represented by one of two prime candidates. Ryan Clark is every bit the vicious hitter that Deebo is. For whatever reason, he doesn’t receive the fines (or media scrutiny) but he definitely aims to annihilate rather than tackle. Then there’s Willie Colon, who’s an absolute maniac. When Giants DE Justin Tuck whined about the Steelers offensive line playing dirty a couple weeks back, I’m sure Colon was one of the guys he had in mind.
In the end, the Steelers were once again represented by two players. The Ginger Dictator‘s smear campaign has evidently been effective enough that Harrison came in 4th place despite only playing a handful of games. The other Steeler who was among those who garnered more than one vote was safety Ryan Mundy. Yes, Ryan Mundy. In a way, it’s not that surprising because he also looks to spear guys instead of tackling them. And he was recently fined a cool $21,000 for knocking Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey out of the game.
I wonder if those two players came from Oakland?
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Chris here. When Hennessy told me he was returning to the ‘Burgh for the holiday, I thought it’d make a great idea for a post. Also, with this piece, I’m formally instituting Steeler Nation Sound-Off a permanent feature going forward. So you Hennessy fans will be able to enjoy his musings on a regular basis. And best of all, you get a break from me! Take it away, Hennessy…
I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day. I was fortunate enough to make the travel back to Pittsburgh, and unfortunate to have done it during an away game. I froze my ass off at many late season Pittsburgh Steelers games and it would have been nice to go to one during our Thanksgiving heat-wave. Not that I mind prying frozen Ahrn City’s from my frostbitten hands, it would just be nice to make a trip home one time when it wasn’t a bye week or away game.
I didn’t get the chance to make it to Heinz Field, but then again not many members of Steeler Nation ever get to grace the bleachers to cheer on our boys. It is an experience unlike any other, and if you’ve been there I’m sure you will agree. For those that haven’t, put it on your bucket list. You won’t regret it.
The whole trip home this time made me realize just how different the ‘Burgh really is. I’ve been in Nashville for six years now, so maybe the little things that make that team and that city stick for generations are just setting in. Anyway, here are a few things being back in town brought to light.
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Congratulations go out to Commissioner Roger Goodell. His goal has finally been achieved. He has successfully pussified the National Football League.
I tuned in to the Four Letter hoping to hear Trent Dilfer announce he was coming out of retirement to play for the Baltimore Ravens. He certainly couldn’t do any worse than last night’s performance by Joe Flacco. But rather than glorious analysis highlighting every one of the Ratbirds many flaws, I instead had to listen to the talking heads go on and on about the catfight between the Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh and several members of the Atlanta Falcons. For those
lucky smart enough to avoid the mind-numbing prattle, the story goes after quarterback Matt Ryan was hurt on a play late in Sunday’s game, Suh and teammate Cliff Avril stood there taunting him about the injury.
OH NOES! THE HORROR!