They say losing reveals a lot more about your character than winning. If that old jockism is true, then the Pittsburgh Steelers have a big problem. As I sit back and reflect on an ignominious end to a wasted season, I can’t help but worry about the future of the team. Sports radio around town has already been bombarded by calls from irate members of Steeler Nation advising the organization to begin the reloading process by ridding themselves of the old broken down players who failed them this year.
I think that’d be a big mistake. Not because I think Hines Ward or James Farrior are going to find the Fountain of Youth during the off-season. I think it’s a mistake because I’m not sure if the next generation of Steelers are ready for primetime. In fact, if the game in Denver and its immediate aftermath tells us anything, it’s that we may need Farrior and Hines more than ever.
For those who haven’t heard, Maurkice Pouncey used his twitter feed to pimp some ear pollution by some goofy rapper friend of his following Sunday’s heartbreaker in Denver. When some of his followers wrote him that it was in poor taste to be promoting junk less than 12 hours after your team lost a playoff game, he responded with the always mature, “I’m rich play for the steelers and have a awesome life! u wish u had my life!!” After deleting the tweet and writing a half-hearted apology, he spent the rest of the day blocking fans who criticized him for being an asshole. Nice to see him block somebody for a change.
Now, I’m not advocating cutting Pouncer as he’s undeniably a very talented player. But when he played poorly at the start of the season, whispers around town were that he’s quickly gaining a reputation among the players for being a high maintenance cry-baby. He and Ben suffered their high ankle sprains at roughly the same time, yet Ben came back a week later while Pouncey spent the rest of the season picking splinters out of his ass. Doug Legursky played the Wild Card game despite badly separating his shoulder which shows you the kind of warrior he is. What has Pouncey shown besides a willingness to sit out pretty much every important game the Steelers have played the past two years?
And before anybody gets on me for being hard on Pouncey or dealing in rumor, I will remind everybody that I wrote about Ben Roethlisberger being disliked by his teammates YEARS before the national media finally caught wind of the story. I was vindicated then and I stand by this. Pouncey is a selfish dick who wants all the acclaim of playing for the Black and Gold without any of the success or sacrifices. And the worrisome part is I don’t think he’s alone.
During the off-season, Manny Sanders, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace dubbed themselves “Young Money.” It was a fun nickname for a group of receivers who promised to take the Steelers offense to new heights. You also know it was a self-promotional tool to raise their notoriety around the league. AB won Team MVP because he is by all accounts one of the hardest workers out there. Meanwhile, Manny had a great playoff game but was injured most of the year and didn’t do jack during the regular season. Then we have Wallace, who’ll be a restricted free agent, who completely disappeared down the stretch run. If you want to call yourself Young Money and want to be this hot young NFL superstar, first you need to make the plays when they count.
Anybody doubt Hines Ward would’ve caught that 50 yard bomb when his team needed it? Instead of clever nicknames or telling reporters you’re going catch 2,000 yards worth of passes in 2011, how about making one big catch in a big game? Once again, we have a guy who likes to run his mouth and act all cocky without actually backing it up ON THE FIELD. That’s not how it works.
A big story last week involved Jets players describing Santonio Holmes as “a cancer” and a quitter in the aftermath of their season-ending collapse. That is why I shed no tears when the Steelers stole a fifth round draft pick for him. Lost in the memory of his game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLIII is the fact for almost the entiretly of his tenure here, ‘Tone was a total dick. While everybody remembers the toe-tapper that won us our sixth Lombardi Trophy and brought ‘Tone the game MVP, I remember two other plays that tell you all you need to know about Santonio Holmes.
The first one occurred on Santonio’s 40 yard catch and run that set the Steelers up for a shot at the end zone. At the end of the play, Ben and the O-line were running down the field to kill the clock because they only had one time out remaining. While they were hustling to the line, Holmes was busy doing a Me Me Me dance to celebrate his catch. Ben was forced to burn that final time out. Considering the game-winning catch came with about 35 seconds left on the clock, had Ben been sacked on one of those subsequent plays, Holmes’ stupidity would have cost us the game. After the catch, he did that goofy LeBron-esque saltshaker move with the football which those enablers at the Four Letter replayed ad nauseum ever since. What they don’t tell you is using the ball as a prop is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul which should have cost the Steelers 15 yards on the subsequent kickoff. Once again, our MVP put his camera time and his personal glory ahead of the team.
Hines Ward has said he’d be willing to stay with the Steelers for a Bettis-like reduced contract. The feeling is the Steelers might not take him up on it because even for veteran minimum, they have no use for him. I disagree. Players like Hines and Farrior may not be the players they used to be but they’re locker room leaders. When they speak, players tend to listen. And it seems apparent to me the Steeler locker room needs all the leaders they can get right now.