Nov 042013
 

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I knew it was going to be bad. I never thought it was going to be this bad.

This is quickly turning into a historic season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Historic in all the wrong ways. The Black and Gold came within 23 minutes of setting an NFL record for longest time taken to force a single turnover. Their 0-4 start was their worst in 45 years. And yesterday, their defense gave up the most points in team history.

I repeat, no Steeler team in the franchise’s storied 80 year history has ever surrendered as many points as they did yesterday in their 55-31 loss to the New England Patriots. Continue reading »

Know Thy Enemy: New England Patriots

 Posted by at 5:04 am  Circle of Hate, Game Preview, Injury Report  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: New England Patriots
Nov 022013
 

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Is it just me or is Bill Belichick enjoying that a little TOO much?

Ah, our old friends the New England Patriots. So much success between the two teams. So much hate between the two fanbases. There are really only two things which keep the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots from being one of the NFL’s great rivalries. First, they don’t play each other with enough regularity – although we certainly seem to see them an awful lot.

And second, the Patriots always win.

As I’ve discussed when talking about the Browns-Steelers rivalry, it’s hard to keep the hate flowing when the rivalry is so one-sided. The Browns have done a good job of pulling off some unexpected upsets in recent years to reignite some of the passion. When it comes to Pats-Steelers, though, it’s hard to get excited about a rival who’s consistently dished out one-sided whuppins.

From the Spygate AFC Championship Game to the 34-13 beatdown Tom Brady dished out after safety Anthony Smith let his mouth write checks his ass couldn’t cash, it’s been one disappointment after another. On Sunday, the reeling Steelers limp into Foxboro to face the first place Patriots on national TV. At this point, we can only pray they aren’t embarrassed. Continue reading »

Jun 142012
 

Terry Bradshaw dropped in for a visit with his buddy Jay Leno last night. Unlike most visits where TB is content to play the loveable yokel character he’s been perfecting ever since his memorable cameo in The Cannonball Run, this time we were treated to a rare appearance of his thoughtful and serious side. Naturally, the comment from Bradshaw which is getting the most play in media soundbites was his statement that he wouldn’t let his son play football.

Well, if he had a son. He does have two daughters, including the perplexingly hot Rachel Bradshaw, who like almost every other daughter of somebody rich and/or famous, is an aspiring singer. I’ve never actually heard her sing so I won’t speculate on her succeeding where such luminaries as Paulina Gretzky and Brooke Hogan have failed. In Rachel’s favor, though, her daddy actually had some pretty decent pipes back in the day.

TB isn’t the first notable to say they wouldn’t want their kid playing football due to all the injury concerns. Kurt Warner recently said he wouldn’t let his son play. Tom Brady‘s dad noted he didn’t let young Dreamboat play until he was 14 and had he known the danger posed by concussions, he may not have let Tommy play at all. I dunno, man, I might be willing to risk a little brain damage if it guaranteed me a shot at a phat-assed Brazillian super model.

Anyway, lost in the media’s obsession with one sentence sound bites is that Brad went on to say some really intelligent things about the NFL’s current handling of the concussion crisis. To wit, he stated what we all know but nobody affiliated with the league (outside of James Harrison) has had the balls to say which is they’re only cracking down on head injuries now because they’re being sued. The NFL, like all sports leagues, sees their players as disposable resources. They use one up and then bring in another to replace him.

Sports leagues have never cared about player rights, post-career health, or safety. Just like professional wrestling, which only enacted a drug testing program after one of its stars went on a kill crazy rampage, all sports leagues ignore problems until they’re forced to deal with them. The NBA doesn’t care if their refs are degenerate gamblers until one gets caught fixing games. MLB doesn’t care that half the players are juiced up ‘roid freaks until Congress starts asking questions. And the NHL doesn’t care about concussions until the best player in the world gets, oh who we kidding, the NHL still doesn’t really care about concussions.

A lot of people are snickering over Bradshaw’s later comment that violent sports like hockey and football will “slowly phase away,” in the future while soccer, baseball, and basketball get bigger because they’re safer. I think that idea, which echoes a similar one made by fellow Fox broadcaster Troy Aikman, is a bit overblown. However, in these reactionary times, where the mayor of New York City is trying to ban Big Gulps because people are too damn fat, it would be foolish to think if a high profile football player pulled a Chris Benoit that it wouldn’t trigger a huge backlash that ultimately damaged football’s popularity. Let’s just hope it never comes to that.

Super Bowl XLVI Thoughts

 Posted by at 10:26 am  NFL Playoffs  Comments Off on Super Bowl XLVI Thoughts
Feb 062012
 

I don’t know the age of my average reader but you youngsters out there don’t realize how lucky you are. When I first starting watching football in the mid-80s, pretty much every Super Bowl was a one-sided ass whuppin’. The past decade or so we’ve seen an uninterrupted string of extremely competitive games. The game has finally lived up to all the hype.

Super Bowl XLVI easily continued the streak of excellent finales. While I don’t necessarily agree with the talking heads proclaiming yesterday’s game every bit the equal of Super Bowl XLII, it was still a more than entertaining finish to the 2011 season. The prior match-up between the New England Patriots and New York Giants had the unforgettable weight of the Patriots quest for perfection going for it. And the game was a series of punches and counter-punches culminating with David Tyree’s unbelievable helmet-catch. Yesterday’s game was much more a game between equals with the game coming down to the team that made the fewest mistakes.

Which isn’t to say there weren’t any memorable moments. Mario Manningham’s toe-tapping sideline catch to get the Giants out of the shadow of their own end zone on the game winning drive was reminiscent of Lynn Swann’s acrobatic heroics in Super Bowl X. And Wes Welker’s crushing drop, which may very well have cost the Pats the game and inspired an obscenity laced tirade from Gisele Bundchen, will be played over-and-over alongside footage of Larry Brown picking off Neil O’Donnell and Scott Norwood going wide right. However, the majority of the game was a rather nondescript affair with both offenses moving the ball at will only to be undone by penalties or drops. The ferocious Giant defense that beat the bejeezus out of Aaron Rodgers didn’t really show up until late in the 3rd quarter while the inept Patriots defense barely showed up at all.

Eli Manning established once and for all he’s among the elite quarterbacks in the league. Pittsburgh Steelers fans aren’t going to like to hear this (I anxiously await hearing blowhard Mark Madden’s passionate defense of his mancrush) but Eli has clearly become the best QB taken in the class of ’04. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has appeared in more Super Bowls but he only played well in one of them. Eli Manning has been MVP of both the Super Bowls he’s won. What’s more, he’s won both with clutch last minute drives against what is undoubtedly the team of the decade. Take nothing away from Big Ben, who is one of the top five QBs in the NFL and one of the most clutch, but let’s give Eli his due. He’s beaten the team which Ben and the Steelers have never beaten in the playoffs TWICE on the grandest stage of them all.

At the end of the day, the better team won. The Patriots were once again denied joining the San Francisco 49ers of Joe Montana and the Super Steelers as the only teams to win four Super Bowls with more or less the same core. Madonna got to relive those days when she was culturally relevant by prancing around in Thor’s helmet and watching Richard Simmons break dance on a high wire. Although, sad as it is to say, watching a creepy old lady booty-popping was still more entertaining than last year’s day-glo Mr. Roboto act with the Black Eyed Peas. And, most importantly, we got to see a lot of funny commercials, my favorite being the Doritos dog.

And, really, what more can you ask of your Super Bowl Sunday?

Oct 282011
 

If Mick was right that women weaken legs, Rob Gronkowski will be in a wheelchair on Sunday.

The Baltimore Ravens are considered the biggest rivals of the Pittsburgh Steelers. With all due respect (which is to say, none), I disagree. A true rivalry is borne out of two equals battling to accomplish the same goal. The Ratbirds haven’t beaten the Steelers in a meaningful game since Ben Roethlisberger first stepped foot in Heinz Field. Over the past ten years, they’ve been a good team but not a great one.

No, there are only two teams who can legitimately claim greatness here in the 21st century. The Steelers and the New England Patriots. Over the past decade, the Patriots have appeared in four Super Bowls and won three. The Black and Gold have appeared in three, winning two. If it were not for the Patriots, the Steelers alone would be able to lay claim to the title of the NFL’s premiere franchise.

If that fact weren’t galling enough, our history with the Patriots is as unfortunate as Baltimore’s is with us. Tom Brady is 6-1 against the Steelers, and overall the Patriots are 7-2 against Pittsburgh since Dreamboat took over signal-calling duties up in New England. Even more heart-breaking, the Pats are 3-1 in post-season meetings. More recently, who can forget the Patriots humiliating 39-26 defeat of the Steelers last season?
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