Sandy Is Not A Football Fan

 Posted by at 4:11 am  Steeler Nation  Comments Off on Sandy Is Not A Football Fan
Oct 312012
 

If you’ve paid any attention to the news the past couple days, you probably heard a little something about the weather we’ve been having here in the Northeast. Hurricane Sandy, what always subtle media types are calling “Storm of the Century,” tore through the eastern seaboard causing epic damage. The brunt of her fury was felt in New Jersey and New York and while talking about things like football games may seem trivial when homes are destroyed and millions are without power, this is a football blog so let’s proceed while being fully aware of our place in the grand scheme of things.

This Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers are slated to play the New York Giants in the New Meadowlands aka MetLife Stadium. This would be their first game in the new home of the Giants and Jets since they opened their new digs back in 2010. Whether the game kicks off on Sunday is still up in the air. The field is reportedly a mess although I’m sure it’s no worse than Heinz Field after a typical weekend of football. The concern is with the power grid and whether public transportation will be operational enough for people to actually get to the game.

The league is reportedly planning to go ahead with a Sunday afternoon kickoff as scheduled. If problems arise, the reports are they’d move the game to Monday which kinda confuses me. If things are a mess on Sunday, why would they magically be solved 24 hours later? When New Orleans got sunk by Hurricane Katrina, they didn’t just change the date, they moved the game 2,000 miles north by relocating the venue from NO to New York.

Regardless, a game will be played some where.

In the meantime, I was planning to use the Black and Gold’s initial trek into MetLife to talk about a wonderful website called Stadium Journey. My folks moved to Tampa a few years back (and have now experienced the exact same number of hurricanes as we have, go figure) and I immediately started planning my Spring Training itinerary. In looking for a site that might point out what venues are most fun, I stumbled across  Stadium Journey.

Stadium Journey is basically your AAA guidebook for sports arenas. They do a comprehensive job, and I mean COMPREHENSIVE job, of obsessively covering every possible place you can watch a sporting event. When you can find a review for the home of the Brevard County Manatees, you know you’re dealing with pros.

This being a Steelers site, I’m sure most of you wonder what they thought of the Big Ketchup Bottle. As you can see by their review of Heinz Field , they were quite impressed with almost every facet of the place. They didn’t even hold those hideous mustard yellow seats against us.

I occasionally receive a message from a member of Steeler Nation saying they’re coming to town to take in their first Steelers game. They usually conclude by asking if I have any tips regarding the experience. Unfortunately, I’ve never been to a Steelers game at Heinz Field. For one, I hate the cold weather. For two, I have a 55 inch plasma 3DTV. And lastly, I only get offered lousy seats for games nobody wants. So why would I want to freeze my ass off way up in peanut heaven when I can sit home and enjoy the game in ideal comfort?

If you want to know about Heinz Field, just check out Stadium Journey’s write-up. They do a better job than I would anyway.

One note, and it’s my only quibble with the review. I have been to Heinz for several Pitt games so I have to take issue with the only real negative part to the review concerning access to the stadium. The reviewer complains about parking, the price, location, and lack thereof. Well, when I go to Heinz, I take the Clipper over. Tickets are only $10, far cheaper than the expensive lots they complain about and the boat lets you off literally a stone’s throw from the stadium’s entrance. They run on a fairly regular schedule so you never have a long wait nor is the boat ever obnoxiously overcrowded. It’s by far the easiest and least stressful way to get to Heinz and I’m a little surprised the reviewer totally missed it.

So there you go, Stadium Journey, your one stop shop for all the Heinz Field info you’ll ever need. And while your over there, check out some of the other entries. We all know how Steeler Nation loves to take over opposing stadiums so if you’re one of the millions and millions who live outside Steeler Country, bookmark the site in case you ever decide to be a member of those invading hordes.

Let The Big Ben Jokes Begin

 Posted by at 12:04 pm  Big Ben, Dan Rooney, Steeler Nation  Comments Off on Let The Big Ben Jokes Begin
Oct 182012
 

Apologies for being late to the party with this but I’ve been battling a hellacious cold this week.

On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced the Pittsburgh Steelers will play in London next season. You lucky bastards with season tickets need not worry, the game is being considered a home game for their opponent, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes, in case you’ve forgotten the roof-collapsing debacle a couple winters ago, hate their home stadium and will do anything to avoid playing there. Even fleeing to other countries, apparently.

When this news was announced, I saw a bunch of Steeler fans on twitter bitching about how unfair it was to ask our boys to travel all the way to England right smack in the middle of the season. If the Steelers go on a four game losing skid after coming home, I’m sure those cries will only increase. The Patriots are playing in London this year so we’ll see how a good team handles the trip. Personally, I don’t see it as that much different than having to travel out to California or Seattle.

Besides, if you wan to blame anybody for the Steelers being chosen for this “honor,” blame Dan Rooney. The Ambassador to Ireland has stated on several occasions one of his dreams is to see his team play in his home land. When reporters questioned him, he quickly backed down by saying he meant an “exhibition” game but let’s be real. The NFL isn’t exporting an exhibition game, if they send the Steelers overseas, it’ll be for a game that counts.

The NFL’s attempt to teach Europeans that football means a manly game full of exciting action and not a sissy sport where dudes in short shorts fall on the ground pretending to be hurt every two minutes have thus far fallen flat. The World League has long since folded and the annual London game has struggled to sell tickets. What’s more, the crowds that have shown up have been largely apathetic.

If you’ve ever watched World Cup soccer, you know soccer fans are among the rowdiest crowds in sports. For those of you who don’t keep abreast of your international politics, the Irish and English don’t particularly like each other. The violence has mostly subsided but they still love to beat the shit out of each other in athletic contests.

No doubt the Steelers were chosen with the hope they bring their Irish connection to the game. Steeler Nation is the most passionate fan base in sports but if that happens, you’ll see things taken to whole new level.

And we’ll also be treated to roughly 532 “Big Ben” jokes in the week leading up to the game. My only regret is the game won’t be carried by ESPN. Resident clown Chris Berman’s head would likely explode from all the lame puns he could belch forth. And if that happened, well, I’d almost be willing to trade some jet lag for the chance to get that goof off the air.

Sep 272012
 

Who wants a Pittsburgh Steelers flag? You do, that’s who!

Well, we’ve got one, courtesy of CVSFlags.com, and we’re giving it away.

All you have to do is like TotalSteelers on Facebook. To make it extremely easy for you to do this, we even have a handy dandy link to our Facebook page over on the right (the “F” symbol beneath “Follow Us Online”).

After you do this, come back here and post your Facebook ID in the comments so we can message you if you win. A NOTE ABOUT COMMENTS: if you’ve never commented before, and judging by the sad lack of feedback around here most of you haven’t, I have to approve your first ever comment before you have unlimited commenting privileges. So when you submit your Facebook ID in the comments DON’T PANIC if your comment doesn’t show up right away. I’ll get around to approving it shortly.

If you’ve already liked us on Facebook, well, skip directly to posting your FB ID in the comments. You’re not going to be penalized for doing what everyone should have done already. In fact, you should be lauded for being on top of your game, but we’ll do that later.

We’ll put all the names in the Pirates hat we stupidly purchased earlier this summer and choose the winner of the flag at random NEXT FRIDAY.

So what does this damn flag look like, you’re probably asking. Actually you have two options to choose from.

There’s a 3′x5′ Steelers flag which is posted above. It says, “I am a proud member of Steeler Nation! Yoi! Double Yoi!”

There’s also a ginormous 28″x40″ Steelers flag. This one’s vertical and features the hypocycloids (those funky stars but all diehard already know that) in all their glory. This choice is particularly fitting for people who want their entire neighborhood and perhaps several surrounding boroughs to know where their allegiances lie. Or if you live in Baltimore.

To review — like us on Facebook, tell us how to find you on Facebook in the comments of this page, high five someone and (potentially) win!

Also, tell your friends, but only if they have the good sense to like the Steelers.

Seahawks Fans Cannot Whine About Super Bowl XL Ever Again

 Posted by at 5:08 am  Steeler Nation, Super Bowl, Super Bowl Champions, Videos  Comments Off on Seahawks Fans Cannot Whine About Super Bowl XL Ever Again
Sep 252012
 

When I wrote for my original Pittsburgh Steelers blog-that-shall-not-be-named, I got comments. Not a ton of comments, mind you, but I had a group of regulars who pretty much replied to everything I wrote. There were only two topics which sent feedback levels through the roof. Obviously the first was Ben Roethlisberger’s little fiasco down in Georgia. The second?

Super Bowl XL.

My blogging career began two years after that game so all my posts came well after the fact. And, to my recollection, I only wrote a few on Super Bowl XL anyway. Still, it didn’t matter. When I would devote an entry to Super Bowl XL, it would invariably set off a firestorm in the comment section.

Seattle Seahawks fans have never gotten over that game. What’s more, they have never gotten over the laughable notion that the were “screwed by the refs.” Because of this pervasive emo attitude from their neon clad latte sipping fanbase, whenever I’d write about Super Bowl XL, they’d swarm to my blog like a plague of flannel wearing locusts.

They’d post their usual conspiracy theories and whine about this that and everything else under the sun. In turn, Steeler Nation would rise up to defend their team’s honor. Arguments would break out, names would be called, Morrissey records would be played (in Seattle) and so it went. Every time, without fail.

Last night, Monday Night Football featured one of the great debacles in NFL history. The whole game was fairly atrocious as the scab refs threw about 75 flags during the course of the game. Towards the end, they backed Seattle up with two ticky-tack holding calls, then bailed them out with an equally ridiculous pass interference call on the Green Bay Packers. But they truly saved their best for last.

In case you went to bed at a reasonable hour and missed it, the above was the game winning play from last night’s game. One of the scab refs some how saw a simultaneous possession (which we all know goes to the offense) on that final Flutie-esque Hail Mary attempt by the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and awarded them the game-winning touchdown. Except it’s not a simultaneous possession. Not even close.

The Seattle Seahawks stole a game from another team. They’ve officially forfeited the right to be indignant about poor officiating ever again.

Hennessy’s Rant of the Week: I Hate The Media (And Tim Tebow)

 Posted by at 5:50 am  Sound-Off, Steeler Nation  Comments Off on Hennessy’s Rant of the Week: I Hate The Media (And Tim Tebow)
Sep 212012
 

 

That man above is Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow is a football player in the national football league. Tim Tebow did not allow the temptation of Gator-Arm clapping Florida cheerleaders and cheap vodka fueled college benders undermine his Christian vow to keep his dingus in his pants until wedlock. Therefore, Tim Tebow is the most important football player in the National Football League. Don’t believe me? Don’t believe Steely McTebow will be mentioned every night on the NFL network?

Being that TotalSteelers is outwardly biased toward all things Black and Gold, I’ll just go ahead and say it: The media coverage of the NFL is horrid, particularly in regard to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m not speaking of the geriatric staff behind the pay wall at the Post-Gazette, I’m talking about a country-wide epidemic. An epidemic that infects a station with the audacity to air this special…

One of, if not THE BEST, program on NFL network aired an hour long special about a backup quarterback for the overrated NY Jets. Unless the referee that saw that Ike Taylor pass interference is moonlighting as an NFL network production manager, it is incredible this actually made it to my TV set. Highlights included “He’s Left-Handed,” “He’s an Underdog,” and “Tebowing.” The latter, if you aren’t aware, is kneeling on the ground with your fist against your head like an asshole.

The coverage of the NFL has gotten so out of hand that I can’t stand to watch a single football-related program any more, which includes separating myself with a decade long love affair with SportsCenter. Unless Peyton Manning ate lunch, Rex Ryan said the Jets would win the Super Bowl this year, or Tebow threw a pass that didn’t flutter to the ground like a plague of locusts, the media acts like there is nothing to craft a show around. The season opener between Tony Romo and Peyton Manning’s brother had more pre-game mention of Peyton and his bionic giraffe neck than the fact that Eli, the guy who was actually playing that night, won last year’s Super Bowl. Disgusting.

So how do the Steelers factor in this rant? My news station of choice here in Nashville aired a recap of the Steelers-Jets game in between footage of the Titans’ Jake Locker nearly getting beheaded by the San Diego Chargers. In this recap, they wrongly credited Mike Wallace’s duck-footed sideline TD to Antonio Brown, gave a guy not even in uniform (Rashard Mendenhall) praise for an Isaac Redman run, and highlighted #89’s end zone grab by saying, “Ben’s short toss to Heath…” as if Heath Miller was their buddy from Saturday poker night. These were not cue card errors from a shoddy news station, it was another example of the NFL community failing to recognize the stars and names behind the Steelers.

The broadcast networks give the Steelers as much coverage as ESPN has given hockey since they lost the NHL contract. The Steelers win the Super Bowl and it’s talked about for two days then back to hand-wringing over Peyton Manning’s future and pointless discussion about the league’s most spectacular train wrecks (Jets, Cowboys, Iggles). Tebow scampered around for 20something yards on three plays, got his ass handed to him BLOCKING ON SPECIAL TEAMS, and rode the proverbial pine for the other 55 minutes, yet he somehow earned an entire show dedicated to his exploits? How have we gone from top ten “Best Rivalries,” “Best Players of All Time,” and “Best Defenses” to “Top Ten Moments of a Glorified Special Teamer?”

By the way, if I ever see Ben lined up on the left side to block for a damn punt, I am kicking Todd Haley in his angry red face.

The NFL is covered more like Jersey Shore and the Octomom kick than it is a gritty sport full of tough men. I don’t know whether to blame this on Fantasy Football, American Entertainment Culture, or just the declining metal capacity amongst the general population. Whoever captures the daytime viewer’s attention by tweeting their man-parts is held on a pedestal, while the true stars of the sport are kicked to the sideline when all they did is win the damn Super Bowl. Though this phenomenon is not limited to just the Steelers, I have a hard damn time finding any real coverage of them outside of Allegheny County. There are plenty stories of Chad Johnson arrests and Tom Brady highlights to go around, but hell if the stations that employ an army of sports reporters to cover sports 24-7 are going to update me on the team with a spot reserved in the playoffs almost every season.

I guess it’s not entirely a bad thing that our boys have avoided being plastered on GQ ads and Entertainment Weekly but I love watching anything and everything Steelers when it shows off the character and talent of the team.  So if other athletes get talked about for appearing in fairy-costume commercials with Deion or being popular on the Twitter, I want the Steelers to be awesome at that too, dammit. Then maybe next time #17 makes an MC Hammer looking touchdown catch, sportscasters from Nashville, TN to Stockton, CA will get the highlight right.

Good-Bye and God Bless, Steve Sabol

 Posted by at 7:40 am  Steel Dynasty, Steeler Nation, Videos  Comments Off on Good-Bye and God Bless, Steve Sabol
Sep 192012
 

NFL Films co-founder and president Steve Sabol passed away yesterday at the age of 69. While Myron Cope was indisputably the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, late NFL Films narrator John Facenda provided the background vocals. For those of us too young to have experienced the Steel Dynasty of the 70s, our knowledge and appreciation of those teams is firmly rooted in the specials that NFL Films devoted to them. It can easily be argued that the work of Steve Sabol and his crew did as much as anybody to establish what we now call Steeler Nation.

They also gave the Cowboys their obnoxious “America’s Team” moniker but we’ll let that one slide.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I was born in the late 70s. I was too young to watch the Steel Dynasty and by the time I started watching football in the mid 80s, the Steelers pretty much stunk. Then one day my mom and I went to the video store and there in their bargain bin was a bunch of vhs tapes from NFL Films. I bought one about Terry Bradshaw (“Greatest Sports Legends,” natch) and another entitled “The NFL’s Best Ever Teams.” Thanks to the magic of youtube, I actually found the Steelers segment from that tape, which I posted above.

I watched that Best Teams tape dozens of times but I watched the Steelers segment probably closer to a hundred. I wore that bit of tape out to the point I still remember there was a bit of distortion and rollback  at the part where TB comically tries to block an Oiler on John Stallworth‘s reverse. You youngsters don’t know how lucky have it with your dvds and blu rays. Good grief, I’m turning into my father.

Anyway, Steve Sabol was the man responsible for that and many many other programs devoted either whole or in part to our beloved Steelers. And don’t think for one moment those programs didn’t play a major role in spreading the gospel that is the Black and Gold. I have a complete collection of NFL Films Year in Reviews for every Steelers Super Bowl team (you can get the first five in the must own Pittsburgh Steelers: The Complete History dvd collection but have to buy Road To Super Bowl XLIII separately) and rewatch them before every season or just when I feel like getting psyched up for a game. They’re a fantastic source for great memories or to simply learn a little about the history of your favorite team.

In conclusion, thank you, Steve. Thank you for the countless hours of knowledge and entertainment your work provided us. Thank you for being the preeminent chronicler of the game we follow and the team we love. You will truly be missed.  Good-bye and God Bless.

Steeler Nation Coming Soon To HBO

 Posted by at 11:56 am  Hot Steeler Chicks, Steeler Nation  Comments Off on Steeler Nation Coming Soon To HBO
Sep 132012
 

Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol once predicted that in the future everybody will have their own 15 minutes of fame. Like the cute Pittsburgh Steelers fan pictured above who is getting a lot of press on Steelers blogs after Deadspin ran a story about her drunken antics in Denver. Ordinarily I ignore these things because 90% of Steeler Nation are good peeps, it’s the other 10% which gets posted on blogs or mocked in crappy Kevin Smith movies. However, I figured I’d mention it because it’s a story going around and she is strangely attractive.

Plus, she’s wearing beads and we all know how girls get those beads…

Why doesn’t anybody give some press to the more positive aspects of Steeler Nation? Well, funny you should ask. If you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and you haven’t gotten your fifteen minutes of fame yet, you just may be in luck.

HBO Sports produces absolutely fantastic programs. Football fans are probably aware of the Hard Knocks reality series. Even though they tend to follow teams that either stink (Chiefs, Dolphins) or are total circuses (Cowboys, Jets), the show never fails to entertain. In the highly secretive world of NFL football, it’s a rare peek behind the curtain.

HBO Sports does a lot more than Hard Knocks, though. They don’t produce as many documentaries as ESPN does with their 30 For 30 series but the handful a year they do are always tremendous. A couple years back they did a fascinating doc on the legendary Vince Lombardi and just last season there was a fantastic program on Beaver Falls’ own Joe Namath. If you were too young and missed football from the AFL/NFL merger through the early 70s, the doc really showed why Namath is a legendary figure to kids who grew up during that time.

HBO Sports newest endeavor is a documentary on NFL Fans. They’re looking for diehard fans from around the nation telling stories of memorable moments, encounters, and experiences as a fan of their team or athlete. Naturally they’re very interested in hearing from the most rabid fan base in the NFL. So if you’re a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and have a story you think they’d be interested in, you’re encouraged to get in touch with the people casting the documentary.

How might you do this? All your questions will be answered by clicking this link. The flier offers a brief description of what they’re looking for as well as a contact email for you to get in touch with the casting director. So if you’re a diehard member of Steeler Nation with a story to tell (and who among us doesn’t have a story to tell?), get in touch with them ASAP. Get your fifteen minutes and show off your Black and Gold pride while you’re at it. Good luck!

Steeler Nation Has A New Banner To Wave

 Posted by at 6:08 am  Steeler Nation  Comments Off on Steeler Nation Has A New Banner To Wave
Sep 072012
 

Remember the Terrible Towel? Myron Cope‘s brainchild has been a cherished symbol to members of Steeler Nation and an object of much scorn to those who are jealous of the Pittsburgh Steelers success. The Terrible Towel has been everywhere, from the Great Wall of China to outer space. The stories associated with the Towel are numerous, such as the curse which befalls those who desecrate it to the story of obnoxious Redskins owner Danny Snyder ordering his team to hand out cheap knock-offs because he was so angry over seeing a sea of Towels twirling through the air the last time Steeler Nation invaded FedEx Field.

As if having one banner wasn’t enough, the Steelers have evidently authorized another. I guess the NFL realized what a cash machine Allegheny Valley School has with those Towels so they’re desperate to duplicate it for 31 other teams. A few years back, they tried to sell people on insipid team inspired “Rally Towels” which were widely mocked as obvious rip-offs and totally failed to catch on because no fan base is as rabid as Steeler Nation. So the marketing geniuses over at the NFL have gone back to the drawing board and come with something called the Fan Flag Challenge where fans for each team submitted their designs for team-specific flags.

The Steelers, ever the loyal soldiers, went along with this farce. The winning design, as pictured above, was done by Brent Osbourne, a 12 year veteran of the US Army. I have to admit, what Mr. Osbourne came up with was pretty sweet. The six hypocycloids (the technical name for those stars the Steelers wear on their helmets) representing the six Lombardi Trophies along with the magnificent Pittsburgh skyline make the flag look quite striking.

As an aside, how annoying is it that our own hometown newspaper, the Post-Gazette, still writes “Steelers Nation” when everybody else uses Steeler Nation? UFlorida fans don’t say Gators Nation and the two remaining Boston baseball fans don’t say Red Soxes Nation, do they? Man, unless you have a parakeet or are in the process of paper-training your puppy, I don’t know why anybody bothers with that unreadable rag. Screw Mark Cuban buying the Pirates, why can’t he come here and start a decent newspaper, perhaps with some columnists under the age of 65?

Anyway, Steeler Nation surely doesn’t need another symbol to wave around when they invade opposing team’s stadiums. However, many of us do have flag poles and as cool as a Terrible Towel looks worn Yinzer-style (tucked through your belt on game days), it’s not exactly ideal home decor. For those of us with flag poles, basically everybody living in Mt. Lebanon, this new Steelers flag will look snazzy flying high above our homes from September through Super Bowl Sunday. When they actually get around to selling them, that is.

One question though: if the Steelers lose to the Ravens again, do we fly the flag at half-mast?

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.

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.