Mar 022012
 

Only one week ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they had renegotiated Ben Roethlisberger‘s contract in order to lower their cap hit by $8 million. That money, in addition to what was saved in several other reworked deals, put the Steelers in line with 2012’s projected salary cap. Many members of Steeler Nation thought the team would sit back, take a breather and spend some time figuring how they wanted to configure their roster for the upcoming campaign. Well, as the old fish story goes, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…

Instead of relaxing, the Steelers have embarked on an unprecedented roster overhaul which has seen them ruthlessly cut ties with several veteran mainstays over the past 48 hours. All day yesterday, Pittsburgh talk radio was dominated by news of Hines Ward’s release. Some people were angry and a few were even happy but most were genuinely sad to see a legendary career end. Before the day was out, word had spread that two more players were set to join Hines as ex-Steelers. Although neither name was much of a surprise.

Aaron Smith has finally run out of time. The Steelers held a roster spot open for him in 2010, hoping he’d pull a Woodson and return from major injury in time to play in the Super Bowl but it wasn’t to be. They did bring him back last season despite injury concerns and having two first round draft picks eager to take the field. About a month ago, Smith attended the retirement press conference for fellow defensive lineman Chris Hoke and was asked about his plans for this season. He clearly indicated a desire to suit up for one last go-round despite playing only a handful of games in each of the previous three seasons. It’s hard to find fault with the Steelers’ handling of the situation as they obviously hoped he’d retire gracefully rather than force their hand. When Smith suffered his latest season-ending injury shortly into the 2011 campaign, it seemed his career was over. Since we now know that Smith will only leave the game kicking and screaming, the Steelers really had no choice but to cut him.
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Jan 182012
 

While four teams still remain in the NFL playoffs, the rest of the league is turning their attention toward next season. In yesterday’s Post-Gazette, team president Art Rooney mentioned that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be facing “tough decisions” this off-season. Translation:  We brought back the old slow veterans for one more go ’round the track but since they failed, it’s off to the glue factory for some of them.

Peter King, of all people, pointed out the Steelers future salary cap woes before the season began and it bears examining now that we’re faced with the consequences. Next year’s cap is projected to be in the neighborhood of $125 million, which the current roster currently exceeds by somewhere between $20-25 million. That’s money already committed, to say nothing about money needed to sign draft picks, re-sign Mike Wallace, Issac Redman and other pending free agents, and perhaps *gasp* even spending a buck or two on the FA market to bring a decent lineman in here so our franchise QB doesn’t get broken in two halfway through the season.

Steeler Nation has been somewhat spoiled by management that’s stayed one step ahead of the game when dealing with the salary cap. The team has been clever about restructuring deals and/or adding bonus money or years in order to lower the cap hit. Problem is, adding years to guys already pushing their mid-30s is completely idiotic. And if Indianapolis is seriously considering cutting Peyton Manning, the man who made their sad little franchise relevant, in order to avoid paying him a roster bonus (and the accompanying cap hit), there’s nobody on the Steelers who should be untouchable.
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Aftermath Of A Devastating Steelers Loss

 Posted by at 10:36 am  Blog News, Casey Hampton, Hines Ward, Injury Report, NFL Playoffs, Offensive Line  Comments Off on Aftermath Of A Devastating Steelers Loss
Jan 112012
 

The mood in Pittsburgh is not good. How seriously do we take our Steelers football? The day after each of our two Super Bowl losses, a figurative dark cloud hangs over the city. I currently live in the ‘burbs but I was still going to CMU when Neil O’Donnell threw we lost Super Bowl XXX. Taking a bus through town from my off-campus apartment, I had never seen more somber expressions in my life. It was positively funereal.

Now that we’ve had a few days to digest what has to be the most devastating non-Super Bowl loss in Black and Gold history, it’s time to focus on the off-season. Before closing the book on the 2011 campaign, though, here are a few quick tidbits that surfaced over the past couple days.

— Pittsburgh’s esteemed Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, made good on his bet with the mayor of Denver by Tebowing for the local news media. Everybody knows the Boy Wonder is a diehard fan so I’m not surprised he made a city-to-city bet on a Wild Card game. I am a bit surprised by the stakes. What if the Steelers had won? Would Denver’s mayor have to break his foot, then do body shots with a skanky coed?
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Steelers Defense Not Immune To Youth Movement

 Posted by at 8:56 am  Casey Hampton, Lawrence Timmons, Troy Polamalu  Comments Off on Steelers Defense Not Immune To Youth Movement
Nov 302011
 

I’ve written a lot this season about the decline of Pittsburgh Steelers all-time great Hines Ward. It was never my intent to turn this into a Hines Hater blog but the combination of his being one of the faces of the current era of Black and Gold greatness and the fact the national media was totally out of the loop in regards to his rapidly diminishing importance, I felt like I had to keep harping on it. Also, despite Hines’ insistence that the feels he’s “owed nothing” by the team, I have a feeling the eventual break-up is going to be a painful one. And Steeler Nation should be prepared for an ugly fall-out.

While I’ve been focusing on Hines, however, I’ve neglected the other side of the ball.

A couple things happened during Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs which really hit home to me that Hines may not be the only Steeler mainstay facing his last stand. First, the Chiefs offense had a fleeting moment of competence in the second quarter when Tyler Palko stared down a blitzing linebacker and converted a big third down. “Stared down” is a bit of an overstatement as James Farrior was sent up the middle on a fire blitz and while nothing but the faint scent of failure stood between him and Palko, the ball was delivered before James had crossed the line of scrimmage. Then, late in the game, with the Chiefs moving the ball on an exhausted Steeler defense, the cameras repeatedly cut to a shot of Casey Hampton sucking wind on the sideline.
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Know Thy Enemy: Tennessee Titans

 Posted by at 5:18 pm  Big Ben, Game Preview, Rashard Mendenhall, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Know Thy Enemy: Tennessee Titans
Oct 072011
 

Sit down. Decompress. Put on your favorite pair of comfy slippers. Make a chipped ham sammitch. Get yourself in a nice relaxed frame of mind for what you’re about to read.

The [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] are going to lose to the Tennessee Titans this Sunday.

I know, I know. Way to kick off the weekend, Mr. Positive. Look at it this way, it’s far better to keep expectations low and hope the team surpasses them than set the bar high and then get bummed when they fail to clear it. And if I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow with a smile on my face.

Let’s get right to it.
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Harrison Tosses D-Line Under The Bus

 Posted by at 10:37 am  Aaron Smith, Cameron Heyward, James Harrison, Ziggy Hood  Comments Off on Harrison Tosses D-Line Under The Bus
Oct 062011
 

 

No, no, James…  A BLACK eyepatch…

The [intlink id=”23″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] began to address their offensive line woes with the signing of [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Max Starks[/intlink] yesterday. To give you an idea how poor they’ve been playing, Starks ran with the first teamers on his first day back. Not shabby for a guy the team released because they thought he was washed up. Or maybe he is and a has-been is still a helluva lot better than never-was like Jonathan Scott.

Now let’s get to work on that defense.
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Hate Is Strong Between Ravens And Steelers

 Posted by at 12:31 pm  Big Ben, Casey Hampton, Hines Ward, LaMarr Woodley, Ratbirds  Comments Off on Hate Is Strong Between Ravens And Steelers
Sep 072011
 

Perhaps no football cliche is overused more than than the dreaded “Bulletin board material.” The term amuses me for several reasons.   First, there is nothing more boring than the canned responses the traditional media frequently receives from athletes.  When a player finally steps outside that comfort zone and says something like “I think we’re gonna win,” the reporters gasp at their audaciousness.  Then the next day, we see any number of talking heads rant excitedly about said player providing “Bulletin board material” to his opponents.

Which is why the Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry with the [intlink id=”141″ type=”category”]Baltimore Ravens[/intlink] is so refreshing.  The teams hate each other and they aren’t shy about it.  Terrell Suggs famously showed up to training camp wearing a shirt which proclaimed his hatred of the Steelers. Ray Lewis crowed about the “bounties” collected for taking out certain Steelers, most notably [intlink id=”34″ type=”category”]Hines Ward[/intlink].  More recently, the teams spent the entire off-season sniping at each other in 140 characters or less on Twitter, culminating in [intlink id=”60″ type=”category”]Ryan Clark[/intlink] stating the rivalry “isn’t really a rivalry” until the Ravens actually win a game.  An infuriated Baltimore coach Jim Harbaugh angrily responded, “I don’t care what Ryan Clark says about anything.”
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Dennis Dixon’s Voodoo (And Other Preseason Thoughts)

 Posted by at 1:39 am  Dennis Dixon, Maurkice Pouncey, Offensive Line, Preseason, Secondary, Wide Receivers  Comments Off on Dennis Dixon’s Voodoo (And Other Preseason Thoughts)
Aug 292011
 

Alright, who didn’t bring their rabbit’s foot?

Before the [intlink id=”19″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers[/intlink] kicked off their third preseason game Saturday night, I threw up a quick note beseeching those making the trek to Heinz Field to bring whatever good luck charms they may hold dear.  I knew the starters were going to see significant playing time.  And I knew that the last thing we needed was one of those starters to get injured in a meaningless exhibition game.  When the game ended with not one, not two, but three significant injuries to key personnel, I knew somebody didn’t listen.

The ugliest injury belonged to back-up quarterback Byron Leftwich, who broke his left arm bracing his fall early in the second half.  The camera didn’t cut directly to [intlink id=”55″ type=”category”]Dennis Dixon[/intlink] so we can only speculate whether he was sticking pins into his Leftwich voodoo doll at that exact moment.  Seriously, how much luck can one man have?  Dix must have been born with a horseshoe up his ass.
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