"Steelers Football is 60 Minutes," But This Blog is Only About 6 Months

I went through the expected bout of football withdrawal over the weekend so I took some time to compile a top ten list of what I considered either my favorite or most significant players of this past Steelers season. So the criterion was a little muddled. And I had to break it into two clips because YouTube was being balky for whatever reason. Either way, I wish I had expanded the list to 15, as I feel remiss without including Hines' touchdown catch to beat the Jaguars, Ryan Clark's hit on Wes Welker, Santonio's game-winner over the Ravens in December, Timmons' critical sack and forced fumble on Flacco late in that same game or the Polamalu red zone interception against Cleveland in Week 2. Or the blocked punt against the Redskins. Damn, so many. Important plays, all, but they didn't make the cut.

This was by far my favorite Steelers season (at least among the ones I've lived through. I'm sure the '70s years were grand.) While the run through the playoffs in 2005 was exhilarating and the first Super Bowl win amazing, this was the first year that I could devote all my time to thinking about the team without the qualms that attend dealing with other duties. As much as I owe several ulcers to the way a lot of the games played out, the outcome made every victory that much more satisfying with the knowledge that it was well-earned, if incredibly fretted over. The storylines didn't skimp either: difficult schedule, crappy line, youngest coach in Super Bowl, Roethlisberger coming off huge contract signing, league's best defense, defeating all the teams we despise. Altogether, it couldn't have worked out any better.

Sadly, we've reached the outset of months upon months of football doldrums, so I'll be entering into a bit of a hiatus here over the next few months, as much as I want to debate the random restroom ransackings of Jeff Reed. I'll pop in every once in a while to address oddities, free agency or the draft. But probably not a whole lot until summer, when preseason begins and I'll have a football book to shamelessly and relentlessly plug.



Like my prescriptions for increased use of the no-huddle, my free agency recommendations are bound to be heeded by the front office. Just you wait. Anyway, here's what I'd like to see shake out with the roster.

Quarterbacks - TRADE ROETHLISBERGER! Tee hee. I kid. Anyway, Leftwich is gone. Should be interesting to see if he gets to compete as a starter somewhere. Would have figured it would be the Jets, though if the Derek Anderson deal works out, that's not happening. My guess is Batch returns to back-up one final year with Dixon being groomed for the role full-time in 2010.

Running backs - Gary Russell is a competent short yardage back, who would probably be even better if he weren't gets contacted as soon as he gets the ball in the redzone. Mendenhall never conducted himself well after he went down with the shoulder injury. Like Sweed, I'm hoping for some improvement next year, but hardly holding my breath. There are those who suggest trading Parker and making Moore the full-time back. I would really caution against that. It would make more sense if the team was paying Moore a ton of money, but as it stands, what they have there works.

Wide receiver - They need a pure slot guy. Hines is as close as they have, but they could use another. I haven't completely given up on Sweed, but I'm hardly expecting the world of him either. And Santonio remains a paradox. Does this postseason represent him turning a corner into being a big threat receiver, or was it one good stretch. I think you have to resign Nate Washington. I can't image there being a ton of interest on the market for a guy who's an okay deep target but drops some easy passes. Seems like a mid-round draft pick is the call here. But, hey, Jerry Porter is available!

Offensive line: Marvel Smith is gone. I'd be shocked if he plays in the league again, actually. You have to keep Starks and Kemoeatu. Kendall Simmons needs to be released. And Colon will be easy to find a replacement for. I'm not great on scouting college talent, but at pick 32, if you're going O-line, you're almost guanarteed to be taking an interior guy. Which is fine, because neither Kemo nor Stapelton is bad enough that they have to go this very second, but a 1st round quality talent can be popped in their easily as well. For right tackle, that may be one of a few things they can address in free agency.

Defensive line - Aaron Smith isn't the youngest guy in the world, but I doubt we'll be seeing any heir apparents this off-season.

Linebackers - I love Larry Foote, but he kind of has to go, just to accomodate those resigning and long-term contracts for Harrison and some other players. People say the knock on Timmons is that he's really good if he only has to focus on one task, but I think he's shown enough versitility this season to warrant Foote's depature.

Secondary - Bryant McFadden has to be the biggest priority of the team's free agents. Deshea obviously can't go back to being a starting corner. William Gay is a very good nickel guy, but he's a clear drop-off if he's replacing McFadden at starter. One of the main changes in the defense turning from very good to dominant was the improved secondary play of recent years, and McFadden is one of the reasons of that rise.

Special teams - Would it kill us to find even an okay kick returner? I know all the recent experiments with this (Willie Reid) have been dreadful, but it can't really be that hard, can it? I mean, HOW CAN CAREY DAVIS BE RETURNING KICKS ON A SUPER BOWL TEAM!? And Sepulveda needs to do everything in his power not to have a repeat of last year.


Roethlisberger Played the Super Bowl With Two Broken Ribs

Don't squeeze too hard, Mike

So it seems there was something to that whole X-ray story in the days before the game, even though the fractures were discovered first in an MRI after the game and not in that particular X-ray.

The PFT item deals with the injury reporting element, which, because the initial X-ray showed no damage, shouldn't be a big deal. The team doesn't have to report exams to the league and Ben didn't miss any practice.

I doubt it'll end up being something Roethlisberger is lionized for (not like "ZOMG Brady played with a fever over 100!" but it is remarkable nonetheless. The guy was playing as though nothing was wrong, clearly wasn't avoiding contact (scrambled on the final drive) and took about hisusual number of sacks. And yet still a stellar game. Tip o' the hat, Ben.


The NFL Copyright Office: Still Lame

I hope you got your "Yes We Did!" celebratory shirts while you could (I didn't) because the league has put the kibosh on them by threatening legal action against their designer. Granted, the league's action was explicitly against his design of a Sixburgh shirt, as the NFLShop offers one of its own, Dan Rugh took down the "Yes We Did!" shirt as well, considering the ceast-and-desist letter he received made mention of an unauthorized use of the Lombardi Trophy image. Not saying the league doesn't have legal grounds to do this, especially with the Sixburgh shirt, in which they're protecting a similar product. But in falls in line with the draconian lengths they're willing to go (in which no advertiser can even use the words "Super Bowl" without a deal with the NFL) to guard naming rights.

Otherwise, there's still, somehow, bickering over trivial calls in the Super Bowl, which haters will probably never drop so long as they have working tear ducts. "Oh my gawd, look, an uncalled hold on Woodley!"

But, hey, an uncalled hold on the Cardinals! CALL OFF THE CONSPIRACY!

I look at it this way: After last year's Super Bowl, a large segment of Patriots fans made a stink about the clock issues in that game and that there should have been a holding call on the Giants on the Giant Snatch play to Tyree. And everyone laughed them off the Internet, because no other than Pats fans wanted the Patriots to win. This year, the Cardinals were the overwhelmingly popular pick with casual fans and they lost, so suddenly offciating is allowed to become an issue. Any events that led to a Cardinals victory would have been overlooked, no matter how iffy.

Anyway, I'll get into some free agency stuff beginning next week. Marvel we all know is gone. Starks will be a thorny issue. He's obviously not worth $7 million a year, but that's what he just got and won a Super Bowl, so the Steelers are in a position where they probably can't drop the offer. Kemoeatu shouldn't be difficult to retain. Guards are pretty easy to come by in the league and I doubt he'll command huge interest on the market. Bryant McFadden is probably the guy I worry about keeping the most, but I think dropping the Marvel and probably Larry Foote will give the Steelers enough cap room to hold onto him and Nate Washington, who, while far from spectacular, benefits from a good bargaining chip with the Steelers being thin at receiver.


William Gay is a Character. Or Has Gotten in Santonio's Stash

Troy surfed the crowd. Bruce Arians got some boos. Skippy got some booze. And Ryan Clark saying all the team did was "smash faces." But William Gay looks to have stolen to show at the victory parade today.

Plenty of amusing sights from the parade in Pittsburgh to be seen here, but this is my favorite shot of the day.


For Jason Whitlock's Benefit

It's not a butter sandwich, but it should help. Dipshit.

Your Six-Time Super Bowl Champion Steelers

Me and my ticker would have been perfectly satisfied had the Steelers maintained their 20-7 advantage at the beginning of the fourth quarter, though the coming-back-to-win-in-dazzling-fashion things seems more in keeping with the larger theme of this season.

Forgoing a full recap now because I'm overcome with celebration and drink, I'll reflect on just a few of the memorable moments: James Harrison getting the longest play in Super Bowl history. LaMarr Woodley notching another two sacks for the fourth consecutive time in a playoff game. The time where Bruce Arians actually called a pretty decent game in the Super Bowl. Hines crying after the game while holding his kid. Mike Tomlin becomming the youngest Super Bowl-winning coach ever.


And now to sleep the sleep of boozy champions. Santonio must be dipping into the celebration weed as well.