Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Blast from the Past: Another Question We Were Debating Back in the Day

via rfhcollective

On to November of 2011, and Steeler Nation was still pinching themselves over an unexpected 25-17 victory over the New England Patriots.

As Hombre de Acero penned:

The Steelers victory over the New England Patriots was one of the most remarkable and impressive regular season wins of the Mike Tomlin era. Yet, despite the milestone moment, the victory still managed to usher in as many questions as it did answer about the team and its chances moving forward, beginning with this Sunday’s home matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.

Fittingly for this, our first post-Heath Miller week ever, Miller was the top receiver for the game, with seven receptions for 85 yards. (A shame it wasn’t 83…) The low yardage was because Ben spread the ball out to nine different receivers, all of whom caught at least one pass: Young Money, naturally (AB was actually the receiver with the most receptions, at nine for 67 yards), Jerricho Cotchery, three backs (Mendenhall, Redman, and Mewelde Moore), and David Johnson.

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Myths and Archetypes: More on Fan Perceptions

Baron Batch’s portrait of Troy Polamalu

In a comment on yesterday’s article elpalito said:

We want to like the people we root for. We like to dislike the people we root against. It just makes things ‘easier’.

I certainly agree with this. My admitted reluctance to consider any mitigating factors in Vontaze Burfict’s upbringing which might explain, if not excuse, the sort of person he appears to be would have made it clear, if it wasn’t before. But I think it goes deeper than likes and dislikes.

There is an element of myth to how we view football players—particularly in certain cases. The obvious example which comes to mind is Isaac Redman. For those of you who weren’t active on Behind the Steel Curtain during particularly the early years of his Steelers career, it actually became a joke—so much so that I wrote the following about his locker, which I had seen in my tour of the Southside facility:

Isaac Redman’s locker is—well, I don’t know quite how to describe it. It is as if he put everything in the locker with enormous precision, but the force of his personality disrupted the molecules in the various items a bit. Or perhaps the earth tilted very slightly when he walked away. In other words, it was tidy, almost.

What is it about certain players that catches our imagination? It could be because they have done things in their non-football lives that we admire, although this is fairly rare, given the young age they typically enter the NFL. But Alejandro Villanueva would typify this.

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“Knowing” the Steelers—Fan Perceptions and Misconceptions

AP photo, Adam Taylor

Back in 1994 I was talking with a colleague of my husband, a former Brit who taught at a university in Philadelphia and had long before embraced American sports. It was during the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and he made what I thought was a very curious statement. In effect, he said that through watching a player like Simpson, and particularly as he went on to a career as an NFL commentator, he felt as if he knew Simpson. Thus when the news hit the papers, he had a very hard time believing that the O.J. Simpson he “knew” could ever do anything like that.

Simpson was acquitted of the murder charge but is now serving a 33 year sentence, without parole, for numerous felonies stemming from a later incident.

And of course all of the information coming out about Peyton Manning is just the latest incident of someone not fitting comfortably anymore into the neat package he’s created, with his singing commercials, his Saturday Night Live appearances, and hanging out with everyone’s friend, Papa John.

But what actually prompted this article is something quite different. In fact, you might say it is almost the antithesis of “knowing” a player through their public persona.

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A Blast from the Past: Today’s Question We Were Debating Back in the Day

SA Today Sports/Charles LeClaire

On October 26, 2011, Hombre de Acero wrote:

The 2011 NFL season is 7 weeks old, with Week 8 rapidly approaching. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-2 and riding high on a three-game win streak. But all three wins have come against less than stellar competition. The Steelers took care of business and are now set to begin the “varsity section” of their schedule starting with this week’s game against the Patriots. Which brings us to this week’s 5 Burning Questions:

But rather than debate the present, Hombre first speculated about the “top-flight nose tackle” the Steelersi n his created scenario, drafted in the spring of 2012. Which as we all know didn’t happen. Nor did Hombre necessarily think it would. But it is interesting to reflect how far the team has evolved in one year under Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler that hardly anyone is talking about how we ought to look for a Casey Hampton type.

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Surviving the Off Season, Part Six: Our Life’s Work


by Ivan Cole

Tired old ladies kissing dogs
I hate the human love of that stinking mutt

I can’t use it
Trying to make it real compared to what
– Les McCann and Eddie Harris

I was mourning the retirement of Heath Miller as I was reading Rebecca’s piece on the subject and something clicked.

Part of me is thrilled for Heath that he went out his way, when he wanted, hopefully before any hope of leading a relatively normal life is gone. I hope all players are feeling increasingly comfortable with doing this. (Which means, of course, that they leave before their team and/or their fans are ready to see them go.)

And part of me is bracing for the various comments that “he was washed up anyhow, better to save the cap space.” Football may be a business for the league and the owners, but it always grieves me to see people treated as expendable.

Ain’t No Sunshine: Heath Miller retires.

imageBill Wither’s mournful tune seems appropriate here. As our talented founder, Momma Rollett, said, we finally have news, but it’s not good. At best, Heath’s leaving is bittersweet.

When Little Darlin’ broke the news to me, I was surprised. I’ve got to think we all were. There were no rumors, murmurs or foreshadowing. Nobody dared whisper “Heath’s losing it,” mostly because it wasn’t true. While approaching the autumn of his career, Heath had yet to show any real significant erosion of skill, nor did his body begin to betray him.

Perhaps we could have seen it coming, if only because this exit is so very Heath-like. Three of the most used adjectives appearing in articles featuring this fine young man are nice, classy and humble. His retirement announcement was nice, classy and humble. Like Heath, it was quiet and reserved.

There was no victory lap. No hanging on until the front office had to tell him it was time to go. No serious injury forcing the inevitable choice. Heath walked away while he could. He’s still young and healthy at 33; seemingly with no regrets.

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