***Editor’s Note: This series began in 2009, and was originally written for a website that may or may not still exist. The articles are being reprinted here – now with footnotes! – so they may live on in internet eternity.***
Original Publication Date: November 21, 2011
Strange things happen in Pittsburgh during the Steelers’ bye week. Televisions go dark on Sunday. Grills remain in the garage. Black and gold jerseys hibernate in closets. Beer distributors – well, they still do alright.
Nothing can truly fill the void created by the Steelers bye week – not even Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who was cleared to play by his doctors about a month ago but was politely informed by Steelers personnel that his return to the ice would have to wait until their bye week.
As for the Steelers players, it’s our delightful task of chronicling what they do with their precious time off. Last time we checked in with the team, it was during last summer’s lockout. We also covered their bye week last season, and the season before that. This year, once again, there were plenty of shenanigans going on. Brace yourselves, Steelers fans, as we take our annual peek behind the curtain…
Former starting wide receiver Hines Ward began with his usual bye week routine – manicure, pedicure, head shave and wax, facial, and full-body massage – and then spent the rest of the weekend reading the classifieds, filling out some forms he vaguely described as “league paperwork,” and making audition tapes for all the major pregame studio shows.
Former bachelor Ben Roethlisberger spent a quiet weekend at home with his new wife, where they spent most of the time catching up on housework, watching movies and eating popcorn. That’s what he paid us to say, anyway.
Outspoken running back Rashard Mendenhall recently revived his long-dead Twitter account by posting several messages which appeared to support deceased Lybian dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Owner Dan Rooney issued a prompt statement, saying, in part: “I have not spoken with Rashard, so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. By the way, what is ‘Twitter,’ exactly?”
Speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace delivered a hundred Thanksgiving turkeys to residences all over the city of Pittsburgh, and it took him only 45 minutes to do it. Meanwhile, former Steelers running back Willie Parker was in town to visit old friends, and it took him almost 45 minutes to walk across the 9th Street Bridge.
Cornerback Ike Taylor also got a gig delivering turkeys to homes in the Southside; however, he was quickly fired after he dropped about a dozen turkeys on the ground.
Another former Steelers running back, Franco Harris, continued his passionate defense of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, saying yesterday, “I mean, it’s clear that Paterno wasn’t involved in this scandal at all. Did Nixon know about Watergate? Of course not. When all this is said and done, Joe’s name will be cleared and he will be back coaching the Nittany Lions.”
Meanwhile, punter Jeremy Kapinos, the Steelers only current Penn State alum, traveled to Columbus to watch the Nittany Lions take on the Buckeyes, saying, “I couldn’t pass up the chance to witness Tom Bradley’s first and last road win as Penn State’s coach.”
Speaking of coaches, Steelers head honcho Mike Tomlin spent part of last week in New York for a meeting with Commissioner Roger Godell to discuss the NFL’s policy of fining the Steelers at least once per game. The tense meeting seemed to end amicably, and Tomlin quipped afterwards, “Let’s just say it went better than the meeting between Billy Hunter and David Stern.
All-world safety Troy Polamalu spent much of the weekend freaking out the local populace by dressing as his wax-figure double. When asked about USC’s recent upset over Oregon, he replied cryptically, “It’s not an upset unless you believe you’re inferior.”
Long-snapper Greg Warren, in his seven-years-and-counting quest to get recognized by an ordinary Steelers fan, took an extraordinary step this year: He placed a full-page ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, offering a meet-and-greet autograph session at the William Penn Hotel downtown. In an unfortunate bit of scheduling, the event is to begin promptly on Monday night at 7:08 p.m.
Nosetackle Casey Hampton spent some time last week in the bowels of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ former home, the partially demolished Civic Arena, cooking one last batch of Civic Arena nachos. He claims to have tasted the nachos at “almost a hundred” other places around the city, but none of them could match the ones formerly served at the Igloo.
Cornerback William Gay will be a guest this Sunday on KDKA’s Sports Showdown, in a new feature called, “How ‘Ya Like Me Now?” The segment’s guest each week will be someone who is regularly bashed on Pittsburgh sports talk radio, and live callers will get the chance to ask that person questions, and that person’s only response will be, “How ‘ya like me now?” It should be riveting TV, especially when Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury answers in his French-Canadian accent.
Backup linebacker Stevenson Sylvester was seen at the Allegheny County Courthouse filling out some paperwork. Shockingly, he was not there to change his name to “Sylvester Stevenson” – he was paying a year’s worth of parking tickets from parking in the stadium lot on game days.
Linebacker James Harrison spent the weekend working out, lifting weights, jogging, boxing, swimming, and jumping rope. When asked by a local reported how his recent eye injury is healing, he stared at the reporter for several minutes without blinking, finally responding, “How does it look?”
Finally, FOX analyst and former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw, never one to mince words, chimed in over the weekend on the return of Pittsburgh’s precocious superstar, Sidney Crosby: “I’ll tell ya somethin’ – I don’t see what all the big fuss is about ol’ Sid the Kid comin’ back. He should’ve been back about 8 MONTHS AGO if you ask me. He took a hit to the head, what, once? Twice? Sheesh, I used to get my helmet slammed to the turf about 5 times a game back in ’81, and I never even missed a SNAP.”Hin
 The fact that Crosby made his big comeback during the Steelers’ bye week was a conspiracy theory waiting to happen.
 Retirement papers. Get it?
 Of course Ward promptly joined NBC’s Football Night in America prior to this season.
 It was Mendenhall, you remember, who offered up some curious twitter quotes about Bin Ladden, after it was announced that Bin Ladden had been killed in Pakistan.
 The “Willie Parker is slow” joke was mercifully retired after this edition.
 The “Ike Taylor has bad hands” joke will never be retired.
 Who would’ve thought it would be only 9 months until Harris would attend a PSU game with a cardboard cut-out of JoePa.
 This is when the Penguin game started.
 Civic Arena nachos were the best.
 The joke about the name changing was semi-stolen from the Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier.