Archive for the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’ Category

Playing For Pride

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

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The Steelers played their most complete game of the season tonight and throttled the Bengals for their most impressive win since…well, who can even remember?  At 6-8 and all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the once-mighty Steelers have fallen on hard times, and they’re only one week removed from rock bottom.

http://www.pittsburghsportingnews.com/steelers-at-rock-bottom/

*Originally published 12/10/13*

 

Steelers-Ravens: Delivering the Goods Since 2001

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

No other NFL opponents bring out the best in each other quite like the we’d-love-you-if-you-were-us doppelgangers from Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  The Ravens and Steelers, so similar yet so distinct, have developed an organic rivalry that seems sturdier than all the rest.  Made in the USA and built to last:  Years from now, when the talking heads have long declared this rivalry to be dead, over and yesterday’s news, the Steelers and Ravens will still be staging masterful theater that, more often than not, leaves you wanting more.  Bring it on.

Here’s a look back at the state the rivalry on the eve of their most recent playoff tilt, one that Bill Simmons recently called “The Last Great Hard-Hitting Game before the Concussion Awareness era kicked in.”  Troy Polamalu’s late pick-six and Ryan Clark’s bone-chilling hit on Willis McGahee (pictured above) are forever embedded in any all-time Steeler playoff highlight reel.

http://brokencigars.com/2011/01/steelers-ravens-love-the-hate/

 

How the Pittsburgh Steelers Spent Their Bye Week (2013 Edition)

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

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Attention sports fans throughout the western PA region:  there is a third sports team in Pittsburgh.  Sure, they may not be a playoff team like the Pirates, or a talent-rich powerhouse like the Penguins.  They may not sell as much merchandise anymore, and sure, they haven’t won a game – not even a preseason game – in over nine months.   And even that was against the Browns, so it shouldn’t really count.  But the true Steelers fans don’t just jump on the bandwagon for the Super Bowls.  We are fans during the dark ages too, and the dark ages most certainly have arrived.

The Steelers are 0-4 this season, easily their worst start since 1968.  That’s one year B.C. (Before Chuck).    This weekend, our eyes were spared the pain of watching the self-proclaimed worst team in the league, as they were mercifully on a bye week.  How did they spend their time off?  Only here will you find the answers.

Embattled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent the weekend nursing various maladies, including a sprained finger, a sore shoulder, tightness in his knee, and a bruised ego.  In an awkward moment, he ventured out to a local watering hole and ran into offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was halfheartedly drawing up new plays on his bar napkins.

Cornerback Ike Taylor spent the weekend like he does every weekend in the offseason:  furiously working out in his backyard.  His comment on the team’s 0-4 start:  “Swag’ll be back y’all.  Swag’ll be back.”  Also, Football Outsiders recently discovered that when he wears pink gloves in October, his DIPG (dropped interceptions per game) is only 1.4 – well below his career average of 3.2.

Safety Troy Polamalu, enjoying a healthy season (so far) for the first time in years, spent Sunday watching the Pirates at PNC Park.  When asked about the current role reversal between this town’s baseball and football teams, he summed it up perfectly:  “Zen teaches us that once we can open up to the inevitability of our demise, we can begin to transform that situation and lighten up about it.  This is what the Pirates did, and we can learn from them.”

Speaking of the Pirates, they needed to bring on some additional employees to help manage the overflow playoff crowds.  Luckily, they were able to hire Steelers tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams to serve as turnstiles at the ballpark’s ticket gates, so all customers could pass through smoothly and quickly.

Running back Jonathan Dwyer was spotted at the Ponderosa in Harmarville last night.  Several witnesses claimed that he stayed for “longer that two hours,” and was “frequently surrounded by dessert plates.”  At least one patron noted that he was sitting in Casey Hampton’s old booth.

Meanwhile, running backs Felix Jones and Isaac Redmond were slated to run in a charity relay race, as part of a four-man team.  But neither could hold the baton for more than a few yards without stumbling, and were promptly disqualified.

Former Steeler and current NBC analyst Hines Ward spent the weekend continuing to train for the upcoming Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.  He reiterated one of his favorite new talking points on air last week:  That the Steelers haven’t made the playoffs, or finished above .500, since they unceremoniously released him nineteen months ago.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was his typical low-key self during the break, retreating to his Shadyside home for some rest and relaxation.  When asked for his thoughts about the team’s recent trip to London, he offered up a classic Tomlinism:  “In terms of personnel, there were plenty of guys who I would have preferred remain overseas, but obviously that’s beyond my control in the matter.”

Long-snapper Greg Warren continued his Sisyphean quest to get recognized as a real member of the team.  This year, he scheduled yet another autograph session, this time at the opulent Renaissance Hotel Pittsburgh, complete with free Iron City beer and giveaway tickets for all the remaining home games.   In a bit of unfortunate timing, the event is to begin promptly at 3:07 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

Former Steelers running back Franco Harris was in the news again, this time offering up a spirited defense of jailed former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.  “I mean, come on, one of his associates quite obviously planted that gun and destroyed the home surveillance tapes.  This man is clearly innocent, why doesn’t anyone see this?”

The media also caught up with team President Art Rooney II while he was on the golf course.  When asked to comment on the team’s new losing ways, he said, “We need to get back to the basics of Steeler football; you know, running the ball, zone blitzing, and slowly alienating our franchise quarterback.”

Speaking of which, we end, as always, with former Steelers quarterback and current FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw, who chimed in over the weekend with his always unique thoughts, this time on the team’s recent struggles:  “Oh-and-four?  Gosh dang, I’ll tell ya what, man…these guys are a disgrace to that uniform.  Black and gold means one thing, and that’s winning.  And for all you who have been harpin’ for years that Big Ben is the best quarterback in franchise history, well, I got three words for y’all – Check. The. Rings.”

 

Offseason Blues

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

 

Yes, the Steelers’ offseason has not exactly been encouraging.  But let’s remember that the Black and Gold is a long way from rock bottom.  Here’s a reminder of how bad things were in 1988, and the classic book that chronicled the season:

 http://brokencigars.com/2010/11/pittsburgh-steelers-book-review-lost-sundays/

 

A Season to Forget

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

 

This is what 8-8 feels like…

 

http://www.pittsburghsportingnews.com/reviewing-the-2012-pittsburgh-steelers/

 

(Originally published 1/4/13)

 

How the Pittsburgh Steelers Are Spending the Lockout (2011 Edition)

Monday, October 1st, 2012

 

***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:  March 31, 2011

 

Well, it has been exactly three weeks since the long-feared, much-anticipated NFL lockout became a reality, resulting in the league’s first work stoppage in 24 years.  It’s a very complicated case – a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous[1] – and, other than pure greed, there are many interesting facets, including the only viable use of the word “stoppage” and the sobering realization that 1987 was 24 years ago.   Of course, the real story is the possible doomsday scenario: A cancelled season in 2011. 

 

So it follows that the Steelers may have to wait many, many moons before taking the field again.  In the meantime, the guys have all been keeping busy.  We last checked in with them during the bye week, and it’s now time to catch up with some of the guys to see how they’re handling not regularly receiving 5-figure paychecks…

 

Ben Roethlisberger has been busy getting ready for his big summer wedding.  Besides resting his broken nose, broken ankle, bruised ribs, and bruised ego, he’s been making frequent trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma, and the Hair Club For Men.  He has made exactly zero trips to his offseason vacation home in Georgia.[2] 

 

Hines Ward briefly considered changing his name to “Heinz Ward,” but instead spent the past few weeks auditioning for several TV shows, looking to add to his portfolio after his well-received performance on Dancing With the Stars.  He doesn’t have any regular TV spots yet, but he did land a role as the present-day Jalen Rose in ESPN’s documentary film, Fab Five.[3]

 

Nosetackle Casey Hampton had been continuing his longtime offseason ritual of eating everything in sight, but he has cut back significantly since the lockout.  He prudently pointed out that prices for hamburgers have risen 19% since his rookie year.

 

Linebacker Lamar Woodley was spotted filling out some forms at the Pittsburgh unemployment office.  He said he is also considering trying out for the Pittsburgh Power, the local arena team, because, after making only $550k per year for the past four seasons, he “could use the extra $500 per game.”  Woodley was also mentioned in this week’s Sports Illustrated poll, which ranked 2006 through 2010 as the “worst 4-year period in NFL history to be stuck with a rookie contract.”[4]

 

Linebacker James Harrison was seen visiting several boxing gyms in the western PA region, staring down every heavyweight he could find and offering to fight “anyone, anywhere.”  So far not one person has accepted.

 

Long snapper Greg Warren attempted to join a meeting of the now-decertified players union, but was promptly turned away at the door.  Not a single person believed he was an NFL player, even though he was sporting his game-worn Super Bowl jersey.[5]

 

Troy Palumalu has been busy at home raising his two young sons.  When asked for his thoughts on the lockout, he responded mysteriously, “Why don’t you go ask Troy Polamalu?”

 

Practice-squad wideout Tyler Grisham recently auditioned for a spot on the Pittsburgh Penguins, vowing to “F— up that punk Trevor Gillies” if he made the team and offering to dress only for the April 8th game against the Islanders.[6]

 

Ike Taylor joined Limas Sweed in a juggling contest in North Park last weekend.  Predictably, both players were bounced in the first round.  However, there was a shocking twist:  a stone-handed Steeler from the past, the appropriately named Dwight Stone, made it all the way to the finals.

 

Coach Mike Tomlin spent the week preparing for the upcoming season, watching film, evaluating players, and generally being cooler than everyone else at all times.  When asked about the lockout, he responded stoically, “Our goals have not changed.  We are focused on winning the Lombardi Trophy every year.  I don’t have time to think about a lockout.”

 

Former Steelers kicker Jeff Reed is still a Penguins season ticket holder[7] and he came into town last week for the Pens-Flyers game.  He claims that one of the principal demands of the players union during the mediation sessions was that the turf at Heinz Field be replaced.

 

Defensive end Brett Keisel has said that he will not shave his beard again until the lockout is over.  He claims that while at BYU, he violated the school’s honor code “more times that I can remember.”[8]

 

With regular punter Daniel Sepulveda slated to return next season (if there is a next season), last year’s replacement punter, Jeremy Kapinos, announced that he will be joining the Vinnie and Cook show on 93.7 KDKA-FM, The Fan.[9]

 

Steelers owner Dan Rooney, while relaxing on his front porch in Ireland, dictated a 3,000-word letter to all the other NFL team owners, the gist of which can be summed up in four words:  “I told you so.”[10]

 

Finally, former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was asked about the lockout and offered up his always-unique take:  “Well, everyone said Big Ben Roeflerbergen, or whatever his name is, was a better quarterback than me.  Well guess what, Pittsburgh?  I never got suspended, sued, or accused of any criminal activity while I was here.  And I never lost a Super Bowl, either.  You can go and tell Big Ben that maybe he should get off his motorcycle and get out of the bars, and maybe then he won’t retire with half the amount of rings I have.”[11]

 

 


[1] The Dude abides.

[2] Does anyone even remember Milledgeville?  When was the last time anyone brought this up?  And, in retrospect, how unfair was Big Ben’s 4-game suspension in 2010?

[3] One of the finest of the 30 For 30 documentaries.  Rose and Ward could be long-lost brothers.

[4] Not a real poll.

[5] Greg Warren:  Not getting recognized since 2005.

[6] This refers to the now-infamous Pens-Islanders game that featured several fights and resulted in prompt action from the NHL.  Actually, the NHL did nothing.  Shocking. 

[7] Reed had season tickets to the Pens when they played in Mellon Arena, but it is not known if he renewed after he was cut from the Steelers in 2010.

[8] The BYU Honor Code became big news in 2011 when basketball star Brandon Davies was kicked of the team for having pre-marital sex with his girlfriend.

[9] In 2011, former Steelers punter Josh Miller actually did join the Seibel and Starkey show on 93.7 The Fan, and easily became the best part of that show.

[10] Rooney was one of the only owners who didn’t support the lockout and knew it was a bad idea from the get-go.

[11] This has been voted as the best fake Terry Bradshaw quote of all-time.

How the Pittsburgh Steelers Spent Their Bye Week – 2011 Edition

Monday, October 1st, 2012

 

***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.[1]

 

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,”[2] and making audition tapes for all the major pregame studio shows.[3]

 

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.[4]  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.[5] 

 

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.[6]

 

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.”[7]

 

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.[8] 

 

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.[9]  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.[10]

 

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



[1] The fact that Crosby made his big comeback during the Steelers’ bye week was a conspiracy theory waiting to happen.

[2] Retirement papers.  Get it?

[3] Of course Ward promptly joined NBC’s Football Night in America prior to this season.

[4] 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.

[5] The “Willie Parker is slow” joke was mercifully retired after this edition.

[6] The “Ike Taylor has bad hands” joke will never be retired.

[7] Who would’ve thought it would be only 9 months until Harris would attend a PSU game with a cardboard cut-out of JoePa.

[8] This is when the Penguin game started.

[9] Civic Arena nachos were the best.

[10] The joke about the name changing was semi-stolen from the Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier.

How the Pittsburgh Steelers Spent Their Bye Week – 2010 Edition

Friday, September 28th, 2012

 

***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:  October 11, 2010

 

Ah, it’s Bye Week week here in Pittsburgh.  A chance for Yinzers far and wide to rest their livers, leave their black-and-gold gear in the closet, and sleep in on Sunday morning.  The Steelers are 3-1, Big Ben is coming back[1], and Cleveland is in town next week for their annual beat down.  Life is good.  But since it’s Bye Week, you may be wondering:  What, exactly, do the players do with their time off?

 

Glad you asked.  Because there are real men underneath those shoulder pads and helmets, leading ordinary lives just like you and me.  Except they’re millionaires.  This is what they did last year.  As for this year, we had spies all over town to track some of the prominent Steelers players and other local sports figures.  This is how they spent Bye Week, 2010.

 

All-world safety Troy Polamalu spent the weekend modeling his hair on the runway at various fashion shows in Paris, Milan, Seoul, and New York City.  Practice-squad wideout Tyler Grisham tagged along, and, after one of the shows, was spotted making out with Brazilian model Gisele Bunchden.[2]

 

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a raucous weekend at his offseason home near Milledg—actually…no.  That’s not correct.  Roethlisberger spent the weekend working out at the team’s South Side practice facility.  On Saturday night, he watched game film of the Browns while sipping on soda water, and fell asleep with his playbook in his lap.

 

Hines Ward embarked on his usual bye week tradition, running around town with former Steeler Deshea Townsend, who was Ward’s training camp roommate for 11 years.  The pair went jewelry shopping and then caught up on local gossip while getting pedicures at Fahrenheit 212, the salon owned by another former Steeler, Mike Logan.

 

Long-snapper Greg Warren wore his authentic game jersey to downtown Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon, continuing his five-year quest to get recognized as a real member of the Steelers.  Although he wore both of his Super Bowl rings, most people figured he was one of those creepy guys who buys a custom Steelers jersey with his own last name across the back.[3]

 

Punter Daniel Sepulveda traveled to Los Angeles to attend a publicity event for the Twilight movie series, where he ran into old flame Taylor Swift.[4]  It was awkward.

 

Drinking buddies Jeff Reed and Matt Spaeth had a low-key weekend, spending Saturday night at the Carnegie Library reading books, followed by a trip to Eat n’ Park for some pie and coffee.

 

Cornerback Bryant McFadden spent the weekend in hiding after giving up a last-minute touchdown in the Baltimore game; rumor has it he may soon be joined by Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who spoiled the opening weekend of the Consol Energy Center.  Meanwhile, opposite starting cornerback Ike Taylor vowed to wear pink gloves[5] for the rest of his career, as he credits them for helping him hang onto an interception last week for the first time in years.

 

Fox analyst and former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw spent the weekend bashing local legend Bill Mazeroski, saying on the FOX pregame show, “That guy could never have played in today’s major leagues.  He made his whole career off of one home run that barely even cleared the fence.  If I were running that team, I would’ve traded him years before that.”[6]

 

It’s no secret that linebacker Lamar Woodley is underpaid, still making a relatively paltry $550k per season under his rookie contract.  With the lockout looming next year, he visited several financial analysts in the city, and reports indicate he is in dire straits after investing a large chunk of his money with Lenny Dykstra.[7]

 

You may have thought that Vikings versus Jets on Monday Night Football was the biggest showdown of the weekend, but you’d be wrong.  Black ‘n’ gold heavyweights Casey Hampton and Flozell Adams engaged in an epic 15-round battle at Ponderosa, which was so compelling that it may soon be airing on ESPN Classic.

 

A couple of former Steelers were in town, including Willie Parker, whose famous speed is now so far gone that it took him half an hour to walk from Mario’s Saloon to Piper’s Pub in the South Side.

 

Parker’s former teammate and backfield-mate Jerome Bettis was spotted at Crazy Mocha on the North Side, sitting next to Peter King while they each worked on their respective Sports Illustrated columns.[8]

 

There are always interesting characters at the new Rivers Casino, and former Steeler Duce Staley is now working there as a greeter.  He reported that Pirates owner Bob Nutting blew over $800k in a weekend-long poker tournament, but Nutting claimed that “most of it” was not part the huge profit windfall he makes with the Pirates every year.

 

Finally, in perhaps the most stunning news story of the weekend, former Pirates manager John Russell was briefly detained in the Allegheny County Jail after he was cited for disturbing the peace.  Witnesses reported that Russell was being especially loud, abrasive and obnoxious in a public movie theater, for no apparent reason at all.  GM Neal Huntington could not be reached for comment.

 

 



[1] In case you forgot, Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season.  For what, you say?  Um…he was accused of a crime, for which he was not arrested.  Or something like that.

[2] A super-sly and very dated reference to this picture.

[3] Those guys are always creepy.

[4] Sepulveda looks exactly like Taylor Lautner, only he’s about a foot taller and probably outweighs him by at least 50 pounds.

[5] Breast cancer awareness!

[6] Terry Bradshaw:  Putting his foot in his mouth since 1970.

[7] Nails Dykstra is now in prison for filing false financial statements.  Woodley eventually signed a lucrative long-term contract, which he hasn’t yet lived up to.

[8] Believe it or not, Bettis used to write a weekly column for SI.com.

How the Pittsburgh Steelers Spent Their Bye Week – 2009 Edition

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

***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 2, 2009

 

Other than the six-figure annual salary and the plush expense account, one of the best perks of writing for this website[1] is the unfettered access we have to the athletes we cover so zealously.  Just this past weekend, I was able to spend significant time with many members of the Steelers organization and even some key figures in the Pittsburgh media.[2]  This is what I saw…

 

Hines Ward, after getting his entire collection of earrings polished, headed out on the town with Deshea Townsend, his longtime training camp roommate.  After catching up on local gossip, they went over to Fahrenheit 212, the salon owned by former safety Mike Logan, for manicures.[3]

 

I was supposed to meet up with Willie Parker, but he was pulled over on the turnpike for failing to drive at least the minimum speed.  I also heard it took him almost 2 hours to walk from the Penn Brewery to the Warhol Museum.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re no longer Fast.

 

Troy Polamalu spent most of his time off tending to his garden.[4]  When asked how he felt about the second half of the season, he replied cryptically, “Why would we follow anything other than our destiny?”

 

I hung out with Santonio Holmes one night up until about 3 a.m., but I’m not at liberty to disclose what we were doing.  I can’t remember, anyway.

 

Several Steelers went to the final installment of Kennywood’s Phantom Fright Nights, where they joined in some Hallloween fun and games.   There was a competitive egg-toss contest, and in what was truly the Upset of the Century, the team of Ike Taylor and Limas Sweed took first place.[5]

 

I didn’t spend much time with James Harrison or Mike Tomlin, but I’ve been told by reputable sources that they spent much of the weekend walking around looking much cooler and more intimidating than anyone else they saw.

 

Jeff Reed, in an honest effort to try more wholesome nighttime activities, went trick-or-treating with old pal Matt Spaeth, who dressed as a giant Sheetz paper-towel dispenser.  The night ended on a sour note, however, as Reed got into a fight with a 12-year-old kid from Brookline who was dressed as a Pittsburgh city cop.  Spaeth, I’m sure, would have intervened but, when you gotta go, you gotta go…[6]

 

Daniel Sepulveda was down at the Waterfront to see Gene Collier perform stand-up at the Improv comedy club.[7]  The biggest laugh of the night, however, came when Sepulveda discovered that the Broncos had signed former Steelers punter Mitch Berger.

 

Greg Warren spent an entire night out at Saddle Ridge Saloon in Station Square, wearing his authentic, game-worn #60 jersey.  Despite his best efforts, not a single person recognized him.[8]

 

In an effort to stir up publicity for troubled restaurant Max & Erma’s, which just declared bankruptcy, nosetackle Casey Hampton offered to purchase and eat every item on the menu in a single sitting.  And he did it.

 

Superstar quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took his entire offensive line to a secret wrestling match at an undisclosed location near Lawrenceville.  Wild rumors were flying about where, when, and why this event was taking place.  Among the speculation was that the match was a one-on-one battle between radio host Mark Madden and columnist-turned-blogger Bob Smizik, who wanted to finally settle their long-running fued.[9]  (I also heard that Jim Colony was the referee.)

 

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was spotted having lunch at Primanti’s with Matt Cavanaugh, the displaced former offensive coordinator for the now-14th ranked Pitt Panthers.  Hopefully they were not discussing offensive strategies.

 

I wandered around the new casino on the North Shore for a bit, running into a heavy hitter:  Stanley Druckenmiller.[10]  He informed me that he has lost “somewhere between 20 and 40 grand” since the casino opened, and also that he “is exploring the possibility” of purchasing the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Strangley enough, not more than two minutes later, I spotted a disguised G. Ogden Nutting begging for change on the casino’s front steps.[11]

 

Kevin Colbert dined at the penthouse suite of the Top of the Triangle restaurant with Ray Shero, G.M. of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  A small disturbance ensued when a slightly deranged Neal Huntington tried to break into the room, mumbling as he was being escorted out, “I deserve to be at that table!  We are going in the right direction!”[12]

 

I ended up seeing Ben Roethlisberger once more on Sunday, as he was able to get onto Oakmont to play a round of golf.  Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, posing as a caddie, attempted to sneak into the course but was easily caught by security, who had obviously seen his act before.[13]

 

Finally, in what was surely the best moment of the weekend, I stopped by a photo shoot on Mount Washington.  In those round overlooks where everyone has been at least fifty times, there was a picture for the ages:  Steelers owner Dan Rooney, holding the Stanley Cup, posed with Pens owner Mario Lemeix, who was holding the Lombardi Trophy.   Truly a scary sight for anyone rooting against the City of Champions.[14]

 

 



[1] “This website” is no longer in business.

[2] This was the first in what became an annual series, roughly and unimaginatively titled “How the Pittsburgh Steelers Spent Their Bye Week.”  Although the stories are completely made up, many of them suavely refer to recent events, longtime rumors, or widely believed stories that may or may not be true.  This is Yinzer literature at its finest, I’m tellin’ ya.

[3] The salon is a real place, it’s still open for business, and yes, it’s owned by former Steelers’ safety Mike Logan.  He’s believed to be the first former Steelers’ safety to open his own salon.

[4] Nobody would have understood this unless they had read this Pittsburgh Magazine feature.

[5] Limas Sweed jokes were once very much in vogue.

[6] This, of course, refers to the infamous story of when Reed got arrested for public intoxication outside McFadden’s bar while defending Spaeth, who was taking a leak outside of their car.  Or something like that.

[7] Gene Collier is actually a part-time comedian.  True story.

[8] Greg Warren is the Steelers long-snapper, and this is the first in a long line of jokes about him trying to get recognized.  They age like a fine wine.

[9] Their passive-aggressive feud continues to this day.

[10] Druckenmiller, according to Wikipedia, is the 149th richest man in America.  In 2008, he put in a bid to become an investor and part owner of the Steelers.  Since his name wasn’t “Rooney,” he quickly withdrew his bid and faded back into millionaire obscurity.

[11] G. Ogden Nutting is Bob’s Nutting’s reclusive father.

[12] The Top of the Triangle restaurant actually closed about 8 years before this was written.  In an unrelated story, the Pirates are still not going in the right direction.

[13] Sadly, the story referred to here – when Mayor Luke tried to sneak into Oakmont Country Club to see Tiger Woods hit a practice round – is probably now the 4th or 5th most embarrassing story involving Pittsburgh’s mayor.

[14] We never knew how good we had it in 2009.  There hasn’t been a championship parade since.

Offensive Interference

Friday, September 21st, 2012

http://www.pittsburghsportingnews.com/pittsburgh-steelers-offensive-interference/

 


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