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.”