Posted on: September 17, 2010 8:29 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 8:33 am
There's a popular belief that while women are allowed in men's locker rooms, men aren't allowed in women's locker rooms. It exists in the public, it exists on message boards, and sadly...as shown by ESPN's Mike Golic on Mike and Mike in the morning. When Golic responded to a question as to why men aren't allowed in the women's locker, he stated he didn't know, they just aren't. Perhaps the inaccurate response may be the result of...ummm..lack of coverage in women's sports and the news process after that.
Please...rest assured, there is no double standard when it comes to women locker rooms. The court ruling that granted a woman access to the Yankee’s clubhouse in 1978 and the subsequent changes that came in to place by the mid-80s by major sports organizations, also took away any barrier that existed in keeping male reporters out of women’s locker rooms. No double standards here. Women are aware that we can’t have our cake and eat it too.
Indeed, male reporters are allowed in to women’s locker rooms during the mandated press period. There’s a belief that while this is true, that it’s only after women are showered and dressed. Incorrect. Consider this, the NFL opens up the doors to the locker room after a 10 minute cooling down period. Now I invite you to venture over to the Sparks website and check out their media policy. Easy enough to be found, however, I’ll make it easy on you.
"Pre and Post Game Interviews
In accordance with WNBA policy, the Sparks and the visitors’ locker rooms will be open to members of the media for 30 minutes ending 1 hour before the start of the game (e.g., media access shall be granted from 5:30–6:00 P.M. for a 7:00pm game). Locker rooms are re-opened to the media after the game following a 10-minute cooling down period and will remain open for 30 minutes. Players and coaches are available for inter views at those times. Only working members of the press with valid credentials will be admitted to the locker rooms. Absolutely no autographs are allowed during media access."
Think about it, the same time frame as to when the doors open for the NFL, also applies to the women. No special advantage here, except maybe the time it takes to get out of the gear. Still, ten minutes isn’t much time to go through the after game overview with the team, get showered and dressed. If female reporters are allowed to enter during this time period, then the WNBA cannot keep male reporters out.
Posted on: September 15, 2010 9:26 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 4:04 pm
Simple question here. If you have a daughter, wouldn’t you want her to have every opportunity available to excel and succeed in her chosen career? Careful gentlemen on how you answer this question. Answer it one way, you’re a feminist, another, someone may consider you a knuckle dragging Neanderthal. But seriously, wouldn’t you want every opportunity for your daughter to succeed in her chosen career field?
I’m going to keep this personal and try to hit at your heart strings here. Here’s your daughter, who, grew up watching Sunday football with you trying to make it in the world of sports reporting. Here’s your daughter who you taught how to throw a softball, hold a bat, kick a soccer ball, wanting to make a name for herself in her chosen profession. Here’s your daughter, who received a college scholarship for volleyball, now stuck doing high school football stories while her male co-worker advances on to bigger and better things, all because he was able to have access to big name sources (players) to provide quotes and substance for their articles. Your daughter, unfortunately, was not allowed the same access based on her gender.
The argument over women in the locker rooms isn’t new. In fact, during the 1977 World Series, Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke had been denied access by then Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Sports Illustrated Time, Inc., filed suit and in 1978, the District Court of New York ruled that female reporters should be granted equal access to the Yankee's club house. By the mid-eighties, the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB adopted policies that had brought them in compliance with the Federal ruling (1) and gender exclusion from locker rooms were removed.
Look, I understand the question as to why should women be allowed in the locker room in the first place. The excuses (and yes, they’re excuses) as to why they shouldn’t be allowed, which range from the issue of privacy to “it’s a man’s sport and women don’t know men’s sports”. Here’s a question, think Jennifer Allen, daughter of former NFL coach George Allen, doesn’t know anything about football? If it truly is a man’s sport, then why are there women in the stands on game days?
While some are quick to point out that there are women’s sports that women can cover, this is true, however, as SI columnist Ann Killion points out, that there is nothing comparable in the venue of women’s sports (2). “There is simply no female equivalent to professional men's sports. There is no billion-dollar female sports league that fuels millions of jobs, the way the men's professional leagues do.”
“But what about a players right to privacy”…yes, I know this is a question that’s been asked as every sports columnist and analyst around the country has expressed their opinions over the latest outrage of the Jets-Sainz issue. “There are naked men walking around the locker room during this time and the players have the right to privacy”. While I’ll address the privacy issue later on in this series, I’d like to point out about making an argument on privacy and naked men in a room filled with television cameras and photo-journalists may leave some folks scratching their heads (including me) about the logic to this question.
The thing is, that since the 1980’s, women reporters have and will continue to have access to the men’s locker rooms at the same time their male counterparts have (just as men have access to women’s locker rooms). There's said to be an advantage that a reporter may never have if they didn't have access to the players at the end of a game. One specific question, or one specific quote could allow a reporter to submit for print or airing something different then what every other reporter may be turning in at deadline. As Ms. Killion points out, women in men’s locker rooms are now an every day occurrence. In other words, if you see a gaggle of male reporters, your likely to find a female reporter in their midst. And while the incident involving Ms. Sainz seems to be a new issue, it isn’t. And while many want to blame it on the political correctness of today’s NFL, it goes back further then some of the young folks may think.
So…how about them women in the locker room?
(1) Women Reports in the Men's Locker Room , Womens Sports Foundation, www.womenssportsfoundation.org.
(2) Athletes behaving like Boorish Frat Boys is a Tired Act , Ann Killion, Sports Illustrated, 9/14/10
Posted on: September 15, 2010 5:58 am
Edited on: September 15, 2010 5:59 am
Early this morning, a friend of mine, that I’ll call T, popped up on my instant messenger. Now I had became acquainted with T when he emailed me to comment on one of my CBS Sports blogs from several years ago. So it wasn’t a surprise with how the conversation went.
T: So what do you think about what’s going on with the Jets?
Me: They have no offense
T: No not that.
Me: Rex Ryan looked like he had eaten rotten crow at his press conference?
T: No, no, not that
Me: Look T, I can’t read my families minds and I live with them, what makes you think I know what you’re talking about, especially since there’s a lot going on with them right now.
T: About the woman reporter, I‘m sure you have some thoughts about it
Me: Oh, okay…I don’t know just yet. I haven’t looked at it too closely
T: You’re going to blog about it, right? It’s perfect for you
Me: Why, because you believe I have this fantasy of being in a locker room with 52 naked men?..puh leeze
T: Well, there is that. No, remember that series you did on sex?
Me: Yeah but that was because Gregg Doyel had to write about Danica Patrick and the SI Swimsuit edition. Doyel’s been rather quiet on this one, and so has Freeman
T: Honestly D, it’s right up your alley
Me: Let me think about it.
T: So D, what if it were you who had gotten the cat calls?
Me: I’d probably turn around, smile sweetly, thank them and comment if I was able to illicit that kind of response, I could only imagine what kind of welcome John Madden might get.
(Thank you T for agreeing to let me use this btw)
The investigation by the NFL into allegations of conduct inside the Jets locker room by players. Apparently, Ines Sainz of Mexico TV Azteca had tweeted about being made to feel uncomfortable while waiting to interview Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
While the internet is buzzing with talk about this, it has once again brought to the surface of a debate that’s been raging for decades. How much access to players should women sports journalists be allowed? There’s an added twist to this debate now, how much access should any journalist be allowed to sports figures?
T was right in mentioning the Sex, Sexuality and Sports series that I wrote a couple years ago on CBS Sports. In a way, as Clinton Portis was quick to point out (and apologize later), it’s kind of a natural thought process when seeing someone of the opposite sex to believe that thoughts of a sexual nature wouldn’t cross someone’s mind. However, the issue goes beyond the sexuality and goes into professionalism.
For some reason I have a feeling that this is going to turn into as an extensive project as the SSS did. Okay T, I see the challenge, I’m up for it…
Posted on: March 2, 2010 6:18 am
There I was, it was a perfect early morning. Everyone in the house was asleep and when I woke up, even the cats were somewhere dozing peacefully and for awhile, all was right with world. Coffee was brewing and the scent filled the house, with a wonderful smell. As I sat at the computer, an infomercial droned in the background, more for noise then anything else. With no interruptions, no cats climbing across the keyboard or jumping up and trying to grab my arm, I set about my morning routine on the computer. There was no indication that things were about to go horribly awry.
The source was innocent enough, a site that I had requested to receive periodic updates through email. As I read through it, I felt my eye twitch and my hand begin to shake. I let go of the mouse as if it sent some electric charge through the wireless object into my hand, and without realizing it, I let out a loud no, more of a sorrowful moan then a coherent word. And, as surreal as a Salvador Dali painting time stood still as I read over and over again…”sign up now for Food Network’s Fantasy Iron Chef Challenge”…
Waking up in a cold sweat, with my heart thumping hard in my chest, as one of my cats was walking all over me (I’m guessing I cried out in my sleep), I realized it was only a dream. A nightmare that was born from some dark recess in my subconscious. A psychologist somewhere may attribute it to post traumatic stress disorder, me, I’ll blame it on the baked beans that I had for dinner. And as I became fully awake, I sat for a moment pondering, which was more bizarre, this dream of the opportunity to choose Bobby Flay to lead my fantasy team, or the one where I was Mrs. Potato Head, recreating that commercial where she looses her lips (that one was brought on by a meat lovers pizza).
Okay, honestly, how can fantasy sports not invade my subconscious? Go to any sports site at anytime and you’ll see something about a fantasy draft or line ups, whether it’s football, basketball, hockey, etc. Rumor had it, there was even a competition for a fantasy curling team during the Olympics. And for professional football, with nothing else to really discuss except free agency, the draft and which quarterback was better (Manning or Brady), in a way, it’s logical for some to start looking at next seasons fantasy football draft, after all, there’s not much else to do until mini-camps begin and seriously, unless you’re a Saints fan, how often can you sit and watch SB XLIV highlights anyway.
Yet, somehow, I still scratch my head at the idea of fantasy football. It could be that, after actually having tried it for a season, I was a complete failure (trust me, the Rams did better then I did, despite having Drew Brees as my quarterback). Maybe because it’s completely stats driven, from the draft through the season and in a sense fails to take into account the intangibles. I mean, who’d have thought that there would be a game where Brees would rely on a running game and not put up stellar numbers for that week? And really, wasn’t Steve Slaton suppose to be one of last years fantasy stud at running back, yet it was Matt Schaub who surprised everyone in the position of quarterback.
I guess that’s where my issue comes in. Is it black and white, in regards to the stats alone when drafting? Certainly the analysis based off of the previous years performance is hit or miss. Example would be the 2008 fantasy football draft. Given stats alone, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was considered a hot pickup for his 32 touchdowns with 11 interceptions by the end of the 2007 season. Yet, even a homer like myself wouldn’t have drafted him as my quarterback in 08 given the defenses the Steelers offense was going to face. However, given his 08 statistics, he turned out to be (for most) a surprise by the end of the 09 season, having passed for over 4000 yds. (Yeah, I’m still kicking myself for actually trading him as my backup in exchange for a wide receiver). So going ito 2010, it may seem that the Steelers franchise quarterback would be a hot pick, however, gut instincts tell me that Ben’s numbers will go down as we see the Steelers go back to a more balanced offense. Not saying that he’ll be a fantasy bust, after all, Miss Cleo says that the Steelers offense will fire fast and hard until the 3d quarter and then go back to ball control to grind out the clock. Okay, I actually didn’t consult Miss Cleo on this, but from what Steelers President, Art Rooney III said at the end of the season about making the running game important again kind of leads me to believe this.
If it were all black and white, then of course I’d look at picking up Big Ben as my quarterback for next season. Then again, black and white would tell me not to take Roethlisberger as my fantasy team quarterback. Let’s face it, the scenario with Roethlisberger has too many shades of gray, I mean, an offense where the QB threw for 4000 yards with 2 1000 yards receivers and add a 1000 yard running back to boot by the end of the season. And yes, if you’re wondering, I traded away Rashard Mendenhall early last season too.
It’s no secret this coming seasons hot commodity is Tennessee Titans Chris Johnson, yet given Vince Youngs improvement last season, it’s very possible that we can see CJ have a season like the Vikings Adrian Peterson did last year. Not saying that Peterson had a bad year, after all he did run for over 1300 yards, but with the Vikings having a quarterback that was actually able to get the ball to his wide receivers, AP’s numbers did drop from the year before (In 2008, Peterson ran for over 1700 yards). I know, 400 yards less then the year before doesn’t seem like much but it does mean a lot in FFB. I’d be more apt to pickup whoever the Jets were starting, or go with Cardinals Beanie Wells because I see Mark Sanchez improving and Matt Leinart being better then what is being projected. Of course, I do that and my luck, the quarterback becomes a fantasy stud and my running back, a fantasy dud.
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t some sure things in fantasy football. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers and, yes, even the Cowboys Tony Romo have consistently been sure things. However, the one thing I’ve learned is, that like regular football, in fantasy football one player doesn’t make a team (otherwise I’d have won the trophy last season with Brees as my quarterback). And that for me, somehow trying to incorporate the intangibles into a game based on stats wasn’t the wisest move. Yet, as much as I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the whole concept and have publicly sworn off of FFB (I just can’t bear to see my team die the slow death that it did last season), I understand the addiction.
Yes, I understand the addiction well. Because that nightmare I had mentioned earlier was more of a response to a small itch that surfaced at the talk of keeper leagues. Somewhere, in the deep, dark corners of my mind a little voice is going..come on Denise, give it one more try…you know you want to see if you can do better then last season…you know you had some fun with it…prove to them you’re not a loser. Logic would tell me that another season of fantasy football for me would be like betting on the 2008 Steelers to beat the spread. I’ll just remember that I’m old school. That football is as much about the intangibles, as it is about the stats. And to that little voice that is attempting to seduce me to give it one more try, to you I’ll say….get thee behind me satan…or quote Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, with “out, out, damn spot”. And if that fails…well….I’ll just commit myself to a 12 step program for fantasy football addicts anonymous and focus on the cookies.
I do leave this with one word of advice…if someone tells you, you can win with Drew Brees alone on your team, don’t believe them, I proved that theory wrong.
Posted on: February 10, 2010 5:46 am
Yesterday, the Saints did come marching in. Through New Orleans, in a Superbowl celebration when the football team brought the Lombardi trophy to a town that, until this year, had yet to see it enshrined there. Not seen were the once famous paper bags, now put away forever, along with the nickname the “Aint’s”. Mardi Gras came early for the city that started it’s celebration Sunday night on Bourbon Street and continued on through the next day. Across the country, Saints fans were jubilant. On Facebook, a picture of Jimmy Buffet was posted, posing with the Lombardi and author Anne Rice wrote how she was wishing that she, too, was there amongst the other fans. No doubt, there were a lot of folks who once called New Orleans home, were having the same feelings, wanting to be there, to join the celebration. I understand that desire, all too well.
On the flip side, fans of the Indianapolis Colts will still be feeling the sting of having watched their team get to and fall short of bringing the trophy back to Indianapolis. Hopes dashed and expectations, built on the hype of the possibility of their quarterback being crowned the greatest ever, fell oh so short. It would be a bitter pill whose taste will linger for a little while, at least until next season. I’m still remembering the taste of that pill from Superbowl XXX, which had been served, ironically, the same way that this years Colts received theirs.
As for me, I was a neutral observer. When asked who I picked to win the Superbowl, my response was for the Colts, of course. Not because they were an AFC team, not because it was a chance for a quarterback to cement his legacy (let’s face it, Manning with all his records cemented it when he won his first trophy). For me, I was pulling for the Colts for the sake of maintaining harmony in the household. After all, with my husband being a Colts fan, it’s an unspoken rule that we pull for the others team when ours aren’t in it just so things don’t end up flying at each others head. Not to say, I wouldn’t have been happy for a Saints win, just that well, you know, you want your spouse to be happy, right?
Amazingly though, Superbowl 44 became a growing and learning process for me. No, I gave up brooding about the Steelers not being the ones in the game back in the 80’s. My disappointment ended a week after they were eliminated and the playoffs began. Nope, that wasn’t what I learned.
1) I learned that I could be very empathetic. When it was apparent that the Saints won, I didn’t take the opportunity to remind my husband that the Steelers had two Superbowl rings under Ben, to Manning’s 1. Instead, I just went to sleep, knowing that my husband went online to vent.
2) My husband took the loss a hell of a lot better then I did in Superbowl 30. I remember ranting through the house about O’Donnell somehow thinking that Larry Brown was a Steelers receiver, not just at the time, but for days. Since Peyton’s interception, not one word has been mentioned about it.
3) I found another reason to be very proud of my daughter. At 21, my daughter professes no desire to watch football, though she does from time to time ask about a game. Last year, she told me she was pulling for the Cardinals to win, because of Arizona being the underdogs and their history. This year, on her way back to school, she advised me she was pulling for the Saints. Having professed that day she was not interested in watching the Superbowl, it caught me by surprise when she called home to say “that was a pretty interception, wasn’t it”. No, the pride didn’t come from her actually watching the game, but her learning how to rub it in when the team she pulls for wins. Even my husband couldn’t help but smile at that.
While the number 44 happened to be a magical number for the New Orlean Saints, their winning the Superbowl brought to home one sad fact. It officially ended the season and everything is now just a memory. Though Saints fans will continue to celebrate the victory and watch and rewatch game highlights and Colts fans will turn the channel when game highlights are shown again for the 20,000th time. The rest of us will still be complaining about the stupid decision to have the Pro Bowl right before the Superbowl and we’ll be looking at who was let go and picked up in free agency and why it was a stupid (or great) move. Several fans have already started their mock draft and developing their own “war rooms”. We’ll be anxiously waiting the Combine and draft day, then mini camps and try to get our fix through stations like NFL Network and ESPN until pre-season.
As for me and mine, well, once again, our garage needs to be reorganized.
Enjoy Saints fan, you deserve it (now burn those paperbags)…and for the rest of us, here’s to next season.
Posted on: January 6, 2010 10:49 am
Edited on: January 6, 2010 10:59 am
Prior to the start of the 2009, in true homer fashion, I had projected the Steelers to win Superbowl XLIV. Okay, I’ll admit, I’m not a complete homer. As much as I would love to see the Steelers make the Superbowl year in and year out, I also know that’s not always a possibility. When Tommy Maddox went down in 2004, a year after the Steelers finished 6-10, I expected another losing season under a rookie quarterback (see, I’m not always right about the Steelers).
My reason for the projection though really wasn’t out of homerism (though my fantasy football picks were), just more out of logic. And I’m sure that many non-Steelers fans agreed that if there was a team at the time that was perfectly poised for a back to back, it was the 09 Steelers. Limited turnover in personnel, the strength of talent on this current Steelers roster and their 09 schedule had them perfectly poised to do it. Unfortunately my predictions fell short, sort of like the Steelers season.
Going into the post-season, while 12 teams are preparing for their run at the Lombardi Trophy, Steelers join 19 other teams in determining where to go next year. National media and analysts will be focused on the playoffs and the coaching carousel throughout the NFL. Pittsburgh media and many Steelers fans, including myself, will be watching and talking about what transpires within the black and gold organization for the next few weeks. Continuing to try to figure out what went wrong and why, it’ll be a topic discussed on message boards and in analysts columns both in the Pittsburgh and national media as they break down the end of various teams seasons. CBS Sports writer, Pete Prisco believes that the Steelers defense needs a lot of help as he mentioned in his final regular power rankings and NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks broke down the Steelers in his column. And now, after the retirement of Ken Anderson as the Steelers quarterback coach yesterday, we’re waiting with baited breath to see the fate of Bruce Arians.
In the first part of “If Only”, I tended to regurgitated responses to what the media had speculated on the demise of a defense that the previous season was no less then a shut down defense, both against the run and the pass. It was that defense, along with a clutch quarterback and some very good receivers that propelled the Steelers through the playoffs and into the Superbowl. It’s a given that members of the media and fans of Pittsburgh legendary franchise would try to find reasons as to why. (Yes, yes, I know that I’m repeating myself).
Now I’ll admit, myself, I’m far from being an expert at the game. I’ve never taken a snap, blocked a defensive lineman or even kicked a field goal. I was never a football mom, heck, I wasn’t even a pom pom waiving cheerleader, just a fan. But I can say, I’ve been watching the games enough, to be certain of at least some things.
Let’s face it, the Steelers do have a running game. Rashard Mendenhall running for 1000 yards rushing for the season. They have an explosive pass attack if used effectively, 2 1000+ yard receivers and a rookie deep threat by the name of Mike Wallace proved that. The game against the Chargers earlier in the season showed how deadly that poison can be when mixed properly. 333 yards passing for 2 TDs and a running back that ran for 165 yards and 2 TDs, not to mention a 6 yard pass by Mewelde Moore for another, made any attempt at a come from behind win a Philip Rivers led offense kind of a pipe dream. Now take the same offense in the Packers/Steelers game. 503 yards passing by the Steelers and yet the Steelers needed a last minute touchdown to win that game. Three touch downs in the first half compared to three field goals in the second.
This is why I believe Arians needs to go. Despite what the stats say, Arians more often then not seems to have no answers for the 3d and goals. Think Arians is evolving Ron? Look at his play calling against the Eagles in the 2008 season. Despite being eaten alive by the Eagles defense, Arians offered very little solution except keeping Ben behind center and running, running and then pass. Easily read by the defense Bruce. How many sacks did Ben take this season? What did Arians do when the line seemed overwhelmed? Yeah, sometimes he’d let Ben run no huddle or muddled huddle, other times, Arians seemed to have no answers except…you guessed it, the deep ball.
No Ron, my reasoning for wanting Arians gone has nothing to do with wanting to revert back to power run first philosophy of old. I just believe that he has issues using his resources correctly.
If only he had more games like they did in Denver and against San Diego, continuing to play to win in the 2nd half rather then trying to sit on the lead offensively as we’ve seen in many game by eating the clock and field. (Especially in the 4th quarter in the first Cincinnati game). Want wow Bruce…the Denver game was just that, both offensively and defensively. Why not go for something like that in every game…nevermind, I’m sure he has.
If only his play calling wasn’t so predictable a lot of the time, especially in the 2nd half. How often have we watched the offense telegraph the plays only to result in Ben being sacked?
If only he wouldn’t get conservative when he should be aggressive and shouldn’t get aggressive when it calls for him to be conservative.
If only his play calling seemed to be more situational rather then scripted. Not that it doesn’t happen but once it works, he reverts back to the script he laid out.
If only he hadn’t opted to pass twice as often as running in a game where the winds were 60 mph or where the rush defense of the opponent was suspect and the run was actually working. Or if he adjusted his play calling sooner or didn’t wait for two minutes to go no huddle when the oline and Ben are taking a beating.
If only there weren’t so many reasons as to why we lack confidence in him, perhaps Ron, we the fans wouldn’t be calling for his head year in and year out.
Ron, and here’s probably the biggest reason I believe that Arians should no longer be in Pittsburgh. For three years Ron, the Steelers offense has struggled on 3d and short. For two of those years they were brushed off due to injuries, or young running backs or issues with the oline. Ron, this year the Steelers have a quarterback that has thrown for 4000+ yards in a season. Ron, this year the Steelers have two wide receivers who’ve caught for 1,000 + yds. Ron, this year the Steelers have a deep fast threat in the way of Mike Wallace. Ron, this year the Steelers have a running back who has ran for over 1,000 yds. Ron, yet, still in three years, more often then not, the Steelers are kicking field goals instead of converting the 3d and goals to touchdowns.
If only Bruce Arians had the answer to this problem, then there’d be less of a call for his head…if only…
Posted on: January 5, 2010 5:55 am
Edited on: January 5, 2010 6:03 am
A wing and a prayer, that’s what it came down to, prayers that somehow a miracle will happen, or should we say three miracles? It could happen. After all, who foresaw the losses of the Bengals, Eagles and Steelers to the Raiders? Who thought the Ravens would miss opportunities by stepping on their own toes? Who would have thought that a rookie quarterback with 12 TDs and 20 interceptions would still be in the playoff hunt, Rex Ryan surely didn’t. Miracles do happen, right? After all, it was a miracle that I was cheering on the Cowboys in a game in 2005.
However, Sunday the Steelers would find no miracles waiting for them. The wing and a prayer ended officially when the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Instead of preparing for the playoffs, James Harrison and Casey Hampton will be preparing (if there is such a thing) for the Pro-Bowl, while the rest of the Steelers players and coaching staff will try to figure out where they went wrong and why, Knowing the only one’s to blame were themselves. No doubt Mike Tomlin and many of the Steelers players acknowledged that time and time again..
What led to the breakdown of the Steelers this season? Of course the fourth quarter meltdowns on defense had a lot to do with it. After all, the Steelers had substantial leads in the majority of the games only to see them eaten away. CBS Sports writer Mike Freeman would have us believe that we can trace it back to Mike Tomlin and “Camp Cupcake” but is that all to it? In 2007, when Mike Tomlin first took the reigns of the Steelers, he did so with a firm grasp, and in training camp had the players practicing in full pads, the team seemed to have ran out of steam by the end of the season. After going 10-6 and winning the AFC North that year. Despite their 5-1 division record, the Steelers would surprisingly lose to teams that many expected them to dominate. Losses that year included a rebuilding Cardinals team, a New York Jets team that ended it’s season at 4-12. Of course there is the argument of a soft training camp leading to players not being in proper condition to be able to play a full four-quarters.
Some would also point to the injury of Troy Polamalu as being a big factor in the breakdown of the defense due to the number of turnovers. What was also missing was the disruptive force of Aaron Smith. Though the front line of the defense played well enough, the tipped or batted down passes seemed to have diminished under the line by proxy which allowed offenses to exploit the middle of the field all too often. Sometimes, it seemed that the replacements were attempting to imitate the missing defenders rather then play their own individual strengths. Again, we can look to 2007 when Polamalu and Aaron Smith went down, not to mention Ryan Clark, how suspect the Steelers secondary looked, especially when they went up against Tom Brady and the 18-1 Patriots.
We could say there’s an age disparity with the Steelers defense having either older players or much younger, inexperienced players and no depth in between and that age is finally catching up with the defense, and this is a plausible argument given some of the uncharacteristic missed tackles made by James Farrior over the course of the season. No doubt the Steelers defense is aging and the depth in position in younger players is a major need in next years draft and free agency acquisitions.
Some might point and say that the Steelers secondary is weak, showing where the secondary consistently was getting burned. With the exception of Bryant McFadden, the secondary remained intact, with rookie cornerback, Joe Burnett coming in and well, playing like a rookie. However, is that something really new? Okay, it’s a given that the 2008 season, everyone and their brother on defense seemed to be registering an interception, yet the Arizona Cardinals in Superbowl XLIII did manage to uncover the weakness in the Steelers secondary. So it’s been there. It’s been a weakness in the Steelers defense even back to the days of Cowher. It’s just that well…
Perhaps James Harrison hit the nail on the head to define what the actual issue was this season with the Steelers defense. "I think at times we played as a team and, at times, we played as individuals," he said. "Sometimes it may have seemed that some individual things were more important than actually the whole concept of the team."(1). With the fourth quarter losses to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders and the Chicago Bears, it could very well be that once the offense gained the lead, defensively many players bought into the hype. Superbowl hangover? Perhaps. Effects of Camp Cupcake? Maybe. Or perhaps it was the lack of a common goal that kept the defense over the past few playing as a unit and not as individuals. It was no secret that for the past few years the defense was playing for “Coach Dad”. There were no bones about it, the Steelers defense, especially last season, were looking to help get Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau into the NFL Hall of Fame. And now, with the nomination and the likelihood of LeBeau being enshrined a probability, that goal was achieved.
Whatever happened, it’s left fans, sportswriters and even Steelers players and management scratching their heads trying to figure out exactly what happened. For a team with so much talent, both on offense and defense. For a team that had the stars aligned for them in scheduling. For a team that actually had the potential to make a strong Superbowl run for a back to back, it became a season of missed opportunities and if only.
(1) Steelers facing adjustments in personnel and attitude , Gary Dulac, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 1/05/10
Posted on: November 12, 2009 4:07 am
Edited on: November 12, 2009 4:19 am
When you happen to be awake at 2 am when you should otherwise be sleeping, a lot of times it’s either because you have something heavy on your mind (or your stomach) or it’s because of hot flashes. In my case, this morning it’s hot flashes. Not to say that there isn’t something on my mind, there always is.
Like how the automobile companies could have saved a lot of money by making those little green or orange flashing lights on the front and the back of the cars optional. After all, they’re rarely used since apparently all drivers are mind readers and just know where you’re going. Yes, it was silly to make a law requiring them to be used when even the Sheriffs Deputies fail to use them. Funny, how instead of fuming about the cop that almost hit me for failing to use HIS turn signal to indicate his desire to change lanes, I played and replayed the “what if” through my mind and what I would have said to him, if indeed a collision had occurred. “Sorry officer, the meds I’m on to reduce my blood pressure has sorely diminished my mind reading capabilities”, or “sorry officer, but if you hadn’t been thinking about the girl you slept with last night and focused more on thinking of your intent to change lanes, I wouldn’t have been distracted about how she called you ‘daddy’, by the way is 1234 your pin to your atm card?”. Of course, the idea that we can and should be able to read minds isn’t limited only to the lack of using turn signals. Those of us who are married understand this, right?
Those who know me, know that my mind can run in strange tangents. It’s become particularly worse since I have writers block. Recently I had taken the advice of several people and decided to try to write a novel. I had actually played with the idea for several decades, after all, there are some interesting experiences I had that I could draw off of and develop into enjoyable storylines. However, instead of going the path of writing erotica, I decided to try my hand at an NFL murder mystery, bodice ripper cookbook. I could say that it was coming along just swell, but it’s still in it’s early chapter. I think where I got stumped was trying to put the recipe for steak tartar right after the part where the hapless victim lie on the floor, her very life source draining from her quickly from the jagged slash along her throat. Yes, garish and gruesome I know, maybe a good strawberry cheesecake recipe would have kept the creative juices flowing instead.
So while I sit, most mornings now, with a blank word document up on the screen, waiting for inspiration to hit me, and instead of blogging or writing poetry so it wouldn’t corrupt whatever concept came to me for the story, I found myself addicted to a virtual farm where I’m trying to just get one more level to buy a mansion, or work to redecorate my virtual apartment while I watch the clock to see if my virtual recipes are ready in one of my three virtual restaurants. It wasn’t a good thing for me to get a Facebook account, because, frankly, it became addicting. So addicting that I have two, with plans of two more, the fourth coming when I actually get my novel published, which, at this rate will be around the time the Mayan calendar ends.
And as far as addictions go, I found there is no chance on this green earth that I will ever become addicted to fantasy football. Sitting at 1 and 8, I basically buried my ffb team by trading away Drew Brees. Please, if you’re new to fantasy football and someone encourages you that all you need on your ffb team is Drew Brees to win, that’s not true. Why oh why did I trade away Ben Roethlisberger early on in the season?
Funny how the mind works though and the thought processes that go on. Who’d have thought that cuddly Raiders coach Tom Cable might have a violent streak in him? Okay, that one was maybe a stretch. Here’s one that might surprise folks though, the Cincinnati Bengals defense is actually a top ten rushing defense going into this Sunday. Actually the second ranked rushing defense in the league right now allowing only an average of 83.9 yards per game. When was the last time you actually had to worry about Cincy’s run defense going into a game? Of course, you’d known that Chad Ochocinco would be playing up and trying to “liven” up the pre-game matchup, but who’d have thought that Bengal’s head coach Marvin Lewis would squash that idea. Of course, you’d have thought that 85 would have learned his lesson the last time he touted about not being able to be covered with a checklist of all the corners who weren’t able to cover him, and found the first team that did were the Steelers. Of course, his reasoning, he had thought that Deshea Townsend was the one. Selective memory right, Chad?
Not sure why the surprise about the AFC North and their ability to get two teams in the playoffs. It happened in 2005 when the Bengals were AFC North division champions and the Steelers got the sixth seed wildcard, and then again last season when the Baltimore Ravens met the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Not like it hasn’t happened before. Of course, fans of teams in the AFC North get excited about the possibilities. Then again, my Colts fan of a husband keeps complaining that there’s not enough attention paid to the Colts being undefeated. Like I tell him, it’s not the first, or the second time that the Colts have gone undefeated this far. Actually, it’s more of a shock when they don’t, right?
Of course, Steelers fans have their own thought processes too. Some would say it’s developed by a set of rose colored glasses. Like how a lot of us crow about Roethlisberger as our quarterback. Let’s put things in perspective. Rose colored glasses or not, we’ve known Roethlisberger’s capabilities for some time now. It’s just now that others are acknowledging it. We really weren’t delusional, were we? We’ve also seen where and when he struggles, it’s definitely not when he’s in no huddle and calling the plays, but more so when the plays are coming in from the sideline. The difference is night and day. Seems in the Denver game, Bruce Arians finally got the clue and the wow factor came out.
And who’d have thought that Steelers rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace would have had the impact that he had. Of course we expected this season to be Limas Sweeds breakout year, and I don’t think that his season evolved the way it has because of lack of talent but more on the lack of confidence.
Of course there were questions about Tyrone Carter going into Monday nights game against the Bronco’s. Most of us believed that he could at least handle the job, there were questions because of what we had expected when he replaced Troy Polamalu. There was no wow factor, so was he capable of filling in for safety Ryan Clark. Let’s just say any questions about Tyrone Carter were put to rest. What we learned from that game (and probably what we already knew), no one can suitably replace Samson when he gets hurt and have the same effect. Of course concerns came back due to what occurred in 2007, but the defense by the end of that year may have been more due to Polamalu, Aaron Smith and Ryan Clark being out for the rest of the season. One of them injured and out has an effect, not as drastic, but all three at the same time, diminishes the Steelers defense.
Guess that’s what we’ve learned with Aaron Smith going out for the season. Smith was irreplaceable and still is, but any fears we have about being able to stop the run with him gone is answered with the Steelers top ranked rushing defense. And who’d have thought last weeks sack leader for the Steelers wasn’t last years DPOY or a linebacker named Woodley but Brett Keisel?
Now on the downhill run to the playoffs, dare we say it, the Steelers are a complete team with a pick your poison offense, now that they have a viable running game and not as sporadic, as it was the last two seasons. The Steelers defense lost it’s way for a few games but is returning to 08 form rather quickly. This team is quickly proving that if it’s defense doesn’t kill you, it’s offense will. God help the team when both sides of the ball are clicking for the Steelers, right Kyle?