Posted on: October 1, 2009 10:16 am
Edited on: October 1, 2009 10:16 am
 

The NFL is Going Pink

Don’t be surprised this week if you happen to look around the NFL and see the color pink.  In fact, don’t be too shocked if you notice some of your most manly of manly players donning pink cleats this weekend when taking the field.  Trust me, there is no cause for alarm.  Do not for one moment think that the hallowed halls of the NFL have been taken over by women, or get the idea that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is actually planning on having the players forget their pads and put on the tutu’s. 

October has been designated Breast Cancer Awareness month, Breast cancer has become one of the most common cancers found in women.  The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, 713,220 women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer, with 27% of them being breast cancer.  By the end of the year, it is estimated that 269,800 women in America will die from cancer, 15% of those deaths will be from breast cancer.  Most of these deaths would have been preventable with early detection. 

Many of us have had personal experiences, at least with a loved one facing the battle of breast cancer.  Those in the NFL are no different, most notably with the wife of Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, Deanna Favre and the mother of Pittsburgh Steelers OT Max Starks, Elleanor, both survivors of breast cancer.  Not every fight with breast cancer is successful.  The NFL lost one of it’s own due to this disease when, in 2008, Rams owner Georgia Frontiere had died due to complications from breast cancer.   Players have also had personal losses, to include Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend and quarterback Dennis Dixon, who both lost their mothers to breast cancer. 

So for this weekend, the NFL will be joining in the effort to remind women (and men) of the importance of breast cancer awareness and the necessity for breast exams by donning the pink that’s been associated with breast cancer.  This month, many NFL teams will participate in activities specifically meant for the fight against Breast Cancer.  For Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be handing out pink towels to fans, while players and coaches don pink hats and wear pink ribbons at the game.  Select players will also be wearing the pink cleats.  You can check your favorite teams websites to see what, if anything, they will be doing to help raise awareness for this disease.

You can go pink to save the ta’ta’s simply by becoming aware of breast cancer and knowing that early detection is the key to surviving this disease. 

- Encourage your loved ones (or yourself) to learn the correct way to perform a self-breast exam and perform them monthly.

- Encourage your loved ones (or yourself) to have an annual/bi-annual physical that includes an exam by a doctor or certified practitioner.

- If your loved ones (or yourself) is 40 and over, ensure they have regular mammograms.

- Be aware of the risk factors, and be proactive, especially if there’s a history of cancer in the family. 

- Most of all, don’t put off visiting a doctor if something that is out of the norm. 

- Just as important, men, please do not think you are immune from this disease.  In 2009, the ACS estimates that 440 men will lose their lives to breast cancer.  So it’s just as important for males to be aware of any changes in their “man boobs” and not be shy to seek a doctors counsel if something appears out of the norm.

- More information about breast cancer can be found at various sites, to include the American Cancer Society

 

Posted on: September 22, 2009 4:40 am
Edited on: September 22, 2009 4:43 am
 

How To Get Rich Off Of My Misery

Here’s a stock tip…pharmaceuticals.  I’m not talking about those pharmaceutical companies that are in the process of developing the swine flu vaccine or coming up with miracle cures for erectile dysfunction.  I’m talking about those companies like Bayer and the makers of Tylenol.  Go for it, invest your money, cause I’m going to make you rich.  Especially if this football season continues the way it has been going

I’ve already put myself on the Bayer Low Dose program. You know, taking two lose dose aspirin every day to try to prevent heart attacks.  Given the two nail biters the Pittsburgh Steelers played since opening day, I think I’m going to need everything in the arsenal to at least counteract the stress.  Low fat diet, exercise daily, one hour of meditation daily (my cats now believe their names are ooom and owmmm).

I’m not just concerned for my own heart health either.  I have a very good friend who is recovering from major heart surgery.  Did I mention he is a Cowboys fan?  Sunday morning I had thought about calling the hospital to make sure they removed the television from his room prior to game, but knowing him, the stress of being without a tv would have been worse (at least for the hospital staff) so I didn’t.  I’m not sure if he actually watched the game since he seemed unscathed by it on Monday morning. 

Trust me, if the season continues on the way it’s going, investing in the makers of aspirin and pain killers is a wise move, I have a feeling that I’m not the only one that’s going to help that stock rise. 

Of course the Tylenol is for something different.  I’ve found myself popping more of them as I’m trying to work my fantasy football team and select my pick’ems.  Given the way my season is starting out, I still don’t see a risk of me getting stung too badly (by the fantasy football addiction that is).  For those who told me all I needed was Drew Brees on my roster, to quote Joe Wilson “You lie”.  Okay, well taking Brees was a good pick, actually the only pick that has consistently given me substantial points.  Despite that, I’m 0-2 in my division and it really doesn’t look like it’ll get better.  Basically because I keep playing with my roster.  I’ve learned the joys of acquiring players off of waivers and have done a trade or two.  Gave up Ben Roethlisberger as my backup QB for Santonio Holmes because, well, with the exception of Steve Smith, I really didn’t have another viable WR. 

Of course like the draft I’m now starting to get confused as to who I originally had any more.  And by week two I’m making a final acquisition off of waivers, dropping Rashard Mendenhall for Chester Taylor.  And if it’s not bad enough my decisions who to sit and who to start have been about as great my draft (which isn’t saying much). 

Here’s the odd thing, earlier in the week I suggested to someone to play Jonathon Stewart, then I turn around and sit him and Parker in lieu of Chester Taylor.  After all, the Vikings were playing Detroit.  The Lions for god sake.  Even if he was a backup to Peterson, he was bound to get some yards against the Lions, right?  Umm, yeah, right.  So who has the better day between my backs?  Stewart.  Sheesh.  (That tells you how weak my running back corp is, of course with the exception of Tim Hightower with the Cardinals – at least I’m getting more then one point with him). 

To make matters worse, I sat Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and played Justin Gage.  Remind me again why I picked him up? The week I decide to sit Smith, of course, Smith would catch for over 100 yards.  I swear, there’s a conspiracy against me. 

Honestly, I’ll see this team through, but it’s really going to be a long season if this trend keeps up and I fear that their death is going to be a long and painful one.  If I was a compassionate person, I’d put Mom’s Cookie Crunchers out of their misery now, but I just don’t have the heart.  Maybe I’m the eternal optimist, believing that one day Drew Brees will throw one hundred touchdowns and make up for all the points I missed….but then, points are only good for that week, right?  So for now I sit alone, at the bottom of my division and don’t see any hope for the future. 

Let’s not mention my pick’em leagues.  If the trends in those keeps up, you might be wise to see if the Jack Daniels Distillery and Bacardi are publicly owned companies.  If they are, buy stock there too.  I have a feeling by the time the season is over with, wine and kahlua just aren’t going to be strong enough to dull the pain.


Posted on: September 20, 2009 9:03 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2009 9:04 pm
 

Mojo Strong Against Steelers in Soldier Field

When I think about a Bears/Steelers game, I picture Jerome Bettis running over Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on a snowy December day at Heinz Field.  Of course, that is a ghost of a memory.  Bettis has since retired and the Bears that the Steelers faced today were a different Chicago Bears, with a new general under center. 

A lot of time has passed since the last time the Bears and Steelers met up, and a lot of history to these meetings.  Since 1934, the Bears have had the Steelers number for the majority of the time, especially at Soldier Field, where the Bears have won 11 games over the Steelers one.  As of today, make that 12 games to the 1 the Steelers have won.

If we thought the game was a given, especially given Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s performance last week, perhaps a reminder of Jay Cutler against the Steelers defense in Denver might have jogged our memories.  Last time Cutler faced the Pittsburgh defense, the game came down to a last minute field goal that clinched the win for Denver.  One has to wonder if these are déjà vu moments. 

Under center now in a different uniform, Cutler brought the Bears back from behind twice to tie the game and then drove the field for enough yards to give their kicker, Robbie Gould a chance to win the game, something the Steelers kicker Jeff Reed had a chance to do, twice, and just couldn’t seem to get it done.  The mojo at Soldier Field still runs strong against the Steelers. 

Going into the game, one had to wonder how the defenses would perform with the loss of Brian Urlacher for the Bears and Troy Polamalu for the Steelers.  Last week the Bears kept Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers to under 200 yards passing, although the Steelers gave up over 244 with the early loss of Polamalu.  This week, passing defense for both teams gave up over 200 yards a piece.  In the end, both defenses stepped up to make the plays necessary to shut down drives to give their offense a chance. 

It was a shock for the Steelers fan to see kicker Jeff Reed miss not one, but two field goals in a row, especially given the accuracy that Reed has had over his career in Pittsburgh.  Even I’ll admit, I thought the game was in the bag only to groan watching the ball miss the uprights twice.

Despite the loss, there were positives that came from the game for the Steelers.  Not only did offensive line hold up, providing pretty good pass protection (let’s face it, there were numerous times that Roethlisberger had almost all day to throw), but somehow, just some how, the Steelers were able to run for a combined 107 yards.  Running back Rashard Mendenhall seemed to have atoned for his miscue last week, with a catch that he kept the presence of mind to get up and run for 39 yards.  Seeing Stefan Logan bringing back kickoff returns longer then 5 yards was also a bright spot to the day.  With Logan, one gets the sense that one of these days we’ll see him bring one back for six. 

Don’t get me wrong, there were negatives too.  Despite his ability to cover the best receivers in the league, cornerback Ike Taylor missed the opportunity for a pick six.  Center Justin Hartwig, for the second time this season, missed the opportunity to draw an off sides penalty, when a Bears offensive player crossed the line and jumped back quickly.  Secondary often played too soft in zones allowing for completions (not to mention the 200+ yards).   I won’t mention some of the obvious play calling by the Steelers OC that left me scratching my head (how often do I have to scream at the tv, no huddle, go no huddle?).  Of course, there's still the issue with one single running back able to rush for substantial yardage.

There’s a lot of season left and no doubt, the Steelers will take this loss and learn from it.  I’m just hoping that my heart will hold out if all season plans on being nail biters.



Posted on: September 12, 2009 10:39 am
Edited on: September 12, 2009 10:42 am
 

Are We In Trouble?

Lately, I’ve been pondering whether I should make this public or not.  In the midst of all the revelations of these public persons going outside of their marriage to find their “happiness”, I’ve noticed, that something has changed with my husband and suspect, that he too, may have a new love.  Maybe love is not the correct word, maybe it’s more of  an interest, or almost an obsession.

I know, this is probably not the best place to air my concerns, but, well, sometimes I feel at a lost.  Things were just – different between he and I.  The “passion”, well, the “passion” doesn’t seem to be there between us right now.  Maybe it’s a phase, they say that happens with marriages.  Then again, I do know he has a new “interest”, I see the time that he devotes to that *sigh* “interest” and often wonder, can I compete.  I’ve wrestled with this for a few days and wondered what I can do to save us.  Do I invest in new “clothes” and “toys” to renew his interest?  Do I change what I “do” just to make him “happy?”. 

I know, I’m grasping at straws and perhaps, maybe seeing things that aren’t there.  But when I try to talk to him about it, he just seems to tune me out.  And I’ll admit, a lot of it is my fault.  After all, how many more times, in the heat of “battle”, do I have to remind him about what had happened in the past?  And I can see where I’ve been incessant on my side and not so understanding when he’s tried to talk about his new “interest”, instead just nodding, pretending to hear.  Then the other night, he told me, he just didn’t want to hear it anymore and it wasn’t too long after that, that I had found out the cold hard truth which left me stunned.  Now I have to face the facts that my husband is involved with….

A different football pool then I’m on. 

I’m so ashamed that I’ve failed him and can only think that I drove him to it.  Maybe it was the week long jubilation after the Steelers won the Super Bowl or insisting on talking about how making James Harrison the DPOY was the right decision.  Maybe it was taking over the tv and making him watch America’s Game on NFL network. Of course, it didn’t help my cause when I stood in front of the tv trying to discuss my fantasy football team with him while his character in Fallout 3 was being killed by a super mutant and would refuse to get out of the way so he could see what he was fighting.  But it was a bad day already and I had been so confused as to whether I should have kept Randal El or swap him for Justin Gage.  (In the end, I took Gage). 

And yes, maybe I’m overreacting.  His “passion” for football and the Colts will obviously return come Sunday when the team that he roots for actually plays.  Of course I was a little concerned Thursday when he wasn’t THAT interested in watching the game, but then again, he was enjoying the comedy series known as South Carolina politics, and knowing that politics is his second passion, I can see why he wouldn’t have had the same interest level in the opening game as I did. 

I guess I can still salvage our mutual competition when it comes to football.  After all, he already had the satisfaction of me having to declare him a football god (which of course, he doesn’t let me forget), and unless the Colts and Steelers meet up in the post season, unlike last year, there’s nothing in the regular season for us to compete over.  (Really going to boring in the house until then).

And as far as the new “interest”, well, if I can’t compete with an Xbox 360, I can always throw it out. 

Just another football season in our household.





Category: NFL
Tags: Humor
 
Posted on: September 11, 2009 10:59 am
 

History, Legacies and a New Beginning.

One has to wonder if 117 years ago, when the first professional football game was played in Pittsburgh PA, if the originators of the first league had foreseen how big the sport would become or the number of fans that it would eventually draw?  One has to wonder,  when the first professional football league was born in the town of Latrobe Pennsylvania, with very few rules and very little equipment, if they might have caught a glimpse in their minds eye how elaborate the sport would end up.  From a $500.00 payment to William (Pudge) Heffelfinger, to multi-million dollar contracts of players today.  From a group of guys from an athletics association looking for bragging rights, to a prized trophy and the infamy that comes with winning it. 

Since February, after the Pittsburgh Steelers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, a lot has happened.  Fans began watching free agency, the draft, mini-camps and training camps.  Teams filled in needs, identified their game plans and prepared for the upcoming season.  The NFL would see Dan Rooney leave for Ireland.  There would be tragedy, there would be triumph in an off-season.  We would watch the ongoing saga of a man who refused to leave the game he loved, and we would comment on hopeful young prospects whose dreams were one day to become as much of a household name.  We would see new coaches coming in to hopefully lead teams to the next season and argue about which quarterback was better.  There would be new rules that would leave us grumbling and scratching our heads.   As fans, we waited, sometimes impatiently for the arrival of September, when the first kick-off of regular season professional football began, trying to fill the gap in the meantime by evaluating talent and hoping that the teams that we pulled for would grab the best of the best.  Questions regarding the worst to the first dominated discussions. 

Since February, the City of Pittsburgh, prepared.  It welcomed home the Superbowl Champions with parades and celebrations.  It would begin preparing for an international summit that would be held in the city. It would welcome home it’s Stanley Cup Champions and would shake it’s head when the beloved Pirates would register it’s 17th straight losing season.  And come August both the City of Pittsburgh and the Steelers organization began preparing for the beginning of football season.  Throughout this past week, as we began to count down the days and then the hours, events were held in anticipation of the city and the Steelers hosting the first game of the regular season.  NFL60 events were held around the area and on Thursday evening, while people tailgated at Heinz Field, others were filing into Point State Park to be a part of the opening celebrations that featured the Black Eye Peas and Tim McGraw. 

Then it happened, it was finally here.  Somewhere in my mind I heard echo’s of Bocephus asking if we were ready for Football and for a moment, John Maddens absence was extremely notable. The fireworks erupted and the Steelers were announced and the Tennessee Titans would be entering hostile territory.  And before the kickoff, we stopped and remembered the tragic events of 9/11 and paid tribute to those lost, not only on Flight 93 but in NYC and the Pentagon.  The coin toss, the kick-off and then they were off.

How can you talk about the first game of the season without talking about the events leading up to it?  With football there is history, legacies and traditions, one of which having the Superbowl Champions hosting the first game.  This year, it would be held in Pittsburgh.  And what more fitting opponent for the team who won it all to meet the last team that beat them. 

The Tennessee Titans come into the 2009 season with unfinished business and the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite the words of coach Mike Tomlin and company, looking to repeat as Superbowl Champions.  Going into the game there were many story lines.  The Steelers hadn’t lost a home opener in the last six years.  Titans quarterback Kerry Collins, prior to the meeting was 3-0 against the Steelers.  Last night, one of these streaks would come to an end.  The comment of LenDale White seemed to be shrugged off in regards to the towel, except, with the fans. 

By now we all know the results of a game that was nothing less then fitting for a season opener, a nail biter to the very end.  Fans looking for high scoring shootouts would be disappointed.  For Titans and Steelers fans, could we have hoped for better?  Perhaps in some areas, yes.  In others, well. 

Anyone who thought the Titans defense would degrade substantially with the departure of Albert Haynesworth, may have jumped a little too soon to that conclusion.  Titans coach Jeff Fisher came into the game with a plan to stop the Steelers running game and they were successful, allowing less then 30 yards on the ground.  At one point their defense had the Steelers at negative yardage. Offensively, Kerry  Collins showed once again why he should be starting quarterback ending the night 22 for 35 with 1 interception.  Most noteworthy though is the Titans offensive line which gave excellent protection to Collins, allowing only one sack.

As for my black and gold.  Despite the slow start, in the end, even with some issues, Steelers seemed to have started the season with the same form that got them to the Superbowl last year, with one exception – a seemingly much improved oline when it comes to pass protection. 

When first signed by the Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the number 7 due to his favorite player being John Elway.  By the end of last nights game, Roethlisberger would once again, have the media talking about his clutch performance.  When the offense was under Ben’s control, he was almost perfect, at one point completing 12 straight passes while in no huddle, keeping the Tennessee defense on their heels. 

Offensively, in the passing game, though some errors and mistake, the wide receivers (and tight end Heath Miller) came through.  Veteran receiver Hines Ward showed just a little too much passion, but in the end, the Steelers defense was able to keep the Titans down field, allowing the game to go into overtime.  Earlier in pre-season I had commented that rookie Mike Wallace would make a name for himself and he didn’t prove me wrong when, in OT he put himself into a position to catch a pass that allowed Jeff Reed to kick the game winning field goal. 

I could say that I was excited about the passing game, but those of us who’ve watched Roethlisberger and company for the past few years knew, that despite what critics said, we could trust Ben if the game relied on his arm.  With the lack of a run game and the inability to convert 3d and shorts on the ground, that was the only way it was going to get done.  However, the excitement I felt last nigh was watching kick returner Stefan Logan picking up more then ten yards on a run back.  Logan’s acquisition from the CFL by the Steelers promises to fill a need where in the past the Steelers special teams struggled in punt and kick off returns.

Unfortunately, the Steelers still need to find a way to create a ground game and perhaps, as the season wears on, it will.  Defensively, the Steelers seemed not to have lost a step, until free safety Troy Polamalu went out with an sprained MCL.  When he returns is unknown.  Although, not as electricifying as Polamalu, Tyrone Carter backfilled just fine and nearly had an interception of his own, though Polamalu’s absence was noticeable at times. 

As far as any retribution for the “disrespect of the towel”, it was doubtful that there was any.  It was more of a matchup between two teams, one looking to defeat the current champions, the other looking to atone for their last matchup.  Although, something to ponder.  The late Myron Cope use to say that the Terrible Towel was magical.  Never more apparent are the towels waving then when a team is down by the goal line and the camera’s catch everyone on their feet swinging the towel around.  A lot of talk over the off-season about the Titan’s disrespect for the towel.  Could it be the spirit of the towel took it’s revenge on the least likely of persons, Titans kicker, Rob Bironas?  How strange that one of the most accurate kicker in the league would miss a field goal under 40 yards with it going wide right and then on his second attempt, actually have it blocked by Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith.  I know ludicrous, right?

As for Tomlin and company.  Well they have ten days to rest before heading to Chicago.  Coach Tomlin and the rest of the team, despite being asked about repeats, say they are seeking a championship and not looking to repeat.  Funny, former Steelers Coach Chuck Knoll adopted that mentality and those types of comments with the press the years the Steelers won the SB back to back.  It’ll be a long and exciting season for fans, something we’ve been waiting for along time.  Once again, it's a new beginning.

Posted on: August 8, 2009 8:57 pm
 

The Slow Death of a Possible Addiction

It was two hours before the draft and my husband looked at my wish list and told me that I was screwed.  At that point I threatened to lock him in the bedroom during the draft because I was so assured of my picks that I had a good line up…nope, he told me, I was screwed.  He ended up actually going to take a nap during my draft time but not before he reminded me of how he showed me that he was a football god and that I should listen to him about my decisions. 

If my first draft is any indication of how I’ll do in fantasy football, then, my husband is correct, I’m screwed and I will see my first fantasy team dying a more painful death then my daughters nano-pets.  Okay, maybe not so bad, but to tell you that I ended up with rookie wide receiver Michael Crabtree will tell you how the draft got away from me. 

So two hours to draft time, my line up was all set, laid out precisely like I wanted it.  Wish list in hand, I went over it with him.  Fourth pick in the draft, I figured that I’d get a chance at least at one of the top QBs in the league so I laid out the four in my wish list:

Drew Brees
Peyton Manning
Kurt Warner
Phillip Rivers

Dadluvsfootball:  “Why are you picking Kurt Warner”…

Me:  “Cause he has Fitzgerald and Boldin to go to”

Dadluvsfootball:  “So go for Fitz or Boldin”

Me:  “They’ll be gone”

Dadluvsfootball:  “You know you’re screwed, right?”

Well sometimes wishes come true and sometimes they don’t.  Brees actually fell to me in the first round so Warner was a moot point and though I wasn’t able to get Forte, Peterson or Slaton, the running backs I really wanted, I did get Jonathon Stewart from the Carolina Panthers.  And it was actually going pretty okay until the seventh round and I started wondering who I actually had on my roster.  Note to CBS…don’t make the autodrafts in the subsequent rounds go so fast, us old folks and newbies have issues keeping up with it. 

I began losing WRs and by the end of the draft, my team looked like a Steelers homer pick, at least when it came to RBs, which was never my intention.  I wanted variety, I wanted flair, I wanted a chance to win.  Knowing I needed another WR in my draft, my last pick was Michael Crabtree, wasn’t it?  At least, on the bright side, I have an excuse not to get into it next year. 

Oh and if you’re wondering…this is how my picks went down:

Round 1:  Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
Round 2:  Jonathon Stewart, RB, Carolina
Round 3:  Steve Smith, WR, Carolina
Round 4:  Steelers, DST
Round 5:  Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh
Round 6:  Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh

Okay so everything up to here was pretty much planned (did I mention I almost forgot to pickup a TE).

Round 7:  Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh (yeah, Dallas Clark was already gone)
Round 8:  Josh Scobee, K, Jacksonville (why didn’t I pickup Jeff Reed like I was planning on)
Round 9:  Tim Hightower, RB, Arizona (actually I think this is a good pick, call it gut instinct)
Round 10:  Todd Heap, TE, Baltimore Ravens (hey, he was available, couldn’t pass him up)
Round 11:  Felix Jones, RB, Dallas

Okay, here I started picking wildly

Round 12:  Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh
Round 13:  Chris Henry, WR, Cincinatti
Round 14:  Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco…maybe

Oh well, if it works out as badly as my tending my daughters tamaguchi pets, then I won’t have to worry about this becoming a major addiction like the virtual zoo I’m trying to build.

Posted on: August 4, 2009 8:09 am
Edited on: August 4, 2009 8:10 am
 

Look Ma...See How Good My Hands Are Now

Last season we watched a rookie make rookie mistakes.  None more apparent then a missed catch while he was looking up to catch himself on the jumbotron.  If training camp is any type of a barometer, Steelers wide receiver Limas Sweed is on his way to atoning for his rookie mistakes. 

Sweed, a second round draft pick in the 2008 draft, considered one of the top wide receivers in the draft, was speculated to have been picked up because Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, had a tall wide-out on his wish list for that draft.  One of the top concerns going into last season, was Sweed’s seemingly reluctance to block.  That was dispelled in the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.  Now the questions going into this season is, will the second year Steelers wide receiver be ready to assume the part of the third wideout slot, left open by Nate Washington, who was signed to the Tennessee Titans through free agency.  If training camp is an indication, then it looks like he’s on his way to being ready. 

Gary Dulac, in today’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Limas Sweed looks much more confident going into this season, knowing his routes and making catches with much more ease then he did last year.  Of course, it’s too early to tell, since there’s no opposing team to chase him down and there’s no jumbotron for him to catch a glimpse of himself.  Still, if his coaches are correct, and Sweed continues to look for ways to improve, it’s extremely possible that he’ll find himself in that third wideout slot at the start of the season. 

And although that slot is his to lose, don’t think he doesn’t have competition.  Rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace and former Detroit Lions wide receiver Shaun McDonald are also salivating at that open third wide out slot.  Wallace, picked up in the third round of the 2009 draft, was speculated to have been picked up to answer the need on punt and kickoff return.  McDonald was a late free-agency pickup.  Add Martin Nance and Dallas Baker to the mix, both who spent last year on the Steelers practice squad, and there’s definitely competition.  And both Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and head coach Mike Tomlin would tell you that the slot is anyone’s to win.  Still, if Sweed continues to shine like he’s doing in camp, then expect to see him running the routes as the third wide-out this season.

And if one thinks that training camp is a cakewalk when it comes to facing defenders, ask both Mike Wallace and rookie running back Frank Summers about their welcome to the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers offense.  Guess it’s a good thing that the coach has them practicing in pads. 

Source:  Steelers receiver finding his Sweed spot early in camp , Gary Dulac, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, August 4th, 2009



Posted on: July 30, 2009 12:37 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2009 6:51 pm
 

There's Work to Be Done

After each Superbowl win, former Steelers head coach, Chuck Noll, would appear in front of the cameras, and in response to certain questions, seemed not to capture the elation of the win, but would remark that there was still a lot of work to do.  That mentality in coaching led to four super bowl titles, two of them being back to back wins.  In essence, it was as if he was saying, this game is played now we have to start preparing for the next. 

It was almost a déjà vu at the end of last season, as current head coach of the Steelers, seemed to allow himself only a minimal amount of celebrating after the Steelers win in Superbowl 43.  While sportscasters, analyst and experts were touting how this might have been the most exciting win, Mike Tomlin seemed to keep himself well grounded and some might say, stoic, in the aftermath.  Indeed, it seemed that many outside of the Pittsburgh area may have missed and failed to see a similar mindset that Mike Tomlin seemed to have adopted from Chuck Noll in regards to what was next.  Basically, Tomlin would tell reporters, there was work to be done.  This comment was a momentary blurb in print, to be replaced with the next days news, and eventually find itself completely off the radar. 

A lot has happened since that comment was made.  Dan Rooney would move to Ireland to become the US Ambassador there, his son, Art Rooney II taking over the reigns.  A new draft class would be presented and selected, attrition and additions would occur through free agency and team members would participate in OTA’s, community events and mini-camps.  Fans will continue to anticipate opening day of regular season with echo’s of Bocephus in their minds answering the question “Are you ready for some football?”  Most would probably tell you they’ve secretly been ready for it since May.

Around the league teams have been gearing up and have begun their preparations for the upcoming season.  Training camps began and analysts are now reporting how well so and so looks in camp.  For the Pittsburgh Steelers, their down time is about to come to an end.

On the afternoon of Friday, July 31st, the players and staff of the Steelers will report to St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania to prepare in earnest for the work that they have to do. 

No doubt there are a lot of burning questions going into this camp.  How big of a distraction with the lawsuit against Ben Roethlisberger turn out to be?  Will OLB Lawrence Timmons prove to be worth what he was paid as a first round draft pick in 2007, now that he has an opportunity to start as a replacement to Larry Foote?  What on earth will kicker Jeff Reed show up in this year to make teammates chuckle?  The answers will be revealed in time, until then all eyes will be on the team and individual performance during training camp. 

There’s a lot of history in Latrobe itself.  It’s believed that the first professional football game was played there, as well as it being the originator of the banana split,  however, the small city itself gained it’s nationwide acclaim, in part, due to being the place where the Steelers hold their training camp.  Each year, Steelers faithful plan for their annual pilgrimage to the small campus to watch the players practice on a field, now named for the former Steelers coach, Chuck Noll.  Many come to get a glimpse of or perhaps get a coveted autograph of their favorite players and watch to see how the rookies and the new acquisitions might do come regular season.  It is here where we’ll start to speculate who will eventually make the team and/or perhaps start the season.  For the players, it will be about who gets a job. 

For the well known veterans like James Farrior, James Harrison, Hines Ward and others, their role will probably be more in a mentor status to the newer players.  For the most part, barring unforeseeable circumstances, these will be individuals whose slots are predetermined long before the season began.  For others, it’s not just going to be about securing themselves a job but transitioning themselves into the cohesive unit that has made the Steelers a formidable force in the NFL for decades. 

Somehow though, the anticipation of this years camp seems to be a little different then previous years. This time not only is there the realization that the Steelers have a major bulls eye on their back for being the reigning SB champs, but there’s also seems to be a genuine hunger from the personnel to actually win the back to back SB’s, something that was missing after they won SB XL. 

Don Banks of Sports Illustrated reminded his readers that the year after SB XL, the Steelers, when faced with a distraction went 8-8.  I would argue that this is different.  That year, the star quarterback was rehabbing from injuries sustained in an accident and then recouping from an operation, not to mention the Steelers had recently said goodbye to the heart of the Steelers team when Jerome Bettis retired.  Add a coach that seemed to have lost his passion for the game that year and it was not going to be pretty. 

No, despite the legal distraction, there still seems to be a sense of energy and belief that this team will not allow it to effect them and will fare quite well going into the stretch.  But then again, despite all the speculation, faith and hope, only time will tell. 

For now, the Steelers and their fans look towards this weekend, a gateway to the inevitable, the start of football season.  For Mike Tomlin, there’s work to be done and it starts in earnest here. 


 
 
 
 
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