Posted on: March 25, 2009 5:30 am
 

Thanks for the Memories Mr. Rooney

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at this weeks NFL owners meeting.  Not because of the discussions on rule changes or discussion about the CBA.  Had I been there, I’m sure that I’d have witnessed a bittersweet moment.

According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette this morning, Dan Rooney,  current President and one of the owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers, stepped down from all committees and said goodbye to the NFL ownership.  Rooney, in anticipation for his upcoming appointment as Ambassador to Ireland, handed the reigns of the Steelers organization over to his son, Art Rooney, II. 

It’s the end of an era for the Steelers, and for the NFL.  Rooney had been “influential and involved in league matters for half a century” (1) .  The “Rooney Rule” opened the door for minorities to become head coaches within the NFL.  For the Steelers organization, Mr. Rooney carried on the tradition that was started by his father, Art Rooney, Sr, in such that made the players feel like family.  As a testament to that, when asked in an online chat session at NFL.com, on his induction to the Hall of Fame, former Steelers CB, Rod Woodson sited Dan Rooney as the primary reason that, if he had to choose a team to get inducted under, it would be the Steelers.  There has always been an air of mutual respect between players, coaches and ownership.

There’s no doubt that the tradition of the Steelers franchise will continue on with Art Rooney II, and I have no doubt that upon a trip to Ireland in the next few years, we’ll see black and gold being worn there.  Still, Mr. Rooney’s presence and influence in the NFL will be missed by players, coaches and fans alike. 

Personally, I’d like to thank Mr. Rooney for his dedication and would like to ask, should he find a four leaf clover or capture a leprechaun, to send him my way.  Thank you Mr. Rooney, go raibh mile maith agat (2).

 

1- "Dan Rooney Bids NFL Owners Fairwell" , Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post Gazettte, March 25, 2009

2- go rabh mile maith agat is gaelic for thank you,

 

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 11, 2009 7:29 am
 

Incoherent Ramblings from a Feverish State

Shoot me now, seriously, just pull the trigger and put me out of my misery.  I had taken the shot dangit, I wasn’t suppose to get it, right?  My doctor won’t see me, he tells me stay home, lots of clear liquids, oh and yeah, he’ll charge me for that advice.  Yeah, I know, it’s the flu, I’m on day two and am completely miserable. 

Of course my family won’t give me comfort.  My husband doesn’t want to catch it so when I just want to curl up and be miserable and cry out for comfort, I get a poor baby, a few strokes of the hair and off he goes.  I go through those periods where I just want to be held and coddled.  Unfortunately I also go through periods where it’s just leave me alone darnit.  Why is it, that’s when the family wants to make me feel better? Huh? 

Then there’s dinner.  My daughter asks, what’s for dinner?  My response…there’s the fridge and there’s the microwave.  You’re twenty, you figure it out.  Of course no one offers to make me soup (which I had to go out and buy btw). 

And why, oh why, can’t  I get out of “mom mode”?  You know the mode.  Mom’s aren’t allowed to get sick.  Comes from years of conditioning, trying to get the kids out the door while you have one foot in the grave already.  Dragging your weary bones to the cabinets to pull out a can of spaghetti-o’s because the kids have to eat, right?  Of course, when the kid gets old enough, I’ve trusted her to fend for herself, my husband on the other hand. 

Yep, his coffee is on and his clothes are laid out and while I’m tempted to throw water on him just to wake him up because he keeps hitting the snooze button, I just try to wake him up gently.  I know I won’t have peace of mind until he’s out the door.  So what’s the point of going back to bed when I know I’m just going to fret until I know he’s out the door with every thing he needs.  And why should it really matter since I don’t do any of this when I’m on my way to work myself, why do I think being home makes him helpless and incapable of doing these things himself?   And since I’m sick, why should I care?

Okay, don’t mind my ranting, I’m still a bit feverish.  I’m like most mom’s, selfless, uh huh, yeah, I’m selfless.  Just wondering though…should I put the roast in the slow cooker before I crawl back to bed?

 

Category: General
Tags: Illnesses
 
Posted on: March 11, 2009 6:25 am
 

Quiet in the Land of Steel - Kind of, Sort of

There’s a reason the Cardinals have the nickname “Steelers West”.  Okay, not only is Whisenhunt taking the mentality he had as the Steelers OC (not to mention some of the former Steeler coaching staff) but he also has been slowly acquiring former Steeler players, most recently, cornerback Bryant McFadden.  It was no secret that Whisenhunt is looking at reshaping the Cardinals defense into a 3-4 defense and it was also no secret that he wanted McFadden, and he got them.

Of course, in the land of the black and gold, the city of Steel, the original Steelers, we’re watching them leave.  Well, not really.  Only two major losses through free agency.  Wide receiver Nate Washington and cornerback Bryant McFadden.  Can’t blame them for taking the money, both have two superbowl rings.  But for the most part, while other teams were trying to bring in players to help their chances, the Steelers were trying to shore up the contracts of the one’s they currently have.  

There were some quiet acquisitions, mostly to the practice squad.  Of course, with Washington’s leaving, it now opens up the opportunity for Dallas Baker to contend for the 3d receiver slot.  

Now with the majority of contracts being laid out and at least in negotiation stage, there is some movement inside the Steelers camp.  No, not signings, but at least interviews.  This week the Steelers will have interviewed former Buccaneers Wide Receiver Joey Galloway and Titans FA cornerback Chris Carr.  Of course the interesting of the two is Chris Carr.  

Two glaring and immediate needs for the Steelers lay with the offensive line and the return for Special Teams.  The acquisition of Chris Carr could become a viable weapon when it comes to punt and kick returns.  Of course, there is the added benefit of adding depth to the position at cornerback.   

Last season, special teams had improved immensely in it’s kickoff and punt return coverage, but was still glaringly weak when it came to actually returning the ball.  It was inconsistent at best and at worse, well, being ranked 29th  in the league for punt and kickoff returns kind of explains it all.  Should the Steelers acquire Carr, then this could possibly address the need in this area.

Of course, don’t look for the Steelers to use FA to build on their strengths, but more to address their immediate weaknesses.  The acquisition in FA last preseason of running back Mewelde Moore was to address a need that was glaringly apparent when Willie Parker went out for the season with a broken ankle in the St. Louis Rams game.  Moore proved to be invaluable in this past season when he became the starting running back when both Parker and rookie draft choice, Rashaad Mendenhall went out with injuries.  

Despite, the interview process, no matter how many come through the gates to talk to Steelers management, those of us who have followed the black and gold know that, as with every FA period, this one will be another without excitement or major splash. Is it time for the draft yet?

 

Posted on: February 28, 2009 4:19 am
 

And They're Off

James Harrison wants to retire a Pittsburgh Steeler.  Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu could have been a Jet but decided to stay where he was at.  Whispers and rumors that Colts center Jeff Saturday was willing to switch to position at guard to play for the black and gold all were naught when he resigned for three years to remain Peyton Mannings MVP.  Byron Leftwich said not to count him out as the Steelers backup quarterback, then there’s also Charlie Batch.  So what about Dennis Dixon?   

This past week, free agency began in earnest and Steelers personnel management, like the other 31 teams have been busy adjusting their roster and making offers.  Faced with having thirteen players as unrestricted free agents, including two viable backup quarterbacks, Kevin Colbert and the rest of the Steelers front office are working to retain as many of the Steelers current players as possible.  Of course, it’s probably not going to be feasible.

One of the top priorities, according to Colbert, is getting the NFL’s DPOY’s contract extended so that he can finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.  It will happen, it’s just symantics.  Biggest problem is the terms, especially due to the situation with the CBA and the “uncapped year”.  

Of course we’ve seen the Steelers place a franchise tag on OT Max Starks, again.  There was a tender to restricted free agent Willie Colon.  One wonders if the idea was to actually keep Colon, or use that tender in lieu for a first round draft pick, something that the Steelers could use, seeing that they’re 32nd in the draft this year.  Chris Kemoeatu could have taken the same route, the exact same route, that former Steelers guard Alan Faneca took and become a player for the J.E.T.S. but he declined the offer and decided to stay with the black and gold.  Okay, the Steelers did offer him good money, but the Jets did offer Kemo a little more.  Fullback/tight end Sean McHugh will be staying.  McHugh actually made a difference in the Steelers running game when they put him in at the FB position, rather then the TE position.  

What was surprising is the release of OT Kendell Simmons.  Simmons went out for the year in the first Ravens/Steelers game with a torn Achilles tendon.  What’s not surprising, they probably will not be resigning punter Mitch Berger.  Okay, so Berger wasn’t the best, but I believe the reality is that punter Daniel Sepulveda will more then likely be returning after sitting the season out with a torn ACL.  

There’s still a lot of time left in the off-season for contracts to be signed and players cut.  WR Nate Washington will probably end up being a starting WR somewhere else and CB Bryant McFadden is testing his value on the open market and it is doubtful that he’ll return.   Restricted free-agent SS Anthony Smith did not receive a contract tender and it’s questionable if Marvel Smith will return.  

Of course we’re all wondering just who will be the Steelers backup quarterback with both Batch and Leftwich in the FA market.  Makes it even more interesting that Leftwich hinted that he might prefer being a backup in Pittsburgh to a starting QB somewhere else.

 

 

Posted on: February 20, 2009 5:22 am
 

Oh the Joy

Want a good stock tip, aspirin, invest early, invest now.  I’ll make you rich, trust me.  Here in the south, for the most part spring has arrived, and so has my tax return.  With that, my husband and I have decided we were going to put it back into our house. 

It’s an older house and like a lot of the houses in our development, the trim has started to rot out on it.  So this weekend looks like it’ll be a weekend filled with trips to Lowe’s for wood and paint and him yelling at me because I’m painting against the grain and not with it.  Yep, going to be a fun weekend for me.  If it were only up to me, I’d hire someone to do it, but it’s not, so I pick and choose my battles.

Sometimes being a homeowner sucks, because there’s no landlord to yell at when things start breaking down or need work.  Let’s not forget the arguments that ensue between husband and wife on changes and how to do something.  We’ve been discussing redoing our ceilings, getting rid of the god awful stucco and popcorn on them.  I’m thinking good old elbow grease in scraping all that garbage off, he’s thinking belt sander.  I know, any excuse for a man to buy a new power tool. 

He’d rather not redo the bathroom until we can replace everything, but for now, all it really needs is some plaster and caulk.  Of course, we’ll have the argument over what color to paint it.  I want to go a nice sand color, he doesn’t. 

We have the cost for what we’ve already planned to do with the house pretty well budgeted out.  The extra, well, he wants a fireplace blower.  Okay, I can see that, but with the blower comes a new screen for the fireplace, and lets face it, we never once used the fireplace this year.  He’s thinking it would be great to have if we have an ice storm come through, like we did a few years ago, that knocked out the power.  At least we’ll be warm.  I’m thinking backup generator instead.  Seriously, I hate cooking on a buddy burner. 

Of course, he’s not getting the hint from all the gardening magazines that I’ve left laying around that I want to work on the yard.  Instead, he wants an HDTV.  His rationalization is that the daughter needs a new tv and if we got ourselves an HDTV, she could have one of our old ones (which is larger then the one she has already).  Of course, I pointed out that it would probably be cheaper and easier for us if we just bought her a new tv, preferably smaller…after all, we’re the one’s who have to move her up three stories each year when she heads back to college.  

Now I’m not going to deny that I’m actually looking forward to working on the house over the course of the spring and summer.  And I’m actually happy that we’re actually discussing and planning the housing improvements, but to say he and I have different tastes and ideas on what we’d like to see done to the house is rather an understatement.  Unfortunately for me, my husband is immune to the fluttering of eyelashes, the pitiful eyes and pouting.  Of course the other extreme doesn’t work with him either. 

We tend to make compromises, often to my dismay.  He’s happy that I don’t want to destroy his cave, I’m glad he doesn’t gripe about all my collectibles.  It’s just getting to those compromises that create the headaches.  While it was football season, we both had excuses not to do the work, and avoided the inevitable pain that is sure to occur.  Unfortunately, now that there is no football on tv, neither of us have that excuse anymore and have to focus on our honey-do lists.

Oh well, I’m sure we’re not the only couple facing this.  At least he’ll have his meds and I’ll have my wine and we both can be thankful that it’s not next year yet.  Our marriage will probably survive this round, but hard to say how it will end when we look at replacing our windows and doors next year.  Wonder if Roger Goodell would look to extend the football season to 52 weekends next year?  My marriage may depend on it.

Posted on: February 17, 2009 4:13 am
 

Keeping it In the Family

Prior to Superbowl XLIII, there were rumors that Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau was going to retire after 50 years in the NFL.  The rumors of his retirement, were premature and rather exaggerated. 

After the year the Steelers defense had, it wasn’t a surprise to find out that one of their defensives coaches would look to be tapped for a position with another team.  What is a surprise is that Keith Butler had the chance to make a name for himself and become as well known as Dick LeBeau, and turned it down.

Who is Keith Butler, you ask?  Butler has been the linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2003 and is responsible for coaching the likes of Steelers James Farrior, Larry Foote, LaMarr Woodley and this years Defensive Player of the Year, James Harrison

Butler, under contract with the Steelers, was given permission to by the Steelers organization to interview with Ken Whisenhunt for the position of Cardinals defensive coordinator, but according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette , turned down the offer.  It wasn’t the first time that the Cardinals head coach would try to get Butler on his staff.  Whisenhunt tried to interview Butler in 2007, but was denied by the Steelers organization due to Butlers contract. 

Going into 2009, Mike Tomlin will retain his complete coaching staff, since taking the position of the Steelers head coach.

Posted on: February 3, 2009 6:00 am
 

The Year of the Six Pack

A day has passed and the dust has settled.  All that’s left now is the celebration and the memories, yes the memories.  As the Steelers now join the other 31 teams, their season is over.  No doubt there will be the parades and other events rejoicing in their obtaining the their 6th Lombardi Trophy and while plans are made, I reminisce.

It was called the “year of the six-pack”, the road to “Sixburgh”, a run to their sixth ring, the most in the history of the Super bowl era.  It was a season that started out with low expectations by some, progressed into a season quest to become try to be the best in all categories on defense.  It would be a season that would show the Steelers offense as vulnerable or mediocre.  It would be a season that showed an improved specials team coverage unit and a mediocre punt and kickoff return unit, yet they seemed to have improved a little from last season. 

Through the season the Steelers found ways to win, if not with their offense, then with their defense.  It would be rocky for the offense, often seeming to struggle without the run, struggle getting into the end zone, yet somehow be brought back in the clutch.  We would question Bruce Arians play calling and call for his head after a loss.  We would buy stock in Maalox for one of Mike Tomlins “faith” plays.  Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t.  Through it all was one constant, a defense that was consistent.  No, they weren’t perfect, 12-4 would be their best, but it got them on the road to their final destination.

I’ll admit that I was cautiously confident going into Sundays game against the Arizona Cardinals.  Not only because of the defense, but also because of the offense.  There was a consensus that if needed, the Steelers offense would not be able to keep up.  No, I didn’t buy into the hype about Whisenhunt and LeBeau knowing each other.  Anything that Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt knew about the Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense had become inspiration for defensive coordinators around the league after last years matchup. 

Sunday’s game somehow was a replay of how the Steelers got to where they were.  We would see the defense on a big play, an interception, that first ever in Superbowl history returned for 100 yards.  The play, now dubbed the “Immaculate Interception”, will join the Steelers sports lore along side of the “Immaculate Reception”, the “Immaculate Deflection” and the “Immaculate Redemption”.  Linebacker James Harrison interception and runback for a touchdown, not only stopped the Cardinals from going up, or at least tying going into the half, but also put the Steelers up by two scores before going into the locker room. 

We know the results of the game, so there is no need to recap.  Once again, Roethlisberger had shown why the comparisons with John Elway when talking about clutch quarterbacks are valid arguments.  With driving the field for the come from behind touchdown in a Superbowl.  Bruce Arians had come out earlier on Sunday saying that the Steelers wide receivers deserved respect also.  Santonio Holmes proved that yes they did.

Make no mistake, any team in the Superbowl, deserved to be there, because they were the one’s in the NFC who actually got it done when it counted.  The Arizona Cardinals offense did it’s own spectacular come from behind and made the Steelers pass coverage look average.  Kurt Warner showed why he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, despite not getting the ring, Larry Fitzgerald still is unstoppable and knowing Whisenhunt and company to build up that defense in the draft, I don’t foresee the Cardinals returning to oblivion.  What Whisenhunt and the Cardinals team have done in the two years there, has been the best story in the NFL this season. 

For now it’s the celebration of “Sixburgh”, tomorrow, it’s 0-0 again, and just one of 32 teams.  As a fan who has seen the Steelers in seven Superbowl, I cannot help but rejoice in the win, especially since the Steelers weren’t given much hope going into the season.

Congratulations to the Arizona Cardinals and their fans.  They’ve faced those who’ve doubted them and deserved to have played the game Sunday, because, despite their record, they beat who they were suppose to beat to get there, and came within a breath of winning the trophy.  Ken Whisenhunt and company went in to a team that seemed to have been perennial laughing stocks and within two years, had coached and motivated the players to get to where they’re at today. 

Thank you to CBS Sportsline for allowing me the privilege to be called the official Steelers team blogger.  Hopefully I have not done a disservice to the Steelers organization, the Steeler fans or CBS in my writing.

Posted on: January 30, 2009 6:20 am
Edited on: January 30, 2009 6:31 am
 

Superbowl Ponderings

Lot’s of rumors going around about the Steelers personnel lately.  Okay, only two.  First there was speculation that Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau would retire after SB XLIII and now Ben Roethlisberger’s x-rays show a rib injury? 

The rumor of LeBeau’s retirement may have many of the leagues offensive coordinators breathing a little bit easier, but it took me by surprise, since reports earlier in the season had it that the Steelers DC planned on returning next year.  The day after the rumor came out, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and other media sources reported LeBeau telling his players he would return next year.  With LeBeau’s history and bond with his players, I don’t see LeBeau pulling a Herm Edwards.

Now with Ben’s ribs.  In today’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette , the rumors of Ben’s xray’s was squashed by Steelers headcoach Mike Tomlin and pretty much confirmed by Peter King who stated in his report that Ben looked sharp in practice.  Okay, with Ben not talking about the xrays, I know it could lead to a lot of speculation, but consider this…it’s a major HIPAA violation to release medical information about a person without their consent.  I’ll take Peter Kings word that Ben looks healthy.

I’ve heard a lot about the advantage that the Cardinals have against the Steelers because of the Whisenhunt and Grimm connection.  After two years, there is no longer a “special advantage” that no other coach facing the Steelers has.  Ben’s strength and weaknesses, as well as the strength and weaknesses of the offense is readily known via game tape. 

As far as Whisenhunt having practice against LeBeau’s defense while he was with the Steelers.  Okay, first of all, not this squad.  Chris Hoke is no longer on the team, and Dick LeBeau’s secondary was always suspect and didn't lead the league in passing defense.  Plus, ummm, didn’t Whisenhunt actually practice against the practice and scouting squads, whose job it was to imitate their opponents defense?  Just saying.

Okay, I know we say some silly things as fans as to why we believe the team we’re cheering for is going to win.  The silliest that I’ve seen is that the Steelers are going to win because “I got new clothes”.  Yep, my reasoning so far has been the silliest.  The second silliest would be “the Cardinals beat the Steelers last year and they’re not the same team”. 

Let’s talk about last years Cardinal/Steelers match up.  Last years match up had the Cardinals swapping out quarterbacks each quarter.  There were two turnovers, Ben had two touchdowns and Warner had one.  Let’s add the 77 yards to James who also had a touchdown.  Steelers controlled the time of possession by 5 minutes.  The difference, Steve Breaston’s punt return. 

No doubt that the Cardinals run through the playoffs are impressive.  Let’s keep something in mind though, the Cardinals had met two of their opponents, in regular season and lost to them.  One thing about Whisenhunt, he rarely loses to a team twice. 

On an off-season note, the Chiefs hadn’t hired a new headcoach yet, have they?  Wouldn’t it be great to see Russ Grimm finally get a team of his very own?

Speculate all you want about Hines Ward.  If he’s on the field and even if he’s not 100%, you don’t think he’ll be a factor?  Anytime Ward is on the field, you have to game plan for him. 

Some other things I’ve heard going into this game:

“They’re going to be hard to stop, they’re hot right now” .  They said this about the Chargers and the Ravens before they met the Steelers.  They also said this about the Colts before they met the Chargers in the playoffs.

“They’ve never seen an offense like this before” .  Ummm, okay.  Phillip Rivers had one of the best quarterback ratings in the league going into their games in Pittsburgh the first times.  Statistics would show that he had better numbers the second time, but let’s face it, Rivers ended up trying to come from behind in the last few minutes of the game and the defense backed off because, for the most part, the Steelers had the game.  Tony Romo and the Cowboys thought they’d show the Steelers defense another offense they hadn’t seen before.  Okay, I know, Romo became Romo again, but then, you have to allow the possibility that we’ll see the old Kurt Warner who doesn’t do well when his oline doesn’t get him enough time.  The Colts?  Well let’s give the Colts defense credit.  Due to interceptions, the Steelers gave Manning short fields and you don’t give Manning short fields.  Besides, Eric Kay in his blog showed some of the best that had “issues” against this Steelers total defense

“Kurt Warner is unstoppable” .  Ummm, okay.  Funny, how myopic we can be as fans.  Kurt Warner has been playing great in the post season, but if he’s truly unstoppable why were they 9-7 and not 13-3.  The funny thing is, the same people who are looking only at the playoff run for the Cardinals are looking at the regular season games for the Steelers offense.  Can’t have it both ways folks.  It’s either all or only the post season and if you want to use the post season…well Ben’s been perfect, with no interceptions, compared to Warners two.  Besides, look what happened to the last quarterback who went into the Superbowl unstoppable.

“The Eagles defense is just like the Steelers defense” .  Huh, how much football do you watch.  No doubt Jimmy Johnson’s defense is a very good, if not great defense, but to say they play the same type of defense is well, ummm, WRONG.  Sheesh, I’m a girl and even I know that the Eagles are a 4-3 and not a 3-4 and their blitzing schemes are different. 

On a final note to my ponderings, I’m debating as to whether or not to do an unbiased analysis of the game on Sunday (I really didn’t do one on the Ravens for fear of jinxing the Steelers).  As much as I respect the opponent that the Steelers are facing, any “love” that comes from me regarding the Cardinals will come after the game now, win or lose.  So feel free to jump me if you want for not showing your Cardinals love just yet.  Better yet, get your butts on a blog and write why you believe your Cardinals are going to win.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com