Daily Archives: February 20, 2012

Roethlisberger says he still hasn’t heard from Haley

Roughly two weeks ago, the Steelers hired Todd Haley to serve as the successor to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who had a close friendship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Haley and Roethlisberger have still not communicated. On Monday, Roethlisberger told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via NFL.com) that Haley “still hasn’t called me yet.” It’s…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers RB Baron Batch Well On Road To Recovery

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Pittsburgh Steelers RB Baron Batch checks in with Troy Clardy on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.

With Rashard Mendenhall’s knee injury putting the Steelers’ running back situation in total flux, Baron tells us how his own knee injury rehab is going, and whether he’ll be good to go when the season begins.

Baron also tells us why he enjoys blogging so much, how he hopes to change fans’ perceptions of athletes, and what his former college coach Dana Holgorsen can expect as West Virginia moves to the Big 12.

Filed under: Football, Sports, Steelers, Watch + Listen Tagged: Baron Batch, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Clardy

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

Emmanuel Sanders Will Return Kicks and Punts in 2012

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Emmanuel Sanders was on ESPN Radio AM 970 Sunday morning, and confirmed he was told he would return kicks and punts for the Steelers in 2012.

Observer-Reporter’s Dale Lolley tweeted the news.

Sanders will replace AFC Pro Bowl WR/KR Antonio Brown, the only player in NFL history with 1,000 return and receiving yards in the same season. It’s likely due to the larger role Brown will play in the team’s offense, but at the same time, Sanders performed well on returns his rookie season, picking up 628 yards on 25 returns.

Sanders added 60 yards on four punt returns in 2010. Last season, he fought through injuries and returned five kicks for 93 yards, and three punts for 22 yards.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin once said, “two dogs, one bone”, of the competition between the young receivers that were both taken in the 2010 draft. They weren’t both active for every game, but it seemed that kind of competitive mentality was paying off – especially in the second half of the season and the playoffs.

Sanders, a third-round pick out of SMU, had seven catches for 91 yards in the Steelers’ three playoff games en route to a Super Bowl loss to Green Bay. Brown, a sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan, came up with a huge clutch reception that helped propel Pittsburgh past Baltimore and into the AFC Championship game that same year.

Brown stepped his game up in 2011 and will be counted on heavily again next year. But a healthy Sanders should be expected to perform at a high level as well.

Looks like they’re still fighting after that one bone.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Problems for Steelers nation?

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In Segment 3 of PFT Live, Mike Florio talks with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about the Steelers’ front office, the hire of Todd Haley at offensive coordinator and his relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger. 

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Report: Ben Roethlisberger Still Has Not Talked To Todd Haley Yet

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The Steel City Stare Down continues on reportedly as Mark Kaboly from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports via Twitter Monday that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still hasn’t met with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Kaboly reports that Roethlisberger told him, “He still hasn’t called yet.” Kaboly interjected his opinion that the tone of Roethlisberger definitely came across that he has no intention of making the first move.

Haley was introduced as the Steelers new offensive coordinator 11 days ago during a press conference at the Steelers facilities and reportedly Read more […]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Is Ben Roethlisberger a Prima Donna?


This could potentially be the shortest article in the history of Behind the Steel Curtain, because the pedantic answer is no. “Prima donna” is an Italian term with a feminine ending, and therefore refers to a woman. Ben could be a “primo uomo,” but not strictly speaking a prima donna. In the same way he cannot be accused of being a diva, although he could be called a “divo.”

However, I suspect most of you aren’t here for an Italian lesson—you are either here to fuel your Roethlisberger rancor or to look for information showing him in a good light. So let’s jump right in.

Both the terms “diva” and “prima donna” come from opera, and refer to the principal female singer. This is the lady (possibly fat) who gets the best arias, sings the high notes as she dies, and spends as much time on stage as possible. Back in the 18th and early 19th centuries the principal singers were expected to not only sing what the composer wrote but to throw in extra stuff of their own choosing. This extra music was “cadenzas” (fancy bits of music made up on the spot while the orchestra waited, sort of like a jazz solo.) But the principal singers often went a step farther, inserting one or more arias from completely different operas, chosen to show off their voices.

Putting in arias by different composers made the guy who wrote the opera pretty mad. But the producer didn’t care. If the prima donna and/or the primo uomo were big enough names, they could pretty much do as they liked. They were the rock stars of their day.

The cadenzas made not only the composer but most everyone else mad, because they could go on for quite a while. Often the orchestra would have had time to go out for a beer. Or two. The longest cadenza on record, sung by Gaetano Crivelli at La Scala in 1815, went on for over 25 minutes. And you thought commercials were bad.

Crivelli was a primo uomo, being a tenor, but many of the most sought-after singers of the day were harder to classify. They were the castrati, men who had been—er, never mind. Let’s just say they sang the women’s roles. Football players may complain about what they suffer for the game, and rightly so, but I’ll bet none of them have gone to those lengths.

Singers have not changed much since the 19th century, except for the castrati part, thankfully. When I first went to music school I soon learned to recognize the specialty of the other music students by just watching them walk down the halls. The trumpet players were boisterous, the horn players neurotic, the flute players thin and willowy, whether male or female, and the string players were mousy and frequently lacked personal hygiene skills. The singers were a breed apart. They took up more of the air in the room, and not because they were necessarily large. The days were even then departing when a singer could get away with weighing 300 pounds because they could sing well. Their personalities just dominated whatever space they were in.

This is true wherever you go. Some singers are nice and relatively normal and some are like the old joke. (Q: What’s the difference between a soprano and a piranha? A: Lipstick.) But it takes a certain sort of personality to be willing to step onto a stage and sing in front of people when you’re not in a karaoke bar. Your voice IS you. If you are a violinist and somebody doesn’t like your playing you can blame your instrument. When you’re a singer you may perhaps be able to develop better technique or more breath control, but your voice is what you’ve got, and you can’t buy a better one. Supposedly the number one fear most people have is the fear of public speaking. Singing is like public speaking, only naked. And it’s cold in the room.

A quarterback is the football equivalent of the starring singer. Basically, it’s all on them. They couldn’t be anonymous if they tried, and they wouldn’t want to try, because it’s who they are. Like singers, they may be nice, like Aaron Rodgers seems to be, or they may be cool, like Tom Brady seems to be until something annoys him, but they are first and foremost competitors. In short, they are the primo uomos.

There are other divos on the field, of course, just as there are the singers who have the supporting roles. Those would naturally be the wide receivers and, lately, the new hybrid model tight ends. And let’s not forget the top-flight running backs either. There are also the singers who only made it into the chorus, and provide the backdrop for the main stars in anonymity, like the offensive line.

The analogy breaks down here, because often the singers in the chorus wish they were the stars, and they like to talk about the stars behind their backs in what may be a catty fashion. The stars also have backups, and I suspect some plotting goes on—casually loaning the star a handkerchief last used in the pulmonary ward, for example. I don’t believe the Steelers culture fosters this, but I can think of teams where this might be a fair comparison. For fear of legal action, however, I won’t mention any of them.

But let’s return to Ben. He seems to be not only a primo uomo but an old-fashioned one. He takes the careful composition his coaches have crafted and embellishes it or even adds completely different elements. Some may think this is a necessity, but it’s a preference. Don’t take my word for it, though. You can hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, taken from his latest interview with Mike Prisuta. (You can listen to the interview, and Prisuta’s comments, here.)

When asked why he is insistent upon his style of “sandlot” quarterbacking, Roethlisberger said the following:

“…obviously just throwing touchdown passes is awesome. Five step drops, hit while I throw, make the completion, touchdown, that’s awesome. But there’s something a little bit fun about a guy hanging on your leg, and you push him off, and you scramble out, and a receiver breaks his route off, and the defense thinks they have you sacked, and the coach is yelling, and you throw a touchdown. There’s just something a little special about that. I don’t want to do those all of the time, but it’s neat and fun to do. It’s fun to see how it demoralizes the defense.”

This piranha doesn’t even have lipstick on. Note the basic answer; “It’s more fun for me, and messes with the heads of those around me.” Sort of like insisting on inserting an aria from another opera. It doesn’t have anything to do with the plot of the opera you’re performing, but it gets the audience excited!

Or how about this comment, when asked if the Steelers will still throw the ball a lot, or even most of the time:

“I hope so. Shoot, if we go no huddle, I’ll make sure we do.” And while he’s at it, he may extend the play. Maybe even for a record 25 seconds or so!

When asked how the Steelers players might respond if Haley turned out to be a, shall we say, difficult person to get on with, Ben said:

“A good coach in my opinion knows how to coach players and each player. It’s kind of the same way with me as a quarterback. Each guy gets motivated in a different way…they all need to be kind of led in a different way.”

Translation: It’s all about me.

Ben demonstrates the classic symptoms of primo uomoism, to coin a phrase. But is this a bad thing? Actually, I think it is not only not a bad thing but actually necessary. If he weren’t, he wouldn’t be a good quarterback, because it goes with the territory.

It takes a certain type of personality to be able to do the job of a quarterback well. It’s possible to have the personality and not the talent, and naturally if this were the case you wouldn’t be any good, but I believe if you have the talent but not the personality you won’t be a success either, at least not at the “elite” level. He has to have confidence in his ability to make things happen and a fierce desire to win.

Like any reasonably sensible singer, he will listen to his coaches and directors as long as he’s convinced they can help him do what he loves best—win, and be a star in the process—more effectively. Sure, he’s a diva, but he’s our diva, and his ultimate aim is exactly the same as the aim of his coaches and of Steeler Nation—a Super Bowl ring for each of the remaining four fingers.

If believe if Todd Haley is smart he will work to persuade Ben of his ability to help the players to be their best, in the best way for them. Some people may not like Ben’s comments, but they are honest. A more subtle man than Ben might couch his remarks more tactfully, but there is a great advantage in knowing where he stands. Ben has won a lot of games for the Steelers, and deserves some consideration to be given to his opinions. Haley has to win his trust, and I hope he starts soon. Here’s one last comment from Ben:

Asked if he had been yelled at personally, Ben said “plenty…it’s not fun to be yelled at, I don’t think anyone likes it, but to me you get just as much, if not more, out of me if you just talk to me whether I screw up or do good. Just talk to me, so we can work through the reason I’m getting yelled at.”

Translation: “I’m almost 30 years old, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’m pretty good at it, so treat me like an adult.” Which seems entirely reasonable, even for a prima donna.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Weekend rewind: Teams can carry over cap space

Since plenty of you still don’t check out PFT on non-work time, every once in a while there’s a weekend story that bears repeating on Monday. On Sunday, we had several items regarding a new twist in the labor deal that allows teams to automatically carry over any unused cap space from one year to…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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This Shouldn’t be Shocking News, but Mike Tomlin is a Great Coach


Shortly after the new year, I had a back and forth email session with someone debating the abilities of Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin. It was a respectful debate, but the person I was talking with was certainly on the “anti-Tomlin” side of the issue.

This was right in the middle of the “should he play or shouldn’t he play” Ben Roethlisberger high-ankle sprain saga; a saga that proved to be a no-win situation for Tomlin.

During the discussion, in-addition to disagreeing with how Tomlin handled Ben’s ankle issue, this person said that he didn’t think Tomlin was a great leader, never had his team ready to play an entire 60-minute game, and only really had success because he inherited Bill Cowher’s players.

This kind of criticism is nothing new for coaches–it goes with the territory–and Tomlin certainly isn’t the first coach to get criticized and have his abilities questioned. It happens to the best of them.

In-fact, the legendary Bill Cowher used to hear similar criticisms all the time. His teams were never ready to play (only after a loss, of course), he was too much of a player’s coach, he was way too conservative, and, of course, the old stand-by–he always got out-coached in the big games (again, only following a loss).

By the late-90’s, just when the Steelers six-year playoff run came to an end (conveniently enough), there was talk that maybe the Rooneys should part ways with Cowher and bring in a new guy who would take the Steelers to the next level.

The Rooneys did the opposite, however. They extended Cowher’s contract, and this proved to be a sound move as The Chin was able to survive the lean years and rebuild the team back into a Super Bowl contender by 2001. In 2005, Pittsburgh finally won the “one for the thumb,” and Cowher retired as coach just a year later. Today, if you ask any Steelers fan, Bill Cowher was the most perfect coach who ever lived.

I’m not trying to down-play what Bill Cowher did. He had an amazing career and helped to revitalize Steeler Nation after the lean years of the 80’s. His 15-year career speaks for itself: 149 regular season victories, 10 trips to the playoffs, two Super Bowl appearances, and a Super Bowl Championship.

What I am saying is Mike Tomlin is putting together a pretty decent career in his own right. Is he perfect? No, but he’s already done so much before the age of 40.

In Tomlin’s five years as Steelers head coach, he’s averaged 11 wins a year, taken his team to the playoffs four times, been to two Super Bowls, and already has a Super Bowl ring.

I believe Mike Tomlin is a great leader. Is he the kind of coach who wears his emotions on his sleeve? No, but Tomlin convinced me of his extraordinary leadership skills back in 2010. With everything the team faced that year, from Big Ben’s suspension to “fine-gate”, the wheels could have easily fallen off the wagon. The Steelers had just missed the playoffs the year before, and I don’t think too many people would have been surprised if they struggled to finish at .500. Yet, there they were, despite so many obstacles throughout the year, playing in Super Bowl XLV and coming within one drive of winning their seventh title.

I’d say that’s an example of a pretty good leader.

As for Tomlin having his team ready to play for 60 minutes. Well, it’s always easy to say that a team wasn’t ready to play after a loss, but I recall Super Bowl XLIII being pulled out in the 60th and final minute. I don’t think any Steelers fan will forget those 60 minutes. I’d say a record of 55-25 is a pretty good indication that Mike Tomlin knows how to get his troops ready to play some football on a consistent basis.

And, finally, there is that sentiment held by a lot of Steelers fans that Tomlin has been winning with Cowher’s players. This is another no-win situation for any coach who takes over a successful franchise. If he succeeds, he only did it because he inherited great talent. If he loses, however, people wonder why he couldn’t win with such a loaded roster.

There is no doubt that Tomlin inherited a very talented team from Cowher, but you can say the same thing about Cowher when he took over for Chuck Noll in 1992.

Even though the Emperor didn’t have a great record with first round draft choices in his final few years as coach, he still left Cowher with more than enough talent to build from. Neil O’Donnell, Greg Lloyd, Dermontti Dawson, John Jackson, Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake and Ernie Mills were all players that were added to the team in Noll’s last few years as coach, and they became the core of Cowher’s playoff teams from the 90’s.

The 2012 season has already been a pretty bumpy ride for the Steelers, and with the salary cap issue still unresolved and free agency looming, the roads could become even harder to navigate. But in Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have a pretty good driver behind the wheel.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Taylor not sitting idle

Ike Taylor knows there has to be a little break from the end of the football season until he goes into his offseason conditioning full tilt, but that doesn’t mean he has been sitting around idle si…

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News

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Steelers could use franchise tag on RFA Wallace

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The Steelers don’t have any unrestricted free agents that would make sense as franchise tag candidates.  But they still may use the tag. Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert said via Scott Brown the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the team hasn’t ruled out placing the tag on restricted free agent Mike Wallace. “Certainly Mike has done a lot…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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