Daily Archives: February 24, 2012

Veteran dynamic could be changing for the Steelers

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More cuts are coming for the Steelers, and contract restructures as well.  Kevin Colbert, Steelers GM mentioned as much several times in recent interviews with the local media and also at the 2012 NFL Combine during his media session.  We don’t know how many more or who might be involved in having their contract restructured (or  terminated) but Steelers insider Gerry Dulac of the Post Gazette tweeted out:
@gerrydulac: Ben’s restructure puts Steelers very close to cap number. But more moves to come. 3 of 4 prob won’t be back – Ward, Smith, Farrior, Foote.
None of these names would come as any major surprise to most as each one carries some combination of a significant cap hit, coming off an injury, or just at the end of their career. Honestly, losing all 4 of these players would be blow not so much from a production standpoint but from a leadership standpoint. These are players who have Super Bowl rings and have been with the team since before Tomlin arrived….

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Potential Steelers Draft Pick Profiles: Peter Konz, OC, Wisconsin


Name: Peter Konz
Position: Offensive Guard
School: Wisconsin
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 315 pounds

Summary: The Steelers like offensive linemen with position flexibility. Konz, despite having played center at the University of Wisconsin, has the skill set to play guard in the NFL. Guard is a position of need for the Steelers in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Konz’s resume of three starting years along one of the best offensive lines in college football make him an appealing option in Pittsburgh.

Pros: Wisconsin has been a factory for NFL offensive linemen who are big, strong, and absolutely dominant road-graders and Konz is just another in a long line. He’s a lot bigger than most NFL centers and he size should make for a smooth transition to guard. As a center he has learned to be quick off of the snap which is an advantage he would hold over Georgia’s Cordy Glenn. His technique is sound, can get to the second level, and he pulls extremely well.

Cons: At this point Konz biggest/only issue is a dislocated ankle he suffered and caused him to miss some games this season, although, to his credit, he can back to play very well against Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

Draft stock: Peter Konz draft stock is high. He’s the highest rated center in this draft and I rate him as the second best guard prospect behind Stanford’s David DeCastro. It’s likely that he’ll go somewhere between picks 19-26 with a chance he could potentially go as early as 14th to Dallas. Teams like Chicago (19), Tennessee (20), and Detroit (23) all have big needs for a center. Houston (26) may not be able to retain free agent Chris Myers, putting them in play for Konz as well.

Final Word: Konz is an elite center prospect whose skill set should transition well and make him an elite guard in the NFL. The Steelers prize versatility among their linemen, and Konz is not only a guy who can come in and play guard right away, but with the recent rash of injuries to C Maurkice Pouncey, he provides depth at two other positions while potentially starting at one of the guard spots. Trading up for DeCastro may simply cost too much, but Konz would be a quality second option, one the Steelers may trade up a few spots to get.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Colbert Says Casey Hampton Will Be Back with the Steelers in 2012

Despite tearing his ACL for the third time in his career in the playoff loss to Denver back in January, the Steelers sound like they are going to bring back NT Casey Hampton in 2012.

General manager Kevin Colbert said in Indy on Thursday that bringing Hampton back is a no-brainer, as he went so far as to say “yes” when asked if the veteran will be back on the club.

“He knows what to expect,” Colbert said of Hampton coming back off injury. “He knows how to do this.”

As far as Hines Ward goes – things are still very much up in the air. Colbert said a decision on Hines hasn’t been made yet, and many still think he will be released before his bonus hits in before free agency starts.

“I think there’s value in having any experienced player because you want someone to show (younger receivers) the way beyond their coaches,” Colbert said. “Ultimately, that player has to be able to help you win — not only be a mentor, but be a contributor, as well.”

If the Steelers lose Mike Wallace somehow, it sure would be nice to have Ward around, but Colbert said Thursday he doesn’t expect the team to lose Wallace, who is a restricted free agent.

Source: Steelers Gab

Idle Thoughts- Signing Wallace Steelers Top Priority By Draft

I’m not one to share my opinion, but since you asked…

  • It less than a week’s time, Mike Wallace and his status with the beloved Black & Gold has gone from back burner to front page news.  All it really took was a radio interview he gave to Sirius NFL Radio mid-week saying he would love to remain a Pittsburgh Steeler, but if that didn’t happen he would understand.   Given the groundswell of support from Steeler Nation and the realization that the team would be much worse without him, Kevin Colbert and Omar Kahn have gotten busy restructuring deals, starting with Ben Roethlisberger’s on Thursday to get to the cap number of around $ 120 Million.  There will be more restructured deals to come for sure and let’s be real clear here, Mike Wallace will be catching passes in Pittsburgh next fall.  There is no way they let him get away to New England or any other team in the NFL. 
  • The news of Frank Coonelly’s DUI on Thursday comes at a bad time with the Pirates just getting their spring training workouts underway.  There have been calls for his firing.  That should be left to his employer and nothing more.  If this was his 1st offense, it hopefully will be his last.  Nobody is to blame but Coonelly for what he did.  He will suffer accordingly.  I don’t see him losing his job over it, but this could be a final straw that may lead to possible termination by season’s end if this club does not improve.  In four years on the job, he’s done little to show he deserves to be team President, that is if you take the play on the field into consideration.  As far as making the team profitable, he gets an A+. and in business, that weighs more towards the bottom line that team owner Bob Nutting seems to care more about. 
  • Could we please let Jeremy Lin alone now.  This was a great story at first, but thanks to ESPN, it has been blown to bits and I don’t care to hear about how he sleeps on a couch and what he eats and why he should be jammed down our sports gullet anymore.  The best thing that can happen is for the Knicks to either not make the NBA Playoffs or lose in a 1st round sweep.  Enough already, we get it.  He’s Asian and that’s rare in the NBA. 
  • Ryan Braun must be thanking the people who put together the MLB CBA with Baseball execs when it comes to drug testing and policy because it’s the only way he’s avoiding a 50 game suspension for his failed drug test.  How convenient was it for the guy who picked up the sample to miss two drop points on his way home, (an hour south of Milwaukee) then holding the sample in question for 48-hours, thus making the specimen Braun provided ‘tampered’ and therefore ineligible to be held in question.  Yet another reason why baseball sucks. 
  • This is very hard to say as a proud alum of Woodland Hills High School, but Shakim Alonzo should lose his scholarship to Cincinnati for the cheap shot he gave Peters Township’s Gabe Pritz last Saturday at California University of Pa in a 1st round playoff game won by Peters.  Alonzo is facing criminal charges as the Washington County District Attorney’s office said it would pursue criminal charges against Mr. Alonzo for simple assault and harassment on Thursday.  Some are saying that Alonzo was provoked because a number of players and fans from Peters Township were using racial slurs towards Woodland Hills.  If that’s true, then shame of the officials for not doing something about it.  However, Alonzo needs to rise above it.  The high school senior apologized today at Woodland Hills in a press conference, as did AD George Novak.  But its a little too late.  In the end, nobody wins here. 
  • Despite how upbeat people are about Paul Chryst’s arrival in Oakland, and the departure of West Virginia to the Big 12 come July 1st, but there is no way the Panthers win the Big East in 2012.   And even if they do, does it really hold any weight or matter at this point? 
  • Tiger Woods will not win a major PGA Event in 2012. 
  • I have become numb to the idea that NASCAR still rates the type of coverage it gets from networks like Fox and ESPN.  I guess when you invest billions into a product, you have to shill for it no matter how boring it really is.
  • Who’s excited about Pittsburgh Power football?  Anybody?  Nobody is?  If there was a Pittsburgh Sports Totem Pole used to show the pecking order of importance, the Power would rank dead last.  I not even sure they would belong on the pole.  This is one of those sports that just needs to dissapear. 
  • I want to get excited about the Pirates in 2012.  I love the Bucs.  Ever since I was a little kid and my dad took me to my first game in 1977, I have always been a fan, despite the game taking a turn for the worse in 1994 when baseball went on strike and allowed the Union to become so powerful that it completely changed the game for the worse.  I still don’t think this team can win 82 games.  But I do think they can have a four-month run in them like last spring when they were in 1st by the break.  What will be the tale of the tape?  Two things.  Starting Pitching and run support.  Getting a healthy combination of both will give this club a punchers chance to start.  Only time will tell if that occurs. 
  • And did anybody bother to ask Jeremy Lin if he was offended by the ‘Chink’ headline ESPN.com used to describe him in one of the nine billion Jeremy Lin stories they have run over the past three weeks?  The answer is ’yes,’ but his response was buried by every major news network.  Lin said he “didn’t think the offensive comments made about him on the sports network were intentional’ and that we ‘Have to learn to forgive and I don’t even think that was intentional. Or hopefully not.”  Leave it to the PC crowd to destroy the people in question, leading to one person being fired and a radio host being suspended for 30 days.  They made bad decisions but was a firing necessary? 
  • If the possibility of Temple joining the Big Least for 2012 doesn’t tell you all you need to know about how sad this conference is, you need your head drilled open, molten lava poured inside, while shaved pigmies dance around you, pelting your body with half eaten Primanti sandwiches.  What a joke. 

John Phillips is the author of this article and a former secret member of the Galactic Empire.  Since he no longer chases down Jedi across the Enrico Biscotti Company, he can now be heard anchoring sports updates and hosting the occasional talk-show on 93.7 The Fan. Follow JP on Twitter at www.twitter.com/937Phillips

Filed under: Blogs, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Ben Roethlisberger, Bob Nutting, Frank Coonelly, Gabe Pritz, George Novak, Jeremy Lin, Kevin Colbert, Mike Wallace, Omar Kahn, Paul Chryst, Ryan Braun, Shakim Alonzo, The Phillips File, Tiger Woods

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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Roethlisberger Reworks His Deal to Get Steelers Even with Salary Cap

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The Steelers did more wheeling and dealing today, and with the announcement that QB Ben Roethlisberger has re-done his deal, the team is at even with the NFL salary cap.

The two-time Super Bowl winning QB reworked his deal and cleared about $ 8 million in team cap room, according to his agent Ryan Tollner. He didn’t lose any money in the deal, but it sure does help the black and gold, who are trying to find ways to keep WR Mike Wallace.

Ben is the fifth Steelers player to restructure his deal. It was reported that the Steelers were $ 8 mil over the cap, which is about $ 120 mil per team. The reworked deal puts them right at the mark.

Roethlisberger had a salary of $ 11.6 million for 2012 before the restructuring. He is signed through the 2015 season on an eight-year deal he signed in 2008.

The four other vets to redo their deals to get the team help include linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons, cornerback Ike Taylor and tackle Willie Colon.

Source: Steelers Gab

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Roethlisberger restructures his contract, again

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If the nose of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out of joint following the firing of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and the hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Haley, it’s not so far out of joint that Ben refused to restructure his contract in order to create some cap room for the Steelers. According to the…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Threat of Concussion Issue Bringing Down the NFL Very Real Possibility

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The article linked here by economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier published on grantland.com brings to light the troubling issue of concussions in regards to the future of the NFL.

It should be required reading for any football fan with a genuine interest and concern for the future of the game. Consider yourself warned in advance that you won’t like what you read. But as they say, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

My 11 year old great nephew Jaylen is a great young athlete in general, and an outstanding young football player in particular. This past fall he led his Pop Warner team to the league championship with an avalanche of touchdowns immortalized on my niece’s Facebook page.

Eleven is a little early to predict success down the road in a sport like football, but there are indications of a bright athletic future for Jaylen.

With athletic parents and grandparents, he has a solid bloodline. The culture of support is robust. His step father is his current head coach as well as an assistant coach for the local high school team. Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Marcus Spears is a close family friend; so close, in fact, when his branch of the family resided in the Dallas area, Jaylen was a regular in the Cowboys training facility and would travel on the team bus. Yet, it is possible that Jaylen’s football career may not last nearly as long as its promise.

If I had a vote on Jaylen’s athletic future (and I don’t) I would vote “no” to football, maybe high school, but certainly no further. And I really like football. The issue has to do with risk vs. reward.

It is becoming abundantly clear many of the risks (permanent and life threatening injuries can occur even at young ages) involved with playing the game are outstripping the potential rewards. The gap between risk and reward is even greater for Jaylen, a straight ‘A’ student from a middle class home who has other athletic options (he may be an even better basketball player and shows exceptional promise in every sport he tries).

I was a Pop Warner coach 20 years ago, so upon viewing one of Jaylen’s games this past fall, I saw subtle yet striking differences. We live in Fairfax County, Va., one of the most affluent county in the nation.

The participating families were more working class and generally browner than what would be considered the norm for this area. This echoes the trend predicted by Cowen and Grier in their article.

In that time, football was something of a niche sport in our area. Western Pa. was over-represented on our Reston Youth League coaching staff. The commissioner hailed from Midland High School and was a friend and school mate of the late basketball star Norm Van Lier. Many of our coaches came from Farrell, Aliquippa and other Pittsburgh area locales. We competed with the likes of youth soccer and fall baseball for players, as well as overcoming the higher registration fees because of equipment costs.

Nonetheless, our teams at the time more faithfully reflected the population. It’s not so much the case today.

Our area is a pretty good sports barometer. Opportunities and participation over a broad range of options is high, and we have had more of our share of successes. When my daughter and nieces attended South Lakes High their schoolmates and sporting contemporaries included the likes of NBA star Grant Hill and Olympic track star Alan Webb. Their situation was more common than unique as other areas schools produced Mia Hamm (soccer), Kara Larson (basketball), Evan Royster (football), Olympic caliber swimmers and plenty of high caliber athletes in less celebrated sports. So this change in the football participation pattern really got my attention.

It would be tempting, comforting really, to just dismiss this entire concussion business as just an off season tempest likely to blow over eventually with no significant long term impact on the game. It would be easy to believe, especially if you are under the age of 40, the stature and popularity of professional football is pretty much inviolate. But an examination of the longer historical arch of American sports suggests a different story and a much greater sense of vulnerability we ignore at our peril.

In the early to mid- 20th Century the top of the sporting food chain was occupied by baseball, boxing and horse racing. An interesting fact often overlooked by Steeler Nation today is that while the football team struggled competitively and financially in the early days, the Rooney Clan was quite successful with their operation of race tracks. Today, except for the minor blip in national attention associated with the Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes) horse racing has pretty much disappeared. Most who have any memory of sports from the 1980s and earlier have witnessed the decline of boxing from a sport whose championship bouts galvanized the attention of the world to a descent into irrelevance. That descent began to escalate in the early 60s when a fighter named Emile Griffith literally beat an opponent to death on national television. The decline of baseball was less steep but it was clearly supplanted at the top by pro football by the beginning of what we now know as the Super Bowl era. Football’s dominance has remained relatively unchallenged for the better part of 50 years.

Football has always been a difficult, potentially devastating sport to those who have played it. In many respects a far more dangerous sport played in earlier years than now.

So why should this particular issue prove to be so disruptive of the sport?

Part of the answer is contextual. The roots of professional football are in the region and culture of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio (the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t located in Canton for nothing). Even though the game was more dangerous in those early days, it paled in comparison with what many players and spectators faced in their day jobs working in the mines, mills and factories of the area. Over the intervening years, rule changes, improved technology and advanced medical techniques have seemingly offset many of its debilitating effects. When I played the game, a knee injury, if not a career ending event, usually signaled the onset of permanent decline for a player. One of the best examples of that was when the brilliant career of Gales Sayers was cut short by a knee injury.

Today the expectation for a player suffering a torn ACL, like Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, is he will fully recover within a year. However, medical science has no answer for head or spinal injuries (think Peyton Manning). Further, the research indicates that not only concussions, (which didn’t rise to level of being much of an injury of serious concern in the old days) can be much more devastating than previously imagined, but the cumulative effect of blows that fall far below the level of concussions can have the same effect.

Put another way you don’t have to have had your bell rung to be in danger of having a higher likelihood of suffering from memory loss, dementia, even ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) as a result of playing football. As Cowen and Grier have pointed out, and most of us can logically imagine, the lawyers are lining up. All that is necessary is for a couple of successful lawsuits to set a precedent that will send insurance companies and sponsors into full scale flight.

(Editor’s Note: In the time this article was being edited, the family of former Bears DB Dave Duerson, a man who committed suicide, announced a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL)

This puts the whole James Harrison/Roger Goodell war in an entirely different light as well. I can’t imagine a scenario where the NFL didn’t know this issue was coming down the pike. The emphasis on player safety, hastily, even sloppily conceived and executed was designed to,hopefully, inoculate the league if just a little bit from the impact of the litigation that they are now facing. Harrison apparently didn’t get the memo, and in any case has proven to be a very useful villain in relation to the more ‘reasonable’ approach of league management. Of course, Harrison might intuitively understand what Cowen and Grier also pointed out; namely that the usual solutions probably will not do. Rule changes and improved technology (better helmets for example) probably will be an insufficient deterrent to the problems outlined. And there is nothing immediately on the horizon in the form of a medical science solution that will save the day either.

A couple of years ago I conducted an interview with former Steeler Randy Grossman for the MSP Steeler Annual. During the course of the discussion Grossman continually used terms referring to the game that more appropriately reflected how we would describe engaging in hard, unskilled labor rather than that of a sport. We eventually got around to talking about Myron Rolle (now with the Steelers) and shared a good laugh as we mused over the fact that he could be characterized in the football culture as being disloyal for choosing to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship. It fit Grossman’s view that the game wanted their players dumb. We also touched a bit on the general sports landscape. He mentioned, and I agreed, how unlikely it would be to find a boxing gym located in the Fox Chapel community in which he resided. No snobbery involved, just the practical realization that most people would avoid the inherent risks involved in boxing if they had reasonable alternatives which most affluent and middle class folk have.

In the not so distant future will we come to view football like boxing, and how will that effect our engagement with the game?

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Roethlisberger restructures his contract, again

If the nose of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out of joint following the firing of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and the hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Haley, it’s not so far out of joint that Ben refused to restructure his contract in order to create some cap room for the Steelers. According to the…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Says Jonathan Dwyer Has To Keep His Weight In Check

I have posted quite a bit from the interview that Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert gave SiriusXM Radio after he met the media at the NFL combine on Thursday, but wanted to pass along his thoughts about running back Jonathan Dwyer.

Dwyer was placed on injured reserve in the early part of December with a broken foot and rushed for 123 yards on just 16 carries last season. Those stats were helped tremendously by a 76 yard run against the Tennessee Titans on his very first carry of the season.

Host Adam Schein asked Colbert just how good Dwyer can be going forward, as he thought Read more […]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Arms wide open: Steelers want to keep Wallace in the fold

With an NFL-best 27 catches of 40 yards or longer in three seasons with the Steelers, Mike Wallace has shown that he can run away from just about every defensive back in the league.

Source: post-gazette.com – Steelers/NFL

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