Daily Archives: May 17, 2012

Saints LB Jonathan Vilma Sues NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for Defamation

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It seems NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not, in fact, the judge and jury over NFL players.

An actual judge will be – at least, in the case of Saints suspended LB Jonathan Vilma, who sued Goodell – not the NFL, mind you, just Goodell – for defamation.

Vilma filed suit in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, for, “speaking publicly about certain Saints executives, coaches and players, in relation to purported efforts designed to injure opposing players, made public statements concerning Vilma which were false, defamatory and injurious to Vilma’s professional and personal reputation.”

The suit is not seeking a higher ruling on the suspension, but rather, it claims damage was done to Vilma’s reputation due to statements issued by Goodell without furnishing evidence.

There’s no CBA to protect the Commissioner. There’s no hiding behind it, there’s no lack of disclosure. The Commissioner will be tried in court over the validity of claims and statements alleging Vilma paid into a fund rewarding players for injuring their opponents.

And rest assured, Goodell absolutely will fight this. His credibility, as well as the controversial aspect of the CBA giving Goodell the authority to dole out suspensions as well as rule on the appeal, will come into question.

In the past, Goodell has given out suspensions without being made to disclose evidence, such was the case in the SpyGate scandal involving the New England Patriots in 2007.

Assuming Goodell didn’t destroy evidence this time, he will be questioned, in open court, about what evidence he had to issue a year-long suspension to Vilma, as well as 2009 Saints teammates Scott Fujita (three games), Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Will Smith (four games).

It very well could be true that Goodell had evidence to suspend the four players, but the issue has been the fact he’s gone public with the accusations, quotes and alleged testimony, but he never produced documented proof of the players’ involvement.

If this suit is thrown out, or the judge ruled against Vilma, he will have accomplished at least a semblance of due process.

And great precedent for future players judged guilty without proof to at least make the league

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Willie Colon moving to left guard

Willie Colon restructured his deal to remain with the Steelers, but that’s not the only move he’s making this offseason. Colon said Wednesday that he is now playing left guard for Pittsburgh. He looked like the presumptive favorite to start at right tackle, but Colon’s size has long made him a candidate to kick inside.…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

Belichick still rules the roost, from a money standpoint

Yeah, it’s been eight years and counting since he won a Super Bowl.  But the man who managed to hold a championship team together long enough to win three titles in four years in part by convincing players to take less is getting more than any other coach in any other sport. According to Forbes,…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

Bouchette: Adams Will Start Season at Left Tackle

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Ed Bouchette confirmed today that the Steelers are planning on newly drafted Mike Adams being the Steelers left tackle as they enter the 2012 season.

Rookie Mike Adams will go to left tackle and Marcus Gilbert will stay at right tackle, a source close to the situation told me today.

At least that’s the plan going into training camp. That obviously could change if Adams cannot handle the job but the coaching staff believes he can and quickly made that decision right after they drafted him.

It’s why they put the phone call into Willie Colon so quickly to inform him of his move to left guard.

So, as long as things work out, the Steelers offensive line will look like this:

LT Mike Adams, LG Willie Colon, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David DeCastro, RT Marcus Gilbert.
Possible backups: T Jonathan Scott, G/T Trai Essex, G/C Doug Legursky, G Ramon Foster.

Source: Steelers Gab

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The Pittsburgh Way: How Do You Find People That Fit The Culture?

In the comments thread of my article on ‘The Downside of Being a Football Hero‘ and during an exchange with BTSC regular 5020, I wrote the following (typos corrected):

The idea that so many of us subscribe to is that with enough money, perhaps a better relationship, a better job that everything would be great. On the other hand, some of the most content individuals I have ever met didn’t have much of anything. One of the things I think is really great about the so called blue collar mentality is that it detaches itself from and rejects the notion that the good life is a function of position and how much you make, but rather how you approach your life and responsibilities (values); a wise position because despite the propaganda suggesting otherwise many of us rarely completely transcend our circumstances. This may be the essence of the culture of Pittsburgh.

On reflection, two things resonated with me. First, as pointed out in the article, class is defined by more than financial status, but also by a system of values. That is why, I suppose, the definition is socioeconomic class. Second, while most of us in some sense recognized those values in a ‘know it when I see it fashion’, sometimes there are things that are so obvious and pervasive that in a paradoxical sense we are unable to grasp them in a meaningful way.

When I was interviewing long time Steelers scout and talent evaluator Bill Nunn he mentioned something to me that I already knew, but the context of his statement jarred me into a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the facts. He pointed out that Dan Rooney, one of the most successful men in America, if not the world, a billionaire (that’s spelled with a ‘B’), the United States Ambassador to Ireland, lives in the same home on Pittsburgh’s North Side in which he grew up. Who else does that? Donald Trump? Dan Snyder? Jerry Jones? Mitt Romney? And what gave this greater impact was the fact that Nunn was saying this while we sat on the back porch of his home, which was also the home that he grew up in located in the Hill District (Nunn having enjoyed a successful career in the NFL spanning more than forty years and prior to that having served as Editor of the most prominent black newspaper in the United States).

In the article I posed a number of questions concerning what purchasing choices might be made if in possession of relatively large sum of money:

Do you buy a nice little economical hybrid or like ex-Steeler Leon Searcy do you use a limousine service? Do you purchase a condo, or a McMansion or something even more palatial?

I think we know how the Rooney family would probably answer that question. Some may be tempted to think that this type of thinking and behavior is peculiar to the Rooneys, but they are largely honored and respected by Pittsburghers because they so faithfully adhere to the values of the local culture. We label those values “blue collar”, but they transcend both the type of work one happens to engage in as well as class affiliation.

Culture can be most difficult to define by those residing within it because, like water to a fish, it is so all encompassing that it becomes invisible, virtually impossible to discern. As such, you can be forgiven if you believe that the relationship between the Pittsburgh Steelers and what has come to be known as Steeler Nation is simply about football.

We call it the Steeler Way, but what that organization unswervingly represents is the Pittsburgh Way. Because one of the cornerstones of the underlying value system is a sincere, understated humility faithful practitioners like the Rooneys refrain from either self-promotion or justification of themselves or their governing set of values. Misunderstandings and underestimation is unavoidable since most of the rest of the nation, including (especially) the sports media operates under a different covenant.

Nor are the misunderstandings confined to outsiders. Many within Steeler Nation continually demonstrate a lack of comprehension of the culture, the values that are the foundation of the franchise’s success. I certainly get how easy it is to be seduced by the priorities of the dominant culture. Nonetheless, it has to be acknowledged how bizarre it is that some of us envy those whose greatest aspiration is to someday be as successful as the Steelers. And nobody has been as successful as the Steelers. Yet we want to throw money at ‘big name’ free agents because that’s what everyone else does. We would jettison the development strategy that is dependent upon patience and loyalty for instant gratification because that’s what everyone else does, and it is endorsed by the sages at ESPN. We ignore the example of the wise to worship at the feet of the ignorant.

I live in an area (Metropolitan Washington DC) that is largely governed by a different, competing value system; let’s call it white collar values. Under this system your value is determined by the position you hold, your credentials and the amount of money you make.

Like many people I have been highly critical of Washington Redskin owner Daniel Snyder based upon the assumption that he has been stuck on stupid in relation to his decision making for his team. Looking at it from a different perspective Mr. Snyder can be viewed as being a prisoner of a dysfunctional value system.

How do I make the case that the white collar values are dysfunctional? Remember that professional football is rooted in the culture of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, the same area that spawned the Pittsburgh (and Steelers) Way. In the culture of football self-sacrifice and interdependence are much more than just admirable warm and fuzzy qualities; they are essential elements to success. When understood in this context money and talent, though important, can be of limited value if the other elements of cooperation aren’t present. Self-promotion (and the individualism that fuels it) is at odds with and has a corrosive effect on the team consciousness (and the attendant leveling effects on individuals) that is necessary for winning. And when that attitude begins at the top; when your owner lives in a modest home and stands in line in the cafeteria at lunch time just like everyone else is it any wonder why the Steelers have been so successful.

Dysfunctional values compel you toward questionable decision making. Snyder could have never hired someone like Mike Tomlin (or Chuck Noll or Bill Cowherd) based upon his governing values, at least not at the front end because there wasn’t that much ‘sizzle’ in Tomlin’s resume. And again, there were folks that had this issue in Steeler Nation as well. Tomlin was thought by some to be an ‘affirmative action’ hire, the Rooneys being taken prisoner by their own rule (at the time there were people who were disappointed that Noll was chosen over a more ‘name’ individual, Joe Paterno). Snyder ended up hiring the likes of Steve Spurrier and Mike Shanahan, guys with plenty of sizzle, but relatively little steak. Of course he would hire Tomlin now because he has a proven track record. But the key to success sometimes is the ability to recognize the potential before it manifests, something the Steelers organization demonstrates constantly.

The same value system likely would have encouraged Snyder to go in a different direction than Ben Roethlisberger if he had been in the market during the 2004 draft. Being true to his value system Snyder would have probably picked Eli Manning because of, literally, his name, and would have preferred either Manning or Philip Rivers because they were products of large conferences (SEC, ACC) as opposed to the mid major conference (MAC) associated with Ben. James Harrison, another MAC player, with less than standard measurables (too short for one thing) and something of a project would have been passed over as well. And isn’t it funny that players that they let go often do rather well; think Ryan Clark, or more recently, Carlos Rogers.

The cultural/values argument goes a long way in explaining why the Skins consistently invest in players that are, objectively speaking, either past their prime (Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith), over-hyped (Albert Haynesworth) or were a bad fit for the team’s schemes or personnel. Of course issues such as relationships don’t come much into play with the white collar mentality. I would also argue that the Skins are extreme in some respects, and therefore more dysfunctional, but are for the most part closer to the norm for the league relative to Pittsburgh.

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of us in Steeler Nation are either white collar types (psychologically not necessarily professionally) or have been seduced to the point where we adopt the mindset when discerning the actions of the Steelers and other teams in the league. Confusion and other misunderstandings can result, something I have noticed playing out over the recent discussions over ‘character issues’ involving our recent draft choices (Mike Adams, Sean Spence and Chris Rainey).

One of the questions being raised is whether the Steelers compromised their values by selecting these players. Were they so hard up for the infusion of talent that they turned their backs on their principles. Let’s get one thing straight. If you conceptualize the Pittsburgh Steelers as being a bunch of milk drinking boy scouts you are somewhat deluded. Here begins an admittedly incomplete history lesson.

Are you concerned about Mike Adams’ weed smoking? Eugene ‘Big Daddy’ Lipscomb was a heroin addict. Bobby Layne would close down nightclubs at dawn and then go quarterback the team a couple of hours later. Joe Greene really was mean, at least on the football field. He kicked opponents in the groin, he spit in their faces. By comparison James Harrison looks like a nun. Ernie Holmes had disturbing psychological issues. Steve Courson (and others) used, some would say abused, performance enhancing substances. More recently, Adams has nothing over Santonio Holmes as a weed smoker, and he went to court on domestic issues. And of course there were Ben’s troubles.

Clearly the point is that having a troubled past (or present) does not necessarily disqualify one from being a Pittsburgh Steeler. Environmental and developmental issues explain a lot of questionable decisions. The important thing is that once immersed in the Steeler Way, the Pittsburgh Way, can they exercise the self-sacrifice, specifically over their own vices for the good of the franchise and the community that supports them. Now in some cases the problems really are based upon the innate deficiencies of an individual’s character, they are incapable of acting in any other manner. But if the waywardness is influenced by other factors then it would be a violation of blue collar values to not provide an opportunity for redemption. The problem with Santonio Holmes, to use one example, was not the indiscretions of his life prior to coming to Pittsburgh; it was the inability to move beyond that even in light of the extraordinary life opportunity provided him by being a Super Bowl MVP.

Big Ben represents the other side of the coin. Have you noticed that there hasn’t been much talk lately about Ben’s ‘issues’. My theory is that in the collective mind of Steeler Nation Ben has been completely rehabilitated, and according to the theory I can tell you exactly when it happened and why.

The moment came at the beginning of the second half of the first Cleveland game this past season. I was on the open thread of BTSC when it was clear that Ben was going to play after folks had assumed that he was on his way to hospital after having his ankle crushed. The reaction on site, at Heinz Field and presumably elsewhere was electric, and people actually said at that moment that all was forgiven.

Ben’s actions were not merely heroic in the generic sense but also consistent with the Pittsburgh way. One of the fables that we were taught growing up was the story of John Henry. John Henry was a laborer who drove spikes to secure railroad tracks. One day a machine was brought in that, presumably could do the job faster and more efficiently. John Henry challenged the machine and was holding his own in the ensuing contest, but eventually the exertion killed him. This was a powerful metaphor for a people whose methods of making a living included the possibility of black lung disease, being asphyxiated by gas, buried alive or vaporized by an errant splash of molten metal. You soldiered on even though to do so might cost you your life.

In this context a high ankle sprain isn’t a deal killer, and it is a tremendous act of leadership. It is also consistent to an extent with Steelers lore. In his time it was said the game hadn’t started until Terry Bradshaw was bleeding and half dead. Some have said that Ben’s insistence on playing on that ankle may have cost the team the season. They may be right, but It may have also set a tone that will yield great returns in the future.

Being from the area, Adams has been exposed to the Pittsburgh Way. And maybe that is what inspired the courageous act of pleading his case to the Steelers brass. That action and the Steelers response both exemplify the Pittsburgh Way in action. There is certainly a risk involved, but it is a risk that is consistent with the value system. In fact, you could say that the value system would insist that these types of risks be undertaken if you truly strive for greatness.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Steelers Try Out Long Snapper Matt Katula

Aaron Wilson of Profootball.scout.com reports the Steelers tried out former Ravens and Patriots long snapper Matt Katula, according to a league source.

Katula, 29, played in five games last season for the Vikings, filling in when Cullen Loeffler broke a bone in his lower back.

A former Wisconsin player, Katula played with the Ravens from 2005 to 2009 and played eight games two years ago for the Patriots.

Source: Steelers Gab

Talkin’ More Offensive Line: Willie Colon’s Move to Left Guard Opens Up Tackle Competition


Wednesday’s announcement that OT Willie Colon is now LG Willie Colon creates competition for the Steelers‘ right tackle position. It could even influence the left tackle position.

What it ultimately does, though, is completely transform the Steelers offensive line, which is probably overdue at this point.

The Game of Musical Linemen Continues

The Steelers led the NFL in offensive line combinations last season (I saw there were 22 variations of five linemen, both starting and in-game replacements), and 2012 will add a 23rd different group.

The team informed Marcus Gilbert he’ll play left tackle this season, and told Colon he’ll play left guard. C Maurkice Pouncey will stay where he is, and rookie David DeCastro will play right guard. That leaves Jonathan Scott and rookie Mike Adams vying for right tackle.

Or does it?

It wouldn’t be a Steelers offensive line without some speculation. Granted, the Steelers made the determination on Gilbert before the draft or free agency, suggesting they were pretty much convinced that was the direction they want to go in. But with nearly a full year of experience on the right side, the argument could be made having a veteran next to him it would help transition DeCastro to the NFL.

In that case, why not put Scott there?

If I were a betting man, I’d say Scott will open training camp at right tackle. Bets are off after that. I don’t feel comfortable with making any bolder a prediction, but it seems too rosy to me to suggest the right tackle job is Adams’ to lose right now. It was obvious to anyone watching Pouncey was a better player than Justin Hartwig, but it was still the veteran’s job when the first preseason game rolled around.

I don’t see the sense in just giving a rookie a job, even if the veteran is not exactly a world-beater. Then again, I (like most of everyone else) already penciled DeCastro in at right guard.

What about Max Starks?

What about him? We’ve speculated often about RB Rashard Mendenhall not making it back in time for training camp and probably not for the beginning part of the season. NT Casey Hampton as well. Starks falls between the two of them in terms of weight and age, and has the same injury. Certainly, less likely things have happened, but the difference is Hampton and Mendenhall are currently under contract. The Steelers don’t have a ton of cap room, and cutting Scott doesn’t save them any. Bringing Starks in to back up both tackle positions seems unlikely, at least for the earlier part of the year.

If Scott shows he’s unable to handle a starting job, should he be thrust into one at some point, or has a poor training camp, then it’s a different story. For now, the better option is to let Starks rehab and let Scott and Adams duke it out on their own.

They’ll have Starks’ number handy though, just in case.

Have we forgotten Colon’s injury history?

If Colon has another set-back, it appears the job would be Doug Legursky’s to lose. He won over offensive line coach Sean Kugler last season, and had earned time when Chris Kemoeatu was both injured and a healthy scratch.

Obviously, we’re pulling for Colon, but we pulled for him last year, too. Injuries happen, and you don’t really want to see anyone get hurt (I don’t, at least, and judging from the comments yesterday, many won’t agree with me). But that’s the big X-factor here. All of this is for naught if something else happens to him.

Going into OTAs, though, the spotlight will be on Colon and his long-whispered move to the inside.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Steelers inform Colon he’s switching to left guard

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Thu, 17 May 2012 17:23:14

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Colon Confirms He’s Making the Switch from Tackle to Guard for 2012

If your still trying to figure out who is going to be on the Steelers O-line this season, Willie Colon gave some clue today.

The vet says that he will be making a switch from right tackle to the guard spot, freeing up a likely spot for second-round pick Mike Adams.

“I’ve made the transition to left guard. I like it. It’s just a matter of learning the verbiage,” Colon told Mike Prisuta of WDVE-FM in Pittsburgh.

First-round pick David DeCastro will be the other guard, and that puts the starting O-line as one with two rookies (Adams and DeCastro), Colon at the other guard, Maurkice Pouncey at center, and Marcus Gilbert probably as the left tackle.

“My only issue would have been ‘Don’t move me midway through camp,’ ” Colon said.

The Steelers have done their job – now we will see if Colon can do his in 2012.

Source: Steelers Gab

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Reading Between The Steelers Lines Post Willie Colon Move To Left Guard

The long awaited move, at least by me, of Willie Colon to left guard is now complete. While it is never good to speak in absolutes, I can almost guarantee you that the interior of the offensive line left to right will now be Colon, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro baring any injuries. I know Mike Tomlin will likely say that DeCastro hasn’t been given anything yet, but let’s be honest, DeCastro is NFL ready right now and is your week one starter at right guard, the position he played at Stanford. (Man it still feels good typing that out.)

With the interior of the line now set, there goes the Read more […]

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