PDA

View Full Version : Will There Ever Be Any Appreciation For Neil O'Donnell?



Djfan
06-16-2011, 11:23 PM
http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/6/15/2225163/pittsburgh-steelers-history-sb-xxx-cowboys-bubby-brister-neil-odonnell

HEY!! www.behindthesteelcurtain.com (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com) is OK with us posting from their site. Good idea!!


I've recently posted some stories about the Steelers playoff teams of the 90's under Bill Cowher and how awesome I thought those years were.

The Steelers had a great run in that decade, making the playoffs six-straight seasons. The starting quarterback in four of those six seasons ('92-'95) was Neil O'Donnell. The Steelers were 43-21 in those four years with him at the helm, advanced to the AFC Championship Game following the '94 and '95 seasons, and appeared in their first Super Bowl since 1979 when they made it to Super Bowl XXX in 1995.

Star-divide
The Steelers didn't win the championship as they fell short after O'Donnell threw not one, but two very horrible interceptions to Larry Brown in the second half when Pittsburgh had a chance to take the lead.

O'Donnell signed with the Jets following the Super Bowl, played there for a few years, bounced around a bit, and then finally retired in 2003 after a few years with the Tennessee Titans.

O'Donnell played 14 seasons in the NFL, threw for 21,690 yards, 120 touchdown passes, and only 68 interceptions. In fact, O'Donnell retired with the best interceptions to attempts ratio in the history of the league (2.11 for every 100 attempts). I'm not a stats-guy and can certainly understand that the true measure of any quarterback is winning championships, but that's a pretty decent career right there. And the prime of it was played right here in Pittsburgh.

Despite the lackluster performance of O'Donnell in that Super Bowl, he still had a pretty impressive run as starting quarterback for the Steelers. You would think his time here would be celebrated just a little bit. However, just mention Neil O'Donnell's name to most Steelers fans and you will probably get an overwhelmingly negative reaction.

The main reason, of course, is because he came up short in the Super Bowl and then left as a free agent immediately after that. But O'Donnell wasn't a well-liked figure here in Pittsburgh even before those two interceptions. I was watching a replay of Super Bowl XXX recently (yes, I'm a glutton for punishment) and one of the NBC guys mentioned that O'Donnell wasn't the most popular player among Steeler fans.

He was right. However, it wasn't that way, initially. I remember watching a Steelers program shortly before the start of the 1992 season. It was a pep-rally show similar to what the Jerome Bettis/Hines Ward show would eventually become. O'Donnell was one of the Steelers introduced and the crowd really seemed to love him.

The Steelers had an awesome year in 1992 under new Head Coach Bill Cowher and made the playoffs with an 11-5 record. They came up short against the Bills in the playoffs, losing 24-3, and I believe this is where the fans' attitude towards O'Donnell changed forever.

Bubby Brister had filled in for O'Donnell at the end of the year while he was recovering from an injury and many people believed Bubby should have started the playoff game against Buffalo. I don't recall the exact details of the game, but the Steelers had several opportunities to jump on the Bills early and they could never take advantage of them.

Following the game, Brister made a comment that if he was the quarterback in those situations, he would have come through with more than 3-points. Brister left the Steelers following that season but the comments he made after that playoff game planted a seed with Steelers fans. A seed that, over the years, has grown into people actually thinking that the Steelers not only would have won that playoff game against Buffalo that day many years ago, but they may have even won a championship if Brister was the starter in subsequent seasons instead of O'Donnell.

I loved the Bubster as much as anyone. I enjoyed his leadership and his gunslinger mentality. I will always have fond memories of the 1989 season with Bubby leading the way. But I also remember the inconsistency, as well. Brister had the better part of five-seasons to entrench himself as the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and he just couldn't do it. There was a reason why he was a journeymen quarterback the remainder of his career after he left Pittsburgh.

In 1993, the Steelers signed Mike Tomczak to fill Brister's spot as the back-up to O'Donnell. Early in the preseason, there was a game at Three Rivers in-which Tomczak made a hard-nosed run for a first-down and the fans gave him a standing ovation. I knew immediately what the ovation meant. It meant, "I like this Tomczak fella. I think Cowher should give him a shot to start instead of O'Donnell."

In 1994, the Steelers had a pretty awesome year. They finished with their best regular season record since the 70's. O'Donnell was having a pretty good year, but was injured for a couple of games towards the end of the season and Tomczak filled in. He led them to two important wins over the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Raiders. Tomczak didn't play lights-out or anything, but he was the back-up and did his part . O'Donnell was back under center for a game against the Eagles at Three Rivers stadium and he struggled most of the day before finally leading the team to a late victory. During the course of O'Donnell's struggles that day, the fans in the stands began to chant, "We Want Mike!" You know how fans love their back-up quarterbacks.

For whatever reason, like a lot of starting quarterbacks over the years, O'Donnell fell out of favor with Steelers fans and never recovered.

My intentions for writing this aren't to suggest that a love-affair should develop between Neil O'Donnell and Steeler Nation. After all, part of that falls on O'Donnell's shoulders. He left here 15 seasons ago and other than the occasional trip back to town as part of the visiting team, we really haven't heard much from him. I can't recall one interview or appearance in town since his playing days ended.

What I'm trying to point out is that Neil O'Donnell had a pretty nice career here and shouldn't be remembered just for those two infamous picks in the biggest game of his life. People also point to the 1994 AFC Championship Game and O'Donnell's inability to finish off the drive at the end. But what about the following year when he actually did finish off the drive in the AFC Championship Game? Remember his clutch 38 yard pass to Ernie Mills down to the one-yard line with less than two-minutes left and the Steelers trailing by 3 points? One of the most important postseason passes in the history of the franchise and there is very little mention of it. No, O'Donnell didn't get the job done in Super Bowl XXX, but he was a major factor in them getting there.

It has also been suggested by some very short-sighted people that O'Donnell was paid off and threw Super Bowl XXX. Yes, those two interceptions to Larry Brown were very bad and could make you wonder if it wasn't for a play that he made in the first quarter. The Steelers were getting dominated physically by the Cowboys at the start of the game. The defense hadn't been able to stop the Cowboys offense the first two drives and Pittsbrugh trailed 10-0. The Steelers started to move the ball late in the first quarter and were deep in Dallas territory. They went into their no-huddle offense with O'Donnell in the shotgun. Pittsburgh appeared to have some momentum, but then on first down, Dermontti Dawson snapped the ball way over O'Donnell's head and Neil did everything in his power to fall on the football with Dallas defenders in hot pursuit. Now, if O'Donnell was really trying to throw the game, wouldn't that have been a convenient time to fail to fall on the fumble and allow the Cowboys to recover it and take it in for a touchdown? You can say a lot of things about Neil O'Donnell's career, but you can't say he was on Jerry Jone's payroll for Super Bowl XXX. No, not after that play.

O'Donnell was far from an elite quarterback and there may never be a "Welcome Back, Neil" ceremony similar to Terry Bradshaw's big night at Heinz Field in 2002. No, O'Donnell was never able to bring the City a championsnhip, but there were a lot of quarterbacks to come through Pittsburgh that didn't win, either. Guys like Jim Finks, Ted Marchibroda, and Bobby Layne are mostly remembered fondly by long-time Steelers fans. Heck, even Terry Hanratty and Tommy Maddox had their moments as very popular Steelers quarterbacks.

But in the long and glorious history of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, only three quarterbacks have ever led the team to a championship game. Neil O'Donnell was one of them, and you may never love the man, but his time with the Steelers should be appreciated a little more.

hawaiiansteel
06-17-2011, 01:23 AM
I can't blame Neil for taking that ridiculous five years, $25 million offer he received from the NY Jets which included a $7 million signing bonus. The Jets' deal was for $1.25 million more per year than O'Donnell was being offered to stay with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

O'Donnell will always be remembered for those two ints he threw to Larry Brown in our Super Bowl loss to the Cowgirls, but the Steelers have had worse QBs than Neil O'Donnell.

Shawn
06-17-2011, 03:35 AM
I actually think Neil was a good QB. He was certainly the best QB (besides Ben) I have seen in Pittsburgh since being a fan in 1981. With that said, those INTs looked so suspect that I wondered...many will always wonder and that will probably stick with him in the minds of many Steeler fans.

Notleadpoisoned
06-17-2011, 05:58 AM
"O'Donnell played 14 seasons in the NFL, threw for 21,690 yards, 120 touchdown passes, and only 68 interceptions. In fact, O'Donnell retired with the best interceptions to attempts ratio in the history of the league (2.11 for every 100 attempts)."

Those are impressive stats in the bigger picture however when a guy only throws 7 picks for the entire 1995 season then goes on and chokes by throwing 3 picks in the Super Bowl, well, his reputation as being a solid NFL QB has to come into question.

Oviedo
06-17-2011, 08:33 AM
I appreciate he left town :wink:

Flasteel
06-17-2011, 09:36 AM
I can't blame Neil for taking that ridiculous five years, $25 million offer he received from the NY Jets which included a $7 million signing bonus. The Jets' deal was for $1.25 million more per year than O'Donnell was being offered to stay with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

O'Donnell will always be remembered for those two ints he threw to Larry Brown in our Super Bowl loss to the Cowgirls, but the Steelers have had worse QBs than Neil O'Donnell.

That's precisely why I'm no fan of Neil O'Donnell. The SB picks were horrendous, and while there was obvious miscommunication with the receivers, he had to bear some of that on his shoulders. The only path to redemtion would be to lace 'em up the next year and try to get the team back to the Super Bowl. Instead, he took the money and left. Yeah, it was a lot of cash, and yeah, he was able to go home to New Jersey. So what.

He was getting rich as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers already...it wasn't like he would have suffered financially if he had stayed here. He turned his back on his teammates, the organization, and the fans for his "greener" pastures and got what he deserved for it. It's difficult to fathom how you would turn your back on an opportunity to erase - or at least offset - the most humbling moment of your professional career.

I don't know what the relationship was between himself, his teammates, the coaches, the Rooney's, or the fans in general. If I were in his shoes however, nothing would have stopped me from that shot at redemption.

RuthlessBurgher
06-17-2011, 10:12 AM
Let's turn this into an exercise...name your top 5 Steeler QB's after Bradshaw and before Ben.

I'll start:

1. Neil O'Donnell
2. Kordell Stewart
3. Tommy Maddox
4. Bubby Brister
5. Mark Malone (yeah, he sucked, but his victory over San Fran in 1984...their only loss that season...gives him the nod over Mike Tomczak here, I suppose).

Jigawatts
06-17-2011, 11:16 AM
1. Neil O'Donnell
2. Kordell Stewart
3. Tommy Maddox
4. Antwaan Randle El
5. Bubby Brister

flippy
06-17-2011, 11:37 AM
Tommy Maddox was the best between Bradshaw and Ben by a long shot.

I still believe if he didn't suffer the vicious neck/head injury, he would have brought us home Lombardi #5. It's a shame that people remember Maddox post injury instead of pre-injure. The guy had ice in his veins, made decisions quicker than any QB I've ever seen, and was a natural leader.

After the injury, he fell apart completely. His playoff comeback vs Cleveland is my favorite non SuperBowl victory.

Kordell with Chan Gailey was better than Neil too. But we only remember Kordell based on how badly Cowher f'd up his psyche and confidence. Cowher + some of the worst offensive coordinators in our history totally screwed up a guy that could have gotten us a SuperBowl had we managed to keep Chan for him.

Neil who I'd have 3rd as one of the 3 QBs that should have won us a SuperBowl got treated unfairly after the 2 ints in the SuperBowl. Neil was as accurate a thrower as I've ever seen if he could stand still in the pocket. Those INTs were not his fault. It was all about the wrong routes being run 2 times.

No other QB between Ben and Bradshaw was capable of getting us a Lombardi imho. So I don't think I can come up with a 4 and 5.

Ben210
06-17-2011, 01:43 PM
Neil's flippant attitude following the SB sealed my opinion of him and his fate in the following rankings.

1. Kordell
2. Brister
3. Maddox
4. Tomczak
5. Malone
6. Batch
7. Dixon
8. Stoudt
9. Graham
10. Jim Miller :)

Notleadpoisoned
06-17-2011, 07:21 PM
Let's turn this into an exercise...name your top 5 Steeler QB's after Bradshaw and before Ben.

I'll start:

1. Neil O'Donnell
2. Kordell Stewart
3. Tommy Maddox
4. Bubby Brister
5. Mark Malone (yeah, he sucked, but his victory over San Fran in 1984...their only loss that season...gives him the nod over Mike Tomczak here, I suppose).
"Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them."

NJ-STEELER
06-18-2011, 07:09 PM
i didnt like neil cause he used to bail when he saw pressure coming at him...and thats why the 2 INBTs in the SB happened. he always tried to get in position to protect himself for the hit rather then wait till the last moment.

contrast that with bobby humpries taking a shot to the chops from brown.. in order to get the long ball to tony martin to beat us.

fordfixer
06-19-2011, 02:01 AM
Will There Ever Be Any Appreciation For Neil O'Donnell?


I'm sure Larry Brown (and the cowboys) have a lot of Appreciation For Neil O'Donnell

Shoe
06-19-2011, 07:24 PM
Tommy Maddox was the best between Bradshaw and Ben by a long shot.

I still believe if he didn't suffer the vicious neck/head injury, he would have brought us home Lombardi #5. It's a shame that people remember Maddox post injury instead of pre-injure. The guy had ice in his veins, made decisions quicker than any QB I've ever seen, and was a natural leader.

After the injury, he fell apart completely. His playoff comeback vs Cleveland is my favorite non SuperBowl victory.

What part of his performances are you attributing to his injuries? I recall a game when the other team had 47 total yards--and we lost--with Maddox at the helm. I also recall a game he played vs. the Jaguars that rivaled that one (Houston) in terms of it's ignominy. And before you say it: It's NOT a case of "everyone has a bad game". These were beyond bad games, that certainly everyone has. These were games that prohibited your team from winning. These were games where his allegiance could've easily been questioned.

At his best (which was a short window, looking back), he was pretty darn good. He did make quick decisions and was accurate when he had the time. But part of that, I believe, was his fear of getting hit... not not-wanting to get hit--fear.

So no matter the positive games he gave, I don't think I can elevate him above Brister, above Kordell, maybe not even above Malone? (OK, not that bad! THOUGH--Malone didn't have a young Plaxico & Hines to throw to).

pittpete
06-19-2011, 07:52 PM
Ahh I remember the days of old "Happy Feet" O'Donnell.
Solid and serviceable, but w/o that defense, we probably dont go anywhere with Neil at the helm.

ikestops85
06-20-2011, 12:30 PM
Ahh I remember the days of old "Happy Feet" O'Donnell.
Solid and serviceable, but w/o that defense, we probably dont go anywhere with Neil at the helm.

The "Happy Feet" were probably Neil's biggest problem. I thought he was the best QB we have had between Terry and Ben. Well, that's if you don't count the guy we got from Miami, David Woodley. Yes, we passed on Marino so we could trade for Woodley. :HeadBanger :HeadBanger

TallyStiller
06-22-2011, 10:45 AM
What I've read surrounding the 4th quarter Super Bowl pick is that both WR and QB are required to make a read at the line in the 4 WR set we were using. O'Donnell read blitz and threw the hot route. Andre Hastings went deep looking for the home run and was wide open for a 24 - 20 lead. Bam Morris picked up the blitz (must've thought the crashing LB had a dime bag on him) leaving Neil time to throw, but he threw the short route anyways, right into Larry Brown's chest.

Heart breaking lost opportunity, but really speaks to the larger issue of why Pittsburgh fans never embraced O'Donnell. Aside from the obvious lack of a ring, his instincts in this one moment of truth speak to a certain sense of caution with which he played the game. Coaches love this, and they try to teach it. A punt is a better play than a pick. Live to fight another day.

Problem is, fans don't. Fans (especially in a town like Pittsburgh) love it when the QB is an aggressive, put my head down and truck a safety type of player. Bradshaw did that. Ben does it. They like risk takers, guys who try to force a ball into a spot to convert that 3rd and long, which Ben excels at. That's also part of the fascination with Brett Favre and his one Super Bowl ring. At the end of the day, Favre ended up the all time leader in picks as well as TD's, and cost his teams time and time again by being over aggressive, but was beloved. O'Donnell's great flaw as a player was being under agrressive, and I don't feel there are any numbers, arguments, or discussions that can save him from that in the eyes of a large portion of the fan base.

sentinel33
06-22-2011, 11:49 AM
Sadly, despite all his other on the field accolades and victories, he will always be remembered for what he is-

The most infamous steeler of all.

Again, sadly.

I don't hate the guy anymore. Took a few years. But when I hear his name, I think of only one thing.

Sorry, Neil.

Doogie36
06-22-2011, 01:26 PM
i for one loved Odonnell! It was a shame how it turned out in that SUPERBOWL. Didnt he convert a 4th down in the Championship game? The cautious guy had to convert a 4th down play! Wasnt that the play he went deep down the sideline? Maybe i dont remember but cautious he wasnt that day! In fact the very thing i personally loved about ODONNELL was when he actually threw the ball i felt like it was going to be complete and back in that time frame we had many QB's who i didnt feel that way about like Kordell! The only other QB that gave me that feeling is BEN! Maddox scared the crap out of me everytime he were to chuck the ball, Kordell gave me heart attacks as well.

I honestly believe Neil and Ben are 2 of our best QB's to have played in a Steeler Uniform for the simple fact they both took the sack instead of throwing the pick. As one of you said PUNTING is better than an INT!! Well so is a sack!!!!!!!! We praise Ben for his aggressive play but we can equally praise him for his conservative play as well while taking those sacks instead of forcing the ball! NEIL did this very thing and he led us to a few big games with that style of play!!!!!!!!!

I for one appreciate Odonnell and we all should! 1992 we werent suppose to win that division. Odonnell, Foster, and Cowher...........WHO ARE THESE F#($*#( GUYS???? like in the movie Major League..............Week 1 they upset the OILERS and never let up!! Foster was let go and Bam Morris took over!!!!!!!! Neil stayed the course and threw the ball to Hastings, Thigpen, Edwards, and Green. I loved that team!!!!!

Plus who didnt love the TURTLE NECKS neil use to wear??? I use to wear one under my uniform back then tooo just to be cool like Neil. LOL

feltdizz
06-22-2011, 03:59 PM
No...

and the San Diego playoff loss and the SB are the reason's why.

Neil was decent but on the biggest stage he made the biggest gaffe's of all then ran out of town. To this day I think he was paid off because the picks were that bad...

One other thing about Neil I didn't like was the high throws over the middle. Every DB in the league was telling our WR's he was going to get them killed and I think it played a part in our those losses.

I hate him.

hawaiiansteel
06-24-2011, 07:48 PM
Brister joins Team USA Under-15 coaching staff

By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com


Former Steelers Merril Hoge and Bubby Brister will be teaming up on the football field again, but this time they will be coaching and not playing.

Hoge was previously named the head coach of the 2011 U.S. Under-15 National Team and added Brister to his staff as the quarterbacks coach.

Hoge and Brister will help lead Team USA during the first USA Football Under-15 International Development Week in Canton, Ohio from July 16-24. Joining Team USA will be teams from Canada and Sweden.

The two played together for the Steelers for six seasons and formed a friendship that made it a no-brainer when Hoge asked Brister to be one of the coaches.

“Merril asked me to come out and help and I accepted right away,” said Brister, who has previously worked football camps training young quarterbacks. “I enjoy working with young players, teaching proper fundamentals – it’s inspiring and exciting to help a player develop.”

During his NFL career Brister threw for 14,445 yards and 81 touchdowns, bringing a wealth of knowledge and a zest for the game to Team USA.

“Our players, as well as those from Canada and Sweden, will enjoy learning from Bubby – he’s an extraordinary teacher, and I’m proud to have him on our staff,” said Hoge.

“We’re excited to help develop these young men as players and people during our week together in Canton. This will be a tremendous week to celebrate, learn and enjoy the world’s greatest sport and its team-first values.”

Those taking part in the Development Week, which includes 26 players from 15 states on Team USA and another 30 on the U.S. Development Team, were nominated based on 2010 USA Football Player Academy skill evaluations.

The Development Week will focus on football as well as other important topics, as each team will play two games and have seven-on-seven exhibitions, joint practices and educational seminars for the players and parents.

About USA Football

USA Football, the sport's national governing body in the United States, hosts more than 80 football training events annually offering education for coaches and game officials, skill development for players and resources for youth football league commissioners.

The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and its 32 teams. USA Football manages U.S. national teams within the sport for international competition and awards $1 million annually in equipment grants to youth and high school football programs based on merit and need. Endowed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association in 2002 through the NFL Youth Football Fund, USA Football is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 613cc850d4 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Brister-joins-Team-USA-Under-15-coaching-staff/c06e5610-59f9-4725-bc0f-e9613cc850d4)

RuthlessBurgher
06-24-2011, 11:50 PM
Gotta be tough to beat a team of young Swedes in football. :wink:

anger 82&95
06-25-2011, 07:29 AM
Gotta be tough to beat a team of young Swedes in football. :wink:
The poor sods probably thought they were signing up to coach the Swedish bikini team.