Tag Archives: always

Goal line drill always a practice highlight

Coach Mike Tomlin continues to be pleased with the work the team is putting in at training camp and on Saturday stated that it was “Not good work today, great work,” as the team had another physica……

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Despite frustrating returns, Randle El always gave his best

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Former Steelers wide out and return man Antwaan Randle El will not be joining the Hall of Fame as he enters retirement. He will not be remembered for having huge games in terms of yardage and return yardage and frankly, when his name comes up, thoughts of his touchdown pass to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL is what you remember.
It’s hard to imagine a slot receiver and return man being as polarizing as ARE was in his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. At a time when most people disagree about the quarterback or the head coach or a star running back, Randle El was often a lightning rod for Steelers’ fans.
No one doubted his skills or ability which were somewhat limited due to his smallish stature and you could never deny his work ethic or heart. Often, the guy played much bigger than himself and made many great catches when his team needed them the most but he was never going to be a superstar.
With that said, no one frustrated the Black ‘n Gold faithful more on a punt…

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There are ALWAYS questions entering a new Steelers’ season.

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Fans of every sport go through it. It’s that period of time just before your favorite teams’ season is about to begin. There’s the feeling of potential success. Is this my team’s year? Will we finally be able to stay healthy? Can our superstars produce in the clutch?
These are few of the dozens of questions asked by fans of the other 31 NFL teams and certainly of our Pittsburgh Steelers as well.
Who will start at the other corner? Who will be the back up QBs? Will Dick LeBeau be more aggressive this year? How will Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger do together? Can Emmanuel Sanders stay healthy? When will Mike Wallace sign?
Yes there are more questions. Will Larry Foote get the job done? Will Lawrence Timmons have a better season? Is Troy Polamalu at the end of his career? Who will be the kicker? Who will be the punter?
Who will spell Isaac Redman? How will the rookies do?
Of course there are more important questions as well such as….. Just how bad will …

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To Steeler Nation, Gary Anderson Will Always Be “Mr. Automatic”


Former Steeler great Gary Anderson was a bit of a pioneer in the 80’s in that he was one of the first field goal kickers to take accuracy to a whole new level. As this article from 1991 points out, before the likes of Anderson came along, the art of field goal kicking wasn’t so precise. At the time of that article, Anderson was the 2nd most accurate kicker in NFL history at .775.

To give you an idea of what I mean by taking accuracy to a “whole new level,” Jan Stenerud, who kicked primarily in the 60’s and 70’s and is the only field goal kicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, finished his career at .668.

Anderson kicked in the NFL from 1982-2004, and he finished with a kicking percentage of just over 80%. As I said, Anderson was a bit of a pioneer, and just to show you how far kicking has come over the years, Anderson now ranks as the 31st most accurate field-goal kicker of all-time.

Anderson played for the Steelers from 1982-1994, and he was known by teammates and fans as “Mr. Automatic.” After the Super years of the 70’s, the 80’s were a bit of a rough stretch for the Steelers, and Anderson was one of the few consistencies for the organization. He made the Pro Bowl three times during his career with the Steelers (four overall) and was voted to the NFL’s All-Decade Teams for both the 80’s and 90’s.

Anderson will always be a beloved member of Steelers Nation, and he’s certainly one of my all-time favorites.

Sadly, however, in places like Minnesota and, perhaps, the rest of the country, accuracy and consistency may not be the first things that come to mind when Gary Anderson’s name is brought up.

After Anderson left Pittsburgh, he played for a few other teams and continued his accurate ways. One of the teams that he played for was the Minnesota Vikings from 1998-2002.

In ’98, Anderson was so good, he became the first placekicker in NFL history to make every single field goal and extra point for an entire regular season as he helped the Vikings post a 15-1 record.

The Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons and were leading, 27-20, when Anderson lined up to kick a 38-yard field goal with 2:12 left in the game. Unfortunately for Gary, instead of extending Minnesota’s lead to 10-points, he chose this time to show everyone that he was human, and he missed wide-left.

The Falcons would go on to tie the game in the final minute and eventually win it in overtime on a Morten Andersen 38-yard field goal, ironically enough.

To this day, Anderson still receives a pretty hefty chunk of the blame for losing that game, even though the Vikings still led by a touchdown and could have, you know, played defense instead of allowing Atlanta to march down the field.

Normally, a field goal kicker gets blamed for missing a kick with everything on the line–think Scott Norwood–and not for missing an insurance field goal with 2:12 to go.

I guess the perception of Vikings fans is that Anderson choked in the big moment.

Fortunately, we Steelers fans know better. Not only was Gary consistent during his time in Pittsburgh, he proved to be very clutch on more than one occasion. The most memorable occasion was that night in Houston on December 31st, 1989, when he connected on a 50-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the hated Oilers, 26-23, in a Wild Card playoff game.

Unlike the NFC Championship game, when the Vikings still had a touchdown lead and two-minutes to play, everything really was on the line at that moment when Anderson lined up from 50 yards away, and he came through.

To this day, that winning field goal ranks up there as one of the all-time great moments in Steelers history.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any Youtube videos floating around of Anderson’s game winner in Houston, but that moment will live on in the hearts of Steelers fans everywhere.

Vikings fans can call Anderson a choke artist if they want, but that name is probably displaced and should be attached to the defense that allowed the game-tying touchdown in the final moment and the game-winning field goal drive in overtime.

If you call Anderson that, he probably won’t answer. His real football name is “Mr. Automatic.” At least that’s what we call him in Pittsburgh.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Being a Professional Athlete (or Celebrity of Any Kind) Means that Your Character Flaws Will Always Be Worse Than Mine

Feb 25, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Mike Adams runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

When the Pittsburgh Steelers followed up on their 1st round selection of Stanford guard David DeCastro by selecting Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams in the 2nd round last Friday, a lot of fans and media members around Steeler Nation were quite concerned. The concern had nothing to do with the team using a 2nd straight draft pick to select an offensive lineman. No, the concern came from the fact that the Steelers selected a player with such a checkered past.

As most Steelers fans probably know by now, Adams made some questionable decisions while in college by accepting illegal benefits and was suspended for five games last season. He further cemented his reputation as a flawed figure by testing positive for marijuana at the NFL combine just two months before the 2012 NFL Draft.

Adams would surely have been a first round prospect if not for the character issues, so the talent was obviously there. But was it worth the risk for the Steelers, a team that has seen its image as a first-class organization get tarnished a bit in recent years by some of its players not necessarily representing themselves in the “Steeler Way,” to take such a player?

It’s hard to say. But there’s one thing I know for sure: I wouldn’t want to be a person in the public eye with any sort of mistake on his or her resume. People never forget when you’re a celebrity of any kind. And the mistake, even one from the distant past, can follow a person around forever.

Fortunately, when you’re an average Joe like me, your past mistakes are usually quickly forgotten.

When I was a kid, I was a slacker. I mean, I hated school, and I almost flunked out of middle school (or junior high for you people with a different name for it) because I missed almost 50 days in the 8th grade. I was really good at pretending to be sick.

I was a little kid, though, right? Why would anyone hold that against me?

Ok, fair enough. How about this? When I was in my late teens, my friends and I would hide in the bushes and throw snowballs at cars that were traveling pretty fast on a busy road. At the time, it sure seemed like a funny thing to do, but looking back on it, we could have caused a major accident.

When I was in my early 20’s, I smashed into someone’s wooden fence because, instead of paying attention to the road in front of me, I was acting like an idiot and singing along to one of my favorite songs. I wasn’t drinking, I wasn’t driving very fast, and I didn’t cause much damage, but the proper thing to do would have been to knock on the person’s door and tell them what I had done. Instead of that, I stepped on the gas and got the heck out of there.

Now, none of these things that I just described about my youth were really that awful (unless you were the person with the wooden fence), and if you would ever hang out with me, you’d know that I’m a pretty decent and responsible citizen. You certainly wouldn’t remind me of any of these transgressions every time you spoke with me. And I doubt I’ll ever have to answer any questions about these events in the future.

But that’s because I’m not in the public eye.

When a person in the spotlight really screws up, for whatever reason, it seems to get blown out of proportion and take on a life of its own.

“How could Mike Adams fail a drug test during the NFL combine with his entire future at stake?” I don’t know. Why did I run into that fence and then flee the scene many years ago?

Sometimes, people, even really talented football players, act like idiots.

The Steelers weren’t even considering drafting Adams initially, but to his credit, he reached out to the front office, admitted his shortcomings and asked them for a second chance.

“We didn’t call him, he called us,” Colbert said. “Had he not called us, this may not have occurred.”

That quote from Steelers gm Kevin Colbert, taken from the Huffington Post article linked above, illustrates that maybe the Steelers front office knows that there are character flaws and then there are CHARACTER FLAWS.

Fortunately, smoking a joint every now and then (even before the biggest job interview of your life) is probably a lower-case character flaw, at least for a kid in college.

Will Adam’s recent transgressions follow him around for the rest of his time as a professional football player? Probably, but maybe they’ll just be a foot-note to an otherwise productive and accomplished NFL career.

I’ve turned out OK despite the poor character that I often demonstrated as a youth. This is just a guess, but I probably still have some character flaws as a man going on 40 (just ask my ex girlfriend, she’ll tell you).

I don’t know how Mike Adam’s career will turn out, and he may very well find himself traveling down the wrong road again in the future. But the fact that he was able to own up to his mistakes, and has taken steps to make his life better, shows me that, maybe, his character isn’t as flawed as it appears.

Mike Adams probably just has some lower-case flaws, just like any average Joe.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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First Round Draft Picks Aren’t Always Worth Their Weight in Gold

Former NFL players pose for photographs with NFL Draft prospects before the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday, April 22, 2010 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

A couple of years ago, during a radio show about the NFL Draft, one of the hosts said that he enjoyed the draft more than the Super Bowl. I found that to be pretty peculiar because isn’t the draft just a means to the ultimate goal of winning a championship?

But I know where that person was coming from; some people are just simply enamored with draft talk.

I used to be that way. Heck, when I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of the draft, and I thought every player the Steelers picked was going to make the team and be an All-Pro for 10 straight seasons.

The height of my obsession was probably around 1989, which just so happened to be one of the rare occasions that the Steelers had two first round draft picks. Mike Merriweather, the team’s disgruntled Pro Bowl linebacker, sat out the entire ’88 season in a contract dispute, and the Steelers eventually shipped him off to the Vikings in exchange for their first round draft choice.

The draft choice that the Steelers “earned” with their poor ’88 campaign–the 7th overall– was used to select running back Tim Worley out of Georgia. Worley was a bust and out of the league within a few years. The pick that the Steelers received from Minnesota–the 24th selection in the first round–was used to select offensive tackle Tom Ricketts out of Pitt. Ricketts was also a bust and off the team after the ’91 season.

In all fairness to the Steelers, it was quite obvious that they weren’t going to be able to meet Merriweather’s demands. An extra first round draft choice seemed like a pretty fair solution. The Steelers were 5-11 in 1988, so they certainly needed to upgrade in many areas. Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out.

Sometime in the early 90’s, right around the time that free agency started in the NFL, there was speculation that Rod Woodson could leave the Steelers as a restricted free agent. As compensation, the team would receive an extra first round draft choice.

My brother and I had many conversations about who the Steelers would use their potential extra pick on and how it would help the team.

If I had a time machine and could go back to that point and interrupt that conversation, I might say something smart like, “Gee, I don’t know who they could get. Do you think they’ll pick someone who will go on to have a Hall of Fame career and be named to the NFL’s All-Time team?” If my memory serves me right, Woodson never did become a restricted free agent, but he did eventually leave the team as an unrestricted free agent following the ’96 season. Did the Steelers make a mistake by letting Woodson go without receiving any compensation? I doubt it. No player they would have selected with a compensatory draft choice could possibly have matched Woodson’s talent and accomplishments. When you have a player like that, you hold onto him for as long as possible.

Two seasons ago, Ben Roethlisberger was going through his much publicized offseason problems, and there was much speculation about whether or not the Steelers should just part ways with their Super Bowl winning quarterback. Some of my friends were almost salivating at the thought of getting a top 10 draft choice in a trade for Roethlisberger.

There were rumors that the Raiders were interested in Big Ben, and that they would trade the 8th overall pick in the 2010 draft AND all-world cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in exchange for the troubled passer. That would certainly have been a pretty decent return if the team was looking to start over, but would any amount of talent be enough to replace an elite quarterback?

Those guys don’t come along every day, ya know? Just ask the Dolphins and Broncos–two teams who are still trying to replace franchise quarterbacks that retired over a decade ago.

The Steelers didn’t make a deal with Oakland, and the Raiders took linebacker Rolando McClain out of Alabama with the 8th pick. Asomugha played another year in Oakland and then became a part of the “Dream Team” when he signed with the Eagles prior to the 2011 season. I don’t know if McClain is going to be the next great linebacker, and who knows if the Steelers would have been able to sign Asomugha, who only had a year left on his contract. But I doubt either would have been as valuable to Pittsburgh as Big Ben was two seasons ago when he led the Steelers to their third Super Bowl appearance since 2005.

There was also speculation leading up to the 2010 draft that the Steelers would ship Roethlisberger off to St. Louis in exchange for their first round pick–the number one pick in the draft–and then draft quarterback Sam Bradford out of Oklahoma.

That would have been logical. If you simply must get rid of a troubled franchise quarterback, what better way to start over than with another potential franchise quarterback?

But it’s not easy to find an elite quarterback who has what it takes to lead a championship team; it’s rare that an Aaron Rodgers can step in and replace a Brett Favre and immediately lead his team to a Super Bowl title.

For every Peyton Manning, there are at least two Ryan Leafs.

Big Ben has proven to be invaluable to the team’s recent Super Bowl era. Sam Bradford is still very much a work in progress.

The Steelers rarely find themselves in these types of discussions because they’re not big players on draft day. But this year, with the possibility of restricted free agent Mike Wallace signing an offer sheet that the Steelers may not be able to match, there is a chance that the team might have to part ways with the speedy receiver in exchange for an extra first round pick.

Just the other day, my brother and I had a discussion similar to the one that we had many years ago about Rod Woodson. However, this time, my brother was a little more excited about the possibility of that extra draft choice than I was.

Yes, the Steelers have had success drafting in the first round in recent years. And yes, they might replace Wallace with the next Jerry Rice. Heck, they could go in a completely different direction and find the next Rod Woodson.

But they could also draft the next Troy Edwards or Chad Scott. The point is, it’s not going to be easy to replace a guy with Wallace’s abilities.

I’m not saying the Steelers should hold on to Wallace at any cost. If the asking price is too high, they should absolutely let him leave and take their chances with an extra first round pick.

The Steelers organization is better than most NFL teams at seeing the big picture. Pittsburgh answered the losses of Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes in recent years with Super Bowl success. If Wallace has to go, who says they won’t be able to do it again?

That radio draftnik from a couple of years ago is probably hoping the Steelers find themselves with two first round picks this year; that certainly would make draft day a little more exciting for him and the other draftniks out there.

However, after seeing the Steelers have so much playoff and Super Bowl success in recent years, I’m not as enamored with the draft as I used to be.

It’s still exciting and fun to talk about, but I guess I’ve become more a fan of the finished product than I am of the building blocks.

I’m a rational Steelers fan who realizes that the Steelers are one of the best organizations in all of sports, but it’s not always easy seeing Pro Bowl players walk away in their prime.

A first round draft choice might seem like fair compensation for a departing Wallace– the jury is still out as to whether he’s a franchise wide receiver–but that doesn’t mean the Steelers won’t be a weaker team, at least in the short term.

An extra first round pick might be fun and exciting, but it doesn’t mean that things will work out. Sometimes, what’s behind door number 2 isn’t always a new car.

Just ask the ’89 Steelers.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Steelers will take care of 2012, 2013 like they always do

Every offseason we hear about teams who have $ 20 million, even $ 30 million or more in cap space before they do any type of moves to free up additional money. The Bengals this year have about $ 60 million in cap room.  Everybody always wonders why the Steelers aren’t in a similar position and why they have to do so many restructures each year to get cap compliant.  Why aren’t the Steelers big players in free agency, if they had more cap space they could be;  is an argument often heard around the water cooler.
Even if the Steelers would somehow manage to have $ 30 million in cap space to start out a business year, that doesn’t mean they would go out and drop an exorbitant amount of money on an outside player just because they’re available.  Pittsburgh builds their team through the draft, and they always will. They get by in free agency with middle tier players to fill in as depth but rely on the starters to be guys they groom out of college for the most part. It’s hard to argue wi…

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Brighter days always ahead

Curtis Brown has overcome a rough childhood to reach the NFL.

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