Tag Archives: Crazy

Crazy NFL ride brings Ventrone home

To say Ross Ventrone’s NFL career to date has been a roller coaster ride might be one of the biggest understatements ever. Ventrone, a safety from Villanova, signed with the New England Patriots as......

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News

A Look at Kordell Stewart’s Crazy Ride as a Pittsburgh Steeler

Last week, Kordell Stewart officially retired from the NFL as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers after not actually playing for his old team since 2002 and not playing for any team since 2005. Like most fans, I was a little surprised by the announcement because I had just assumed that Stewart's retirement was made official years ago.

As this article from Neal Coolong points out, Stewart didn't have a great career in Pittsburgh, and he'll never go down as one of the all-time greats at his position, but he was a player that was popular and beloved by Steelers fans at one point before he fell out of favor. The fact that he chose to officially call it a career as a member of the Black and Gold has to be at least somewhat endearing to Steelers fans.

When Stewart was drafted in the 2nd round out of Colorado back in 1995, I was pretty happy. I had watched him play throughout college, and I liked the potential that I saw in him.

Neil O'Donnell was fully entrenched as the team's starting quarterback in 1995, and Kordell was the 3rd string rookie qb; generally, those guys just walk around holding a clipboard. However, Stewart wasn't your typical quarterback--he was extremely athletic--and starting in week 8, the Steelers, 3-4 and on the verge of seeing their season collapse, decided to start using the first year player in a utility role on offense that took advantage of his great abilities and unique skill-set. Stewart didn't produce much in the way of yardage, but he did create his share of splash plays that season, like this 22 yard run off of an O'Donnell pitch-out in a game against the Patriots.

Other memorable plays by Stewart that year included a 71-yard touchdown catch from O'Donnell in a victory over the Bengals and a 2-yard touchdown pass in a game against the Browns in which Stewart ran all the way to his right before reversing course and running all the way to the left side of the field and finding Ernie Mills in the corner of the end zone.

Kordell's versatility as a wide receiver/running back/quarterback in '95 earned him the nickname of, well, Slash.

Slash even continued to contribute in the postseason, and his touchdown catch near the end of the first half of the AFC Championship game against the Colts was on of the key plays in a 20-16 victory that sent the Steelers to their first Super Bowl since the 1979 season.

Stewart quickly became a popular figure in Steeler Nation as number 10 jerseys started popping up all over.

Stewart continued to perform his Slash role in '96, but it became apparent towards the end of the season that the Steelers were grooming him to be their starting quarterback in 1997. Stewart started the last game of the '96 regular season in place of Mike Tomczak, and he continued to dazzle and amaze Steelers fans by reeling off an 80 yard touchdown run.

Stewart was indeed named the starter in '97, and even though he was inconsistent, he sure provided plenty of excitement as he would often dig a hole for his team early before riding to the rescue with late game heroics. Of the Steelers 11 wins that year, five came after the team was trailing by 10 points or more, including a 42-32 win against the Ravens in week 5. After struggling in the first half with three interceptions that helped put Pittsburgh behind, 21-0, Stewart brought his team back in the second half by throwing three touchdown passes and cementing the victory with a 74 yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter.

For the year, Stewart passed for 3020 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also added 476 yards and another 11 touchdowns on the ground.

The Steelers made the playoffs for the sixth straight year and advanced to the AFC Championship game at Three Rivers Stadium before falling to the Broncos. In the game, Stewart ran for a 33 yard touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions as the Steelers blew a 14-7 lead and lost, 24-21.

Nobody knew it at the time, but the Steelers playoff run was about to come to an end. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey left to become Head Coach of the Cowboys following the '97 season, and Ray Sherman was brought in to replace him. Stewart struggled mightily in '98 as the Steelers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1991. Stewart struggled not only on the field, but he also had to deal with off-the-field rumors about his personal life. It is unclear where these false rumors started, but they just compounded the problems for Stewart, and his relationship with the fans began its irreversible descent.

In 1999, Stewart had to deal with his third offensive coordinator in his three years as a starting quarterback when Sherman was replaced with Kevin Gilbride.

Stewart's difficultiies continued that year as he only threw six touchdown passes to go along with 10 interceptions. He finished the year on the bench, and if my memory serves me correctly, he wasn't even allowed to attend quarterback meetings.

Kent Graham was named starting quarterback before the start of the 2000 season, and the Steelers started out 0-3. In place of an injured Graham, Stewart led the Steelers to victories vs. the Jaguars and Jets and was soon named the starter for the rest of the year. The Steelers missed the playoffs for the third straight season, but with Stewart under center, they rebounded from their 0-3 start to finish 9-7.

2001 would be Stewart's career year as he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Year, was voted team MVP and made his only Pro Bowl. With Stewart leading the way, the Steelers went 13-3 and made the playoffs for the first time since '97. Despite his improved play in '01--he completed 60.2 percent of his passes--Stewart never fully won the fans over. The general sentiment was that Pittsburgh's successes were more in spite of number 10 than because of him.

The Steelers advanced to the AFC Championship game for the second time with Kordell Stewart as a starting quarterback, but they fell once again, this time to the surprising New England Patriots, 24-17.

Even though the Patriots scored 14 of their points on two special teams touchdowns, Stewart, predictably, took most of the blame after throwing three interceptions, including a critical pick late when the team was trying to complete a second-half comeback.

The Steelers started out 0-2 the following year as both Stewart and the Steelers defense struggled early-on. Down 13-6 in the fourth quarter of their week 3 match-up against the Browns, Bill Cowher replaced Stewart with Tommy Maddox, and Maddox led the team to an overtime victory.

Tommy Gun was soon named the starter and quickly became the toast of the town with his ability to sling the football up and down the field.

However, in a week 10 match-up at Tennessee, Maddox suffered a scary spinal injury and would have to miss some time. With the Steelers at 5-4-1, Stewart started the next two weeks and quietly led the team to important victories over the Bengals and Jaguars. They would be the last two games Stewart ever played for the Steelers, but as a fan of his, they were maybe my favorite because how how he handled himself professionally.

Stewart was out of Pittsburgh by '03 as the love-affair with Maddox was in full bloom. Instead of number 10 Stewart jerseys, fans walked around wearing "Slash Who?" t-shirts.

Stewart played another few years with the Bears and Ravens before fading into obscurity.

Only a fool would suggest that Stewart had a great career as a quarterback, and there is no getting around his inaccurate arm, nor his inability to come through in the two AFC Championship games, but I've always been of the belief that Kordell Stewart's main problem was that he became the Steelers' starting quarterback during a time of transition for the organization.

The Steelers had an impressive run in the 90's, but with the free agency defections of Rod Woodson, Chad Brown, Leon Searcy, Kevin Greene, John Jackson and Yancey Thigpen, it was just a matter of time before the wheels fell off the wagon. You could see it a bit in '97 despite the team's success, and by the middle of the '99 season, the Steelers were in full rebuilding mode.

It would have been an impossible situation for any young quarterback to excel in. You had the revolving door at offensive coordinator that I mentioned earlier as well as the front office unrest between Cowher and Tom Donahoe.

And let's not forget about what Stewart had to deal with off the field. Terry Bradshaw often talks about the tough times he had to endure early in his career with the name calling and the questioning of his intelligence. What Bradshaw had to go through was nothing compared to what Stewart had to deal with. I would listen to the talk shows and the many phone calls from fans who would get cut-off after making God knows what kind of derogatory statement about Stewart.

Stewart was an inconsistent quarterback, at best, but I often wonder how much better he may have been under a different set of circumstances.

Sadly, we'll never know, but what impresses me about Stewart's career in Pittsburgh was how he bounced back in the 2000-2001 seasons after he could have very easily crumbled under the intense professional and personal pressures he surely must have been feeling in the late 90's.

No, Kordell Stewart was not a great quarterback, but two the AFC Championship game appearances were still pretty impressive in my mind. And he did provide us with some exciting moments during his career--how many professional football players can boast of throwing a 90-yard touchdown, catching a 71 yard touchdown and rushing for two 70-plus yard touchdowns?

Thanks for some pretty cool memories, Slash.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain


As crazy as it seemed, Belichick gave Patriots a chance to win

*** Discuss this article and more at our Pittsburgh Steelers forum ***

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave clear instructions to his defensive unit: Let the runner score. Playing the odds and inviting critics, the calculating coach told his players to get out of the way, open a wide path for Ahmad Bradshaw and give Tom Brady a chance to win the Super Bowl in the final 57 seconds. Unusual? Certainly. Crazy? Not at all.

Source: post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL

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Crazy Thought: Trade Rashard Mendenhall?

*** Discuss this article and more at our Pittsburgh Steelers forum ***

Hey everybody. Tough loss to take on Sunday. Time to move on and look ahead to the offseason. Jason (big_jay) and Adam (seton hall) have already gone into draft mode with several excellent posts, so I'll attempt to follow suit with some pieces of my own, starting with my thoughts on Rashard Mendenhall.

*Just a side note I posted this same piece on one of Jim Wexell's forums late the other night, so I'm interested to see if there's any varying of opinion between here and there.

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Picture yourself as Kevin Colbert. Fresh off a painful and shocking loss to Denver, you're now sitting at your office desk preparing to initiate operation "Geezer Dump." Jerseys with numbers 86, 51, and 91 are being put into the "Do Not Use" commemorative closet, while you toss an occasional dart at a poster of Tim Tebow. As your eyes scan the payroll, stopping and double-taking at the names Kemoeatu, Chris, and McFadden, Bryant and their respective salaries, you pause for a moment at the name Mendenhall. You immediately feel a pang of sympathy for the young man and envision him hobbling around his house as he attempts to recover from the torn ACL. You are about to break for lunch and text Kemoeatu that to make things interesting, the only way he gets his '11 salary is if he can protect it from a blitzing 4 year-old (money well saved), when you are struck with inspiration. Quickly you call up Mike Tannebaum, GM of the hapless New York Jets, and make an offer involving your wounded ball carrier.

The Jets in particular are one of the few teams left in the league that still put great emphasis on the running back 2011_10_rexryan_mediumposition and what they have there in Greene and withering LT is underwhelming to say the least.They are of course welcoming in Tony Sparano in as their new offensive coordinator, but I think the run-first offense will still be very much in effect-Sparano is the father of the wildcat after all-meaning that an upgrade is needed. The Jets pick 15th in each round this year (too late of a pick to get stud RB Trent Richardson IMO), and while it'd be ridiculous to expect a first round pick for Mendenhall, I think it's more than fair to expect a second rounder in exchange for a back that in the last 3 seasons has rushed for over 3,000 yards and amassed exactly 30 touchdowns (29 Rushing, 1 Receiving).

What works against Mendenhall is of course his recent acl tear, an unspectacular 2011 campaign, and a pedestrian 4.1 ypc for his career. Still young however (he'll be just 25 in June), Mendenhall could very well still have some gas left in the tank, well worthy of the attention of teams in need of a good runningback. Outside of the Jets I can ony really characterize the Patriots, Colts, Browns, and perhaps the Giants as teams "in need" of a runningback. The Patriots are a pass-first offense that does not rely heavily on running, but I have to think Mendenhall would provide an upgrade to the likes of Green-Ellis and Woodhead. The Colts are going to draft Andrew Luck, and if Manning leaves than they may want to have a good running option to help ease Luck's transition to the NFL. The Browns look like they're parting ways with Peyton Hillis, but they may be the leading candidates to take the aforementioned Trent Richardson in the draft come April. Then there's the whole "never trade within the division" strategy.

As far as the Steelers are concerned the move makes sense on a couple levels. 1. The offense is clearly pass-oriented now that the receiving corp has blossomed, 2. Mendenhall will enter his contract year in 2012 (an additional factor that may hinder his value as his new team would have to end up giving him a new dDoug-martin_mediumeal if they invested considerable draft picks), and the Steelers are going to have a hard enough time trying to keep Brown, Sanders, and Wallace locked down long term within the next two years, likely leaving little money for Mendenhall, 3. The running backs not named Mendenhall are pretty damn good. I like Isaac Redman, Moore, Dwyer, Batch and Clay in some kind of committee. They can all run the ball and can all help supplement what could turn into one of the elite passing attacks in the league, provided the offensive line improves in the near future. Plus there's a kid named Doug Martin (picture right) out of Boise State who reminds me a bit of Jones-Drew/Rice who should be available at the end of the second round/early third, meaning that there are other, affordable options out there.

Even using Mendenhall as a piece to swap first round picks with a team higher up i.e. the Jets would be fine by me. Ultimately, with some of the veteran talent it will lose this offseason, this team could use a great draft in 2012 to help remain a contender next season. Additional/Higher draft picks could give Colbert and Co. the foundation to build the next generation of great Steelers.

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"Look Chris is trying to block!"

Cover Photo: http://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Rashard+Mendenhall+James+Ihedigbo+2011+AFC+Si2xhBxWQUwl.jpg

Rex Ryan photo: http://gothamist.com/attachments/jen/2011_10_rexryan.jpg

Doug Martin photo: http://ogdraft.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Doug-Martin.jpg

Kevin Colbert photo: http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/getty/14/fullj.a63d5e5ffb4a388e681e2ac765cdf464/a63d5e5ffb4a388e681e2ac765cdf464-getty-136010274.jpg



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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