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When Value Meets Need, it Just Doesn’t Get Any Better Than That


In the weeks and months leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft, the general consensus among people in the know (or at least in the opinion) was that the Steelers were going to use the 24th pick in the first round to select inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower from Alabama.

With the departing James Farrior, Hightower would be a natural choice to eventually step in and take over the role as quarterback of the defense.

Inside linebacker was obviously a need, and why not go with Hightower? He’s a good character guy, and a fairly safe pick despite the concern over his major knee injury from a few years back.

However, the offensive line was also a major need for the Steelers going into this year’s draft (specifically guard), and there was some talk of maybe going with Cordy Glenn of Georgia or Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin. They were among the top ranked guards in this year’s crop, but they weren’t David DeCastro from Stanford. He was the highest ranked guard, and as Neal Coolong suggests, maybe one the best overall prospects in the entire draft. He was projected to go in the top 10 or 15, no way would the Steelers have a shot at him, right?

Every year, there seems to be a few things that throw the draft universe off kilter a bit. Last night was no exception. In at least a few mock drafts that I saw, DeCastro was projected to go 11th to the Kansas City Chiefs. However, instead of going with the can’t miss guard, the Chiefs went with the work-out darling and selected nose tackle Dontari Poe with the 11th pick. I’ll give them that. Nose tackle’s are at a premium in today’s 3/4 heavy NFL, and Poe’s raw potential is just too enticing to pass up.

Surely, DeCastro wouldn’t last much beyond the 15th pick in the first round, though, right? Well, thanks to the Seattle Seahawks, who became the winners of this year’s “Whoa, Didn’t See That Coming/What the Hell Were They Thinking?” award after selecting troubled defense end Bruce Irvin out of West Virginia, DeCastro made it past the mid-way point of the first round, and he just kept slipping and slipping.

He slipped by the Cleveland Browns, who had the 22nd pick and selected a 28 year old quarterback, instead.

DeCastro slipped by the Lions at 23, who went with an offensive lineman, but it was tackle Riley Reiff out of Iowa.

Now the Steelers found themselves in the enviable position of having the pick of the litter.

I don’t know what the Steelers were thinking the past few weeks, and I don’t know who was the highest ranked player on their board. Maybe Hightower was the man they had in mind up until the very end, but there was just no passing on DeCastro.

As the title suggests, it isn’t often that the best player available and a chance to fill a major need come together as perfectly as it did last night for Pittsburgh. The Steelers have had a very high success rate with their first round picks under gm Kevin Colbert.

We’re obviously at least a few years away from knowing this for sure, but the selection of DeCastro should go a long way towards ensuring that the success rate continues to flourish.

Thank you, crazy draft universe.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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April is a Time for Playoff Intensity? I Just Don’t Get it. This Must Be Why I’m a Football Fan

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PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 15:  Defensive end Brett Keisel #99 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 31-24 in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, our very own Ivan Cole wrote a piece about the month of April, and how it’s a time of hope, anticipation, renewal and even a bit of withdrawal what with any real football still many months away. When I read that, I thought, “Amen, Sir.” That’s how I feel.

As a die-hard football fan, I can certainly relate. Right around that same time, the Pittsburgh Penguins were winding-down their regular season by engaging in a blood-bath with their heated rivals and soon-to-be first round playoff opponents, the Philadelphia Flyers. During the game, there were many fights, cheap shots and even opposing coaches screaming at each other. The next day, I was reading an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about the series of events that occurred in the game, and there was a quote from one of the Penguins players. I don’t remember the player or the exact quote, but he mentioned something about it being April, and April is playoff time, so therefore, the intensity is magnified.

Right then is when it hit me: I guess I’m not a hockey fan because I cannot relate to April playoff intensity.

Yesterday, after the Penguins fell to the Flyers in six games in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, my boss, a huge Pens fan, said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself now. I usually count on the Penguins going on a long playoff run. Now, there’s nothing to do.”

And I said, “Mark, it’s the end of April. It’s going to be May any second now. There must be dozens of things you can do. It’s nice out.”

The cold weather that we experienced today in Pittsburgh is certainly the exception to what we’ve been experiencing lately, and it will soon pass and give way to warmer temperatures. So if you’re a Penguins fan who is down about their first round exit, don’t despair.

Take your kids to the park; take them to Disney World; take your wife (or husband) on a cruise; go jogging; get some sun; play some pick-up basketball; fly a kite, etc. There must be tons of things you can do during the spring to make you forget about hockey.

I don’t know how hockey fans can even keep up their intensity during the playoffs. It just seems odd to sit in a bar and watch an intense hockey playoff game on, say, Mother’s Day. Shouldn’t you be spending time with her? I mean, she did carry you around for nine months and then give birth to you. She’s tougher than any hockey player. Go pick some flowers and take them to her.

This is where I find hockey to be kind of weird. It’s a sport played in-doors on ice, and the heart of the regular season goes straight through January and February. That’s perfect. However, the intense, white-knuckled playoff action takes place during April, May and June. I just can’t feel very much intensity in my bones during this time of year.

This is how I know I’m a hard-wired football fan.

I think the game of football and the time of year when its playoffs start come together to create the perfect atmosphere for a championship chase, at least if you’re in a cold-weather city like Pittsburgh.

Towards the end of the regular season, the holidays come around, and that fosters great memories with family and friends. You swap old holiday stories and create new ones. You may even share memories of great Steelers games from years gone by. There’s usually football on during the holidays, and it just seems natural as you sit with your family and watch a Thanksgiving day game, for example.

Once November and December give way to January, however, life is a little harsher. You no longer have that fuzzy feeling in your stomach from the holidays. Instead, you just have the cold and the snow, and you’re probably really angry about it.

You know the big Steelers playoff game is coming up, and you’re probably excited about that. But you’re also worried about your car starting for work in the morning because it’s below zero outside, and you keep putting off getting your battery checked.

Every damn morning, it seems like there is frost on your car windshield and snow on your hood. There’s also snow on your door, and everytime you open it, some of the wet stuff gets on your seat and you have to sit in it. This makes you even angrier.

And then there are pot-holes you have to try and avoid and roads that haven’t been plowed yet as you try and navigate your way to work every morning.

You find yourself shoveling your sidewalk everyday, and your hands are always numb because your gloves suck, and your ears are always cold because you can’t find your good Steelers hat.

All you can think about is the upcoming Steelers playoff game, and how you wish you could be out there tackling some Ravens because you know you could do it. This snow and cold is all the motivation you need. This damn winter is getting to you. The stakes are high in January. The Steelers have to win. If they don’t, you know you won’t have much to look forward to for the next couple of months.

You’ll still have the rest of January and all of February to scrape the frost off of your car and shovel your sidewalk, and there will be no football to take your mind off of it. You can’t go jogging, not if you’re not crazy; you can’t fly a kite or pick flowers from the garden; you can’t tan.

Heck, attending an NFL playoff game is sometimes a matter of personal survival if you’re in a city like Pittsburgh. Hockey playoff games are always in-doors, and you may have to take a sweater just in-case the air-conditioning is working a little too well at the Consol Energy Center. If you go to a Steelers playoff game at Heinz Field, you may have to prepare for frostbite. If you don’t prepare properly, whether or not Pittsburgh wins will be the least of your troubles.

Playoff football is played during the month it was intended to be played. If you’re a fan, you can sense the playoffs right around the corner. You can feel it in your soul. It’s very intense, but it’s beautiful.

Playoff hockey? It’s just really beautiful outside, and I just can’t relate. I just want to go fly a kite.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Mike Wallace Will Not Get the Contract That He Is Seeking, and Should Just Sign the Tender Offered to Him

So far, this offseason, no team has offered Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace a contract. The restricted free agent was offered a tender by the Steelers worth a little over $ 2.7 million, but Wallace has thus far refused to sign it.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said ESPN reported, “that Wallace will not participate in any spring workouts unless he and the team come to terms on a multiple-year contract.”
Bouchette also stated that the three-year veteran out of Ole Miss will be unable to sign with another team once the deadline of April 20th passes, and that he will only have the choice of a long-term deal or signing the tender with the Steelers.
In the meantime, Pittsburgh’s front office is making sure that everything else is in place offensively just in case the Pro Bowl receiver somehow doesn’t return to the Steelers for the 2012 NFL season.
Veteran receiver Jerricho Cotchery re-signed with the team with a two-year contract worth over $ 3 million dollars. …

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Some Teams Just Never Make it Over the Super Bowl Hump

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I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of NFL teams that finally reached the top of the mountain after so many futile attempts. One team that comes to mind is the Oakland Raiders of the late 60’s and early 70’s. They came up short in the postseason time and time again–most notably three times to the Steelers–before finally exorcising their demons and knocking off Pittsburgh on the way to winning Super Bowl XI following the 1976 season.

Other examples include the ’71 Dallas Cowboys, who finally won Super Bowl VI after many years of being called “Next Year’s Champions”; the Denver Broncos of the John Elway era, who upset the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII to claim their first World title after many sub-par Super Bowl performances in the 80’s; and most recently, the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, who were finally able to slay the New England Patriots on the way to winning Super Bowl XLI after so many years of coming up short to the Pats in the big games.

These are fascinating stories because as fans, I think we can identify with the struggle of a team finally getting that monkey off of its back. In the 2010 book “Badasses” that chronicles the Oakland Raiders of the John Madden era and their quest to finally get a ring, the players from those teams talk about how relieved they were to finally get over the hump and win a championship. One has to wonder what their lives would be like today had they not been able to win a Super Bowl.

Winning a Super Bowl does so much for the legacies of certain players and teams. The Steelers are now an institution in Pittsburgh, and it’s based solely on winning those four Super Bowls in the 1970’s. In an interview with Steve Sabol back in 2003, Terry Bradshaw said that the only thing that mattered to him, and the thing that he was most proud of, was that he never lost a Super Bowl in his career.

Joe Namath has said that he probably wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame today if it wasn’t for the Jets upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

We need only look to recent Steelers history to see what winning Super Bowl XL did for people like Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis. How might they be perceived today without their Super Bowl rings?

Sadly, however, some teams just never make it over the hump.

The Minnesota Vikings of the 60’s and 70’s are a team that comes to mind; a team that made four Super Bowls in eight seasons but lost very badly in every one of them.

Other examples include the Houston Oilers of the late 70’s, who made back-to-back AFC Championship games but lost to the Steelers both times; the San Diego Chargers of the early 80’s, who were considered by many to be the most talented team in football, but lost back-to-back AFC Championship games in ’80 and ’81; and the Cleveland Browns of the 1980’s, who were defeated in the AFC Championship game by the Denver Broncos three times in four seasons–including two straight gut-wrenching losses in ’86 and ’87.

How would people like Jim Marshall, Fran Tarkenton, Marty Schottenheimer, Earl Campbell, Dan Pastorini and Don Coryell be viewed today if they had been able to add a Lombardi to their resumes?

You have to feel bad for those teams and their fans. I can imagine what it must feel like to re-live those agonizing games over and over again, knowing that there was never a fairy tale ending. I can certainly relate thanks to the Pirates of the early 90’s, who lost in the NLCS three straight times. It was a great era of Pirates baseball, but the team was just never able to complete the task and win a championship.

Maybe the most obvious example in recent times of a great team not winning a championship is that of the Buffalo Bills of the early 90’s, who amazingly made four-straight Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Unfortunately, the Bills lost every single one of them, with the last three being lopsided affairs.

I always thought what those Bills team did was pretty incredible. Yet, the sports world has always looked down on them because they were never able to win it all.

You talk about legacies changing. Just imagine how some of the players on those Bills teams would be treated today had they been able to win one or two of those Super Bowls.

Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas are in the Hall of Fame, but they’re never in the discussions of the all-time greats at their respective positions. Would a Super Bowl victory or two have changed that?

Defensive end Bruce Smith is obviously considered one of the greats at his position–he’s the all-time leader in sacks with 200–but it just seems like something is missing because he doesn’t have a ring.

Would Andre Reed still be struggling to get into the Hall of Fame today had the Bills been able to win at least one Super Bowl?

When you think of the all-time great NFL head coaches, Marv Levy certainly doesn’t come to mind. Yet, he’s a Hall of Famer and the only coach to ever take a team to four-straight Super Bowls.

I always just assumed that the members of those Bills teams walked around with regret and sadness for never winning a Super Bowl. I mean, after all, that’s what the sporting world says they’re supposed to do. Nobody cares about the runner-ups, right?

However, not long ago, I stumbled upon an article in the USA Today about those Bills teams, and I was surprised to discover that some key members look back on those days with fondness.

Bill Polian, the general manager of those Bills teams, said, “It’s not likely to be repeated. It’s a standalone accomplishment.”

It was nice to read that, because it actually is an accomplishment. I know we live in a society where even the teams that come up short in the championship round are considered “losers,” but making it to four-straight Super Bowls is pretty damn remarkable.

You would think the Bills players have regrets, and maybe they do, but according to Kelly, he and his teammates appreciate what they were able to do: “As time went by, people started realizing how hard it was to go back year after year, and lose. If you talk to any player about that, I guarantee 99% of the players would say that would never be done again, and probably say they don’t know how we did it.”

It’s so hard to even get to one Super Bowl, but somehow, the Bills were able to make it four-straight times. They say one of the hardest things to overcome in sports is losing a championship, so that team must have had pretty high character in-order to make it back after each loss.

“They’ll always hurt a little but. But we’ll remember the good times more,” said Levy of losing the four-straight Super Bowls. “That team has stayed very close personally through the years. Those guys I directed, they’re my friends….There’s one way to assure you’ll never lose a Super Bowl. Don’t go.”

Awesome quote from a great coach.

However, there was another quote from Kelly that just blew me away: “People always ask, would you rather win one time or go four times and lose. It’s a hard question. But to be honest with you, I would rather go four times and lose.”
That’s an incredible statement, because so many players and fans are consumed with the ultimate prize, and rightfully so. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to hold your index finger in the air and proclaim: “We’re number 1!”
Besides, as I said, winning a Super Bowl does so much for a player’s legacy. Having a ring vs. not having one may ultimately be what helps a player like Hines Ward get into the Hall of Fame someday.
Nonetheless, there is something to be said for the journey, and as the article suggests, if making it to that many Super Bowl is so easy, why haven’t more teams done it?
This might be sacrilegious coming from a member of a fan base that has experienced more Super Bowl victories than any other, but the thought of the Steelers making it to four-straight Super Bowls seems so abstract, just seeing it would probably be worth it even if each one ended in a loss.

How about you out there in Steeler Nation. What would you rather have? One Super Bowl victory followed by a period of irrelevance or an era of several Super Bowl appearances but no Lombardi trophies?

Would the feeling of being number one just one time be enough to sustain you through the years of bad football, or would you rather have several wonderful journeys that never ultimately end in a championship?

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Report: Steelers Likely To Receive Just One 7th Round Compensatory Draft Pick This Week

The NFL owners meetings get underway Monday down in Florida at that means the 2012 compensatory draft picks will be awarded for 2011 unrestricted free agents lost sometime this week.
Compensatory picks are awarded by using a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors and is also weighed against any unrestricted free agents signed from other teams in addition. The formula that is used to determine those picks was developed by the NFL Management Council and has never been made public.
The Steelers lost three unrestricted free agents last season in tight end Matt Spaeth, defensive Read more […]

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Ben hoping he is just entering his prime

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Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl wins during his eight year career and after recently turning 30-years old he hopes there are more to come.“I am hoping that I a…

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : News

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Double Yoi! Green Shamrock Terrible Towels Just In Time For St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year and you can now show your Pittsburgh Steelers pride by twirling one of the new Green Shamrock Terrible Towels. The new version of the towel, made famous by the late and legendary Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope, has green lettering instead of black and also includes green shamrock 3 leaf clovers on it. As always, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of all Terrible Towels benefits the Allegheny Valley School in Pittsburgh, which is one of the largest providers of care for people with mental retardation in the state of Pennsylvania.

Cope retired Read more […]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Ward Elite Not Just for Steelers, But in NFL History

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While it still remains to be seen whether Hines Ward ever suits up for the Pittsburgh Steelers again, there can be no disputing the fact that Ward is the most productive wide receiver in franchise history. And it’s not even close.

The Steelers have had some magnificent receivers, including a pair from the 1970s – Lynn Swann and John Stallworth – who are in the Hall of Fame. But the statistics of those two Hall of Famers could be added together and still come up short to the numbers that Ward has accumulated.

The fact that the league has turned into a passing (and receiving) league cannot be argued. The numbers of many Hall of Fame QBs and WRs from the 1970s pale in comparison to what today’s players are putting up. But the records are there for fans to look at, and right there in black and white, the numbers say Ward is easily the best WR to ever suit up for the Steelers.

But if that’s the case, why is he not considered a lock for Canton? …

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Just call Woodland Hills ‘NFL High’

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The odds of one high school sending multiple players to the same Super Bowl are not as daunting as having eight NFL players that same season.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Keisel on Pro Bowl: They “should have just put flags” on players

The first guest of the week on PFT Live undeniably has the best beard in the NFL. Possibly in the history of the world. Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel joined the show and talked about missing the Pro Bowl because he is injured. “Hawaii’s a great place. That’s the biggest reason I would go. Get my…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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