Tag Archives: Real

Will the Real Al Woods Please Stand Up?

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Le’Veon Bell the “real deal” in camp

According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell has been the “real deal” so far in training camp. If Le’Veon Bell keeps progressing like this, no way Tomlin will be able to keep him out of the starting lineup. He’s the real deal — Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) July 31, 2013 It sounds li…

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Steelers fans who have no real affiliation with the Pittsburgh region

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Steelers GM Kevin Colbert keeps it real: “You could also argue that we lost pieces from an 8-8 team”

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is a straight shooter, and doesn’t want to cry over a team that didn’t make the playoffs in 2012.

Following Colbert is refreshing because he doesn’t put the beer goggles on; he confronts an issue head on, and shoots from the hip. Colbert spoke about his team stating they have the ‘wants’…

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Antonio Brown: Todd Haley “seems like a real friendly guy”

When new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was hired, the questions in Pittsburgh were mostly about whether the famously prickly Haley could get along with the players on Pittsburgh’s offense. But Steelers receiver Antonio Brown says that’s not a concern at all. Brown told Jim Rome on Rome that after working with Haley in minica…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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Will the Real Lawrence Timmons Please Stand Up?

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Nothing is worse in Dynasty leagues than having a player who was a bona fide stud one year fall on his face the next. You get your hopes up and consider him a core player, a sure fire every week starter, then without warning or explanation he hits a slump so nasty that you want to drive to their city and beat them with a dead car battery. Having said that…
Will the real Lawrence Timmons please stand up?
In 2010, Timmons finished the year ranked as the LB7 in IDP leagues. He was machine of destruction. Through the first seven games he had racked up 56 solo tackles, 18 assists and three sacks. Nobody started off hotter! Then, something happened. Through the next six games he totaled just 20 solos, 17 assists, and zero sacks. He wasn’t hurt, there was no position change, and it wasn’t bad match-ups. It was like there was an imposter in his uniform. Timmons finished the year strong with 20 solos, seven assists, and a sack the final three weeks so everything was forgiven.
Fast forward to…

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Threat of Concussion Issue Bringing Down the NFL Very Real Possibility

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The article linked here by economists Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier published on grantland.com brings to light the troubling issue of concussions in regards to the future of the NFL.

It should be required reading for any football fan with a genuine interest and concern for the future of the game. Consider yourself warned in advance that you won’t like what you read. But as they say, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

My 11 year old great nephew Jaylen is a great young athlete in general, and an outstanding young football player in particular. This past fall he led his Pop Warner team to the league championship with an avalanche of touchdowns immortalized on my niece’s Facebook page.

Eleven is a little early to predict success down the road in a sport like football, but there are indications of a bright athletic future for Jaylen.

With athletic parents and grandparents, he has a solid bloodline. The culture of support is robust. His step father is his current head coach as well as an assistant coach for the local high school team. Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Marcus Spears is a close family friend; so close, in fact, when his branch of the family resided in the Dallas area, Jaylen was a regular in the Cowboys training facility and would travel on the team bus. Yet, it is possible that Jaylen’s football career may not last nearly as long as its promise.

If I had a vote on Jaylen’s athletic future (and I don’t) I would vote “no” to football, maybe high school, but certainly no further. And I really like football. The issue has to do with risk vs. reward.

It is becoming abundantly clear many of the risks (permanent and life threatening injuries can occur even at young ages) involved with playing the game are outstripping the potential rewards. The gap between risk and reward is even greater for Jaylen, a straight ‘A’ student from a middle class home who has other athletic options (he may be an even better basketball player and shows exceptional promise in every sport he tries).

I was a Pop Warner coach 20 years ago, so upon viewing one of Jaylen’s games this past fall, I saw subtle yet striking differences. We live in Fairfax County, Va., one of the most affluent county in the nation.

The participating families were more working class and generally browner than what would be considered the norm for this area. This echoes the trend predicted by Cowen and Grier in their article.

In that time, football was something of a niche sport in our area. Western Pa. was over-represented on our Reston Youth League coaching staff. The commissioner hailed from Midland High School and was a friend and school mate of the late basketball star Norm Van Lier. Many of our coaches came from Farrell, Aliquippa and other Pittsburgh area locales. We competed with the likes of youth soccer and fall baseball for players, as well as overcoming the higher registration fees because of equipment costs.

Nonetheless, our teams at the time more faithfully reflected the population. It’s not so much the case today.

Our area is a pretty good sports barometer. Opportunities and participation over a broad range of options is high, and we have had more of our share of successes. When my daughter and nieces attended South Lakes High their schoolmates and sporting contemporaries included the likes of NBA star Grant Hill and Olympic track star Alan Webb. Their situation was more common than unique as other areas schools produced Mia Hamm (soccer), Kara Larson (basketball), Evan Royster (football), Olympic caliber swimmers and plenty of high caliber athletes in less celebrated sports. So this change in the football participation pattern really got my attention.

It would be tempting, comforting really, to just dismiss this entire concussion business as just an off season tempest likely to blow over eventually with no significant long term impact on the game. It would be easy to believe, especially if you are under the age of 40, the stature and popularity of professional football is pretty much inviolate. But an examination of the longer historical arch of American sports suggests a different story and a much greater sense of vulnerability we ignore at our peril.

In the early to mid- 20th Century the top of the sporting food chain was occupied by baseball, boxing and horse racing. An interesting fact often overlooked by Steeler Nation today is that while the football team struggled competitively and financially in the early days, the Rooney Clan was quite successful with their operation of race tracks. Today, except for the minor blip in national attention associated with the Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes) horse racing has pretty much disappeared. Most who have any memory of sports from the 1980s and earlier have witnessed the decline of boxing from a sport whose championship bouts galvanized the attention of the world to a descent into irrelevance. That descent began to escalate in the early 60s when a fighter named Emile Griffith literally beat an opponent to death on national television. The decline of baseball was less steep but it was clearly supplanted at the top by pro football by the beginning of what we now know as the Super Bowl era. Football’s dominance has remained relatively unchallenged for the better part of 50 years.

Football has always been a difficult, potentially devastating sport to those who have played it. In many respects a far more dangerous sport played in earlier years than now.

So why should this particular issue prove to be so disruptive of the sport?

Part of the answer is contextual. The roots of professional football are in the region and culture of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio (the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t located in Canton for nothing). Even though the game was more dangerous in those early days, it paled in comparison with what many players and spectators faced in their day jobs working in the mines, mills and factories of the area. Over the intervening years, rule changes, improved technology and advanced medical techniques have seemingly offset many of its debilitating effects. When I played the game, a knee injury, if not a career ending event, usually signaled the onset of permanent decline for a player. One of the best examples of that was when the brilliant career of Gales Sayers was cut short by a knee injury.

Today the expectation for a player suffering a torn ACL, like Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, is he will fully recover within a year. However, medical science has no answer for head or spinal injuries (think Peyton Manning). Further, the research indicates that not only concussions, (which didn’t rise to level of being much of an injury of serious concern in the old days) can be much more devastating than previously imagined, but the cumulative effect of blows that fall far below the level of concussions can have the same effect.

Put another way you don’t have to have had your bell rung to be in danger of having a higher likelihood of suffering from memory loss, dementia, even ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) as a result of playing football. As Cowen and Grier have pointed out, and most of us can logically imagine, the lawyers are lining up. All that is necessary is for a couple of successful lawsuits to set a precedent that will send insurance companies and sponsors into full scale flight.

(Editor’s Note: In the time this article was being edited, the family of former Bears DB Dave Duerson, a man who committed suicide, announced a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL)

This puts the whole James Harrison/Roger Goodell war in an entirely different light as well. I can’t imagine a scenario where the NFL didn’t know this issue was coming down the pike. The emphasis on player safety, hastily, even sloppily conceived and executed was designed to,hopefully, inoculate the league if just a little bit from the impact of the litigation that they are now facing. Harrison apparently didn’t get the memo, and in any case has proven to be a very useful villain in relation to the more ‘reasonable’ approach of league management. Of course, Harrison might intuitively understand what Cowen and Grier also pointed out; namely that the usual solutions probably will not do. Rule changes and improved technology (better helmets for example) probably will be an insufficient deterrent to the problems outlined. And there is nothing immediately on the horizon in the form of a medical science solution that will save the day either.

A couple of years ago I conducted an interview with former Steeler Randy Grossman for the MSP Steeler Annual. During the course of the discussion Grossman continually used terms referring to the game that more appropriately reflected how we would describe engaging in hard, unskilled labor rather than that of a sport. We eventually got around to talking about Myron Rolle (now with the Steelers) and shared a good laugh as we mused over the fact that he could be characterized in the football culture as being disloyal for choosing to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship. It fit Grossman’s view that the game wanted their players dumb. We also touched a bit on the general sports landscape. He mentioned, and I agreed, how unlikely it would be to find a boxing gym located in the Fox Chapel community in which he resided. No snobbery involved, just the practical realization that most people would avoid the inherent risks involved in boxing if they had reasonable alternatives which most affluent and middle class folk have.

In the not so distant future will we come to view football like boxing, and how will that effect our engagement with the game?

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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What’s the Real Turth About Arians? Rooney Doesn’t Seem to Want to Say

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Seems like there’s been more controversy about OC Bruce Arians not coming back with the Steelers, you really don’t know who to believe anymore. The Steelers (more so Art Rooney II) clearly at this point appears to have taken it upon himself to make the decision to get rid of Arians, but doesn’t seem ready to admit it.

Today, Bob Labriola on Steelers.com did an interview with Rooney II, and asked him point blank about the Arians situation, and if he anything to do with Arians not coming back.

“Bruce talked about retiring for a number of years now,” Rooney said. “We are looking to improve on offense and to have somebody in place for a number of years. I think it was time for a change. We are looking forward to moving on.”

Ok, but did you make the decision to fire him? Clearly that answer doesn’t give the whole story.

Arians said he had no choice but to retire after the team did not offer him a contract to come back for next season. He’s already talking to other teams, meaning that he still wants to coach in the NFL.

Rooney seemed to not want to answer how the process of Arians not being around played out. He basically said in so many words that it doesn’t matter how Arians ended up not being the Steelers OC anymore.

“The question of how we got here is not really relevant,” Rooney said. “The key now is that Mike (Tomlin) has begun the search for our next offensive coordinator. We will go through the process and interview the right candidates.”

The Steelers offense finished 12th in total offense (372.3 yards per game) and 21st in points per game (20.3) last year.

I’m not a fan of Rooney II getting too involved with this team. His dad and Dan Rooney never did, and I don’t think it really needs to change now. If Rooney fired him, he fired him – just admit it and let’s move on.

Source: Steelers Gab

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Recapping Rooney – No Real Surprises

Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II sat down with a few members of the Pittsburgh media on Tuesday for a half hour interview to discuss the Steelers past season and look ahead to 2012. You can read the question and answers here on the Post-Gazette blog.

When you read through everything there were not too many surprises if you ask me, but I will go over the main talking points below with my own comments and view points added to a few of the things that Rooney said. Even though we do not usually learn too much from these interviews every offseason, it is just good to hear some of the things Read more […]

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Losing Mike Wallace is a Real Possibility For Steelers

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The Steelers may need to prepare for the possibility of life without Mike Wallace coming up in 2012.  Wallace is a restricted free agent.  The Steelers will put the highest tender on Wallace.  If he were to leave the Steelers would receive a first round pick in return.  That is a real possibility.
Wallace is a top 5 receiver in the NFL right now.   He was on pace for over 1,600 yards this season before Ben Roethlisberger was injured.  Wallace can run the top off of a defense.  He opens up room for other receivers underneath.  His speed gives him the ability to get massive yards after the catch or run past a defender for a deep ball.  Giving up a first round pick for a contender who is just a step away is not a big loss.  Especially not for a top 5 receiver who has the playmaking ability of Mike Wallace.
Not to mention Wallace is only 25 years old.  He has yet to even enter his prime.  He is still not a complete receiver.  To be a top 5 receiver and not even have reached anywhere nea…

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