Prelude – January 2, 2000, Three Rivers Stadium – The 6-9 Pittsburgh Steelers are en route to becoming the 6-10 Pittsburgh Steelers in a meaningless game vs. the Tennessee Titans.
The game is sloppy.
Both teams return fumbles for touchdowns. But it also features such low lights as Levon Kirkland getting muscled out of bounds by Neil O’Donnell, Wayne Gandy giving up yet another safety, and that of Bobby Shaw basking in garbage time glory by lifting his jersey to reveal a Superman shirt. Reflecting on the erosion of discipline inherent in Shaw’s escapade Bob Labriola of the Steelers Digest remarks, “This must never be repeated.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers have come a long way since then. And while it remains to be seen if the ’13 Steelers can improve on the ’99 Steelers mark for futility, they are exhibiting some similarities.
There are a number of things wrong with these end zone somersaults:
- At the very best, they’re a sign of excessive showboating the Steelers Nation loathes
- In the middle, they create an unnecessary risk of an end zone fumble
- At the worst, players are exposing themselves to potentially life altering injuries
Shaw’s Superman stint happened during the last game of the season, so their was no way to immediately address it. But, as Jerome Bettis often remarked, Bill Cowher reacted to that ’99 season by becoming more demanding. Such lapses of discipline disappeared during the Cowher-Colbert era.
Mike Tomlin said nothing publically about Bell’s end zone backflip after London. But he responded swiftly to Sanders’ imitation by banning such displays.
Tomlin made the right move.