The Pittsburgh Steelers lost 26-20 in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs, assuring them the first losing preseason record of the Mike Tomlin era, for whatever that little factoid is worse.
Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, (and no fan of watching things on the computer) Steel Curtain Rising could not see the game, but as always we’re happy to bring you highlights. Watch them while you can, because Roger Goodell’s YouTube police seem to be more aggressive than ever.
The results in preseason are of course meaningless. Its performance that counts. In that light Steelers Nation is faced with a half full, half empty situation.
Hawthorne stands at 6’ and weighs in at 190 pounds, here is a brief highlight sketch of him from the Illinois OSU Game (available as of 4/27/13):
Joining the Steelers as a 5th round pick in no way guarantees Terry Hawthorne a roster spot. He will need to earn one. Ike Taylor is of course going no where and neither is projected starter Cortez Allen, nor will the Steelers cut William Gay after resigning him.
However, Bruce Arians, who already “poached” Mewelde Moore invited another former Steeler into Hoosier territory. Essex accepted his offer, and is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
The Steelers still could have made an additional move to bolster their offensive line, which only counts eight offensive lineman on the active squad at the moment, at least one below their “normal.”
But they didn’t. Remarks by Kevin Colbert in the recent edition of Steelers Digest indicate that they think highly of Kelvin Becham, and perhaps the Steelers made the calculation that none of the available street free agent offensive lineman would add enough value to their team to sacrifice depth and/or a young prospect.
Or perhaps they’re just banking on the law of averages to protect them from yet another offensive line injury….
Steelers vs. Jets Preview Video
I don’t pretend to follow other NFL teams closely enough to offer detailed pregame assessments, but in this case that is not needed.
Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain (full disclosure, I also write for BTSC) has put together an excellent 6 minute video breaking down the key match ups that will dominate the Steelers-Jets game.
This is only the latest in a series of SB Nation videos produced by Michael Bean. Check them out on You Tube – and the good news is that they’re using authorized NFL footage, so no worry that Goodell’s YouTube police will make them disappear.
The Steelers overtime playoff loss to the Denver Broncos left a lot of bad memories for SteelersNation. At times the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers played with so much promise, at other times they were maddeningly inconsistent.
It is a principle that has guided western jurisprudence for millennia. “All men are bad judges in their own cases” wrote James Madison in Federalist Number 10. Madison was right of course. When deciding between what is just and what is unjust it is near impossible to divorce oneself from self-interest.
So we insulate judges from the political process. We try people with anonymous juries. Parties are represented in courts by professional advocates with a limited personal stake in the outcome. The system of blind justice, while imperfect, has served western civilization well.
Over the last several years evidence has mounted on the disastrous, long-term impact that concussions and repeated head trauma can have an NFL player. The NFL took note, encouraged players to keep a watchful eye on their teammates, put posters up in locker rooms, and prohibited players from returning to games after suffering concussions.
But on the field things continued as normal. That is, until October 6, 2010. The big news that weekend was not the return of Ben Roethlisberger, but two hits by James Harrison.
Those hits led NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to implement an arbitrary policy aimed at cracking down on hard hits, particularly hits to the head.
And he made James Harrison his whipping boy, fining him a record $125,000 dollars. The record reflects that the first several fines that James Harrison drew did not even warrant flags on the field.
Harrison did himself no favors, admitting that while he never sought to injure a fellow player, he did seek to inflict pain. There’s a fine line between the two, particularly when you’re talking about 250-300 pound men running at each other at full speed.
Whether Harrison knew it or not he was throwing the gauntlet down to the NFL, and Roger Goodell and his lackey Ray Anderson were only too happy to pick it up. The James Harrison fine fest began.
The Steelers stood by James Harrison. Art Rooney II was clear that he had no problem with protecting against helmet-to-helmet hits: Rooney’s quibble was with the way the league was changing the rules in mid-season.
Rooney was right of course. He also might have added that Goodell’s enforcement of his 2010 seat-of-the-pants helmet-to-helmet hit policy was arbitrary. Referees started throwing flags for love taps on quarterbacks, at the request of the Tom Brady and Peyton Mannings of the league and, on the flip side, fines started being awarded for plays that no one even thought warranted a flag.
Clarified Rules, Fuzzy Enforcement
The NFL did clarify his rules and procedures aimed at of minimizing head trauma. This is completely the right thing to do, as head trauma could do to the NFL what an incoherent Muhammad Ali did for pro boxing.
Nonetheless, enforcement has been spotty.
In 2011 the NFL has issued ticky tacky fines, reasonable and justified ones, but turned a blind eye to other helmet-to-helmet hits, such as the one James Harrison suffered in Houston. (Interestingly enough, no You Tube video of that hit seems to be available – could it be that the NFL PR people don’t want people to know that all helmet-to-helmet hits are equal, but some helmet-to-helmet hits are more equal…?)
Precedent Breaking Suspension
James Harrison, for all his bravado, has altered his style of play this season, and going into the Browns game he had not been flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
In suspending Harrison, the NFL cited his past history dating back to 2009, and clarified that players had been informed they were not entering 2011 with a clean slate.
Yet, as Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain documented, several other players with a past history have been guilty of far more blatant violations of the helmet-to-helmet hits. Worse yet, players like Richard Seymour continue to punch people out post whistle hits, and continue to draw smaller fines than ones levied for actions taken in the heat of a game.
The Harrison suspension is without precedent.
The last NFL player to be suspended* for a pre-whistle illegal tackle on a quaterback was Charles Martin. Look at the video for yourself (available as of 12/13/11 – not sure how long before the NFL’s lawyers force YouTube to take this down).
A couple of things stand out:
Jim McMahon had clearly released the ball before being hit
Charles Martin knew McMahon had thrown the ball
McMahon had his back to the rusher
Martin not only had time to stop, but adjusted his momentum to deliver a late hit
For this Martin got suspended two games.
Now, look at James Harrison’s offense (video available as of 12/13/11):
Let’s make a few points
Colt McCoy had clearly tucked the ball and was running
McCoy was facing Harrison
Harrison began his tackle while McCoy was still a runner
McCoy tossed the ball away at the last moment
No one can argue that Harrison did not lead with the helmet. But that is legal against an open field runner (whether it should be is different question).
You can say that Harrison should have adjusted his strike zone, given that when it comes to quarterbacks, the burden of proof is on the defender. Ok, but unlike Martin, can you reasonably say that Harrison had time to alter his actions when it was clear that McCoy was going to throw the ball?
Regardless, there is no way anyone can argue that Harrison’s act was anywhere near as malicious as Charles Martin’s was 25 years ago.
Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain is sharing a report from ESPN that the NFL is considering a “1 to 2 game suspension” for James Harrison’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
You can see a replay of the hit itself.
The fact that Harrison made helmet-to-helmet contact is inarguable.
McCoy of course had been running with the ball tucked, and then tossed it out at the last moment. NFL rules stat, however, that in those situations the burden is on the defender, not the quarterback.
Ealier, Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette cited a Mike Florio article that at least in principle argued merits that Harrison might be innocent. Later, Smizik cited another Florio article that indicated the NFL was indeed planning to punish Harrison.
That Harrison would get a stiff fine from the NFL seems to be an accepted fact, but the ESPN report is the first to suggest that a suspension is in the works.
The secret behind the success of the ground-breaking show All in the Family wasn’t simply in the fact that the show dared to go where others hand not gone, but rather that it played on cultural sterotypes so well that the audience got a chance to laugh at itself.
I won’t put this video up on the same plane as All in the Family, but I have no doubt that if you’re reading this, you’ll get a chance to see a little of yourself.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday in the US that cuts across all races, colors and creeds. Here at Steel Curtain Rising we initiated a Thanksgiving Day tradition two years ago, singling out something that Steeler Nation had to be thankful for.
Those plays were tremendous, but fortunately they were simply a warm up act.
Antonio Brown simply improves with each game and exhibits an almost uncanny pass catching ability that could easily grow to surpass that of any other Steelers wide receiver in history.
The Steelers are a small, but important part of our lives. I both trust and hope that all of you reading this have far more important blessings to be thankful for and share in with friends and family on this special day.
Yet as Steelers fans, the development of Antonio Brown is one thing we can all be thankful for.