While we’re missing the actual date by a little, today Steel Curtain Rising celebrates 10 years on the web! And, in a curious case of life imitating “art”, events have brought this site full circle. How?
Well, on January 6th, 2008 Steel Curtain Rising’s first article read: “Self Inflicted Wounds Lead Steelers to Playoff Loss to Jaguars.” Ten years and nine days later we’d be forced to observe: “Steelers Self-Destruct as 2017 Season Implodes in Stunning 45-42 Loss to Jaguars at Heinz Field.”
- Home playoff losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars are not the preferred way to bookend 10 years of Steelers blog, but it could actually be a good omen (see below).
They’ve been a lot of ups and a lot of downs along the way including, but not limited to Super Bowl XLII and, God willing, Ben Roethlisberger will play well enough and long enough to give the Steelers another shot at the Stairway to Seven.
Until then, let’s take stock of the last 10 years, share some highlights and, most importantly, offer some needed thank you’s.
Steel Curtain Rising – Genesis
While Steel Curtain Rising has only existed for 10 years, its roots dig deep into the 1990’s. At the dawn of the Bill Cowher era, I began PC screen saver marquees with “The Steel Curtain Will Rise Again.”
- Then, during the dark days 1999, I began writing post-game email rants, as an act of catharsis.
Later, during 2000 season, I continued the practice, but decided to focus on the writing and the analysis. Some of those actually made it on to the web via Tim McMillen’s “McMillen and Wife” site, although I’m not sure they’re still there.
In 2001 I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where for the first time in a decade, I was reduced to watching Steelers Monday night and Sunday Night games, often times on tape delay. I continued the post-game emails, driving my wife crazy.
- And she was right: it was a too much work for too little return.
Yet, on a trip home after Super Bowl XL, two people independently complemented me with: “Hey, I really like your post-game write ups. Keep them coming….” A year and a half would pass before I kicked off this site, but I probably never would have had it not been for their complements.
- So if you’ve enjoyed this site, then my cousin Jim V. and my friend Tom L. both deserve credit.
So in January 2008, on the evening of Mike Tomlin’s playoff debut, Steel Curtain Rising launched with the aim of either saying things about the Steelers that others weren’t or say so same things a little differently.
Ten Years of Steelers Blogging Highlights
Independent blogging is tough, and its tougher now than it was 10 years ago thanks to the rise of “content aggregation sites” and the corporatization of the blogging world. So be it.
But until August 2009, Steel Curtain Rising benefitted from the Tribune-Review’s old “SteelersLive Site” which included a link sharing feature that, for a good article, could net you over a 1000 page views in a single shot.
- Thanks to that site, the profile on Greg Lloyd was this site’s most viewed article for a long, long time.
As Archie Bunker sang, “Those were the days.”
In time, on the old blogger platform, the retrospective on Steelers-Patriots history would ellipse that thanks to the magic of Google, as would the landing page for our series on the 1989 Steelers, one of the most enjoyable pieces this site has put together.
While blogger provided an easy way to get to the web, things change in the digital world. And as time passed Google showed a clear preference for independently hosted pages. So we moved to WordPress.
On WordPress the most popular page by far is the history of the Steelers vs. the Dallas Cowboys (thanks to the journalist who gave me a followable link, you have no idea of the favor you did.) After that comes the piece debunking “Your Team Cheats” from a Steelers perspective. Not too far below that comes our 2015 April Fools piece announcing the faux trade of Lawrence Timmons to the Dolphins.
- And, in what is an ominous sign of the times, this site’s 9th most read article is the one documenting Adrian Robinson’s CTE diagnosis….
As noted, independent blogging is challenging, and often times you need an outside push to get your stuff read. So it’s no surprise that the articles contrasting the Steelers and Redskins salary cap negotiation polices and taking Colin Cowherd to task, both of which benefited from Retweets from high profile journalists, did so well. Thanks to both of you.
ICYMI – Sleeper Steelers Stories
While this site’s high-performing articles are pieces to be proud of, they only represent a small cross section of the best work produced here.
Our aforementioned 1989 Steelers series cleaned up on the blogger site, but hasn’t fared so well on WordPress. The Myron Cope obituary, the site’s 12th article, was the first breaking news event I wrote about, and remains a source of site pride, as is Dwight White’s obituary.
- Writing profiles on Steelers legends, both living and for those who have passed, has been a pleasure.
Yet, those pieces don’t always get the traction that you’d think the would, but site tributes to the likes of Kordell Stewart, Rod Woodson, John Stallworth, Jack Butler and Dermontti Dawson, and of course Chuck Noll and Dan Rooney are labors of love, and worth checking out.
If there’s any one surprise in terms of page views, it was a May 2010 piece on the 2000 Steelers road upset of the Jacksonville Jaguars. While it didn’t “go viral” it did well when published kept drawing visitors long after this sort of #TBT type story should.
Thanks You – Part I
Success results team effort and this site is no exception.
To that, thanks go out to my wife and, yes, my mom who help with editing and proofreading when time allows. The articles that have benefitted from their extra pair of eyes should be easy to spot.
- Thanks also go out to Osvaldo in Patagonia, who migrated me from blogger, and Raghav in India who has provided SEO advice from time-to-time.
Words of appreciation are also due for Michael Bean and Neal Coolong, who gave me a chance to contribute to BTSC when it was a site on the rise, and who’ve done favors for this site large and small. Rebecca Rollett, Ivan, Homer, Clark, Bill and all of the contributors at Going Deep with the Steelers also get a well-earned “Thank You” nod here, for the same reason.
The first big Thank You goes out to Gustavo Vallegos, “El Dr. de Acero,” who started contributing articles in Spanish a few years ago and continues to do so on an occasional basis, as time allows. While dream of establishing a true, bi-lingual Steelers blog remains a way off, the truth is Gustavo’s analysis and writing is excellent, and this site is far strong for his contributions. Muchas Gracias, Gus!
- We save the biggest shoutout for the man who’s done the most.
As a rule, big Steelers news has a knack of breaking when I’m away and/or unable to write. Tony Defeo stepped in and began helping by keeping the site updated in breaking news situations when I’m away. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
For close to two years now, Tony has been contributing to this site on a regular basis, raising the level of quality of this site across the board.
His profile on Calvin Sweeney a top-performer and must read. Likewise his piece on Larry Brown. And his work on Weegie Thompson stands as an example of blogging brilliance at its best. Thank You Tony!
Thanks to You the Readers
The biggest thank you goes you to you, the readers. For better and for worse, this site’s footprint in terms of comments and interaction has always been limited. That’s fine. But the Black and Gold faithful find this site, and if Google Analytics is any guide, visitors stay here after they arrive and they, or you, return.
It was also particularly gratifying, in the early days of 2008, before total life time visitors had even broken the 1,000 mark, to see “Steel Curtain Rising” hoping up in the referring keywords report.
- Its been said that Google is the ultimate truth serum and that’s correct in a lot of ways.
The numbers of this site confirm it. While half of this site’s visitors come from Western Pennsylvania, the other half does not. And while the US, UK and Mexico send the lion’s share of visitors, this site has served visitors from nearly every country on the globe.
So thanks to whoever it was from Romania who kept visiting early on, thanks to whoever it was in Austria who visited this site day in and day out for several years. And thanks to the person in Nigeria who searched for Christian Okoye, found the page on the 1989 Steelers Chiefs game, and then went and viewed several dozen other pages.
In a word, thanks to each and every one of you for reading.
Jaguars Playoff Loss as a Good Omen?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are NOT in a good place right now. Instead of playing for the Super Bowl, they’re watching it at home as all sorts of negative stories permeate the press coming out of Pittsburgh.
But things didn’t seem too bright 10 years ago, after a promising season ended with the defense on the decline, and a controversial play call to the outside and a controversial special teams decision allowed the Jaguars to beat the Steelers at home twice in one season.
At that time, I made this observation, in the very first edition of the Watch Tower:
The Steelers are facing a very difficult off season. Even had we finished a little stronger, the team would have a lot of tough questions to answer about both free agents and aging veterans.
But there’s no need to make things out worse than they are, no need to exaggerate, no need to stray from the facts.
Things didn’t feel quite as bleak in January 2008, but the arrow on the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t seem to be pointing up. One year later the Steelers were Super Bowl Bound.
Yours truly is most certainly not predicting a Super Bowl next season. But then again, I wouldn’t have done so in January 2008 either….
Regardless, Steel Curtain Rising will be here to cover and commentate on it all.