A Little Article About Rich Erenberg, A Steelers Running Back From The 1980s

The Steelers drafts of the mid-’70s-to-mid-’80s never came close to producing the same legendary results as the ones from 1969-1974, when head coach Chuck Noll and his scouting staff that included lead scout–and son of team owner Art Sr.– Art Rooney Jr. selected nine future Hall of Fame players.

When it came to Rich Erenberg, a running back Pittsburgh selected in the ninth round of the 1984 NFL Draft……well, he was no exception.

  • But in Erenberg’s defense, the Colgate product did show some promise in his rookie campaign.

According to his Wikipedia page, Erenberg tied a Steelers record in his very first National Football League contest with seven kickoff returns in a Week 1 loss to the Chiefs at old Three Rivers Stadium. Erenberg would go on to return 28 kicks during the 1984 season, and while he never came close to taking one to the house–his longest return of the year was 47 yards–he did total a respectable 575 yards for an equally respectable 20.5 yards per return.

Rich Erenberg, Pittsburgh Steelers, 1984 Steelers victory San Francisco 49ers

Rich Erenberg scores a touchdown in the ’84 Steelers upset of the almost undefeated 49ers. Photo Credit: Twitter

However, it was in the backfield where Rich Erenberg actually looked like the proverbial diamond in the rough while posting 405 yards and two touchdowns on 115 carries.

By this point in his career, fans had grown so disenchanted with the performance of Walter Abercrombie, who the Steelers selected with the 12th pick of the 1982 NFL Draft, some were suggesting he change positions from running back to receiver (he really did have excellent hands) in order to pave the way for Erenberg.

Speaking of receiving, Erenberg even showed some promise as a dual-threat running back in ’84, totaling 38 receptions out of the backfield for 358 yards and one touchdown.

If you’re adding at home, that’s 763 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. When you combine those numbers with his respectable return yards, that’s not a bad rookie year for a ninth-round pick out of Colgate, a tiny Division-I AA college located in Hamilton, New York. According to a 2012 article by theinsidepress.com that ranked the greatest athletes in Horace Greeley history (where Erenberg went to high school), Erenberg ws an All-County running back during his junior and senior seasons. At Colgate, Erenberg was a Division-I AA First-Team All-American in 1983 after breaking the record for most rushing yards in a season with 1,883.

Erenberg contributed quite a bit to an ’84 Steelers team that won the old AFC Central Division title by the slimmest of margins and then shocked the football world by upsetting the Broncos in the divisional playoffs and advancing all the way to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since the heyday of the 1970s.

  • If the Steelers were going to get back to their glory days, they needed some mighty youngsters to help pull the rope.

Unfortunately, that ’84 season proved to be the highlight of the entire decade for the Steelers. And much like Weegie Thompson, who also had a promising rookie campaign in 1984, it would prove to be the high point of Erenberg’s career, as he never came close to duplicating his rookie season and was out of football after three years.

If you do a Google search of Rich Erenberg, you won’t find much information, other than he evidently still lives in the Greater Pittsburgh Area and went into real estate after football.

As for that article on the greatest athletes in Horace Greeley history, perhaps it’s no surprise that Erenberg was listed number one.

That’s usually how it goes for even the most obscure professional athletes–they were the BMOC (Big Man on Campus) in high school and college.

No, Rich Erenberg never came close to reaching stardom in the NFL. But in his rookie season, when the Steelers made it to the doorstep of the NFL’s grandest stage for the only time in a decade filled mostly with disappointment and struggle, he gave them just about everything he had.

 

 

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What to Do about Steelers Restricted Free Agent Terence Garvin?

The Pittsburgh Steelers might not be entering 2016 with the type of high profile free agent class that Steelers Nation was forced to endure in the 1990’s (think Neil O’Donnell, Yancey Thigpen, Chad Brown etc….), but almost without a doubt, the Steelers have some complicated choices in front of them.

Steelers restricted free agent Terence Garvin illustrates just how complicated those choices can get.

Capsule Profile of Terence Garvin’s Career with the Steelers

While its true that OTA’s, minicamp’s and other spring workouts are generally much to do about nothing, Terence Garvin proves that events with real news value really do occur during spring practices.

Terence Garvin’s phone didn’t ring during the 2013 NFL Draft. He didn’t even get a call from then linebacker’s Keith Butler offering him an undrafted rookie free agent contract the day after the draft. But the Steelers did offer him an invitation to rookie mini-camp.

He impressed enough to earn a futures contract that got him a ticket to Latrobe. Garvin did well in Latrobe, and although he did not make the final list of cuts, the Steelers did sign him to their practice squad. But Garvin’s stint on the practice squad was short lived.

Then Matt Spaeth suffered a lisfranc injury during training camp, the Steelers put Spaeth on IR and activated Garvin. Garvin dressed for 15 games in 2013, but for the first half of the year he toiled in obscurity on special teams. However, during the later half of the season, attentive fans noted that number 57 would line up with the defense on third downs, replacing Vince Williams.

Then came the signature moment of Terence Garvin’s Steelers career (available as of 2/26/16):

The Steelers had been all but eliminated from the playoffs, the Cincinnati Bengals still had a shot at securing a bye, but Terence Garvin’s hit on Kevin Huber revealed just how badly the Bengals were unprepared for prime time.

Garvin also got injured in that game, but he seemed to have a bright future ahead of him. Mike Tomlin called him “a big safety” and he seemed to be ahead of Williams when it came to pass coverage. The Steelers then of course went and drafted Ryan Shazier in 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft and Sean Spence made a full recovery.

Terence Garvin fell off the radar screen of most Steelers fans, but has remained a solid contributor on special teams.

The Case for Steelers Keeping Terence Garvin

With Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, and Vince Williams the depth of the Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacking corps has been the envy of the NFL for the past two seasons. Garvin has barely been a footnote on that depth chart.

That might make him seem like a luxury, but Sean Spence is due to become a free agent this year and will probably depart for greener pastures and Vince Williams will likely follow the next year.

Those two facts alone, combined with his steady special teams play, make the case for bringing Terence Garvin back to Pittsburgh.

The Case Against Steelers Keeping Terence Garvin

The case against bringing Terence Garvin back to Pittsburgh is a pretty weak one, but it would say that if Garvin dressed to play special teams but couldn’t press Spence or Williams for playing time while Ryan Shaizer was nursing injuries, should the Steelers really settle for 5th best?

Curtain’s Call on Steelers and Terence Garvin

At the end of the day, the question isn’t really whether the Steelers want Terence Garvin back or not it is whether they offer Garvin a restricted free agent offer. Last year the Steelers offered restricted free agent tenders to Will Johnson, Antwon Blake and Robert Golden even though Golden was seen as little more than a special teams player.

  • Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell has estimated that the Steelers could not tender Garvin and save about $900,000.

There is a predicent for that. The Steelers didn’t tender Stevenson Sylvester in 2013 but still brought Sylvester back. But franchise practice has been to tender restricted free agents, and given future uncertainty at the position, the Steelers will likely do that with Garvin.

Free agency go your head spinning? Check out our Steelers 2016 free agent tracker and/or click here to read all articles on our Steelers 2016 Free Agent Focus section. 

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Steelers Antonio Brown Not Forgiving Vontaze Burfict or Adam “Pacman” Jones

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 season has been over for several weeks, and one of the few real bits of news to come out during the 2016 off season is that was Art Rooney II’s confirmation that Antonio Brown has cleared NFL concussion protocols.

In a word, Antonio Brown is not in a forgiving mood. In an interview with KDKA FM Brown pulled no punches regarding his feelings about the hit that cost him a chance to play in the Steelers loss to Denver:

Guys don’t want to stop me anymore. They want to take me out. They want to kill me. They want to steal my dreams. They want to ruin me. They want to end me, but we’re not gonna let them. What we are gonna do is win more.

Brown cleared up any confusion over the conflicting reports over whether he had a chance to play. National reporters quickly reported that Brown would miss the game, while Pittsburgh reporters insisted their was a possibility Brown would suit up. As it was, Brown confirmed that he had zero chance of playing.

Brown also confirmed that Adam “Pacman” Jones, who had accused Brown of faking his injury, had apologized to him. Brown did not respond, and questioned why the media gave Adam “Pacman” Jones such a platform.

Cincinnati Bengals the New Jerry Glanville Oilers?

Bad blood in division rivalries is nothing new to the Pittsburgh Steelers in either the AFC North or its processor division, the old AFC Central. In 1976, with Terry Bradshaw already out injured, the Cleveland Browns dumped Mike Kruczek on his head in a late hit and Jack Lambert ran the length of the bench to “Deliver the punishment.” A decade later Chuck Noll would openly call out Houston Oilers coach Jerry Glanville.

  • Glanville’s Oilers were the bad boys of the AFC Central in the late 1980’s, everyone hated them.

Yours truly can remember one interview where a Bengals player admitted that he almost wished injuries on the Glanville’s players, who was reputed to encourage his men to injury to opposition. Former Bengals coach Sam Wyche once went so far as to call an on-sides kick with the Bengals leading 45-0 in the third quarter. The Bengals recovered, and Wyche went for it on fourth down at mid field.

  • With Vontaze Burfict leading the way, the Cincinnati Bengals of this decade appear to be mimicking their former rivals.

Burfict reportedly celebrated after a tackle he made on Le’Veon Bell that ended his season. Video tape suggests that he attempted to injure Ben Roethlisberger. For those of you keeping score, those are three hits which, deliberately or not, injured the top three Steelers offensive starters.

Kudos to Antonio Brown for not forgiving Vontaze Burfict or Adam “Pacman” Jones. Football is a physical game and a violent game, but playing with the intent to injury should never be part of that game.

And Kudos to Antoion Brown for focusing on what’s most important, revenge through victory on the score board, not through cheap shots.

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