Make no mistake about it Steelers Nation: Tony Dungy is making a statement by asking Donnie Shell to induct him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tony Dungy coaches his former mentor Donnie Shell at St. Vincents in July 1982; Photo Credit: George Gojkovich, Getty Images
Election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the highest individual honor a football player can attain. To date, only 303 players, coaches, or builders have secured induction into Canton. The site Pro Football Reference lists 3,860 defensive backs alone, highlighting just how elite the men wearing the gold blazers are.
Hall of Famers, in turn, have the chance to bestow their own honor by choosing their presenter.
The choice of a Hall of Famer presenter is a highly personal one. Hall of Famers sometimes disappoint when they fail to choose a teammate or coach and instead tap a family member, college or high school coach or even a life-long friend. But this choice belongs to the Hall of Famer, and he has the right to ask whomever he wishes.
But Hall of Famer’s choice sends a strong signal about who that Hall of Famer is and what he stands for.
Dan Rooney asked Joe Greene to present him to confirm unequivocally that Greene’s arrival in Pittsburgh shifted the Steelers fortunes. In contrast, Steelers Nation took Terry Bradshaw’s choice of Verne Lunquist as his presenter as a slap in the face and a snub of Chuck Noll, Dan Rooney and the rest the Super Steelers.
John Stallworth chose his son, which must rank as one of the all-time father and son honors. Mike Webster gave Terry Bradshaw his final chance to put his hand under his butt. Franco Harris chose Lynn Swann to boost his Hall of Fame chances, and Lynn Swann returned the favor for Stallworth.
And so it is with Tony Dungy and Donnie Shell.
Tony Dungy’s Special Relationship with Donnie Shell
Tony Dungy’s play for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a defensive back and later contributions as defensive coordinator did not earn him his spot in Canton. He’s getting elected for his accomplishments as Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach and for being the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl.
It says here that’s a Hall of Fame resume.
But Dungy’s decision to name Donnie Shell as his Hall of Famer presenter represents an implicit acknowledgement of his roots with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tony Dungy and Donnie Shell forged their relationship on the fields of St. Vincents Latrobe.
Like Donnie Shell, Tony Dungy came to Pittsburgh as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Donnie Shell takes instruction from former teammate Tony Dungy
Dungy made the Steelers final roster as a after his rookie training camp, and recorded 3 interceptions and even pulled double duty as an emergency quarterback in a road game against the Houston Oilers. According to Gary Pomerantz’s Their Life’s Work, Dungy missed several weeks of training camp during his sophomore season because of mononucleosis and feared he’d get cut because of it. Shell, his roommate and mentor challenged him to put his faith ahead of football.
Dungy did so and led the Steelers in interceptions that Super Bowl season.
Donnie Shell, along with Greene, Franco Harris traveled to Tampa to comfort Dungy when his 18 year old son James tragically took his own life in 2005. As Pomerantz notes, Shell felt like he and Dungy were still teammates.
And now Dungy is doing his part to boost the Hall of Fame chances of his teammate.
Hall of Fame Case for Donnie Shell
Of all of the greats from the Steel Curtain defense, Donnie Shell might be the most overlooked and most forgotten. He shouldn’t be.
Shell joined the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent in summer of 1974 along with the Steelers legendary 1974 Draft Class. Shell found himself behind Pro Bowler Glen Edwards, but the Steelers traded Edwards, in part, to get Shell into the line up.
Stats compiled by the Dallas Morning News’s Rick Gosselin show how wise of a decision that was. Between 1974 and 1987, Donnie Shell played in 201 games and started 162. During those games Shell:
Intercepted 51 passes
Recovered 19 fumbles
Earned 4 Super Bowl rings
Made 5 trips to the Pro Bowl and was named to 3 All Pro teams
Won Steelers MVP honors in 1980 on a team with 8 Hall of Famers starting
Shell’s 51 interceptions tie him for 32nd on the all time interceptions list, and if that sounds pedestrian, over a dozen Hall of Famer’s on Pro Football Reference’s list of interception leaders have less (although to be fair, not all of those are defensive backs.) As Dungy himself told Gosselin:
Donnie played in the box and was like another linebacker as a run defender. He was probably the most physical player on a physical defense and also had 51 interceptions. He covered Hall-of-Fame tight ends like Ozzie Newsome man-to-man and covered wide receivers in the nickel package. He patrolled the deep zones. He could do it all.
Yes, Donnie Shell could do it all that’s a Troy Polamaluesque resume. Make no mistake about it, by asking Donnie Shell to induct him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tony Dungy is giving his former teammate and lifelong friend a platform that highlight’s Shell’s own Hall of Fame credentials.
Former Steelers outside linebacker Kevin Greene was elected along side former Steelers defensive back and defensive coordinator, Tony Dungy.
Kevin Greene Shined in Black and Gold
In the spring of 1993 NFL teams literally tripped over themselves to land free agents such as Reggie White. Ticker tape parades were thrown, keys to cities were bestowed, and there was much pomp and circumstance. The Steelers took a low key approach, and one of the signings they made was that of Kevin Greene.
By the time the Steelers signed Greene, he was over 30 years old and had amassed 72.5 sacks. Yet he was little known outside of the NFC West, where he’d played for 8 years for the Los Angeles Rams. That changed in a hurry, as Bill Cowher pared him with Greg Lloyd, and together the tandem terrorized opposing quarterbacks for the next three seasons.
Greene played for the Steelers from 1993 to 1995, with his last game being Super Bowl XXX.
During that time Kevin Greene amassed 35.5 sacks, but the Steelers opted to let him depart via free agency, thinking his best days were behind him. That conclusion was very, very wrong, as Greene would go on to play for 4 more years and register another 52 sacks in the process.
The Steelers drafted Tony Dungy in 1977, and he played as a back up defensive back. His most notable feats were subbing as emergency quarterback as a rookie in 1977 when Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek both got hurt. Dungy’s performance was a disaster, but he did complete passes to both Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Dungy also become one of the few modern era players to both record and throw and interception in the same game.
[Editors note, the orginal version of this article had an error, which has been redacted and corrected below.]
Tony Dungy’s biggest play for the Steelers came in Super Bowl XIII, when he forced a fumble after the Dallas Cowboy’s final on-sides kick which Rocky Bleier recovered.
Tony Dungy’s biggest play for the Steelers came in Super Bowl XIII, when he forced Randy White fumble which Dennis Winston recovered. One play later, Bradshaw hooked up with Swann in the end zone
Despite that, the Steelers traded Dungy after the 1978 season, and he played another year in San Francisco.
George Gojkovich, Getty Images – In 1984 Chuck Noll made Tony Dungy the NFL’s youngest defensive coordinator
Dungy spent 1980 coaching defensive backs for the University of Minnesota, but a year later Noll brought him back to Pittsburgh, first as a defensive assistant, then as a defensive backs coach. In 1984, Noll promoted Tony Dungy to defensive coordinator at age 29, making him one of the first, if not the first, African American defensive coordinators.
Dungy’s first two years as defensive coordinator were so successful that he was touted as possibly being the NFL’s first African American head coach. The Steelers defense declined in 1986 and 1987, as the full impact of the Steelers mediocre drafting of the early and mid 1980’s was felt. Nonetheless, in 1987 the Steelers defensive touchodowns, and were 5th in take aways.
The Steelers defense fell on hard times in 1988, finishing dead last.
Indeed, the 1988 Steelers finished 5-11, but saw 4th quarter leads evaporate in at least 3 games. Dan Rooney decided to order changes, and in the ensuring scuffle, Tony Dungy opted to resign rather than accept demotion.
In an ironic twist of fate, Chuck Noll replaced Dungy with Kanas City’s Rod Rust, while Dungy took a position under new Kansas City defensive coordinator Bill Cowher’s staff….
Dungy of course, never did succeed Chuck Noll as many once expected him to, but he did go on to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he hired and mentored Mike Tomlin has his defensive backs coach.
Tony Dungy rightly wins Hall of Fame induction for his work as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and for becoming the first African American to win a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts, but he made important contributions while a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers and, in many ways, his influence lives on in the organization.
Faneca Must Wait
The Hall of Fame candidate with the strongest ties to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization will have to wait another year. Former Steelers, Jets and Cardinals guard Alan Faneca was a candidate for induction into the Hall of Fame, but did not receive the necessary votes.
This was Faneca’s first year of eligibility, and it is not unusual for offensive lineman, who lack statistics and other high-profile measures of success, to wait several years to get induction.
Joining Greene on the Hall of Fame dias are Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Ken Stabler, Dick Stanfel and former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartlo Jr.
As the Pittsburgh Steelers look to their Wild Card game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, the Watch Tower looks back at their last game in the Queen City and the “they fined me, they fined me not” controversy over Vontaze Burfict’s hit on Ben Roethlisberger, Shazier’s emergence as signal caller, plus odds and sods on ex-Steelers and the Steelers evaluation processes.
Perhaps Two for Flinching for Steelers Sports Writers?
Back in junior high, if you flinched when someone pretend to hit, they got to claim “Two for flinching” and then hit you (sort of) for real twice. Perhaps something similar is in order for the Steelers sports writers who covered Vontaze Burfict’s fine or seeming lack thereof.
As Steelers Nation knows, Vontaze Burfict made a blatantly illegal hit on Ben Roethlisberger that the officials chose not to flag.
The early word was that Roger Goodell’s suits at the NFL’s corporate office also declined to fine Vontaze Burfict for his dirty play.
The news that the NFL was turning its head the other way on yet another illegal hit on Ben Roethlisberger came with a peculiar twist – the story broke on Wednesday. That’s odd, because NFL fans are used to hearing how “FedEx envelops carrying fines arrive on Thursday.” But on Wednesday Vontaze Burfict’s agent Audie Attar told told the rest of the world that his client faced no fine.
The blogesphere erupted, and credentialed Steelers writers followed suit.
In an article published that morning, Mark Kaboly, Ralph N. Paulk and Chris Adamski of the Tribune Review opined: “the NFL fined a player as the result of an incident during Sunday’s Steelers-Bengals game. It wasn’t whom the Steelers might have hoped, though.” They then discussed the Steelers who were fined, and communicated that Vontaze Burfict wasn’t.
Later that day, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo simply stated “The NFL has decided against fining Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict…” and then reported various player comments about the issue. A day later, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler restated that “Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was not fined for a helmet shot to Ben Roethlisberger’s ankles.”
Then a funny thing happened.
Vontaze Burfict got a FedEx package from Roger Goodell with a fine in it.
The Steelers sports writers quickly issued updated stories informing that Burfict had been fined, along with Michael Mitchell, Antonio Brown, David DeCastro, Brandon Boykin, William Gay and Marcus Gilbert.
But almost no one stopped to do any self-examination as to why the word of an agent was taken as Gospel.
Seriously. Agents plant stories about their clients all of the time. Sometimes there is even some truth to them. Other times? Not so much. Agents don’t exactly carry the same credibility as Pope Francis.
It would seem like the following is in order for the Steelers sports writers who covered the Vontaze Burfict saga:
Or is it?
Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo raised some very relevant points. After indicating that fine amounts would be known on Friday of that week, Fittipaldo vented to his readers:
So we’ll get this all cleared up about 48 hours after the first report that Burfict would not be fined. There has to be a better way for the NFL to handle its business.
Surely someone from the NFL office monitors what people like Adam Schefter of ESPN and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network report from agents. The NFL sends players fines via Fed Ex by Wednesday so the NFL surely knew the reports were false.
Why not get the word out sooner to avoid a whole lot of confusion and bad publicity for the league?
The smartalec in the Watch Tower wants to say, “Sure Ray, you could have called the league office to confirm.” But in all fairness to Fittipaldo, maybe he didtry to confirm the report and got stonewalled and hence he’s frustrated.
Comparing the first and second half performance of the Steelers defense in the Broncos game is like comparing the last place 1988 Steelers defense to the 2008 Steelers Super Bowl defense.
When asked about that, Mike Tomlin simply said there had been communication issues. Miscommunication forms a part of every football game, but the public only finds out about them when the consequences are evident on the field.
Thanks to Jim Wexell, Steelers Nation has a potential explanation for the root cause of some of the Steelers defensive miscommunications.
During much, if not all of 2015, Ryan Shazier and not Lawrence Timmons has worn the “helmet with the green dot,” or in other words, its Shazier and not Timmons who has the microphone in his helmet and makes the calls on the field.
Wexell first broke the news on a message board chat on December 11th on his Steel City Insider site, and then expanded on the Shazier signal caller story after the Denver game. To the best of the Watch Tower’s knowledge, no other reporter has brought this information to the public. (If they have, their work isn’t indexed very well by Google.)
While this factoid is hardly ground shaking, but Jim Wexell’s ability to uncover nuggets like this come from the time and energy he’s invested in building relationships in the locker room. Once again, Wexell wins Watch Tower Kudos.
SteelersWire on former Steeler Jon Witman
When fans think of great Pittsburgh Steelers running backs, the name Jon Witman usually does not jump to mind. Bill Cowher and Tom Donahoe picked Jon Witman out of Penn State in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft, and by 1999 Witman was the starting fullback, leading the way for Jerome Bettis.
Like too many, life has not gone well for Witman.
Neal Coolong of the SteelersWire brought that information to the attention of his readers, as Witman served as an example of someone whom the Gene UpshawPlayers Assistance Trust was able to help, as Witman battled addiction, depression, and even suicidal tendencies.
While Jon Witman’s story is hardly encouraging, sturggles of post-NFL life, either with or without CTE, need to be told, and SteelersWire was the only Steelers site or Pittsburgh publication to pickup the story. Watch Tower Kudos are in order for Coolong.
In a blurb on who the NFL’s best athlete might be, Fowler offered this about Martavis Bryant:
But what makes him the Steelers’ best athlete is his quick-burst ability. The Steelers track short-burst speed through GPS monitors, and I’m told Bryant often has the fastest times, despite his lanky frame.
That’s an interesting piece of information to have about both Bryant and the Steelers.
Like any NFL team, the Steelers collect reams and reams of information on players prior to the draft, but little is known about if or how those evaluations continue once they reach the South Side.
Thanks to Fowler, now Steelers Nation knows a little more.
Interesting Tidbit on Tony Dungy’s Quarterbacking Stint
Injuries to quarterbacks have been big news in the NFL this year, and with both Mike Vick and Landry Jones getting starts for the Steelers, Pittsburgh is no exception. Studious Steelers fans know Tony Dungy, a former college cornerback who played defensive back for the Steelers, threw 8 passes for Pittsburgh in 1977. But the story of why is not well known.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert changed that with a story on Tony Dungy’s fourth quarter quarterbacking career effort vs. the Houston Oilers after Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek left the game injured.
Dungy’s performance was dismal.
But he did do complete passes to both Lynn Swann and John Stallworth while earning himself the distinction of being the only modern-era player to both throw and make an interception in a single game.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee has announced the 25 finalists for the 2016 Hall of Fame class. In his first year of eligibility former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca has made it to the semifinalist round, and is joined by other recent retirees, Brett Favre and Terrell Owens.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back, emergency quarterback, and defensive coordinator Tony Dungy has again made it to the semifinal round, as has former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene.
The Pittsburgh Steelers 1998 draft offers a model example of how long it can truly take to evaluate in NFL draft class. When Dan Rooney chose Bill Cowher over Tom Donahoe in January 2000, the Steelers 1998 draft was better known for busts like defensive tackle Jeremy Staat and failed offensive tackle Chris Conrad.
Yet, during the 1998 draft the Steelers also picked Deshea Townsend, Hines Ward and Alan Faenca, who was easily Tom Donahoe’s best first round pick.
Unlike defensive players, and offensive “skill” players, there are no statistics to measure the work of offensive lineman. Yet it is there toiling in the trenches that allows the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers to amass the video game like statistics that keep Fantasy Football owners happy. Alan Faneca was one of the better offensive lineman, and arguably the best guard in Steelers history.
Lacking any stats to back up his claim, let’s just show you a piece of his finest handiwork (YouTube video available as of 11/25/15):
Everyone remembers Willie Parker’s 75 yard scamper to the end zone on Super Bowl XL. But what’s less memorable, but no less important, is that Alan Faneca made that play possible by pulling, and totally eliminating the Seattle Seahawks defender from the play, creating a giant hole for Fast Willie to run through.
It is difficult to assess how good Alan Faneca’s chances of getting into the Hall of Fame are.
The current group of 25 finalists will be narrowed further to a group of finalists, who will be debated by the Hall of Fame selection committee and announced prior to the Super Bowl. In recent years former Pittsburgh Steelers have suffered from the “Already too many Steelers in the Hall of Fame” bias, which likely delayed the entry of Jerome Bettis and Dermontti Dawson into the Hall of Fame.
Offensive lineman, lacking quantitative measures, also often have to wait.
Time will tell.
Dungy, Greene, Knocking on Canton’s Door. Again.
Both Tony Dungy and Kevin Greene have been NFL Hall of Fame Semifinalists and finalists several times before, but have failed to make the cut as finalists. The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Tony Dungy as an unrestricted rookie free agent out of Minnesota in 1977.
Dungy, who’d played quarterback in college, spent a week working with the Steelers as a wide receiver before Chuck Noll decided to shift him to safety. Dungy remained at safety for two years with the Steelers, aside from a one game stint as Steelers emergency quarterback in which he managed to complete passes to both Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.
The Steelers traded Dungy to the San Francisco 49ers after Super Bowl XIII (after Dungy had made the game-saving on-sides kick recovery).In 1981 Chuck Noll hired Tony Dungy as a defensive backs coach, and promoted him to defensive coordinator in 1984 making him both the youngest coordinator in the league at that time, and the first African American coordinator.
The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Kevin Greene as an unrestricted free agent from the Los Angeles Rams in the spring of 1993. In Pittsburgh, Greene made the switch from defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker, where he started 48 games and 35.5 sacks.
Who said preseason was boring? Just days ago the story on Steelers quarterbacks centered on Landry Jones’ development and Bruce Gradkowski’s PUP activation. Now Gradkowski is on injured reserve and the Steelers have signed Michael Vick…
In a word the Steelers Michael Vick signing is controversial. And this is understandable. Michael Vick is a convicted felon and who spent 21 months in federal prison for his role in running a dog fighting ring. There’s no sugar coating what Vick did. He mangled dogs, he drowned them, he electrocuted them.
Such crimes are as heinous as they are inhumane.
The Steelers nonetheless have signed Michael Vick and welcomed him into their locker room, sending much of Steelers Nation up in arms. Defending the Steelers Michael Vick signing might not be popular, but the move is consistent with the franchise’s values, it is morally justifiable and finally it makes football sense. Now let’s proceed to these three points in order.
Steelers Michael Vick Signing is Consistent with Franchise Values
Steelers fans and Steelers bloggers, including this site at times, like to wrap a halo around the Steelers and the Rooney’s as the NFL’s good citizens. The fact is that the while the Pittsburgh Steelers generally run one of the cleaner shops in the NFL, they don’t deserve any halos.
Yet even if one accepts that, there are other who charge that the Steelers Michael Vick signing contradicts the values the franchise has long stood for. One such Tweet from Dominic DiTolla illustrates this:
It surprises me that some people were under an impression that a #SteelerWay ever existed at all.
I’ve only interacted with Dominic DiTolla a few times on Twitter, and do not claim to know him well, although I was a fan of his work at the old NicePickCowher site. His overall commentary on Twitter regarding the Vick signing is reasonable and balanced, but yours truly disagrees and argues that there is a “Steelers Way” (albeit one that falls far short of being saintly) and the Vick signing does not contradict that.
Wait! How can you say that knowing what Vick did?
Consider this scenario:
A player going through a divorce needs money. Dan Rooney offers to help and asks him to come to Pittsburgh. The player drives from Texas. He arrives in Pittsburgh too late and the Steelers offices are closed. So the player drives west through Ohio….
The player, who has a 9 millimeter and a shot gun with him, feels that trucks are trying to run him off the road and starts shooting at their tires. The police begin a high speed chase. The player drives off the highway, breaks an axel, loses a tire and abandons his car, at which point he fires at a police helicopter and wounds an officer in the leg. The player tries shooting at another officer on foot but his gun jams. He doesn’t stop until police literally put a gun to his head.
Such a player would certainly have played his last down for the Pittsburgh Steelers, right?
The Steelers gave Ernie Holmes a second chance. And while Holmes was always a handful, he never remotely did anything approaching the highway incident in Ohio again. If Holmes deserved a second chance, so does Michael Vick.
But Wait! Holmes Had Psychological Problems, Vick’s was Premeditated Crime
Yes, unlike Vick, Ernie Holmes had diagnosed psychological problems. Vick’s was a cold blooded premeditated crime pure and simple. All true. But Michael Vick has gone to prison for his crimes. He has been punished, he has repented, he has kept a clean record since then, and he has worked to make amends with animal rights groups.
Fans forget, but former Pittsburgh Steelers player and assistant coach Tony Dungy has personally counseled Vick since his release. There are few men in the NFL with more integrity than Tony Dungy. Tony Dungy is Mike Tomlin’s mentor. He knows the Rooneys well. Mike Tomlin mentioned doing due diligence before signing Vick. You can bet that part of that involved a call to Tony Dungy.
The Steelers do have a history of getting rid of bad apples (see Bam Morris to name one).
But the Steelers also have a history of giving players second chances. Two of them are named James Harrison and Ben Roethlisberger. In short, Michael Vick committed his crime, paid his debt to society, stayed clean and has earned a second chance.
The Steelers Signing Michael Vick is (Plausibly) the Right Football Move
The 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers will not and should not enter the season considered Super Bowl favorites. But they are Super Bowl contenders. The same thing could be said in 2008. Unfortunately, early in training camp that summer Charlie Batch broke his collar bone.
Mike Tomlin wanted a backup quarterback capable of leading the team should Roethlisberger go down.
Within a day Byron Leftwich and Duante Culpepper were in Latrobe, working out for the Steelers. Both former first round draft picks looked strong, but Leftwich was comfortable with his backup role. The Steelers signed Leftwich. Fortunately they didn’t need him much, but when Ben Roethlisberger went down vs. the Redskins in Washington, Leftwich stepped in and the Steelers offense didn’t miss a beat.
Anyone argue that the Steelers dominate that second half the way they did if Dennis Dixon were to have played?
Tomlin himself explained the Steelers decision to sign Vick by going back to that summer of 2008. Landry Jones might have improved, but he clearly isn’t ready to play for the Steelers should Roethlisberger go down even for a short stretch.
Is Michael Vick ready? That’s an open question, as Dominic DiTolla’s tweet indicates:
44.2, 54.9, 50.0, 56.4, 55.3, 52.6, 46.2, 62.6, 59.8, 58.1, 54.6, 52.9
Completion %s for Mike Vick in each of his NFL seasons.
Those numbers are not encouraging in today’s NFL. Divisions within Steelers Nation over Vick’s viability as an NFL quarterback are almost as sharp as they are over the moral issues surrounding his signing.
At 35, Vick’s days as an NFL starting quarterback are over. Fortunately the Steelers are not bringing him into start. God willing, they won’t need him.
But the bottom line is that Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin both believe in the dying art of staffing your backup quarterback position with an experienced veteran. While stats geeks like Bill Barnwell argue that this is salary cap folly, the success of players like Tommy Maddox, Leftwich and Batch speak vindicate Colbert and Tomlin’s approach.
In that light, Vick was the best backup veteran quarterback available.
Perhaps the Steelers could have picked up someone via the wavier wire but that’s involves a big roll of the dice on something that might not happen. Even then, the said newly unemployed veteran would not know the Steelers offense.
Does Michael Vick still have anything left in the tank, even as a backup? If all goes well, Steelers Nation never finds out.
As we celebrate July 4th its appropriate for Steelers fans to reflect Scott Paulsen’s Steeler Nation, something highly relevant to our nation. To put Paulsen’s seminal work into context, we must first take a step back:
Victory over the Colts arrived with a special twist.
The 2005 Colts juggernaut had been anointed as “The Team of Destiny.” Then, before Christmas, the son of Colt’s coach Tony Dungy, tragically took his own life.
Dungy, who defines the concept of “Class Act,” found the entire NFL rallying around him, making the Colts the sentimental NFL favorite. And yet, leading up to their AFC Divisionalplayoff game vs. the Steelers, the Indianapolis Colts ticket office made a peculiar announcement:
They would refuse all calls originating from a 412 area code.
That’s right, Colts were set to play the biggest game in the franchise’s Indianapolis history, and yet they still struggled to keep Steelers fans out of their stadium. The sight of Steelers fans invading opposing NFL venues had been common since the mid 1990’s – Dan Rooney traces it a 1994 road game in Arizona – but the movement was clearly gaining momentum.
Steelers Nation; Photo credit: Fabus, Getty Images/New York Daily News
Paulsen’s piece spread like wildfire in cyberspace, yet was not to be found in a Google search nor did it turn up on WDVE’s site. Fortunately, an Inbox cleaning effort turned up a copy Paulson’s “Nation Building,” and Steel Curtain Rising now offers it here, for everyone in Steelers Nation to enjoy.
Scott Paulsen Gives Us Steeler Nation
Nation Building By WDVE‘s Scott Paulsen – January 18, 2006
Think about this the next time someone begins to argue with you that a professional sports franchise is not important to a city’s identity:
In the 1980’s, as the steel mills and their supporting factories shut down from Homestead to Midland, Pittsburghers, faced for the first time in their lives with the specter of unemployment, were forced to pick up their families, leave their home towns and move to more profitable parts of the country. The steel workers were not ready for this. They had planned to stay in the ‘burgh their entire lives. It was home.
Breath taking Pittsburgh sunrise by Dave DiCello
Everyone I know can tell the same story about how Dad, Uncle Bob or their brother-in-law packed a U-Haul and headed down to Tampa to build houses or up to Boston for an office job or out to California to star in p_rn vide_s.
All right. Maybe that last one just happened in my family.
At this same time, during the early to mid-eighties, the Pittsburgh Steelers were at the peak of their popularity. Following the dynasty years, the power of the Steelers was strong. Every man, woman, boy and girl from parts of four states were Pittsburgh faithful, living and breathing day to day on the news of their favorite team. Then, as now, it seemed to be all anyone talked about.
Who do you think the Steelers will take in the draft this year?
Can you believe they won’t give Franco the money – what’s he doing going to Seattle?
The last memories most unemployed steel workers had of their towns had a black and gold tinge. The good times remembered all seemed to revolve, somehow, around a football game. Sneaking away from your sister’s wedding reception to go downstairs to the bar and watch the game against Earl Campbell and the Oilers – going to midnight mass, still half in the bag after Pittsburgh beat Oakland – you and your grandfather, both crying at the sight of The Chief, finally holding his Vince Lombardi Trophy. Good times baby …. good times.
And then, the mills closed.
Damn the mills.
One of the unseen benefits of the collapse of the value systems our families believed in – that the mill would look after you through thick and thin – was that now, decades later, there is not a town in America where a Pittsburgher cannot feel at home.
Pour House, a now defunct DC Area Steelers Bar. Photo Credit: SteelersBars.com
Nearly every city in the United States has a designated “Black and Gold” establishment. From Bangor, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii, and every town in between can be found an oasis of Iron City, chipped ham, perogies, kilbosa, and yinzers. It’s great to know that no matter what happened in the lives of our Steel City refugees, they never forgot the things that held us together as a city – families, food, and Steelers football.
I have received more email from displaced Pittsburgh Steelers fans this week than Christmas cards this holiday season.
We are the Steeler Nation.
And now, it’s passing from one generation to the next. The children of displaced Pittsburghers, who have never lived in the Steel City, are growing up Steelers fans. When they come back to their parents’ hometowns to visit the grandparents, they hope, above all, to be blessed enough to get to see the Steelers in person.
Heinz Field is their football Mecca.
And if a ticket isn’t available, that’s okay, too. There’s nothing better than sitting in Grandpa’s living room, just like Dad did, eating Grandma’s cooking and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Just like Dad did.
So, to you, Steeler Nation, I send best wishes and a fond wave of the Terrible Towel. To Tom, who emailed from Massachusetts to say how great it was to watch the Patriots lose and the Steelers win in one glorious weekend. To Michelle, from Milwaukee, who wrote to let me know it was she who hexed Mike Vanderjagt last Sunday by chanting “boogity, boogity, boogity” and giving him the “maloik”. To Jack, who will somehow pull himself away from the beach bar he tends in Hilo, Hawaii, to once again root for the black and gold in the middle of the night (his time), I say, thanks for giving power to the great Steeler Nation.
All around the NFL, the word is out that the Pittsburgh Steeler fans “travel well”, meaning they will fly or drive from Pittsburgh to anywhere the Steelers play, just to see their team. The one aspect about that situation the rest of the NFL fails to grasp is that, sometimes, the Steeler Nation does not have to travel. Sometimes, we’re already there.
Yes, the short sighted steel mills screwed our families over.
But they did, in a completely unintended way, create something new and perhaps more powerful than an industry.
They helped created a nation. A Steeler Nation.
From Steeler Nation to Steelers Nation
Nearly ten years later, reading Scott Paulsen’s epistle still raises the hair on the back of my neck.
His term “Steeler Nation” took on a life of its own, morphing into “Steelers Nation” and has been the subject of books and documentaries since then. The movement continues, with the sight of Steelers fans dominating opposing stadiums becoming more and more common.
And as the nation celebrates July 4th, as Steelers fans let’s give thanks to Scott Paulsen and WDVE for giving our nation its name.
The Steelers 2015 Draft is in the books so the Watch Tower turns its lights to the press coverage of the Steelers draft and all the associated efforts the go with it.
Colbert, Tomlin & the Art of the Informationless Press Conference
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Ed Bouchette once lamented that Mike Tomlin had “mastered the art of the informationless press conference.” Bill Cowher was no better, with John Steigerwald admitting that he stopped asking questions at press conferences five or six years before Cowher departed.
To a lay person’s view these complaints are a little surprising.
Unlike other NFL teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers severely limit media access to their head coach and general manger. Kevin Colbert doesn’t do interviews during the regular season. Mike Tomlin’s offseason media availability is so limited that Pittsburgh reporters actually have to travel to the NFL owners meetings to get on the record time with Tomlin.
So you’d think that reporters would welcome whatever on the record interaction with Colbert and Tomlin that they can get.
And they probably do, but pay close enough attention, and you’ll the media’s collective appetite for more is apparent. And prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, independent Pittsburgh sports reporting czar Dejan Kovacevic, offered some insight into why.
In his pre-draft article, Kovacevic argued that cornerback was the Steelers top draft need bar none, and attempted to get Kevin Colbert and/or Mike Tomlin on the record confirming his view point. He then warned his readers “Which, of course, led me to waste everyone’s time by asking this question at the session today:”
Kovacevic didn’t get the answer he wanted, and Colbert’s simile seems to indicate that the General Manager is fully aware of that fact. Kovacevic’s a savvy enough that Colbert’s answer didn’t come as a surprise.
But listening to Colbert and Tomlin’s generic, boiler plate on steroids response has got to be frustrating, especially for a reporter who has probably heard both men give far more informative and perhaps colorful answers in off-the-record settings.
Indeed, it would be refreshing for all, if Colbert had said something like this:
I understand where you’re coming from, but ultimately history has taught us not to lock in on any one player or one position. Think back to the 2012 draft, when many thought cornerback a priority need for us, and it probably was. But look what happened. David DeCastro, a guy who most experts had going in the top ten, fell right into our laps. Now guard wasn’t as urgent of a need as corner and some other positions at the time, but we thought that DeCastro had the type of talent that you simply cannot pass on. So we drafted David DeCastro and he’s growing into the stud we thought he would right before our eyes. So to answer your question, yes, corner’s on our want list going into this draft, but we’re simply not going to commit to addressing it in any particular round.
OK, perhaps Colbert wouldn’t have been quite so explicit, but this was an accurate description of what happened in 2012, and such an answer would have set the stage for what happened in the 2015 draft.
Needed More Press Coverage on Steelers Scouting Operations
Kovacevic’s (and other reporters) frustration with the dearth of hard information coming out of the Steelers pre-draft press conferences represents a symptom of a deeper problem:
The workings of the Steelers scouting and evaluation process are almost a complete mystery.
OK, neither the Steelers nor is any other NFL teams going to publish their equivalent of trade secrets to the public at large. Nor should they. But much the same can be said for game planning and offensive and defensive strategies, and yet the press does provide the public with valuable insights on those fronts. Without doing any exhaustive research, here are a few morsels freely available for public consumption:
At first, Mike Tomlin granted his coordinators far greater autonomy than Bill Cowher did
Pre Bruce Arians comments, Tomlin took some of that autonomy away on the offensive side
Word is Tomlin will play a greater role in defensive game planning, implying LeBeau’s autonomy remained intact
Peek back into further history and you’ll discover other examples:
It was Chan Gailey and not Ron Erhardt who fathered the 5 wide out spread during the run to Super Bowl XXX
Jed Hughes went over Tony Dungy’s head to push Aaron Jones ill-fated move from defensive end to outside linebacker
Contrast that with what we know about the Steelers scouting processes, player evaluation, and decision making processes. Very little is known indeed. The Watch Tower commended Ed Bouchette for getting Bill Cowher on the record, describing Dan Rooney’s process for achieving pre-draft consensus between his head coach and Directors of Football Operations.
That was an incredible piece of insight on its own merits that whose value was enhanced by its rarity.
Steelers Draft War Room Circa 1974: Bill Nunn Jr, Dick Haley, Tim Rooney and Art Rooney Jr.
More recently, we know that Maurkice Pouncey knocked the socks off of Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine. But there’s far more that Steelers Nation doesn’t know about the Steelers scouting operation that it does know.
Some of this is logical. While the Steelers may restrict official press access to their position coaches, beat writers see them on a daily basis, and undoubtedly engage in all sorts of off-the-record chats at water coolers, in elevators, and heck probably while in the john. In contrast, scouts are out in the field… scouting.
Nonetheless, the Watch Tower calls on the credentialed scribes in Steelers Nation to provide the fan base with deeper insight into this critical facet of the Pittsburgh Steelers operation.
Steelers 2015 Draft Day Bragging Rights for Kovacevic, Kaboly, Lolley & Wexell
Mock drafts and draft predictions seem to have grown to the point where they’re an industry all of their own (just Google 2016 Mock draft and you’ll see) and the scribes of Steelers Nation are no exception.
Unlike 2015, when Jim Wexell nailed the Steelers pick of Ryan Shazier, no one had Pittsburgh picking Bud Dupree. That’s because everyone projected Dupree as a top 10 pick. Nonetheless, Dejan Kovacevic correctly read the Kevin Colbert tea leaves, and sensed that the Steelers were leaning towards pass rush.
So kudos to Kovacevic for being the one to say “pass rusher” when everyone else was still saying corner (for the record Kovacevic took stark exception to the Bud Dupree pick, and gives the Colbert/Tomlin first round picks a collective D+ grade.)
When Jerome Bettis stood on the dias after Super Bowl XL holding the Steelers One for the Thumb in his hands he proudly declared, “The Bus stops here.” Bettis had wanted to retire after the 2004, but came back for one more year at the urging Hines Ward and Ben Roethlisberger and when he learned that Super Bowl XL would be played in his home town.
With a Super Bowl ring on his finger, Bettis decided to move on with his “Life’s work.”
There’s no better way to go out on top, and so very few have a chance to do it that way. But for a player of Bettis caliber the Super Bowl shouldn’t be the pinnacle. There was one more honor, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For a while, it seemed like the Bus might in fact have stopped in Canton.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame declined to induct Bettis in 2012, 2013 and 2014. It looked like Bettis was in danger of being black balled. Fortunately, that’s not a worry today, as the 46 members that comprise the Pro Football Hall of Fame voted to induct the Jerome Bettis.
So happy to be amongst the games greatest players!! My Family and I are truly honored and blessed!
Joining Jerome Bettis are the San Diego Charger’s Junior Seau, the Kansas City Chiefs Will Shields, Charles Haley of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, and Tim Brown of the Oakland Raiders. Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff entered as a member of the seniors category, while both Green Bay General Manger Ron Wolfe and former Bills, Panthers, and Colts GM Bill Polian were selected as members of the newly created contributor category.
Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene Not So Lucky
Jerome Bettis was not the only player with strong ties to the Pittsburgh Steelers who was eligible for the Hall of Fame. Former Steelers player and assistant coach Tony Dungy was eligible again this year, but was not inducted nor was Kevin Greene, who, while he play most of his seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, gained his greatest noterity on Bill Cowher’s Steelers teams of the 90’s playing opposite Greg Lloyd.
15 Jerome Bettis highlights taken from throughout the legendary Steelers running back’s career show just why the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee was right to include the Bus in the 2015 Hall of Fame Class. That year 3 candidates with strong ties to the Pittsburgh Steelers were finalists and they are Kevin Greene, Tony Dungy and of course Jerome Bettis.
While most of Steelers Nation would be perfectly happy to see Dungy and Greene elected, Bettis is the one we cared about.
The committee gave Steelers Nation their wish, and these 15 Jerome Bettis highlights taken from throughout his career, that show just why Bettis is such a worthy Hall of Famer. Either click the links below or scroll down to relive 15 top highlights from Jerome Bettis’s career.
Jerome Bettis shows Brian Urlacher who is boss
I. Bettis Best Game Ever
12/12/93, Los Angeles Rams 23, New Orleans Saints 20
Sometimes we easily forget Jerome Bettis wasn’t always a Pittsburgh Steeler after so long as “The face of the franchise.” But it is true. The Los Angeles Rams selected Jerome Bettis with the 10th overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.
Bettis took the league by storm, rushing for 1,429 yards as a rookie, and his best game of the season came vs. New Orleans, when he banged out 212 yards on 28 carries, for one touchdown. That was his highest single game rushing total ever, and it included his longest run at 71.
Although Bettis would never have a better day statistically, he did have bigger games — all for the Black and Gold.
II. Bettis First 100 Yard Game for Steelers
9/8/96, Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Baltimore Ravens 17
Jerome Bettis’ first game for the Steelers didn’t go so well, as Pittsburgh suffered a disastrous defeat in Jacksonville at the hands of the Jaguars with injuries decimating the linebacking crops, with Bettis 57 yard effort an under story.
He made good in week 2 the first Steelers-Ravens match up ever. Bettis rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries – and he didn’t even start. Erric Pegram had that honor, who turned in a respectable 60 yard on 11 carry performance
III. Rams Rue Decision to Run Bettis Out of Town
11/3/96, Pittsburgh Steelers 42, St. Louis Rams 6
Jerome Bettis was the only positive for the 4-12 1993 Rams. Chuck Knox aka “ground Chuck” got the ax the team hired Rich Brooks and moved to St. Louis. For whatever reason Bettis and Brooks didn’t work well together. Bettis production dropped by 400 yards in 1994 and to 637 yards in 1995.
Dick Vermeil’s first decision was to pick Lawrence Philips in the 1996 draft.
By the time the Steelers played the Rams at mid-season, it was already clear that the trade might have been one of Tom Donahoe’s best ever personnel decisions. Bettis already had six 100 yard games and laid claim to the moniker, “The Bus.”
Bettis exploded vs. the Rams, scoring the first two touchdowns and racking up 100 yards before the half, as The Bus steamrolled the Rams to the tune of 129 yards rushing on 19 carries for a 6.8 yard average. For the record Lawrence Philips had six yards on 5 carries….
Carnell Lake returned a fumble 83 yards for a touchdown, but the Colts would threaten the entire game, as the Steelers lost Kordell Stewart and Charles Johnson to injury. Things got so bad that reserve receiver Mike Adams had to play the entire second half on a torn ACL.
The Steelers did what they worked for them best in that day and age – they rode The Bus. Bettis racked up 164 yards, his highest total as a Steeler, on 30 carries including one touchdown.
But credit Jerome Bettis as the game’s unsung hero. The fireworks took place in the first half, which ended in a 21-21 tie. The second half started with the Broncos getting a field goal and the lead.
Then Bettis took over.
He pounded Denver into submission, including 24 yard run where he literally dragged defenders for a good 7 or 8 yards after contact. When all was said and done, The Bus had run for 24 yards on 125 carries.
When the season finale vs. Jacksonville arrived, the Jaguars started their back up and the only thing at stake was Bill Cowher’s chance to avoid his first losing season. He didn’t.
The harsh reality is that many of Cowher’s players quit on him.
But one player shown out. He not only gave it his all, he played with power and he delivered results. That player was number 36, Jerome Bettis who ran for 139 yards and caught 4 balls for 24 yards – and he did it on a bum knee, having announced to ABC’s sideline reporter that he’d scheduled surgery for the following morning.
Stepping up in games like these were one reason why Bettis owned the Steelers locker room.
George Seifert’s Carolina Panthers came to Three Rivers Stadium with a 7-7 record while the Pittsburgh Steelers were reeling on a six game losing streak.
The Steelers looked like easy pickings.
Early on the Steelers looked lackluster, but then it started to snow. Snow blanked the Astroturf at Three Rivers Stadium, and it left the Panthers flat footed. The Bus took off, rushing for 137 yards and inspiring the team to victory. The Panthers made a run late in the game as they fought to within 3 late in the third quarter. But Bettis did what he always did – iced the game away with a dominating 4th quarter that saw him barrel into the end zone with 3:47 remaining to put the game away.
Bill Cowher had other ideas. He didn’t care that he’d started 0-3. He didn’t care that the Jacksonville Jaguars were Super Bowl contenders. He didn’t care that Jacksonville had won 3 straight vs. Pittsburgh. He didn’t care that Kent Graham, his starting quarterback, had been injured late in practice on Friday.
He didn’t care because Bill Cowher preached that players should expect to win on Sunday.
In this game, names like Joey Porter, Aaron Smith and Desha Townsend announced their presence to Steelers Nation and as the Steelers defense dominated. But on a day where Kordell Stewart only managed 132 yards passing, Jerome Bettis carried the Steelers offense. He didn’t break 100 yards, but he did run for 97 and scored two touchdowns. The victory in Jacksonville set the tone for the Steelers for a decade and, once again, the Steelers rode the Bus.
IX. Bus Shines in Old Fashioned Steelers Raiders Showdown
12/3/00, Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Oakland Raiders 20
This probably gets left off of many other worthy Jerome Bettis Hall of Fame games lists, but it makes it here because this game simply doesn’t get its due. The twin Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowls defined pro football excellence in the 70’s, but had they not then the dozen epic matchups the Steelers and Raiders fought between 1970 to 1980 would have.
Due to scheduling irregularities, the Raiders would not play in Pittsburgh for 20 years. That changed in December 2000, and the matchup was worthy of the best of Steelers-Raiders lore. The Steelers had clawed their way out of an 0-3 start back to 6-6 while the Raiders boasted a 10-2 record.
The Steelers comeback left Pittsburgh with some priceless memories:
Kordell Stewart’s miraculous recovery, including his 17 yard touchdown run
Mark Bruener marshaling pure will power to win a goal line dog fight to spark the Steelers rally
Jon Gruden pleading for a 5th down after the Steelers defense stopped him cold on 4th down with 7 seconds left.
But what many forget, is that amidst all the chaos Jerome Bettis “quietly” kept the offense moving for by rushing for 128 yards. That’s just what Hall of Famers do.
X. Bus Rolls Over Redskins in Three Rivers Stadium Finale
12/16/00, Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Redskins 3
In 2000 Daniel Snyder bought his first off season Lombardi. For many fans and press alike, Snyder’s signing of Deon Sanders in June made the delivery of the Redskins 4th Super Bowl trophy a mere formality. The schedule had been published by then, and few Redskins fans even gave a second thought to the fact that they’d have to play the Steelers in the final game a Three Rivers Stadium.
A far different off season narrative had been penned for Jerome Bettis.
Declining production in 1998 and 1999 led many, inside and outside Pittsburgh, to assume Bettis best days were behind him.
Jerome Bettis & Franco Harris. Photo Credit: Matt Freed, Post-Gazette
Yet, when the Three Rivers Stadium finale arrived, it was Jerome Bettis, and not any of Daniel Snyder’s high-priced free agents, who dominated the game. Bettis charged up and down the middle of the Redskins defense for 104 yards on 25 carries, and added another grab for 25. Perhaps the biggest highlight came when Deon Sanders backed away rather than try to tackle Bettis.
Daniel Snyder grew so incensed that he tried to order Myron Cope to alter his color commentary, to which Cope retorted,
“If that boy billionaire thinks he can shut me up, then he can take his head and stick it in a bucket of paint!”
Suffice to say, all of Snyder’s money could neither silence the voice of Steelers Nation, nor change the fact that The Bus had plenty of tread left on his tires.
XI. Bettis Leads the Way as Steelers Inaugurate Heinz Field with a Win
Instead, the Steelers would open at home nearly a month later, and this time vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. Bettis again led the way for the Steelers offense, piling up 153 yards on 25 carries, and giving the Steelers their first win in their new home.
XII. Bus Comes Off Bench to Help Steelers Spoil Philly’s Perfect Record
Staley had run well in the season’s first seven games, but got injured in the Steelers upset of the Patriots. Prior to the season, Jerome Bettis had accepted a pay cut and was seen by many as an insurance policy at best or a scholarship year at worst.
Bettis proved his critics wrong as he ran for 133 yards and helped the Steelers spoil the Eagles 7-0 record.
XIII. Bus, Staley Tag Team to Bludgeon Jets in Playoffs
Jerome Bettis started this game, but had to take himself out due to injury. Staley came in and continued to pound the Jets. Then he got hurt and Bettis had to return.
It was a sight to behold – two Steelers big backs alternating to pummel an opponent into submission.
The Steelers needed every bit of it, as Ben Roethlisberger began playing like a rookie, and the Jets mounted a stiff challenge. At the end of the day, Bettis the 32 year old war horse, ran for 101 yards and a touchdown.
The Steelers were at 7-5 and coming off a 3 game losing streak. Bill Cowher took the unusual step of order a full pads practice. He told the team they were Christopher Columbus uncharted journey. And with the 9-3 Bears coming to town, he turned to his gamers.
The record will note that Willie Parker got 21 carries as opposed to Bettis 17, but the Bus carried the day for the Steelers rushing for 101 yards, including dominating Brian Urlacher in one incredible 1-1 open field confrontation.
The Chicago game marked Bettis final 100 yard effort. But The Bus made it count.
Bettis didn’t break 100 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown. He didn’t rip off a record breaking run.
Bettis finger print was all over the field, a fact made evident when Joey Porter pulled a surprise, and allowed Bettis to emerge as the lone Steeler during introductions.
Bettis leadership and inspiration is what drove the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers on their improbable 8 game season-closing winning streak and ultimately to One for the Thumb.
15 MORE Reasons for Jerome Bettis to be in the Hall of Fame
The tough thing about writing an article like this, aside from finding the time, is limiting this list to 15 worthy Jerome Bettis Hall of Fame Games. Many other candidates scream for inclusion.
Forget about the numbers and statistics.
Hall of Fame worthiness comes from defining what it means to be excellent at your position. When you look at a sampling of his work, who can argue that Jerome Bettis failed to accomplish that? In 13 years as an NFL running back, from his rookie season to his final season, Bettis dominated games.
Jerome Bettis belongs in the Hall of Fame. Period.
As it stands, the Chuck Noll Coaching Tree’s Lombardi count remains at 6, counting Chuck Noll’s 4, Tony Dungy’s 1 and Mike Tomlin’s 1. 6 Lombardi’s is nothing to sneeze at, but it would have been nice to see Fox pad the total with a 7th, if for no other reason that Fox and Tomlin the only one’s left to continue the Emperor’s legacy.
Steelers Nation can take heart in a moral victory of sorts. Defense has always provided the foundation for the Pittsburgh Steelers greatness. Yet, the NFL today is all about offense. The old adage that “Offense wins games, defense wins championships” has been replaced by new conventional wisdom that “Perfect offense defeats perfect defense.”
Except in this case Seattle’s defense was far more perfect that Denver’s supposedly unstoppable offensive juggernaut
And the running game, another staple of Steelers football, also played large in Seattle’s title run.
Of course once Steelers Nation finishes patting itself on the back for this “moral victory” (should they choose to do so – few other Steelers outlets are pedaling this line) there then comes a sobering reality:
Seattle’s defense is far more potent than the Steelers defense is now, or is likely to be in the near future. Le’Veon Bell, however is closer to reviving the Steelers running game.
If there is a bright side, it is that Seattle built it defense quickly. Does it seem like it can only be three seasons ago that the Steelers shut out Seattle in their rebound for the Debacle in Baltimore? No it doesn’t. But three seasons it is.
All the more reason for Kevin Colbert and company to make this draft count while Ben Roethlisberger‘s championship viability remains.
Excuse Making to Stop?
Seattle’s victory in Super Bowl XLVIII brings another potential plus to Steelers Nation. It perhaps opens the door to the possibility that the incessant and annoying excuse making for Super Bowl XL might stop.
Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires Predicts Super Bowl, Outcome
As we close the page on the NFL’s 2013 Season it is only fair to recognize who got it right, from the very get go. And he happens to be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires.
Carlos Montaldo is an Argentine in his 40’s who speaks little English and has never been to Pittsburgh. He’s also a Steelers fan (and an upstairs neighbor.) And he LOVES football (the real kind, not futbol).
Very early in the season, he predicted that the Super Bowl would come down to Denver and Seattle. He stuck to it all year long. And when everyone and his brother was predicting a Denver victory, Carlos called it for the Seahawks – and backed it up with 100 dollars (and that is no small expression of confidence, if you know how precious dollars are in Argentina.)