Monday, August 29, 2011

Charlie: The Best of the Batch

     Charles D'Donte Batch was born on December 5th, 1974 in Homestead. Pa. The son of Lynn Settles - her pride and joy. Charlie, as he's commonly known, was age seven he started playing Midget Football. He'd eventually take those moves to Steel Valley High School where he lettered three times in football as well as twice in basketball. He was even an All-State third-team and Pittsburgh Press "Fabulous 22" pick as a senior in 1991. Simply put, he had become a well-known athlete in Western Pennsylvania sports. Nothing has changed.
     Charlie Batch has been with the Steelers' organization since 2002 where he was reunited with current Steelers GM, Kevin Colbert. He has served as the Steelers 2nd or 3rd string quarterback since that time and has a 4-2 record when starting. He is currently in battle again for the Steelers back-up role, this time with Dennis Dixon.
     Dennis Dixon was always a highly desired player. Cincinnati wanted him and Atlanta worked hard to get him into their fold. He was highly sought after and many wanted him coming out of Oregon. For baseball.
     Dennis Dixon had a promising career in baseball as he was initially drafted in the 20th round of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft. But Dixon opted to grayshirt (attend school part-time and retain eligibility) for the 2003 season and played his freshman season in 2004. Then following his junior year at Oregon, Dixon was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft. Dixon felt that his first love was football and, after stints with two Atlanta Braves rookie league teams, returned to Oregon for his senior football season in 2007. The next year Dixon was taken in the 5th round (156th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers and it was speculated that he could be used in the manner that the Steelers used  Kordell Stewart or Antwaan Randle-El, a college quarterback turned NFL receiver.
     Fast forward four years and there is no sign of baseball as Dixon decided that football was the game of choice, but there is no sign of multiple positions being played either. Instead Dixon is only playing quarterback and he has a chance to the no. 2 ahead of Charlie Batch. But he shouldn't be.
     The more I watch of Dixon and the more I think about it in general, I just don't think he'll ever be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. Sure, he has talent and potential. But talent can be wasted and potential can be a dirty word. Dixon simply doesn't come off as having the needed tools to succeed in the NFL. There are several reasons for this as well. Dixon has the tendency to rely too much on his natural ability instead of learning how to go through his checks. So, instead of going through the full progression, he'll check down one, then check down the second and then he looks lost. His career numbers bear this out as he has only completed 59% of his passes and only has one touchdown against two interceptions.
     His instincts leave a lot ot be desired also. Being able to feel the rush is essential for any good quarterback, a quality he just doesn't seem to have. Despite his seemingly having those skills in college, they obviously didn't graduate wiht him. Throwing short when under duress, moving out of the pocket too late to avoid a sack, moving too late to be able throw the ball away, and not knowing where he is on the field causing him to throw the ball after he's passed the line of scrimmage are all qualities an effective-to-elite QB has to know to be successful. Qualities he simply doesn't have.
     His scrambling/running ability haven't saved him either. Though known for such skills at Oregon, we've only seen a glimpse of it while he's been in the league: November 29, 2009 against the rival Baltimore Ravens when he ran for 27 yards on three carries, including a 24 yard touchdown naked bootleg run. Other than that there hasn't been much there either. Dixon simply hasn't seemed to produce as had been expected by myself and many others.
     That leaves Charlie Batch to be the back-up in the Steel City, a role with which I do believe Batch is familiar. It's a role that Batch held a few times over the years since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2002, and one he should hold again this year.
     Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that Dennis Dixon is younger, faster and possibly stronger than Batch at this stage in their careers, but what Batch has in the way of experience and familiarity with the system speaks more loudly. He has a winning record as a back-up for a reason and even opened up a previously stagnant offense under Dixon last year at Tampa Bay, and almost pulled out the game against the Ravens.
     But there's another reason why Charlie Batch should be the no. 2 quarterback. It's the reason that was delineated at the beginning of this article: Batch is beloved in the community. It's not only for his play over the years, either, but because of his giving back to the community. His organization "Best of the Batch." and "Project C.H.U.C.K."-an annual youth basketball league in Homestead-are fixtures in the area and part of what make him a beloved figure.
     Batch established his Best of the Batch Foundation in 2000 primarily to serve underprivileged youth in the Pittsburgh area. Charlie proudly takes a very active hands-on role in this not for profit organization.
     As was mentioned at the beginning of the artcle, Batch is from the area and now regularly visits the schools in the Steel Valley School District and around the city of Pittsburgh to speak to the students of all grades. He also attends functions presented by the community, and is always in attendance for the events that Best of the Batch organizes. Plain and simple, he is an intregal part of the team and also the city.
     Don't take my word for it, though. You can see and read all about him and his organization at the links provided below:
http://www.batchfoundation.org/overview.html

http://www.batchfoundation.org/charlie.shtml

http://www.bestofthebatch.org/
     Whether, then, it could be considered for the sake of the team, for the sake of the city or for the sake of Batch himself, he should be the no. 2 QB behind Roethlisberger. He's a veteran with savvy and experience enough to carry the team for a short period, if needed. He has an established rapport Roethlisberger as it is. Also he's familiar with the need to stay physically and mentally sharp enough to be called upon to go in at a moment's notice. He's been there and he knows what it takes. In more ways than one, he's simply the best of the batch.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

2011 Steelers Final 53-Man Roster Prediction 2.1 - QB Injury Update

    When I wrote my previous 53-man prediction I said that I wouldn't be revising the roster prediction unless there was an injury. Well now we've had an injury. We've also had a new player, an old player, and a player who may have earned a roster spot to affect it as well.
    Byron Leftwich broke his left arm on what looked like a routine scramble in the 3rd quarter. It turned out to be anything but routine as he immediately got up in obvious pain, pulled off his helmet with his right hand and ran toward the sidelines with a look of extreme pain on his face.It looked as if his elbow had dislocated and he just held it gingerly to his side. He'll be placed on injured reserve and will thus miss the season.
    Trai Essex has lost weight and gained a possible roster spot as he was signed back to the team on monday, August 22nd. The move was necessitated by two knee injuries to their left tackles, Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert who'll also play left guard.
     Another change surrounds the defensive backs. Cortez Allen has pretty much (not) played himself onto the Practice Squad. I will state, though, that Crezdon Butler needs to prove that he actually belongs on the active roster and not the Practice Squad himself. He hasn't shown anything and, therfore, really only has one more week to prove that he does belong. If not, that would allow the Steelers to place Allen on the active roster preventing some other team from taking a fly on him. He'd have to clear waivers and the team taking him would have to put him on their active roster as well if he were placed on the PS, so he may be safe either way. So who is it that has played his way onto a possible roster spot? Donovan Warren. He has shown himself to be ready for primetime in the limited action he's seen, and all reports out of Camp and team practices say that he has real potential.
     I also had to adjust the wide receiver position because I'd initially had Grisham on the roster. I thought that he was no longer eligible for the PS, but Ed Bouchette has reported that he actually is. Not only that but Ken Laird of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has said that Arnaz Battle actually has played better in Camp and in practices. So that means, along with the addition of Essex, a couple of players had to be moved off. The other players affected by this were Weslye Saunders and Wes Lyons. This concerns me because of the very reason I spoke of regarding Cortez Allen earlier. But there are only 53 roster spots. That being said, let's look at the revised list complete with the PS prediction.

OFFENSE:

Quarterbacks:
Ben Roethlisberger- 7 for #7; Charlie Batch- Uncle Charlie benefits from an injury to a QB seeded in front of him for the second straight year. Dennis Dixon- would seem to make the most sense for the no. 2 spot now that Leftwich is out because he's younger, faster and more athletic than Uncle Charlie, but Batch knows the system inside out and is more football wise.

Running Backs:
Rashard Mendenhall- his 13 TDs last year led the team in scoring; Isaac Redman- ran with authority against the Redskins; Mewelde Moore- slow and steady wins the race...and the 3rd RB spot; Jonathan Dwyer- thank Baron Batch's torn ACL for this one....but he has started to show promise.

Wide Receivers:
Mike Wallace- so fast that when he turns out the lights to go to sleep, he's in bed before the room gets dark; Hines Ward- the REAL Man of Steel; Emmanuel Sanders- the agony of da feet? Maybe, but the outlook is getting more and more optimistic; Antonio Brown- has been the Camp MVP and has shined brightly in each of the first two games; Jerricho Cotchery- he's a poor man's Hines Ward and half of his career NFL touchdowns have been in the red zone; Arnaz Battle- wasn't even on my first roster projection mainly because of his (lack of) performance against Washington. But he has shown himself overall worthy of a spot mainly because of his Special Teams play.

Tight Ends:
Heath Miller- incredibly underrated TE; John Gilmore- better at blocking than at pass catching; David Johnson- completes the three TE set mainly because he's fills the H-Back role so well.

Offensive Line:
Jonathan Scott- blindside; Chris Kemoeatu- if he keeps his head in the game...honestly, he's the best pulling guard in the league when he wants to be; Maurkice Pouncey- the anchor; Ramon Foster- solid at right guard; Willie Colon- I have a habit of calling him Willie Colon Cancer, but all I'm hearing is good things about him and he was mauling guys in both preseason games; Doug Legursky- The Big Legursky; Marcus Gilbert- coming along slowly, but wasn't unimpressive in the Washington game; Tony Hills- where was this the last two years; and the aforementioned and recently reacquired Trai Essex. Y'all remember him, right? His entrance most likely means Keith Williams' exit to the PS for this year.

DEFENSE:

Defensive Line:
Aaron Smith- the unsung hero's last hurrah; Casey Hampton- looking solid as always; Brett Keisel- finally made a Pro Bowl last year; Evander Hood- Now the boys in the hood will pull ya card...and have Aaron's job by the end of the year; Cam Heyward- another lineman with a mean streak....and he's not afraid to use it; Chris Hoke- veteran player who can play multiple positions if needed.

Linebackers:
Lamarr Woodley- expect bigger things this year from The Wood; James Farrior- blessed by Father Time; Lawrence Timmons- the mind boggles at what he could accomplish this year; James Harrison- "you got knocked the fu** out, man!; Sylvester Stevenson- not calling him a "beast" yet, but I've seen the fangs; Larry Foote- his swan song with the Steelers; Jason Worilds- better live up to my name, boy!; Chris Carter- all he does is catch touchd...oops, wrong Chris Carter...needs to gain weight, though.

Defensive Backs:
Ike Taylor- Face me, Ike!; Bryant McFadden- hurt again, but has to be pushed out of the starting position; Keenan Lewis- please push BMac out of the starting position; Willian Gay- *sigh* Willie, Willie, Willie...you need to excel in the nickel because you ain't worth a dime at Corner; Crezdon Butler- could see time at safety at some point in the year if he makes the team, because his CB skills are starting to be questioned; Curtis Brown- needs to step up and be ready for special teams and nickel duties; Donovan Warren- has benefited from the rash of injuries throughout the DBs in Camp and has made the most of it; Ryan Clark- glad he didn't decide to change careers permanently and park cars for a living; Troy Polamalu- The Predator is the reigning DPOY, but he may start to decline from this point; Ryan Mundy- stepping up well, played very well on defense against Redskins and Eagles; Will Allen- still a valuable backup safety.

Special Teams:
Shaun Suisham (K)- I really wanna see ID; Dan Sepulveda (P)- he's running out of ACLs, but, then again, maybe he really is Robo-Punter; Greg Warren (LS)- he wears no. 60 and you'd be surprised at how many downfield plays he actually makes.

Practice Squad:
LB Mortty Ivy- West Virginia university product who would make the roster of virtually any other NFL team, but these are the Pittsburgh Steelers, aka "Linebacker, Inc"
G Keith Williams- A guard who is VERY RAW and will only benefit from being placed here in order to learn from OL coach Sean Kugler.
WR Tyler Grisham- Over Lyons? Yes, because Grisham has the edge in blocking and experience with the team and playbook. Lyons will have a real chance next year too, but I doubt he makes the PS this year.
TE Weslye Saunders- I labored over this one, but here he is. He's big and nasty with a mean streak, I just hope that no one else grabs him off of here.
C/G John Malecki- Showed himself well in Camp and in the Redskins game.
G Chris Scott- He really needs another year to maturate.
NT Anthony Gray- Was a force in Camp and made people take notice. Future replacement for Hampton? Li'l Snack?
CB Cortez Allen- Last but not least. Allen was hampered by a leg, either hamstring or groin, injury and couldn't get onto the field. He is another who is VERY RAW and needs time to heal and hone his skills. Let's just hope he's safe here. But with little film being available on him considering he played at the Citadel, he probably is.

     There you have it, the revised final 53-man roster prediction by If It Ain't Steel. The upcoming game against the Falcons will either be the catalyst in proving me a prognosticator worthy of writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or for condemning me to barista coffee detail and not being allowed to even look at a newspaper. (Help me out, guys!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Steelers Final 53-Man Roster Prediction 2.0

    When I wrote my previous 53-man prediction I said that I wouldn't be revising the roster prediction unless there was an injury. Well there wasn't actually an injury that caused me to revise this but a new player, an old player, and a player who may have earned a roster spot. Trai Essex has lost weight and gained a possible roster spot as he was signed back to the team on monday, August 22nd. The move was necessitated by two knee injuries to their left tackles, Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert who'll also play left guard.
     Another change surrounds the defensive backs. Cortez Allen has pretty much (not) played himself onto the Practice Squad. I will state, though, that Crezdon Butler needs to prove that he actually belongs on the active roster and not the Practice Squad himself. He hasn't shown anything and, therfore, really only has one more week to prove that he does belong. If not, that would allow the Steelers to place Allen on the active roster preventing some other team from taking a fly on him. He'd have to clear waivers and the team taking him would have to put him on their active roster as well if he were placed on the PS, so he may be safe either way. So who is it that has played his way onto a possible roster spot? Donovan Warren. He has shown himself to be ready for primetime in the limited action he's seen, and all reports out of Camp and team practices say that he has real potential.
     I also had to adjust the wide receiver position because I'd initially had Grisham on the roster. I thought that he was no longer eligible for the PS, but Ed Bouchette has reported that he actually is. Not only that but Ken Laird of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has said that Arnaz Battle actually has played better in Camp and in practices. So that means, along with the addition of Essex, a couple of players had to be moved off. The other players affected by this were Weslye Saunders and Wes Lyons. This concerns me because of the very reason I spoke of regarding Cortez Allen earlier. But there are only 53 roster spots. That being said, let's look at the revised list complete with the PS prediction.

OFFENSE:

Quarterbacks:
Ben Roethlisberger- 7 for #7; Byron Leftwich- one of the best backups in the NFL; Dennis Dixon- makes the most sense: he's younger, faster and more athletic than Uncle Charlie (plus, if something happens to anyone, Uncle Charlie is a phone call away, whereas Dixon would be long gone looking for work elsewhere).

Running Backs:
Rashard Mendenhall- his 13 TDs last year led the team in scoring; Isaac Redman- ran with authority against the Redskins; Mewelde Moore- slow and steady wins the race...and the 3rd RB spot; Jonathan Dwyer- thank Baron Batch's torn ACL for this one....but he has started to show promise.

Wide Receivers:
Mike Wallace- so fast that when he turns out the lights to go to sleep, he's in bed before the room gets dark; Hines Ward- the REAL Man of Steel; Emmanuel Sanders- the agony of da feet? Maybe, but the outlook is getting more and more optimistic; Antonio Brown- has been the Camp MVP and has shined brightly in each of the first two games; Jerricho Cotchery- he's a poor man's Hines Ward and half of his career NFL touchdowns have been in the red zone; Arnaz Battle- wasn't even on my first roster projection mainly because of his (lack of) performance against Washington. But he has shown himself overall worthy of a spot mainly because of his Special Teams play.

Tight Ends:
Heath Miller- incredibly underrated TE; John Gilmore- better at blocking than at pass catching; David Johnson- completes the three TE set mainly because he's fills the H-Back role so well.

Offensive Line:
Jonathan Scott- blindside; Chris Kemoeatu- if he keeps his head in the game...honestly, he's the best pulling guard in the league when he wants to be; Maurkice Pouncey- the anchor; Ramon Foster- solid at right guard; Willie Colon- I have a habit of calling him Willie Colon Cancer, but all I'm hearing is good things about him and he was mauling guys in both preseason games; Doug Legursky- The Big Legursky; Marcus Gilbert- coming along slowly, but wasn't unimpressive in the Washington game; Tony Hills- where was this the last two years; and the aforementioned and recently reacquired Trai Essex. Y'all remember him, right? His entrance most likely means Keith Williams' exit to the PS for this year.

DEFENSE:

Defensive Line:
Aaron Smith- the unsung hero's last hurrah; Casey Hampton- looking solid as always; Brett Keisel- finally made a Pro Bowl last year; Evander Hood- Now the boys in the hood will pull ya card...and have Aaron's job by the end of the year; Cam Heyward- another lineman with a mean streak....and he's not afraid to use it; Chris Hoke- veteran player who can play multiple positions if needed.

Linebackers:
Lamarr Woodley- expect bigger things this year from The Wood; James Farrior- blessed by Father Time; Lawrence Timmons- the mind boggles at what he could accomplish this year; James Harrison- "you got knocked the fu** out, man!; Sylvester Stevenson- not calling him a "beast" yet, but I've seen the fangs; Larry Foote- his swan song with the Steelers; Jason Worilds- better live up to my name, boy!; Chris Carter- all he does is catch touchd...oops, wrong Chris Carter...needs to gain weight, though.

Defensive Backs:
Ike Taylor- Face me, Ike!; Bryant McFadden- hurt again, but has to be pushed out of the starting position; Keenan Lewis- please push BMac out of the starting position; Willian Gay- *sigh* Willie, Willie, Willie...you need to excel in the nickel because you ain't worth a dime at Corner; Crezdon Butler- could see time at safety at some point in the year if he makes the team, because his CB skills are starting to be questioned; Curtis Brown- needs to step up and be ready for special teams and nickel duties; Donovan Warren- has benefited from the rash of injuries throughout the DBs in Camp and has made the most of it; Ryan Clark- glad he didn't decide to change careers permanently and park cars for a living; Troy Polamalu- The Predator is the reigning DPOY, but he may start to decline from this point; Ryan Mundy- stepping up well, played very well on defense against Redskins and Eagles; Will Allen- still a valuable backup safety.

Special Teams:
Shaun Suisham (K)- I really wanna see ID; Dan Sepulveda (P)- he's running out of ACLs, but, then again, maybe he really is Robo-Punter; Greg Warren (LS)- he wears no. 60.

Practice Squad:
LB Mortty Ivy- West Virginia university product who would make the roster of virtually any other NFL team, but these are the Pittsburgh Steelers, aka "Linebacker, Inc"
G Keith Williams- A guard who is VERY RAW and will only benefit from being placed here in order to learn from OL coach Sean Kugler.
WR Tyler Grisham- Two WRs? Yes, because both players are truly worth keeping. Grisham will have a real chance next year, but is back on the PS this year.
TE Weslye Saunders- I labored over this one, but here he is. He's big and nasty with a mean streak, I just hope that no one else grabs him off of here.
C/G John Malecki- Showed himself well in Camp and in the Redskins game.
G Chris Scott- He really needs another year to maturate.
NT Anthony Gray- Was a force in Camp and made people take notice. Future replacement for Hampton? Li'l Snack?
CB Cortez Allen- Last but not least. Allen was hampered by a leg, either hamstring or groin, injury and couldn't get onto the field. He is another who is VERY RAW and needs time to heal and hone his skills. Let's just hope he's safe here. But with little film being available on him considering he played at the Citadel, he probably is.

     There you have it, the revised final 53-man roster prediction by If It Ain't Steel. The upcoming game against the Falcons will either be the catalyst in proving me a prognosticator worthy of writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or for condemning me to barista coffee detail and not being allowed to even look at a newspaper. (Help me out, guys!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hines Ward is the REAL Man of Steel

1- Unlike Superman, HINES WARD has no weakness.

2- HINES WARD hasn't actually had to run all those yards in scoring his 84 touchdowns. Sometimes he charmed the endzone closer. Even the endzone likes his smile.

3- With all due respect to Newton's 3rd Law, there is no equal or opposite reaction to HINES WARD block.

4- Superman wears HINES WARD pajamas.

5- Three Rivers stadium wasn't actually imploded, it was leveled by a HINES WARD crushing block.

6- When Heinz Field opened in 2001 and it was realized they misspelled his name, HINES WARD graciously allowed the name to remain. He simply takes it out on opponents each sunday.

7- The sound of  a HINES WARD blindside block can even be heard in the void of outer space...where he dances with the stars.

8- Superman may be able to fly, but HINES WARD can ground him with one of his signature blocks.

9- There are 4 forms of legal execution in the U.S.: lethal injection, gas chamber, electric chair and a HINES WARD devastating block.

10- P.E.T.A. once wanted to use HINES WARD as a spokesman. That is until they saw what he does to ravens, dawgs and bengals on a regular basis.

Friday, August 19, 2011

BEN AND THE GANG IMPRESS IN GAME 2 OF THE PRESEASON

Last night the Steelers played their second preseason game. They played the self appointed "Dream Team" of the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles. Well what I saw was a repeat of the NBA finals and the, you know, other "Dream Team" getting exposed.  

The Steelers went from looking like hot garbage to looking like a contender again. Coach Mike Tomlin, after last week's loss, went off on the guys and they responded to the call.  We had to listen to the talking heads all week saying that Michael Vick was better than Ben Roethlisberger, Philly was the team to beat, and so on and so forth. As a Steelers fan I am used to the skepticism of my team. But once again, as a Steelers fan, I was left a happy camper over the way my team responded.

First off I will address the Vick is better than Big Ben talk, which Big Ben pretty well squashed on his own last night. For one, what has Vick, done to deserve all this hype? Yes, he is a good player. One who came back from disgrace and had a good season. But so did Big Ben. I mean was Big Ben not suspended for four games and came back and led his team to another SB? Vick, on the other hand, made an early exit at the hands of the current champs. So there you go.

But still, Ben isn't all that great. Well as a fan ,again, I am used to it but it makes me furious. So now I am going to be Nancy Grace, so to speak, and defend a wronged  person.That wronged person would be Ben Roethlisberger.

The talking heads have always done this to Big Ben and have never given him the accolades he deserves. They seem to forget the fact that in seven seasons Ben has been to 3 Super Bowls and has won 2 of them. He has the highest playoff win percentage of current quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. You know, the other QBs the talking heads love to love. He played in 12 games last season and still had very impressive stats. I have to believe that, if he had played all 16 games, he would have been right up there with all the other media-appointed greats. Even though he lost in the SB, with the Steelers having turned the ball over 3 times, Big Ben was still only within six points of winning a third SB and tying Tom Brady in that department. But that will come. I have a feeling Big Ben will not only tie Brady , he will pass him and another Steelers QB in that category. Just sayin.

Last night Big Ben, being the champion he is, came out and made the so-called experts look foolish once again.  He had a great showing, even after taking a hit to the knees that should have been flagged and was not. (Shocking, I know). Ben threw for 2 TDs and had no turnovers. He even ran the ball effectively to get out of a jam and did that scrambling, moving, shaking and making something happen when the play breaks down thing he does so well. You know, what the talking heads love to hate and bag on the guy for. He also had a passer rating of 140.6 to end the night, giving me and other Steeler fans that satisfaction of being proud he is our QB.  I know that Big Ben's style of play isn't worthy of making him a fantasy darling or anything like that, but, the last time I checked, fantasy stats do not win Championships. Big Ben and his style have. 

Now Vick on the other hand had, let's just say, not so good of a showing. He threw for 3 INTS and no TDs. So he is better than Ben, huh? Just to throw it out there, Vick is 2-4 in the playoffs. Big Ben is 10-3. So how is Vick better again?   

Again I will say it, Vick did have a good season last year and impressed a lot of people. Even getting him into the MVP talks, an honor which Tom Brady earned and won.  But is Vick better than Big Ben? I don't think so. Not yet anyway. 

So before you go appointing him the best or even better than any other QB who has proven their worth, let him do...something.  Let's see if he can come out and have another such season. Let him take another team to the playoffs and past the first round. If last night was any indication, and I know this is just preseason where teams look to work out the bugs, then frankly I wasn't impressed at all. Yes, he had a good showing against the Ravens D, but, then, maybe the Ravens aren't as good as people would like to believe either. But that is a whole other blog, not going there right now. But I will be addressing it, I am sure, as the season moves along.  

The so-called experts already have the self-proclaimed "Dream Team" winning the SB this year, which is ridiculous. There are other noteworthy teams out there, including the reigning champs, that deserve that hype as well. All you hear about on the Steelers is they will have the SB hangover and how hard it is to get back after losing, again bagging on the Steelers any chance they get.

Now since I have that off my chest, on to the other highlights of the game. Antonio Brown once again impressed.  He has been one those jewels that Kevin Colbert and Co. seem to find that comes up big for the Steelers. That kid is straight up ballin' and making his mark. They are also showing other teams around the league that the speedster Mike Wallace is not the only Steelers receiver that you are going to have account for. Brown also had an impressive end zone dance after his TD. Then the real man of Steel, Hines Ward, got in on the action and showed that, yes , he's still got game too, and you very well better account for him. And on a side note his dance at the end of his catch showed why he is also the Champ of Dancing with the Stars and me and my panel gave him 10's across the board. Mendy and Redzone Redman also had impressive showings. Newly acquired receiver Jerricho Cotchery also got in on the action with an impressive catch from Leftwich for 29 yards and showed that we have another weapon for Ben to work with. Underrated TE Heath Miller even had an impressive catch and Arnaz Battle made an impression with some of his catches.  The only sore spot was the O-line. The injury bug hit once again for them. Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert both went out with injuries and are making O-line coach Kugler earn his money once again this season. So if they get that issue corrected and keep Ben vertical, he has all the weapons to conten and even light up the scoreboard if needed.  

Now onto our awesome Defense. Once again they impressed, Clark, Lewis and Troy came up with INTs and the line was in the quarterback's faces all night. They showed that they may be old, as the talking heads have been saying, but they have not missed a step. The first team completely dominated this game. So if that is what we get all season, I will take them old fellas any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  

All in all after their showing against the Redskins, and, yes, they looked horrible, they have made the necessary adjustments to get things corrected as they always do and will only improve. So this fan is pumped up for the season ahead! I see big things for our underrated QB and our old defense.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book That Hotel

    Tonight's win over the Eagles was impressive to say the least. The Steelers looked crisp, quick and strong early in the game. Big Ben was sharp as he completed 8 of his 12 passes for 125 yards and two TDs. Mendenhall looked very good this time around as he ran hard and looked like he's ready for the season. He ran six times for 28 yards and led the Steelers run attack that had 144 total yards on the evening. Some of those yards came from the much maligned Jonathan Dwyer who showed flashes of what he's capable of doing. The receivers looked good overall and provided some nice highlight film material, especially Antonio Brown, who blew past his defender for a 29-yard TD, and Jerricho Cotchery, who caught two passes for 49 yards and a TD.
    What wasn't good, though, was what was seen from the offensive line. No, not poor blocking. Not much anyway, the line didn't actually play badly. They allowed three sacks, but the overall protection allowed passing lanes for the Steelers' quarterbacks. There was also a clear late hit to Roethlisberger that wasn't called, but that just proves that football is back. No, what wasn't good were injuries that the offensive line sustained. Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert both went down with knee injuries in the early stages of the game. Not good. Scott is slated as the starting left tackle. Ya know, the position that protects Ben's blindside? Then Gilbert goes down with a similar injury. Gilbert can play both Guard and Tackle positions and could potentially have spelled Scott at left tackle or Kemoeatu at left guard. Not good times two.
     While neither player's injury was considered serious, though Scott was carted off the field, each will get an MRI done to be sure. So that, then, begs the question: Do the Steelers need to bring back Flozell Adams or Max Starks. The consensus has been that, if anyone of the players who were let go would be brought back, it would be Flozell Adams. If that's the case, then I hope the Steelers have his number at the ready.
     Flozell Adams, whose nickname is "The Hotel" because of his immense size (and because it rhymes with Flozell), was servicable at right tackle for the Steelers last season. He he wasn't willing, though, to take a pay cut this year to stay with the team. Not to mention that he wants to start instead of coming off of the bench. Considering that he plays Willie Colon's postition, that isn't an option. What is an option, though, is Adams moving to left tackle, a position he played for over a decade. Could he be brought in whether Scott is hurt badly or not? Maybe. The question at that point would be whether or not he'd be willing to battle Scott for the position or even simply accept the back-up role. That would remain to be seen.
     Either way, the Steelers need to give real thought to bringing Adams back in order to shore up the left side. Does he want to start? Does he also have a history of false starts on the left side (because of the hearing problem in his right ear)? Yes, but both of those issues can be addressed. Plus, we know that Pittsburgh's OLine coach, Sean Kugler, is familiar with him and can help figure out a way to aid in that area also. Besides, having an extra tackle/left tackle at his disposal would be like a vacation for Kugler considering all the patchwork he's had to do since he's been here. And when going on vacation, you have to book a hotel. The Steelers should do the same.
    

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cotchery Signs For Vet Minimum

I found out that the contract details for free agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, whom the Steelers recently signed, have been reported by Gerry Dulac as a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $810,000. If this is accurate, the amount the Steelers paid is an absolute bargain on a player with upside and reason to prove himself. Cotchery was set to earn a base salary with the Jets this year of $1.8 million before asking for his release. He has stated that he feels he "fits here" and that he didn't with the Jets. Just goes back to that "Steeler Family" thing we're always talking about, doesn't it?

Steelers 53-Man Roster Prediction - 8/16/11

    Every year about this time I predict what the Steelers 53-man roster will be. So I'm not new at evaluating what I see, hear and read on the various players. This is just the first time I've been able to put it in blog form. Am I ever completely right? God, no. Honestly, how could I be? But I'm usually pretty doggone close. And if nothing else, hey, it's fun!
    The easiest way to do this is to go position-by-position. I'll start with offense first, move to defense from there and finish with special teams. Here we go.

OFFENSE:

Quarterbacks:
Ben Roethlisberger- 7 for #7; Byron Leftwich- one of the best backups in the NFL; Dennis Dixon- makes the most sense: he's younger, faster and more athletic than Uncle Charlie (plus, if something happens to anyone, Uncle Charlie is a phone call away, whereas Dixon would be long gone looking for work elsewhere).

Running Backs:
Rashard Mendenhall- his 13 TDs last year led the team in scoring; Isaac Redman- ran with authority agains the Redskins; Mewelde Moore- slow and steady wins the race...and the 3rd RB spot; Jonathan Dwyer- thank Baron Batch's torn ACL for this one.

Wide Receivers:
Mike Wallace- so fast that when he turns out the lights to go to sleep, he's in bed before the room gets dark; Hines Ward- the REAL Man of Steel; Emmanuel Sanders- the agony of da feet?; Antonio Brown- has been the Camp MVP; Jerricho Cotchery- borrowed money (think about it); Tyler Grisham- toughest decision I had to make: will he be able to beat out Arnaz Battle for the 53rd spot? Let's face it, Battle dropped the ball by, well, dropping the ball against Washington. Grisham can't go back on the PS, so I don't see him losing out in the battle with Battle.

Tight Ends:
Heath Miller- incredibly underrated TE; John Gilmore- better  at blocking than at pass catching; Weslye Saunders- big and nasty with a mean streak, may just make the roster so that no one else can grab him off of the PS; David Johnson- makes roster mainly because he's fills the H-Back role so well.

Offensive Line:
Jonathan Scott- blindside; Chris Kemoeatu- if he keeps his head in the game...honestly, he's the best pulling guard in the league when he wants to be; Maurkice Pouncey- the anchor; Ramon Foster- solid at right guard; Willie Colon- I have a habit of calling him Willie Colon Cancer, but all I'm hearing is good things about him and he was impressive in the first preseason game; Doug Legursky- The Big Legursky; Keith Williams- two fights in Camp so far...he's got a mean streak: good; Marcus Gilbert- coming along slowly, but wasn't unimpressive in the Washington game; Tony Hills- where was this the last two years?

DEFENSE:

Defensive Line:
Aaron Smith- the unsung hero's last hurrah; Casey Hampton- looking solid as always; Brett Keisel- finally made a Pro Bowl last year; Evander Hood- Now the boys in the hood will pull ya card...; Cam Heyward- another lineman with a mean streak....and he's not afraid to use it; Chris Hoke- veteran player who can play multiple positions if needed.

Linebackers:
Lamarr Woodley- expect bigger things this year from The Wood; James Farrior- blessed by Father Time; Lawrence Timmons- the mind boggles at what he could accomplish this year; James Harrison- "you got knocked the fu** out, man!; Sylvester Stevenson- not calling him a "beast" yet, but I've seen the fangs; Larry Foote- his swan song with the Steelers; Jason Worilds- better live up to my name, boy!; Chris Carter- all he does is catch touchd...oops, wrong Chris Carter...needs to gain weight, though.

Defensive Backs:
Ike Taylor- Face me, Ike!; Bryant McFadden- hurt again, but has to be pushed out of the starting position; Keenan Lewis- please push BMac out of the starting position; Willian Gay- *sigh* Willie, Willie, Willie...you need to excel in the nickel because you ain't worth a dime at Corner; Crezdon Butler- could see time at safety at some point in the year; Curtis Brown- needs to step up and be ready for special teams and nickel duties; Ryan Clark- glad he didn't decide to change careers permanently and park cars for a living; Troy Polamalu- The Predator is the reigning DPOY, but he may start to decline from this point; Ryan Mundy- stepping up well, played very well on defense against Redskins; Will Allen- still a valuable backup safety.

Special Teams:
Shaun Suisham (K)- I really wanna see ID; Dan Sepulveda (P)- he's running out of ACLs, but, then again, maybe he really is Robo-Punter; Greg Warren (LS)- he wears no. 60.

    There you have it, my final 53-man roster for the Steelers this year. So, barring injuries, I won't be revising it. If I'm right, great. But if I'm wrong then the Tomlin really needs to pay better attention to me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why the Steelers Can and Will Beat the Ravens Again.

There  is an article  floating around the Net on Bleacher Report called the Baltimore Ravens: Ten reasons why they will finally take down the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is the moment I roll on the floor in hysterical laughter because obviously some delusional Ravens fan wrote this. But here is the link just so you can have a good laugh as well. 

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/804738-baltimore-ravens-10-reasons-this-is-the-year-they-finally-take-down-steelers

So, me being me, I have to counter their reasoning with why the Ravens will always be our stepchild. 

Reason 1: the Harbaugh family rivalry. Well that has nothing to do with the Steelers. John's brother Jim coaches the Niners, whom we also play this season, but has nothing to do with the Ravens.

Moving on.

Reason 2: Distractions. I had to laugh at this. Anyone who has followed the past off season and up-to-the-minute news coming out of Steelers camp knows there are no distractions. They are one big happy family as always, they have moved on and everyone else needs to do the same. But wishful thinking on the rest of the league's part. We heard this same garbage last season and we see how that turned out. But Ray Rice should really be concerned about his comments to Ryan Clark and how he told Clark to come find him. Well the way he was running in the first preseason game that should not be a problem, and he should contact Willis McGahee and ask him what happened when Clark found him. Just sayin.

 
Reason 3: Sergio Kindle. Well when he actually shows something, then I will say he is an impact player. Until then I hope that is not all the Ravens are putting their hopes and dreams on.
 
Reason 4: Haloti Ngata lost weight. Well so did Lendale White a couple of seasons ago and where is he now? Yes, lets face it, Ngata is a beast and yes Ngata broke Ben's nose. I will give him that. But Ben, like a Timex, kept on ticking and still came away with the win. 

Reason 5: Jimmy Smith is the real deal at corner.  Again this goes back to the thoughts on Sergio Kindle, prove it before you go anointing him the Steeler Stopper. The NFL is a lot different from college play and stand outs in college have also became busts in the NFL. Will Jimmy Smith could fall into this category. Time will tell. But I will play the 'lets wait and see' game.

 
Reason 6: Ricky Williams will take a load off Ray Rice. Well he is probably going to have to if Clark does find Rice. Just sayin. But Williams does not concern me in the least. The D line of the Steelers has stopped Williams before and he is getting up there in age. If Rice would go down to injury, then he would have to carry the load and that would put more pressure on Joe Flacco which, in turn, would be a disaster. Joe doesn't take well to pressure and we know that the Steelers D will be bringing the pressure. So I really don't understand their reasoning on this one.


 Reason 7: Vonta Leach will Open Huge Holes. I will just ask when has anyone made a huge hole on the Steelers D?  Considering they led the league last year and will again this year in stopping the run. This part was laughable. But keep dreaming .

Reason 8: Joe Flacco finally has a deep ball partner. He had a whole stable of able horses last season and still to no avail against the Steelers. Yes, a change of scenery may be what Evans needed, but we have some as equally revved up receivers that can get past the Ravens secondary as well. Could just up the anty and make a great game even better.


Reason 9: The Steelers O line is in Shambles. Well they have always been in shambles but we always find ways to beat the Ravens. We have that IT factor behind that horrid O line, as you would call it, and "it" is called the Raven Killer, aka Big Ben. Where Flacco falters under pressure, that is where Ben shines. Ben finds a way to make things happen. I look back at his game against the Ravens last season when they broke his nose and he was playing on a bad foot, and he still won the game. So, yes, we may look like hot garbage right now, but we will be fine because of that little jewel we have at QB.


Reason 10. Ray Lewis wants to win now. Well I am sure Ray says that every season and every season we see him on the sideline crying. This is old hat. Ray may go down as one of the best linebackers in history, but he has to have help to get it done and I just don't see that happening. 

So there is my reasoning as to why the Ravens will not do anything other than what they have always done, and that is play second fiddle to the Steelers. Looking forward to September 11th and my Steelers setting the tone. I know they did not look good this past Friday, but that is what the preseason is for, to work out those bugs and get things fixed. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The NFL, The Rooneys and Racism

    Racism. It's a word that causes an immediate reaction no matter what your background is. We see it in all walks of life in it's various forms. Thankfully, though, it isn't nearly the problem it once was. Sure, we have occasional situations of actual racism, this is still America after all, and it usually surrounds Blacks and whites. But, outside of what are essentially remote rural pockets of blatant racism, we simply don't see it to a great degree much anymore. I'm not speaking here of prejudice, by the way, that's alive, well and rampant. I will speak on things from that standpoint too, though. Here I'm speaking of actual racism: the belief that inherent differences among races can determine cultural or individual achievement or superiority.
    For 12 years that was the case with the NFL. Between the years 1934-1946 there was an unofficial ban on Black players. This was mainly because of racial fears amongst professional team owners. There had been Black players in what came to be known as the NFL before then, to be certain. In fact the history of the Black player in the NFL can be broken down into three eras: Initial Inclusion, Exclusion and Reintegration.
    Aside: African-American is, yes, the accepted moniker, but I'm a Black man. I was raised by a Black man to be a Black man, to be a man...one who has never been to Africa. So that is the term I will be using.
    From the birth of professional football to approximately 1918, two years before the NFL officially began, there were four Black players: Charles Follis, Charles "Doc" Baker, Henry McDonald and Gideon "Charlie" Smith who played all of one game. The most notable names to play during the NFL's formative years were amongst these select few. There were Fritz Pollard and Paul Robeson who came in 1919 and 1920 and played with Akron Indians (later Akron Pros). There was Robert "Rube" Marshall who played for the Rock Island team in 1919 as well. Fred "Duke" Slater started his career in 1922. In 1932 came the second true Black football star, Joe Lillard, who signed with the Chicago Cardinals, followed in 1933 by Ray Kemp of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the first Black player ever signed by them. That, though, was the last the NFL would see of the Black player until 1946, due in part to the Cleveland Browns. But more on that later.
    The exclusion of the Black player was now in effect. Naturally, though, any sort of ban official or otherwise was denied publicly by NFL owners. Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, said, "For myself and for most of the owners I can say there was never any racial bias." He also claimed financial problems saying that there wasn't enough money for an adequate scouting sytem. (Imagine that, a Rooney poor-mouthing something...) Chicago Bears owner George Halas also denied by making a weak claim that there simply weren't any good or talented Black players during that time. Uh-huh... Look up the names Bernie Jefferson of Northwestern and Willis Ward of  Michigan, just to name two. Most telling might just be the then L.A. Rams owner Tex Schramm's statement on the subject when he said, "You just didn't do it. It was just something that wasn't done." This would definitely add weight to what the aforementioned Ray Kemp said regarding the unofficial ban when he said, "It was my understanding that there was a gentleman's agreement in the league that there would be no more Blacks." (read: complicity) The fact that there were no Black players during that 12 year period would seem to back that up.
    The reintegration of the Black player was due at least in part to the Cleveland Browns and in full to the AAFC. The NFL now was face-to-face with a league that could not only take players from them, but also revenue. The NFL saw that the AAFC was going to stand toe-to-toe with them and that they were going to be a desegregated league. The NFL blinked first. The Rams went out and quickly signed Woody Strode and Kenny Washington. Not long after would come the signing of Bill Willis and Marion Motley to the Cleveland Browns as stated before. (I know you're shuddering, Steelers fans, but it's true-you owe a bit of thanks to the Browns.)
    While outright racism may have become an issue of the past, prejudice hadn't. You still only saw Black players in certain positions. Those being defensive back, outside linebacker, running back and wide receiver (and we won't even touch on the "Blacks can't play quarterback" nonsense). Their collective play at those select positions brought great revenue to football, especially when you add the aspect of ticket sales being bolstered by the addition of the Black audience. But the sight of a swarthy face on the sidelines as anything but a player was nonexistent. Enter the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    In 1956 Lowell Perry began his short career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played only six games with the Steelers before a serious injury ended his career. The Rooneys have shown themselves over the years to be fairly forward thinking with regard to prejudices. The attitude spoken of before regarding the "unofficial ban" needs to be considered in context: Art Rooney was a brand-spanking new owner in 1933 and was heavily influenced, as was the rest of the league, by Southern-born racist owner (of the Washington Redskins), George Preston Marshall. Marshall clearly wanted no Black players on his team and, as it was he who handled and headed the reorganization of the league in 1934, used his influential power amongst the other owners to quietly agree to be bigots. Jump forward 23 years and you have a Rooney who himself is now influential and recognizes not only the talent, but also the intelligence in Perry. Thus, in 1957, the Steelers hired Perry to be their receivers coach, making him the NFL's first Black coach. Perry went from there to being the talent scout in 1958. Then in 1966, after going back to school to earn a law degree, Perry was involved in another hiring first: he became the first Black color analyst for CBS Television when they hired him to broadcast Steelers games.
    The Rooneys would go on to pioneer frontiers in the NFL in other ways as well. The Rooneys realized that there was untapped talent in all-Black universities. By turning their focus that way, they found such gems as John Stallworth, Donnie Shell and Mel Blount to name a few.
    The Rooneys weren't done. They had a skinny defensive back to play for them from 1977-1978 who, after his career ended in 1980, was brought on to be their defensive backs coach from 1981-1983 and then their defensive coordinator from 1984-1988. That skinny defensive back was Tony Dungy.
     Dan Rooney in particular is noted as being instrumental in making it not only possible for more such coacing opportunities, but also for making it a priority. "The Rooney Rule" assures that ALL individuals have the chance to make their mark, sink or swim, on the head coaching front.
     Prejudice still rears it's ugly head now and then, and racism is like the Phoenix: just when you think it's dead, somehow it comes to life again to wreak havoc for a time. But the NFL seems to have exorcised their demons. And we have the Cleveland Browns, the AAFC and the Rooneys to thank for that.

UPDATE: Lowell Perry was not the first Black coach in the NFL. That honor belongs to Fritz Pollard who was co-head coach in 1921.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Timing is Everything

    I was about 18 years old on a particular summer day when I was out with some friends. We were out and about being teenagers and decided to get something to eat. As we're standing there looking at the menu deciding what to get to eat, one of the counter persons said, "I'm open, no waiting," The thought/comment that came to mind was, "Just like Kelly in high school." (Kelly was an actual friend in high school who was...let's just call her "friendly.") Well I said I thought it, not that I said it. For some reason I hesitated, though. I don't know why, maybe I wasn't so sure of myself or that they wouldn't think it was funny.Well, as I hesitated, one of my friends said virtually the same thing. My loss, I could've been the one to make them laugh. I learned a valuable lesson, though: timing is everything.
    As I watched the game last night I realized that those words apply to many other things as well, including the cohesive play of a football team. There were several instances where timing, or the lack thereof, came into play. As a matter of fact, the first half seemed to be replete with them. This is to be expected, though. Being that there were no OTAs (Organized Team Activities), mini camps or rookie camps, the team only actually had two weeks together. In the case of a few players, because of a rule instituted by the NFL, there was even only one week. These players barely had time to get to know all the new faces, let alone the playbook. So timing and continuity were nowhere to be found last night. Lots of aggression, little continuity and execution.
    Several examples of this could be seen in the first quarter alone. There was the 2nd & 7 play where Ben Roethlisberger overthrew Mike Wallace. You read that right. Mike Wallace. It was a sure touchdown too. Wallace had his man beat by at least two steps. The defender was beaten so badly a close up on the replay showed the defender saying, "Oh, spit!" I think that's what he said at least. Then a little later Byron Leftwich overthrew the speedy Antonio Brown. If the ball had been throw on time and over the right shoulder, the side where Brown keeps the Stick "Em on his helmet, he probably would have scored as well. There were a few issues on the offensive line and defense also, but those two stuck like a sore thumb. (Sorry, Ike.)
    Better timing and continuity means Roethlisberger doesn't have to nurse a hurt wrist, throwing hand no less, and a bruised hip. It also means that neither Leftwich, Charlie Batch nor Dennis Dixon get planted like they were.
    Have no fear, though, Steelers fans, it's still early. There are three days of training camp left and three more preseason games. There are plenty of practice sessions left and game situations from which to learn. Plus, coach Tomlin has a real penchant for being able to coax every bit of ability out of his players without taking forever to do so. So, in other words, there's still time. I guess timing really is everything.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Big Ben Snubbed

Recently, the NFL Network's Top 100 Players list named Ben Roethlisberger as the 41st best player in the NFL, and a very beautiful and intelligent woman wrote a mini-blog/rant stating her feelings regarding this and postulating that the ranking was way too low. Is it? Let's take a look.
    Roethlisberger, the 29-yr old Steelers quarterback, m...ade an instant impact in the NFL when he guided his team to a 15-1 record, with he himself having a 13-0 rookie record-unprecedented in NFL history, and an appearance in the AFC championship game that year. From 2004 on, "Big Ben" became one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, and when the game was on the line the Steelers were a good bet to win the game. A career .631 completion percentage shows that Roethlisberger is an efficient quarterback, but the numbers only tell half of the story. Big Ben has a TD:INT ratio of 144:86 for his career, good if not very good, and boasts similar stats across the board for his career. His stats for the 2010 season were even better as he had a 17:5 ratio of TD:INT in 12 games (which would average out to 21:7 over 16 games). Let's look past the numbers, though, and find the reasons why Big Ben is to be considered as one of the best quarterback in the NFL.
    Fans (mainly of other teams) make too much of sexual assault allegations against Roethlisberger—he is a football player, and people pay to watch him on the field, not off of it. So we're not even gonna talk about SkanksAreUs.com past this point. Ok? We good? You, in the back row, we good? A'ight... Let's take a look at the QBs in front of him and recount their attributes and the reasons they're where they are: Tom Brady has cemented himself atop the list with his "Super" success, and rightly so. Ok, I've said enough about him. (blech...I need a wet nap for me and my keyboard) Aaron Rodgers doesn't yet have the body of work of some of the others, but his value, worth, and prowess are unquestionable. There isn't anything on the field he can't do. Go ahead, name something...I'll wait. Thought so. I truly believe he will most likely see another Ring on his finger before all is said and done. Peyton Manning has won one Super Bowl, has been to another, and still has gaudy numbers so he still has enough cache to keep him at #3. I will admit, though, that he has become less clutch over the last couple of years and is facing OLine and potential WR problems this year. So... That addresses the ones in front of Ben as far as this writer sees it. The NFL Network, though, sees it differently. Why? Do other QBs have other things in their favor? Does it even matter? Let's look now at the other QBs listed and at some of the reasonings tossed about regarding why Big Ben may have been rated low.
     Some have said that Roethlisberger's Super Bowls can be attributed to great defense, but I would argue that the Colts and Saints played damn good defense on their way to giving Manning and Brees their first and only titles. The stats weren't 1976-Steelers-Defense-esque, but both D's were deadly at takeaways, especially when absolutely needed. Yet Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings, more than any other quarterback above him on the Top 100 list except for he whom I won't name twice in one article. So the NFL Network is trying to say that they'd rather put Philip Rivers under center than Roethlisberger, which makes no sense since Rivers has no Rings nor has he even made it to an AFC championship game. NFL, you're trying to say that you'd rather have Rivers, who has never been clutch in the big games, to lead you to victory in the fourth quarter? A QB whose battle cry is less "Cowboy Up!" and more "Reverse Cowgirl"? You'd rather have Drew Brees, who couldn't keep the ball out of the opposition's hands last year (22 INTs)? He surrendered more balls than the Village People and Queen put together. You'd rather have Michael Vick, who has never even won a Super Bowl? I won't say anything further about Vick, though. I've dogged him enough. It can't be right, but there is the Top 100 list, telling us that it's so. Ridiculous.
    Roethlisberger has a patch-work offensive line outside of Maurkice Pouncey, yet he finds a way to evade defenders, throw passes from every body angle possible and make every throw imaginable. The bottom line with Roethlisberger is that he always finds a way. So, yeah, that beautiful and intelligent creature I mentioned at the beginning of the article was right, Ben not only got robbed, but he got disrespected too.

Big Ben Not Only Got Snubbed, He Got Disrespected

Ok I have a gripe. Was watching the replay of NFL Networks Top 100 Players last night. Ben was 41. So I now will not watch another one of those shows because that is proof , that list is a joke. For Michael Vick and Phillip "Puss face" Rivers to be ahead of Ben on that list . IT'S A JOKE. Micheal Vick has one good season , but really what else has ...he done. Same with Rivers, yes he can get to the playoffs. and beat Peyton Manning on a consistent basis , But Ben beats Rivers on a consistent basis. So will Rivers be higher than Peyton. UH HELL NO, but he is higher than Ben and that is a joke. Yes, Rivers can put up big numbers, but you know what so can Ben and Ben wins when it counts. How many shiny pretty rings does Rivers have? Umm...None! How many AFC Championships does Rivers have? Again, zero. I'm sorry but I know they go on Fantasy stats and spectacular play and things of that nature to make these lists, but anyone with a brain knows, and the experts on the reaction show agreed, BEN SHOULD HAVE BEEN HIGHER ON THAT LIST!!  I know a lot of these so called experts like to gripe and complain because Ben holds onto the ball too long.  When Ben does that, I admit that I hold my breath because I know that somehting big may happen.   Look at Super Bowl 43.  That last drive was proof why  Ben is a winner and knows how to get it done. 
 Yes Vick scrambles and does things with his feet. But Ben does too.   Ben may not look as speedy as Vick.  but he still gets it done.  Rivers can throw a good long ball.  But so can my man Ben.  Wasn't Wallace the reciever that had the most catches over 20 yrds this past season that went for TD's.  Last time I checked Mike Wallace doesn't play for the San Diego Super Chargers.  He wears the Black and Gold.  So I call that pretty dynamic and pretty spectacular.  Even the two Rookies Brown and Sanders got in on the action.  Those kids had good seasons.   And you know why because Ben isnt an all about me and one reciever kind of QB he is an equal oppurtunity passer. 
The experts go on about  Bens play in the 3 SB's he was in.  Yes SB 40 and 45 was not one of Bens best games.  But Bens play to get them to those  SB's was.  And I am sick of him not getting credit for his play in SB 43.  Again I go back to that last drive.  Who do you think was slinging the ball that led to what will go down as probably one of the best catches in SB history.   That was Ben.   On the Reaction show.  Ratchicken fans was going off about Ben should have been higher and anyone that is a Steelers fan knows that is a sign of respect when the Rats fans are even defending the Big Guy.    Because they  hate Ben as much as we  hate Ray Lewis.   But I look at the bigger picture.  The Steelers between Bradshaw and until we got Ben was not as good as a whole. Most fans will agree.  We endured the almost getting theres and we were so close kind of seasons.    But since they drafted Ben in 04, you know what they have not had a losing season.  They have been to the playoffs all but 2 seasons in his 7 year  so far career and won the AFC Championship 3 times and won 2 SB's .  There is only one other current QB that has that kind of impressive resume and that is Tom Brady.  I look for Ben to win more championships because lets face it .  He is just hitting his prime and his play the past two seasons has been very good and getting better.  And has not played in his last SB.  But my question is will Rivers or  Vick ever play in a SB.  Time will tell.  

So that is my gripe, Yes again we Steeler fans have to endure our QB being disrespected .  Was I shocked .  NO.  But it will be so much sweeter when again Ben ,  is winning games and championships and the others well they are just fantasy darlings and nothing more.  
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Top Bad/Cold Weather QBs

I was asked recently to put together an analysis tracking the stats necessary to determine the best bad/cold weather QB. Before I go any further let me start by saying that this task is very difficult. Bad/Cold weather is subjective, so I had to draw a line in the…uh…snow. Since 32 degrees Fahrenheit is freezing, that’s as good a line as any. So ye...ah, I threw snow games in there. Ultimately, I settled on the following criteria: (1) Played in November, December, & January; (2) Played in cold-weather cities- Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Green Bay, Kansas City, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington; and (3) With a temp of 32 degrees or colder at kickoff, winds 15 mph or higher and/or with gusts to at least 25 mph or any mention of snow, ice, or freezing rain during the game.See More
As information sources I used the weather conditions listed in the NFL Gamebooks for games played from 2001-2010 and the game logs from the pro-football-reference site for the same timeframe. In most cases, hourly weather information was available, which allowed me to pinpoint conditions no matter what time of day the games started.
The analysis is missing the occasional September monsoon (such as Pittsburgh's 13-3 win over Miami in September 2004), the infrequent October snow game (such as New England's 59-0 win over Tennessee in October 2009) and the rare cold-weather game in a southern city. Regardless, I believe I've captured the overwhelming majority of bad/cold weather games played since 2001 and now give you the top 5 bad/cold weather QBs (minimum 8 games):

  1. Tom Brady - 19-2
  2. Donovan McNabb - 10-1
  3. Kyle Orton - 7-2
  4. Ben Roethlisberger - 16-5
  5. Aaron Rodgers - 5-4

Other QBs, such as Drew Bledsoe, had very good records (in fact, Bledsoe was actually 2nd best when I went back and checked all his numbers), but I decided to keep it to current players. If there are any questions, I'll be glad to try and answer them, though I admit that I've already forgotten most of the wins/losses specifically. The only loss that stands out in my mind is Big Ben's loss to Cleveland in '09 (13-6), and that's because it was his first loss there. I have some blog ideas in mind that I'll be discussing with Jayden once she recovers and isn't loopy from the drugs anymore. Until then, Grease for Peace.

To Peter King: For your obituary.


Dear Peter King,
   I'd like to start this, you blubbery bag of protoplasm, by ackowledging two things you did that no one else had the insight or foresight to do: you rightfully put DE Aaron Smith, whom we call "the unsung hero", on your All-Decade Team, and you predicted before the season that the Steelers would go to the Super Bowl. Thank you....
    Now that that's out of the way, let me address, you disgusting gelatinous mass, your recent 'Top 100 NFL Players' list in which you ranked 2-time SuperBowl winner and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu at number 50. 50? 50! 50?!? We're talking the NFLs best players here,  not your pants size. Or your I.Q. Or your SAT scores. We're talking the best players in the game and you rank Troy Polamalu at #50? If you truly believe that Troy is only the 50th best player in the league, then you probably are also gullable enough to have had your bags packed this past May 21st. I can't reconcile how you could even form the thought process needed to suggest such a ranking. Then you go and put Ed Reed at #54? Look, I'd retract that one if I were you because the Ravens' team is full of criminals. Don't wind up a statistic. I'm just sayin. Anyway, you're full of hot air if you truly believe these rankings. The reigning DPOY at #50? Releasing all that hot air when you opened your mouth to say something as asinine and egregious as that is probably why there have been so many tornados across the midwest! So please don't say anything else because the Gulf Coast is entering Hurricane season and we neither need further disasters nor Kanye West to say anything again. Ever.
    I'll do this for you, we all know the pros associated with Troy, so I'll present the cons: Troy has missed 21 games in his career due to injury. That's it! That's the list! Now let me tell you why even that  is a reason to rank him higher and is a measure of his worth. Since Troy became a starter in 2004 he's missed 21 games as was stated. In those games the Steelers were 12-9, a .571 percentage. In the other 104 reg season games he's started since then, the Steelers are 75-29, a .721 percentage. Following me? I don't wanna interrupt any afternoon snack which was probably dessert to a mid-morning snack, you oleaginous sack of lard. As I was saying, though, since he became a starter and including playoffs, the Steelers defense averages 0.57 INTs a game without him. With him the defense averages 1.02 INTs-almost twice as much. To give that stat more of a face, let's look at it this way: in the same timeframe, (125 total games incl. playoffs) the Steelers defense has recorded 118 INTs. A quarter of those...damn, I just made your super-size-me butt think of Quarter Pounders. Let me rephrase: 25% of those 118 INTs were by Mr. Polamalu himself. Let that sink in for a minute...and wipe your chin. Again, 30 of the 118 total interceptions since 2004 were by Troy himself.
    Another quantifier of Troy's greatness is his splash plays. Not the kind of splash plays made by Mr. James Harrison where, when he hits you, your blood splashes and splatters on the ground, (by the way, another piece of advice, for your sake and safety, please do NOT disrespect Mr. Silverback - trust me, call him "Mr." - by ranking him too low also. Mr. King, don't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.) but the plays he makes just at the right time, just when we need them. Plays where all of a sudden you look around and all you see is his hair flying in the wind like a cape as he runs the other way with the ball. Wait a minute...is that it, Peter? Are you jealous because Troy's hair is far more luxurient than yours? Oh...Peter. That's so sad. I'm so disappointed. *wipes tear away* Allowing personal bias to taint your rankings? You're better than that. *sigh* I need a minute to compose myself. Nonetheless, those types of plays just may define and quantify Troy best. I'll be back, I just need a moment...
    Peter, I truly hope you've seen how badly you erred. While I agree that Troy's ranking should have a "5" in it, I don't agree that there should be a 0 or any other number behind it or in front of it. By the way, just in case you were wondering why I entitled this the way I did, it wasn't a reference to the Raven's putting one of their infamous bounties out on you, nor was it a warning regarding Mr. James Harrison, but a description of your career from this point on. Because such a bombastically absurd ranking is sure to derail your career as epically as when Joel Schumacher took over the Batman franchise. "Good night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

IfItAintSteel's Top 12 NFL Quarterbacks

   I decided to do a Top Quarterback list of my own because, well, there seemed to be so many of them this offseason. I thought to myself, "Mr. Goodbar, why don't you do a list of your own? You're almost as smart as most of those guys, you could easily do this. You could get paid to watch film and evaluate. Hell, you do it now for free!" And I decided that I was right. So here it is, with my evaluation criteria being as follows:
‎1) Overall Ability
2) Leadership/Elevating Players
3) Wins
4) Mental Toughness/Comeback Ability
5) Accuracy
6) Pocket Presence
7) Toughness and Escapability.
I'm not considering SB wins very much at all and I'm only looking at the QBs as they are now and projecting what will be. I've taken out all bias in making this list because I believe objectivity would be key in doing this properly. So don't flip if something doesn't trip your trigger. Ready? Let the debates begin:
1-TOM BRADY: For those who haven't stopped reading and started to form voodoo dolls with which to torture me, I'm sorry, but the reasons are all there: wins, win percentage, playoff wins, completion percentage, low INT %, comebacks/game-winning drives and All-Pros. *sigh* Ok, now I need a shower...
2-AARON RODGERS: He just has it all: leadership, toughness, accuracy...the list goes on and on. There's nothing about him I don't like. Well, except for that whole, "the freakin jagoff beat us in the SB" thing. For that I hope he chokes on his SB ring. Other than that...
3-PEYTON MANNING: This one was actually tough because I believe this year we will start to see a decline in his surgeon-like execution. He has WR issues and OLine issues to face this year, not to mention his own neck issues, so we will see chinks in his armor. I have seen enough, though, over the years to believe he'll still be elite.
4-BEN ROETHLISBERGER: I almost put Ben at 3 considering what I said about Peyton's potential decline, especially since I believe Ben's going to be even better this year. He only had 5 INTs last year which projects to 7 over 16 games-the best INT percentage in his career. He's focusing on being a better teammate and QB, and, especially now that he has a wifey, being a better person. I happen to know a little something about wanting to be a better person because of the love of a beautiful woman, but I digress... Ben's toughness and comeback ability are unparalleled. He has the top 4th quarter comeback percentage of the top QBs on this list/in the NFL & 2nd highest percentage of game-winning drives, as well as some of the best all-time comeback numbers based on his number of starts. If he continues on this path he'll be top three in no time.
5-DREW BREES: I actually take offense with people who claim he's better than Big Ben. Brees is damn good, yes, but he just barely reaches top 5 considering he actually has a low winning percentage and relatively low QB rating. He is a tough competitor, though, who has a never-say-die attitude despite his small stature (small for an NFL QB, that is).
6-PHILIP RIVERS: At the risk of my girfriend, Jayden, breaking up with me, I had to give this numbnut his due- the boy is GOOD. He has all the tools to be in the top three, he just forgets how to use them in the playoffs. Until he learns how to use them at the most critical moments, he won't break the top five.
7-MICHAEL VICK: I'll be doggone if Vick didn't come back as a better QB. He showed dogged determination to get back onto a roster. Tomlin actually wanted him in the Burgh, but the Rooneys put a collar on that. Besides, Vick wanted to be top dog and that wasn't happening with the Steelers. Regardless, he wasn't about to play dead, he was always gonna prove he belonged. I guess every dog really does have his day.
8-MATT RYAN: This is easy-Ryan is just the real deal. Easiest way to put it out there is this: in just 3 years & 46 games, he has 13 game-winning drives-the highest percentage of the top 10 QBs. He also is credited with eight 4th quarter comebacks and has a very low INT percentage. Simply put: Matty Ice.
9-JOSH FREEMAN: Big, strong, durable, good leader, toughness... Sound familiar? I. Like. Josh. Freeman. He almost had Tampa in the playoffs last year after leading them to a 7 game turnaround, while only throwing SIX interceptions all season. I'm gonna bring in Barney Stinson to explain Freeman's future. Barney? "He's going to be legend...wait for it...ary! Now football suit up!" Thanks, Barney. 'Preciate it.
10-JOE FLACCO/ELI MANNING: I consider them a tie because Flaccid has the tools to be good, but he fizzles when it counts like Phyllis Diller, er uh, Philip Rivers does. Manning has the misfortune of being compared to his brother. Eli is a different QB from his brother in that he's much more gritty. He can mix it up and come out on top...ask the Cheatriots. Can he do it again, though? I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
11-MARK SANCHEZ: He could be a force to be reckoned with now that he has the Steelers' WRs.
12-TONY ROMO: He actually a pretty good... Oh, wait...sorry the pen fell outta my hand. Wow...that was slippery...

There you have it: my Top 12 Quarterback list to start off the 2011 NFL season. Let the debate begin.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

THE ROSE THAT GREW FROM CONCRETE

Written by Jason Robinson

The Rose That Grew From Concrete

A perfectly normal genesis: the seed being nurtured in the mother’s womb,
And the struggle to break through to nature’s embrace. An embrace
As soft and warm as a sunlit kiss that brightens in the midst of gloom.
And it seemed as if contentment would continue at a productive pace.

That is until winds of change brought seasons of inclement weather.
Torrents of rain as if of Noah’s day would mercilessly beat down.
Monsoons became floods until a deluge encompassed and altogether
Enveloped. When then the waters receded, tempest winds blew all around

And parched the ground beneath. The Sun provided no solace as searing heat
Pummeled and battered relentlessly until there appeared to be no end in sight.
But hope springs eternal, and possible escape from exigency & being browbeat
Was on the horizon. The cloak of darkness was lifted so one could see light.

The elements lost their dominance, clouds parted and psalms & hymns so sweet
Could be heard when it was revealed that a rose had grown from concrete.

                                           Antonio

                                         To Jayden

                                        07/06/2011

HINES WARD : HALL OF FAMER?

Written by Jason Robinson

  The image is etched in my memory: Ben Roethlisberger gets the ball from Jeff Hartings the center, turns right and pitches back left to Fast Willie Parker. It's a sweep left and the Seattle Seahawks have to respect Parker's speed. As Parker runs he hands the ball to Antwaan Randle El on the Reverse and, with help from a key block from Roethlisberger, Randle El throws the ball to an open Hines Ward for the touchdown. Ward skipped into the end zone, smiling as he always does, sealing the victory in Super Bowl XL. Ring number five, one for the thumb. Hines Ward was the MVP with five catches for 123 yards and a touchdown, plus one rush for 18 yards, and it was the first time I truly gave thought to his being a candidate for the Hall of Fame.

    Since then Ward has been the real man of steel as one of the Steelers truest leaders and unquestioned captain of the wide receivers. His play over the years has caused him to have virtually every Steelers receiving record. The only Steelers' records he doesn't have are receptions in a single game, receiving yards in a season, receiving yards in a game and 100-yard games in a season. All the important numbers, though, he has. He even has the hardware: two Rings in three Super Bowl appearences, including the aforementioned MVP award. So he's an all-time great from a Steelers standpoint, but the real question is whether he makes the HOF or not.


    When I think of someone worthy of the Hall of Fame I think of someone truly great. Like Peter King once said, "This isn't the Hall of Very Good." Well said, and well received. Well, then, what is "great?" We could use the dictionary definition for the word, but for these purposes it essentially means someone who is or does something that is large or prodigious in proportion, has significant impact, value and worth, has influence on others and leaves behind some form of legacy. In the case of the NFL, it would also mean being the best for a period of time. That means we can't just look at numbers. You can skew numbers to fit whatever you want. I could throw Terrell Owen's numbers at you and present them in such a way to make you think he's the greatest thing since Stretch Armstrong. *sigh* I miss that toy. It was just so cool! Stretch him all around anything I wanted. But I digress... Anyway, the truth is that Owens has great numbers to be sure, but he also has been a pariah wherever he has played. He's torn teams apart and, on top of that, you never had to worry about your popcorn in the playoffs because he's never won a significant playoff game. So is he truly great? No.

    Not that the HOF necessarily takes character into consideration, but being arrested for Cocaine possession, i.e. Michael Irvin, is something that happens outside of the game. Derailing and/or breaking teams up, though, directly deals with the game itself. So that means that one such as the aforementioned Owens would fail when graded against that particular criterium. Does Ward? How, in fact, does Ward fair against the criteria set up in general? As I alluded to before, numbers are only one part of this. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, he has the numbers to warrant having his smiling bust in Canton despite never being the absolute best any given year. So let's look at the proposed definition and go from there.

    Part of the definition proposed was "someone who is or does something prodigious in proportion." Hines Ward has certainly had a prodigious career as he holds all of the most significant of Steelers receiving records as was mentioned before. He has been a key component to reaching the playoffs 7 of the last 10 years and to reaching the Super Bowl three times in six years. He is a four-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl MVP and still one of the best blocking WRs in the League.

    Another criteria put forth was one's impact, value and worth. The "impact" Ward has had on players over the years is well documented. Ed Reed found this out in a 2004 when he wasn't paying close enough attention to his surroundings and was knocked out cold by a legal block by Ward. So clean and devastating was the blow that Ward immediately signaled to the Ravens' sideline for them to come get him. If it had been a cartoon there would have been little birds flying around Reed's head. After the game Reed was asked what he thought of the hit. He said, "(snore)". Then there was the, again, legal block on Keith Rivers in '08. Rivers also neglected to keep his head on a swivel as to what was going on in his vicinity and paid for it. The block so jolted Rivers that it broke his jaw. You can find Rivers at the downtown Cincinnati Jamba Juice drinking his dinner if you want to ask him his thoughts on Hines Ward's blocking ability. I bring these examples up because they and others resulted in a rules change by the NFL that is affectionately (ahem) referred to as "The Hines Ward Rule." That, ladies and gentlemen, is impact. The value and worth part of that is simple: he's incredibly valuable to his team as he not only does whatever is needed for his team to win, but they see that this is the case and have voted him captain or team MVP multiple times.


    The influence and legacy that Ward will leave behind is summed up in a series of names: Burress, Randle El, Holmes, Wallace, and, soon to surely be added, Sanders and Brown. All of whom are at least Super Bowl participants and two have Super Bowl game-winning touchdown catches. His influence on them is great. These receivers to a man have spoken extremely highly of Ward and his influence, work ethic and leadership on the field and in the locker room. He is greatly respected and admired as a football player and as a man. When I watch NFL Films replays of practices, games or otherwise and I see the other receivers standing there listening to him as if to a father, I can't help but to smile. When the word "honor" is used in conjunction with Hines Ward, it isn't contextually, "Yes, Your Honor." The honor, admiration and respect for Ward is real and is boundless. Even when opposing players hate him, they still have to respect him. That, my friends, is greatness.

    So, yeah, I could have thrown out stat after stat to make a case for Hines Ward to don a yellow jacket, but he's greater than the sum of his parts. Pure stats don't do him justice, because he's a Hall of Famer on and off the field. Will he get in on the first ballot? I'd have to say no, but I believe that a Hall of Famer is simply a Hall of Famer. So expect to see him up on that podium, oh, sometime in early 2020's. But expect him nonetheless.

JACK BUTLER SHOULD BE IN THE HALL OF FAME

When I first considered writing this article I was unsure how I'd approach it. I usually add humor and satire to my pieces to maintain the readers' interest, but also to hammer a point home. The person I speak of in this article deserves better than a joke for the sake of a joke, though. I also thought about dropping the cold, hard facts, but that could lose the interest of even the most avid Steelers fan.

The player I speak of in this article deserves better than to be reduced to mere facts. Therefore, the person and player I speak of is Jack Butler and he deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now, as you read this you probably just asked yourself, "Whom?" Therein lies the problem. When Steelers fans complain about former players who belong in the Hall of Fame, the usual suspects are in the lineup: L.C. "Hollywood Bags" Greenwood, Donnie Shell, Dermonti Dawson, etc... To sing these players' praises is only right, it's just that not enough current fans know the words to Jack Butler's song to sing his praises in the first place. Now, while I'm not a great singer by any means, I'm going to add my voice to his book of hymns and hopefully attract to him the attention he deserves.

Jack Butler was a 6'1" and 200 lb. defensive back who also played some flanker. Butler was a four-time Pro Bowl, and more importantly a four-time All-Pro (three-time 1st Team selection and one-time 2nd Team selection), player for Pittsburgh from 1951-1959. He was one of the best defenders to play in Pittsburgh and was one of the last two-way players for the Steelers. His career was cut short in 1959 when his knee was so badly damaged in a game at Forbes Field that some wondered if he would live through it. But live through it he did and went on to try his hand at coaching and then ended up being a coach/scout for the Steelers in 1961. Within 2 years Butler would become the director of BLESTO, one of two NFL scouting combines, where he was basically responsible for every player in the NFL for 44 years (1963-2007). Though his being the face of the NFL Scouting Combine could get him elected to Canton as a Contributor, the focus of this article will be on his playing days and why he should eventually wear a gold jacket based on those merits.

As was mentioned, Butler was one of the best defenders to ever play in Pittsburgh. In 3 different seasons (1953, 1957 and 1958) he made at least 9 interceptions, including leading the League in 1957 with 10. Undrafted, Butler made the Steelers as a free agent and became one of the hardest-hitting cornerbacks in the league and one adept at finding the ball as well. His 52 career interceptions still rank 2nd all-time in the Steelers' record books, were good for no. 2 in the NFL all-time when he retired, and still rank as no. 25 in the NFL all-time. Those 52 interceptions also garnered 827 return yards, which still ranks no. 20 in the NFL all-time, and four touchdowns in a total of only 103 games - that's essentially an interception every other game. He also had 10 career fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown. Impressive numbers to be sure, but don't just take my word for it. The NFL and the Steelers organization said it first as Butler was on the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, as well as the Steelers 50 Anniversary Team. Yet, he isn't in the Hall of Fame. Based on the numbers alone one would think he'd have been enshrined by now. But he isn't. I could easily offer personal conjecture as to why he isn't, but it would sound as if I'm just a homer for my team. So I won't speculate as to why, rather I'll compare his accomplishments against some contemporaries who actually do have their busts in Canton.

Let's start with another Jack who played during the same basic years as Butler: Jack Christiansen, who played with the Lions from 1951-1958. Christiansen intercepted 46 balls in his career for a total of 717 return yards and 3 touchdowns. Christiansen also recovered 7 fumbles in his career. His case was bolstered, though, because of returning both kicks and punts throughout his career. He returned kicks and punts so well that it helped him to four 1st Team All-Pros. Comparable numbers nonetheless and yet Christiansen is in the HOF, but Butler isn't. Another contemporary who could be considered is Dick "Night Train" Lane. He played from 1952-1965 and picked off 68 passes in his career returning them for 1,207 yards and scoring five touchdowns. He recovered 11 fumbles, returning one for a touchdown and was a three-time All-Pro. This particular HOFer's actual numbers are greater than those of Butler, as you can see, but he accomplished them in 54 more games. Projecting Butler's numbers out over 157 games would give him approximately 78 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries, not to mention probably at least a couple more All-Pro selections. Alright, one last comparison before I wrap this part up. HOFer Willie Wood played for the Green Bay Packers from 1960-1971 and was a 5-time 1st Team All-Pro. He intercepted 48 passes in his career for a total of 699 return yards and two touchdowns. He also recovered 16 fumbles over the course of his career. Wood is another who returned both punts and kicks and was fairly proficient at it as he is credited for 1,411 total punt/kick return yards. He certainly deserves the Hall of Fame induction he received, all of these men do. But his defensive numbers, even with playing over 60 more games than Butler, simply were not as good. If, again, you were to project Butler's numbers over the career of Mr. Wood's, he'd have 83 interceptions, which would be the most in NFL history, approximately 16 fumble recoveries also, and who knows how many return yards and touchdowns. Obviously we can't truly speculate, but the point is that Butler's numbers, accolades and impact on the field of play are easily as significant as his three contempories mentioned here. Yet, he isn't in the Hall of Fame.


I've been talking for a while now on the Hall of Fame, yet I haven't addressed the criteria set forth by the Hall itself. What are the requirements for induction? Well let's see what profootballhof.com has to say on the matter. In the "Hall of Famers: Selection Process" section you'll find a paragraph that reads this way: "Any fan may nominate any player, coach or contributor who has been connected with pro football simply by writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The only restriction is that a player and coach must have been retired at least five years before he can be considered. There is no mandatory retirement period for a contributor before he may be considered. Every nomination of an eligible candidate received will be processed and forwarded to the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee." Yep, that's about the extent of what the website gives as to the criteria for being nominated. In other words it's very nebulous. But if we take into consideration what was said regarding past enshrinees at the time of their induction, we can assume that there are three basic criteria: 1) Excellence or dominance at the position for a good portion of their career, 2) where their numbers and/or accomplishments were ranked at the time of their retirement, and 3) how they stack up against their contemporaries. Hm...I think I already made that case for him. In that case, I'll simply sum this up: in 103 regular season games, a 9 year career, Jack Butler's accomplishments and impact were on the level of three HOFers who played in his era, was a member of the NFL's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, a member of the Steelers 50th Anniversary Team, a four time All Pro, and the number two all-time interception leader when he retired, yet, he still isn't...well, you know the rest.