Thursday, May 31, 2012


Hush, little angel, don't say a word...
For your safe return I'll pray everyday to Jah above.
Each day "I miss you" only by you will be heard
As I whisper it light enough to be carried on the wings of a dove.

Quiet your thoughts, princess, and surrender that perfection,
Known true only by your knight in armor pristine,
Of eyes, lashes, lips, cheeks and sweet complexion...
I'll ever be your galant knight & defend evermore my queen.

Stay in this moment, this fleeting moment, before ere we kiss,
Before ever our lips touch for the very first time.
So palpable the love between us, so tangible the bliss,
That not to express this sweet desire would be a crime. yourself patient and we will brave this divide
And find our way down the isle to being groom and bride.


I wanted our 100th blog to be about us, Jayden. With it I wanted you to know how much I love you. I also encourage you to be patient as we weather this storm. We will find our way to each other's arms if Jah wills and if we are strong. I love you, kitten! "I have loved you forever and I love you today."

Hines Ward Hired To NBC As Part Of Their Sports Team

We knew this was coming. We knew we'd see that smile again.

Early Thursday it was announced that former Pittsburgh Steelers wide reciever Hines Ward will be a part of the network's Football Night in America/Sunday Night Football as well as other NFL-related roles.

Ward, who announced his retirement on March 20, 2012, was drafted in the 1998 NFL Draft's third round and played 14 seasons, all with the Steelers. He racked up multiple franchise records, including receptions (1,000), receiving yards (12,083) and receiving touchdowns (85). He was also a four-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time second team All-Pro selection and played in three Super Bowls, winning two. In Super Bowl XL, Hines Ward was the MVP with five receptions for 123 yards, one rush for 18 yards, and the game-winning touchdown. He was also the best blocking wide receiver in the NFL and an excellent route runner who always seemed to find the open spot to save the Steelers. Hines Ward was the real man of steel.

"We think Hines is a perfect match for television because he brings with him a unique combination of charisma and football experience, which he demonstrated on our Super Bowl pre-game show from Indianapolis," said Sam Flood, executive producer, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network in a release that was issued to announce Ward's hiring. "He's an opinionated personality who can draw upon his 14 years of experience, having excelled at the highest levels of the game. Just don't expect him to dance."

Along with Aaron Rodgers, Ward appeared on NBC’s Super Bowl XLVI pre-game show, and he was also a part of the Oscar's Red Carpet coverage. So he's no stranger to a studio's bright lights, which is where that memorable smile should be in the first place.

One thing, though, to anyone reading this who may know Hines Ward. Please ask him, since he's not in the NFL anymore and can't get fined or suspended, to level Mike Florio who is also a part of the NBC SNF team. I mean just flatten him. Tell Hines to straight go Keith Rivers on Florio. Like this, remember? -
That would make me very happy...and I would imagine it'd be great for ratings too. Don't y'all think?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

OTAs Give Us Ingredients, Not The Recipe.

When I was teaching Massage Therapy back in another life, I focused on one modality in particular-Deep Tissue. By that I mean real Deep Tissue, not just deeper pressure like you may get at a local spa. Dr. Ida P. Rolf was a biochemist who invented Structural Integration, or "Rolfing", a form of bodywork that reorganizes the connective tissues, called fascia, that permeate the entire body. I taught Deep Tissue based on this modality and one of the things I stressed to my students was that I was giving them the "ingredients, not the recipe." They would have everything brought completely into focus at the next level at The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.

The OTAs are similar to this. They give us those niceties of insight as to what to expect from the team's direction with the new offense and from individual players. Being that it's "football in shorts" as Tomlin and other coaches say, it isn't remotely the recipe that will constitute the complete offensive and/or defensive body of work, but merely the various ingredients that will eventually come into focus in training camp and, of course, the season.

The various Steelers beat writers and Pittsburgh columnists allow us to have a glimpse of that insight as they report to us what they're seeing.

Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest told us Tuesday that "John Clay looks like he has a nice burst running the ball." I threw out the possibility about two weeks ago that we could see a possible roster spot for Clay if he were to live up to what was projected based on his play at Wisconsin. If he continues to show that "nice burst", he'll provide a nice dilemma for the Steelers coaching staff. They could be looking at a real "problem" with Rashard Mendenhall (who reportedly is looking good and rehabbing well), Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, John Clay AND the implementation of a fullback. There will most likely only be four running back/fullback spots, so there essentially is already a log jam. Might we see Chris Rainey listed a wide receiver to make room? Check back in August for that answer.

Speaking of wide receivers, Labriola told us that "No. 88 (Emmanuel Sanders) looks fast, has been catching everything and making it look easy." Again, it's football in shorts, but any time that Manny has on the field is valuable time. He had feet (surgeries) and knee issues last year that kept him from flourishing like I had expected him to do. He has a very high ceiling, world class speed (4.41 in the 40) and, with the retirement of Hines Ward, is the best blocking receiver the Steelers have. He's also a polished route runner, which is an advantage he has over Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace. I'm personally pulling heavily for Manny-he has the tools to be a No. 1 receiver.

Labs gave us "One more: Ziggy Hood wears a weighted vest under his practice jersey every day." I've blogged before about Ziggy and his gap and technique limitations, but I'm only slightly less concerned about his core strength, being that he's been moved out of position before. Like Casey Hampton alluded to once when asked about Ziggy's being the strongest on the team, there is a difference between weight room strength and "grown man strength." That may have shown itself on the field in that the first season in which Ziggy was alone at the position, the Steelers defense gave up 99.8 yards per carry. So, I'm in favor of the weighted vest if it helps him in any way. The on-the-field practice and gameplay, though, are still the best ways to get that "grown man strength."

Dejan Kovacevic, sports columnist with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, had some interesting if not encouraging comments about certain players too. Kovacevic stresses the need for playmakers on defense, the scary type that the Steelers have acquired of late on offense. In line with that he said that Curtis Brown looks really good and even spoke specifically of a particularly sensational athletic play during an OTA session. He also talked about former West Virginia Mountaineer Mortty Ivy, calling him a "ballhawk" and saying that even near the goal line he just "has a nose for the football." Ivy, who was mainly on the practice squad last year, simply needs the opportunity to show those skills more definitively. Kovacevic's description, though, of Brown and Ivy is exactly what is needed on defense: players who are young, athletic and, especially, hungry.

Both James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are being reported as looking very healthy. Harrison looks good and doesn't seem to be hampered by the back problems that hindered him all of last year. Woodley is spoken of as running "full sprint." Their presence is going to be sorely needed to bring back the splash plays that the Steelers defense was missing last year. Turnovers, sacks and getting the ball back on a short field were simply missing last year, and the aggressive play that those two bring is directly tied to that.

Another player who affects that is Lawrence Timmons. Kovacevic again provides some insight as he had a chance to talk to "Juan". Kovacevic wrote, "Timmons just told me he's aiming for "12 to 14" sacks this year. If that sounds high for a guy who had two last year, consider a) he bounces back and forth between inside and outside all year because of injuries to others and b) the man actually predicted 18 for last year. "I'm being a little more careful," he said with a grin."

Very true. Timmons was moved around a lot because of the aforementioned injuries last year. He needs to stay put so he can prove that he truly is one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL like the coaches say he is and like I personally believe he can be.

Oh, evidently Chris Rainey is fast.

Speaking of the OTAs from a different angle, Ed Bouchette reported Wednesday that Mike Adams, David DeCastro and Alameda Ta'amu "can attend once their course ends, not necessarily when the semester ends. So, it now appears that all three will be here for the June 12-14 minicamp, at the least, and Adams actually could be here sometime next week." This is good news because, considering Adams and DeCastro are being looked at as potential starters, they need as much time and as many reps as they can get.

DeCastro might be under contract at that point too, because the Patriots signed Chandler Jones, the last unsigned draft pick left in front of DeCastro, last week. I expect the deal should get done soon.

Ryan Clark: "There were a lot of scenarios we talked about how we could lose that game.Tim Tebow throwing for 300 yards wasn't one of them." It wasn't for me either.

One last thing. With the release, and possible soon-to-come retirement, of James Farrior the Steelers lost more than just a player, they lost a leader. As I wrote in a blog a couple of months ago, leadership can't be drafted, nor can one just assume a player's replacement can take on that mantle. It will most likely take a few players to take on various aspects of that role. Think of it this way: when Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent retired, he held all major NFL receiving records, including: most receptions in a career (819), most receiving yards in a career (13,089), and most touchdown receptions (100). He also held a then-record streak of 177 consecutive regular-season games with a reception. Point: it took four different men to break the records held by one man. We should look at Farrior and his record of leadership the same way.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mike Florio Gets It Wrong In Vilifying Steelers Coach Tomlin

As I quietly perused the news feeds and timelines of Facebook and Twitter I came across a tweet by a friend of mine by the name of Amanda. A woman who is as intelligent as she is lovely, Amanda has no problem expressing her opinion. So when I read “@pghsteelersgrl: Mike Florio is a fu**ing idiot", I figured that I must have missed something.

I redoubled my efforts and found that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk had taken Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to task for things he said during his William & Mary Hall of Fame induction speech. Tomlin started at wide receiver at W&M for three years.

The taking of Tomlin to task isn't necessarily a problem. Taking his words out of context is.

In an article entitled "Tomlin is a “win-at-all-costs” guy" Florio wrote, "Per Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback...Tomlin gave a rather eye-opening glimpse into his mindset." By this alone one can assume that Florio possibly didn't delve any deeper than quotes mentioned therein...which gives also gives a bit of a glimpse into his own mindset.

He goes on to take pieces of the speech as piecemeal to make a patchwork article. But as with most patchwork material, it doesn't hold together very well. What Florio fails to realize, based on not doing the necessary research, is that Tomlin is speaking with his tongue somewhat in his cheek. Tomlin is disarmingly charming and charismatic and he's simply keeping all of this light and is joking with the crowd. But why should I expect a news source to do actual research? What was I thinking?

Florio next wrote, "One of the reasons I work in the National Football League — I’m tired of the NCAA rules." To that he replied, "It’s also clear that he’s tired of the NFL rules. Every gripe and complaint and piss and moan from Steelers players regarding the league’s rules for hitting offensive players naturally traces to...Tomlin. Last year, for example, safety Ryan Clark was celebrated in the film room for a hit that got him fined $40,000 by the league office."

The so-called "celebration" of a fined hit should be more accurately referenced as a teaching point to the team as it happened before the fine was handed down. Yes, it was flagged, but check the film: Clark leads with the shoulder and hits the receiver, the Ravens' Ed Dickson, just after the ball is caught and Dickson has had both feet to come down to the ground. He was not "defenseless." Was it helmet-to-helmet? The easy answer is that it was, but the helmet contact was minimal at best. Realistically, it is impossible to completely avoid at least some helmet contact when highly-conditioned athletes are going at full speed. The Steelers as a whole were disappointed with the fine and supported Clark.

Getting back to the specific matter at hand, Florio sums up the article by writing, "As the NFL tries to make the game safer, Tomlin needs to realize that his “win-at-all-costs” mindset needs to be tempered by a genuine respect for whatever rules may apply."

Very noble...if not very misguided.

You be the judge, though. I'm posting the parts of the speech in question, and the YouTube link below. And after you do so, go follow Amanda on Twitter via @pghsteelersgrl.
TOMLIN: "We’ve got our chief financial officer in the building from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Where is my man Mark Hart? Is he in the building? Hart? He exited stage left. (laughter from crowd) His son, Kevin, is in the next incoming class of football players at William & Mary. And I'm proud to say that hopefully I had a part in that and I didn’t break any rules in the process. (laughter) Um...I think. (laughter) That's one of the reasons that I work in the National Football League, I'm tired of the NCAA rules. I'm a win-at-all-costs kind of a guy. The NFL is just right for me. Although, I’m not a bounty guy in any form or fashion. (laughter) Any form or fashion. (laughter) What you’ve got to understand about the Pittsburgh Steelers is that they'll get you for nothing. I ain’t gotta offer them anything. Guys like James Harrison and company, they enjoy it. Nah...I love the group of men that I work with...."

2012 Tribe Athletics Hall of Fame: Mike Tomlin

Friday, May 25, 2012

OTAs Give An Insight Into New Steelers Offense; Harrison Slams Goodell...Again

The Pittsburgh media did a great job during the first week of OTAs. One of the first among these was Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He was all over the place with quotes, observations and videos of the practices. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkKaboly_Trib.

Some of the things we found out was that Big Ben didn't practice yesterday, he was in just a t-shirt in fact. No Harrison, Ike or Cotchery either.

The aforementioned Mark Kaboly said that Keenan Lewis told him that he will make Pro Bowl this year. Lofty goal for someone who isn't even guaranteed a starting position. I like the confidence, though.

Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert says don't count him out at left tackle just yet. He called it his "dream" position. Per Kaboly, the exact quote from Gilbert was: "I'm not counting it out 100% that they aren't going to move me over to left. That's my dream. My passion."

Gilbert went on to talk about other positions on the offensive line when he said of Colon at left guard: "He can be one of the best guards in NFL. He's a strong, powerful guy that can anchor down." Strong words, but I believe that he just may be right. The false starts aside, Colon was one the better right tackles in the NFL before his injuries. I've believed he could move inside for a couple of years now as well. Let's hope he proves Gilbert and I correct.

Worilds has a bandage wrapping his left hand and hasn't practiced in three days. Hopefully it's a temporary thing. Rashard Mendenhall, though, has been seen working out on the sidelines and on the bike preparing himself and rehabilitating. He was quoted as saying he plans to be ready by week one. No, he won't. I love the drive, but recovery time for this injury is nine months. Especially for a player who depends on his speed and cutback abilities. He's a dynamic runner and being able to slash is an important part of his game. He's not a plodder who just busts forward down after down and occasionally flashes his one move. Simply put, week one won't happen. Baron Batch, yes. Mendy, no. Expect him to be on the PUP list to start the season.

As can be found on, Big Ben said of Haley's new offense, "I tried to tell (them) don't get frustrated because I know you're used to getting a lot more balls, but this is how it was my rookie year. I know what one guy does and I go to him. If he's not open, I start scrambling."

Big Ben excels at that. But Todd Haley is trying to get Big Ben to play more from the pocket.

"I know that I'm supposed to get rid of the ball, stay in the pocket and not get hit. I guess I better learn where the protections are coming from so I don't get hit", he said with a chuckle.

Those words may give pause to many in Steeler Nation that the Steelers are taking away what Big Ben does best. But it's May, and it makes sense for the team to be focusing on the fundamentals of the offense and on Ben staying in the pocket. Trust me, when the games start, he'll be Big Ben again. We just need a little less John Wayne.

Speaking further on the new offense,  we are starting to see certain elements of it come into focus. There are a few things to which we can probably look forward, such as:

The beloved Counter Pike/Trap/Pull and other POWER RUNNING PLAYS will stay intact with Haley at the helm. In fact, with more athleticism at the guard spots you can bet on it. As I said in a previous blog also, expect both sides to pull. Ergo, more BALANCE. Gradually the new offense will morph to the point where it won't be the predictable beast we saw last year.

Also expect to see more use of a FULLBACK or H-BACK in the offense as David "DJ" Johnson and WVU grad Will Johnson are both listed as fullbacks now and are attending the running back meetings. So running-back-by-committee and Pony backfield formations will probably be seen with backs like Baron Batch and/or Chris Rainey present to go along with Isaac Redman. Bruce Arians from time-to-time said that it was possible that a Pony formation would be used, but I barely remember it. But, no matter, he's "retired" anyway.

More PLAY ACTION and NO-HUDDLE will seemingly be used in this offense also. Big Ben is an accurate passer when using either play action or the no-huddle, and Ben said it will be used more this season. Plus, if you establish running game early, you can use the play action later much more effectively.

Isaac Redman said that they would be THROWING MORE TO THE RUNNING BACKS also. He, himself, is a capable pass receiver and both Batch and Rainey showed that ability in college. Big Ben needs to check down to his backs more anyway, which will lessen the sacks he takes.

All-in-all it seems the Steelers are enjoying getting back to work and learning the new offense which, let's face it, needed an injection of new ideas and a fresh approach. The offense could always do more: if Big Ben had 250 yards passing, you know he could've passed for 300 yards; if the running backs ran for 75 yards, you know they could've run for over 100 yards. So now we can look forward to the next set of OTAs to see what other new things we find out.


James Harrison is back in the news, but not because of the OTAs. Last year Harrison trashed Roger Goodell, among others, in an interview last year. He initially said he was taken out of context, then apologized and said his comments were way out of line. Despite the apology he obviously seems to still have a certain degree of vitriol for Goodell. It seems he agrees with Jonathan Vilma’s contention that Goodell was out of line in his public comments about the Saints’ bountygate. Harrison thinks Vilma’s attempt to sue Goodell for defamation is a win-win situation, whether successful or not.

“If he loses, it shows Goodell does have too much power,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “and if he wins, it opens up the floodgates.”

Harrison said he believes the players shouldn’t have signed off on the CBA last year unless Goodell's power had been attenuated. When the CBA was signed
last summer, the Steelers players/organization voted 78-6 against it-the only team to do so.

Well, whether right or wrong, the only thing we can be sure of is that Goodell can't fine Deebo for saying what he did. (Can he?)


For you gambling degenerates: Post Gazette Blog: Vegas: Steelers' 2012 over/under -- 10 wins

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RIP Bill Stewart

Guest Contributor :  Larry Sayre

West Virginians and Mountaineer fans alike were saddened by the news yesterday of the passing of Bill Stewart.  Stewart was the true epitome of what it meant to be, not only a West Virgininian, but a Mountaineer.  Stewart was proud to be a West Virginian. He openly declared it with great pride among all the stereotypes. All were treated equally by Stewart. Whether he was coaching his star QB Pat White, cheering on his Mountaineers at a local bar among fellow fans, or taking to a reporter. Stewart treated all equally with caring & respect. He had a personality that would take over a room.

 One of the most fondest memories of Bill Stewart and how he endured himself to Mountaineer fans was the speech  LEAVE NO DOUBT. He gave this speech  prior to the Fiesta Bowl   .

 WVU & its fans were at an all-time low. They lost to their hated rivals Pitt at home as 29 point favorites with a National Championship Game invite if they win. Then one of their native sons in Rodriquez takes off like a thief in the night to Michigan. No one was excited about the Fiesta Bowl. Fans only could think of the opportunity that was blown.

Stewart found a way to galvanize the Mountaineers & shock the College Football World with a stunning blowout upset of the highly ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Some were saying Oklahoma was the best team in the country by the end of the season. Every West Virginian knows what the football teams means to the state. Stewart rallied an entire football team in one of WVU's darkest hours. He was the right man for the right time. He made them believe, & brought pride back to Mountaineer Nation, & the entire state that night.

Stewart went 28-12 in three seasons. Three straight 9-4 seasons. Including his win as interim coach in the Fiesta Bowl…… He was 2-2 in bowl games. 1-0 in BCS games.  Many would say that  WVU had lost its footing under Stewart. That the program was beginning to slide. That is hard to argue. This can be said though. Stewart united the program & state with the Fiesta bowl win. He was a needed glue that held the program together when one of their native sons left them twisting in the wind. WVU needed someone who cared & wanted to be there. The wrong hire could have set the program back for many years. Stewart kept the program afloat while doing it with pride & honor.

 A great quote by Stewart that tells you a lot about the pride of being a Mountaineer.

 “ To be part of this is something no one can know about unless you live & experience it, it’s who we are, it’s what we are. These people came to these hills for a better life. We are one big clan in this state, whether you are a miner, a construction worker, a banker, everyone cares about everyone. We don’t have a pro team. We tell all our players, "don’t ever forget the pride of playing before the hardest working, God fearing, most wonderful people you will ever meet in your life. That’s what we are, that’s who we are.”

A nice story that comes to mind when thinking of Stewart   When  Stewart was an assistant coaching at Arizona State in 1988. His beloved Mountaineers were in the National Championship game that same year versus Notre Dame. Stewart had to go. He wanted to see history: his Mountaineers winning their first Football National Championship. He proceeded to tell the story of how he went to the game alone. Sat high up in the bleachers with his Cowboy hat on. No one knew he was there. Then how horrified he was when All–American QB Major Harris separated his shoulder on the third play of the game. He was in tears in the stands as he watched such a precious opportunity fall by the wayside. The Mountaineers meant that much to him. He knew what they meant to the entire state.

Stewart was deeply religious. A caring, kind, & compassionate man. He was deeply dedicated to his family. Even old fashioned in a way. He still referred to his wife as his bride. Mike Tomlin got his first coaching job under Stewart at VMI. Tomlin released this statement of his close friend. “ We are saddened by the passing of coach Stew. He was a great coach ,& a tremendous person. We not only lost a good football person, we lost an even better family man.”

Coach Tomlin said it best with those words.  In closing I will use the words of   Dave Wannstedt former Pitt Coach:"The state of West Virginia lost a great man.   We really did. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Offense Makes For Positive Headlines For Roethlisberger and Colon This Offseason.

It was late February in 2010 when I got a call from my buddy who ran the floor crew of the Thomas and Mack center here in Las Vegas where the UNLV Runnin' Rebels play their home basketball games: "You'll never guess who's in my house!" I'm thinking, "you're right."

You see, my buddy is an avid Steelers fan too and, after a few back-and-forths, it turned out that Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Colon and some other players/guys he didn't recognize had rented the floor for a while to play a few games of hoops. I begged twitch him to find a way to get down to get in somehow and see them, meet them, ask one of them to be the godfather of my firstborn, anything...but to no avail. Little did I know what was to come less than two weeks later.

But this article isn't focusing on anything negative, nor will it reopen old wounds. Both Big Ben and Colon have been in the news for basically positive team-related reasons this offseason, and that deserves attention too.

Sure, we had some potential doubt with the 'Big Ben hasn't met with Haley' and 'Colon won't take a pay cut' articles, but those were overblown and TMZ-like articles based on having little else to write about regarding the team.

What has actually been the case is that Big Ben went back and completed his degree nine years after he left school for the NFL. The 30-year-old quarterback received his bachelor's degree in education.

Big Ben has also had to ingest a new playbook that he has referred to as the "Rosetta Stone." That notwithstanding, he has been clear about delving into it to learn it as best he can. He's even pointed out that he is seeing quite a bit of the no-huddle to the new offense. That may be a good thing.

According to some raw stats, Big Ben has a 64% completion rate and about a 7.5 yard per completion average over his career. In 4th quarters Big Ben has an approximate 70% completion rate and a 7.58 YPC average. Again, these are raw numbers, but they give an idea of how good this could potentially be. 

Another reason why this is potentially very good for Big Ben and the offense is this - the most sacked quarterbacks since 2009: Joe Flacco = 107; Jay Cutler = 110; Aaron Rodgers = 117; and Ben Roethlisberger = 122.

The no-huddle in part means a more fast-paced offense and potentially a quicker release. That coupled with the 24th, 83rd and maybe even the 248th pick in the 2012 draft, and the recently announced offensive line changes, and Big Ben may see a former liability may become a strength sooner than later.

Which leads me to the other side of this coin: "I've made the transition to left guard," Willie Colon said in an interview with Mike Prisuta of WDVE. "I like it. It's just a matter of learning the verbiage." Colon told Prisuta that the coaches called him right after the drafting of Mike Adams to tell him about the switch. 

That will provide a level of athleticism on the inside of the line which the Steelers haven't had in a while and which will allow both Colon and DeCastro, the number one draft pick who'll play right guard this season, to pull. The Steelers traditionally take the counter pike/trap/pull to the right, but now will have both options. Colon verified this.

"You should expect both of us pulling," Colon continued. "I think we're going to be a lot more balanced."

The addition of Colon and DeCastro to the interior will give the line a lot of power to create a push in the running game, which, despite now having more size on the outside for pass protection, is what should be seen more so early in the season. Lining up and punching the opposing defensive line in the mouth is easier than getting timing down in the passing game. So expect more of that early on.

Also to be considered in that is the fact that Mike Adams has the talent, but is unpolished and green. He may need some help and time to maturate before he starts. In my opinion, expect Max Starks to be back, if healthy, to start the season.

Ed Bouchette did say, though, that Adams has a chance to start. Colon echoed those words.

“I am excited to get out there. I know the sky is the limit for us as a line. We have the young kids DeCastro and Mike Adams," said Colon in the interview. "The biggest thing that always gets us is the injury bug, but if we can stay strong and healthy, we should be the one or two best line in the league.”

As was reported on Friday, Trai Essex will be given a chance at the back up spot at tackle. There is also newly signed Kyle Jolly who'll have a shot at back up now that Trevis Turner has been deemed expendable and released. I simply hope that this means the end of Jonathan Scot...AAARGH!!!... Sorry, I get that reaction whenever I say or hear his name. Hopefully, though. Hopefully.

Not everyone sees this as necessarily a good thing, though. David Todd, @hammerspeaks on Twitter, tweeted: "Colon at left guard may mean Adams at LT so two rookies aren't playing next to each other. That is how I read things." Very possibly so. This would, after all, be the first time that the offensive line has started two rookies in almost 40 years.

Another outlook on this is from Lance Williams of when he wrote: "I think the Steelers could be making a very big mistake with the offensive line. I think it's really premature to name Adams the starting LT. He has gone from off the board to drafted to starter without playing a snap with pads. You couple that with starting two new guards and you have a high level of uncertainty. Mix that all up with a new offense and you have the potential for an explosion."

Or you could also have the potential for explosion.

Lance may be correct: the starting of two rookies is like mixing Nitric Acid and Glycerol, two chemicals which unto themselves aren't a problem but volatile when mixed. But that volatility may manifest itself in the form of young, vibrant, hellbent-for-leather nastiness that this offensive line could use.

So when you consider what is now behind us and add in some youth and veteran leadership to a new offense, our front five and no. seven could very well lead to Ring number seven.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Much Ado About Nothing, So Subscribe To Steel Curtain Radio

There has been a lot of news that has come down the pike this week regarding the Steelers that directly or indirectly involves them. Some of it seemed relevant, and some of it didn't. But given the time of year, it's much ado about nothing. 

Word came down a few days ago that Mike Wallace won't sign his tender until he absolutely has to do so. 

Um...ok. Who's that hurting?

The Steelers hired Todd Haley as the new offensive coordinator and he brought with him an entirely new offense. It would be in Wallace's best interests to show up, learn Haley's offense, and let his agent and the mighty Omar Khan work out the details of a long-term deal. Didn't Wallace learn anything from Hines Ward? 

But Wallace will take his sweet time signing a one-year tender offer that will pay him $2.74 million in 2012.  

This is especially idiotic when his own quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was asked what had changed with Haley's offense. “Everything," he said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast. "The similarities would be on a shorter list. Off the top of my head, from what I've seen so far, there's a 90 percent change.” 

Again, who's that hurting? Moving on. 

We also found out that Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor underwent surgery to repair a torn chest muscle he injured while lifting weights. An injury which I myself endured once. A slight tear, 5%-10%, but a tear nonetheless. 

Taylor tore his left pectoralis major while bench pressing during the offseason conditioning program last week at the team's facility. The Browns said the surgery ''went well'' and the 335-pound Taylor is recovering now.

The team did not provide a timetable for Taylor's return, but Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Taylor would need ''months, not weeks'' to recover. He would not, though, rule him out for this season.

These injuries typically take six months-to-a-year to heal. I had my right arm hanging and couldn't work without pain for approximately six months. Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson missed most of two whole seasons with torn pecs. So this is definitely something to watch. 

Hard on the heels of the news of the Terrell Suggs torn Achilles injury we get news that Ed Reed has acknowledged contemplating retirement. 

Let me just say this first: No Suggs + no Reed = no Ratbirds defense. Period. End of sentence. They are two of their three best defensive players, including Haloti Ngata, and arguably two of their three best players period. 

Hours after getting that news, though, Reed was quoted as saying that he planned to continue to play football. "It's not about retirement, it's about my focus in the offseason, health, family and football," said Reed, who has had trouble with neck, hip, and shoulder injuries in recent years. "This is the time of year where players think through things. My goal is to play football in the years to come."

Reed, 33, went on to say where his focus is now. "A totally different focus now, trying to take care of my son, spend time with my son and my family," Reed said during the radio interview. "Other things have taken priority."

Reed can't be faulted for wanting to take of his family, but there's doubt that the Ravens organization would do everything but literally kiss his toes to keep in uniform. Their secondary suffers dramatically without him. His skillful play covered a multitude of sins the last two years, even while missing the first six games of '10, in that secondary. It's a secondary that certainly got better as the season progressed last year, but that would still suffer if he were to retire. So "will he or won't he?" is what Ravens and Steelers fans will be curious to find out.

Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported early on Friday that "Mike Adams and David DeCastro are NOT permitted to take part in any of the 10 OTAs. They will take part in mandatory minicamp June 12-14." 

The OTAs (Organized Team Activities) aren't so much a need for entrenched veterans, but essential for rookies who are looking to get acclimated to the pro game. So, though it's early, we'll see if this has any early effects. 

To close this out is like to encourage people to listen and subscribe to Lance Williams of Steel Curtain Radio. It's one of the best Steelers podcasts around and Big Swa always brings the real. You'll even get an earful of the Beastie Boys in the latest podcast. 

As someone who has been interviewed by him as well as someone who spends his own time and resources to bring as much Steelers information, history and overall content as possible, I completely endorse subscribing to his podcast. You can also follow him on Twiiter at @SteelRadio and the Steel Curtain Radio group on Facebook. A link to his website is on the front page of our Blog. So, as Lance always says, "listen, tell a friend and subscribe." 'Nuff said.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

This weekend is the weekend to celebrate Mom.  It is a day dedicated to the woman that gave us life.  She is the one who dried the tears when we got hurt or were sad.  She is the one who tucked us in at night.  She looked under the bed when there were monsters afoot.  She can also be that firm disciplinarian.    

This blog is not only dedicated to all the Moms out there it is also dedicated to the Greatest Moms in the world; Steeler Moms.  These are you typical Moms, they do all the things that other Moms do, but they also form the foundation for the future Steeler fans.  They love football and their Steelers.  You think yelling at the T.V is just for Dads.  Go watch a game with a Steeler Mom.  They will be screaming about bad calls and calling Phil Simms a bonehead just the same as the men. 
These Moms raise their daughters that football just isn't a man's sport anymore.  Steeler Moms don't tell their daughters that they have to wear a pink jersey of their favorite players .  They buy their daughters Black and Gold Jerseys.  They know that a "Terrible Towel" is more than an accessory, it is a must-have for any Steeler fan.

They take great pride in wearing their black and gold.  They are not afraid to take on the monsters that are opposing teams fans.  You think men know their football.  Get in a good convo with a Steeler Mom.  I bet she can even tell you all the QBs that have played for the Steelers, not just Big Ben. They pass that knowledge on to their kids.  The women of Steel have been pegged to be the most knowledgeable females fans.  We did not learn all this knowledge just from our Dads.  Just saying. 

So I will end this by saying "Thank you" to all the Steeler Moms.  Thank you for showing your kids that it is a great thing to be a Steeler fan.  For showing us to own it and to embrace it.  But most of all .  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Enlightened Steelers Fans Know Their Football - Male And Female

Ben Roethlisberger was on The Dan Patrick Show Wednesday morning and was asked about a number of things including the Denver loss. What has the media and football world reacting is a passing reference to the San Francisco 49ers' 20-3 victory over the Steelers on Monday, Dec. 19.

Roethlisberger had been hurt 11 days before against the Cleveland Browns, suffering a high-ankle sprain. Many, including myself, didn't believe he should've played in that game. He was hurt and was more important for the playoff run than this individual NFC game.

Now, understand, it isn't to be understated that Big Ben definitely knows what it means to play with pain. He has broken his thumb, torn cartilage in his knee, separated his shoulder and fractured a bone in his foot. Maybe his best "John Wayne" moment, though, came against the Ravens when defensive tackle Haloti Ngata broke his nose in December of 2010. He stayed in the game and ended up throwing the winning touchdown pass to Isaac Redman in a 13-10 Steelers win that decided the division.

But after the game in question, Roethlisberger called himself "the 49ers' best player." A game in which he threw three interceptions, was sacked three times and fumbled twice losing one. Big Ben was more of a liability than an asset as has been detailed in a previous blog.

Well, Dan Patrick asked Big Ben when the last time he felt a team was going after his knees, ankles or head.

"Um, wow, that's tough," Roethlisberger said. "I don't really complain about that stuff, either. But I think when we played San Fran I felt like there were some things going on, some extra... Now, obviously, I did have the ankle and I was playing, so there was kind of a bulls-eye on there anyway. But for the most's just...guys play tough and you go into a game expecting it. I expect to be tougher than them." -

I'll be blunt: if the 49ers did target Big Ben's ankle in order to put him out of the game, good for them. I wouldn't expect anything differently. Not that I want my quarterback injured, but if you think that such things don't happen all the time, including with our beloved Steelers, and hasn't happened since football began, stop reading now. Go watch baseball or some non-contact sport, because football isn't for you.

That said, I'm not talking bounties and I don't believe either was the case with the 49ers. I watched every play of that game and saw nothing, absolutely nothing, to believe the 49ers did anything bounty related or set out to do serious damage to Big Ben's ankle. And to his credit, Big Ben never suggested that they did. That hasn't stopped the sports media on the whole from tossing it around in that light, though.

Point blank, if Steelers fans didn't make a brouhaha about illegally or immorally trying to take out Big Ben, that says something. An approximate 75% of Steelers fans are very knowledgeable. Knowledgeable to the point of not allowing emotion to cloud their thinking. No solid thinking fellow fan I know even whispered a thought of it then and not one is screaming it now.


In fact, Steeler Nation is not only known for having intelligent and enlightened fans, but for also having a vast and expansive array of intelligent and enlightened female fans.

Over the years I've gotten to know many female Steelers fans whom I can safely say have been as, or more, knowledgeable than some male fans. For example, go to any  Steelers message board, to Twitter or to most any Facebook group dedicated to the Steelers and you'll find that the female fans go at it with opposing teams' fans regularly and easily hold their own. Since we all know that being loud doesn't equate to being right, you don't see them merely shouting their opinions. They readily express their love and their viewpoints, but they're able to back up those viewpoints with empirical data and facts. Some can even just as quickly pull historical game facts out of the air as many men I know.

Don't just take my word for it, though. Take the word of a "Scarborough Sports Marketing survey of 220,354 residents in 75 United States markets." The Steelers have, "by far, the largest base of NFL fans who are women." -


So the next time you're watching a football and you're told that you think like a girl, it was probably a Steelers fan and was meant as a compliment.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ben Roethlisberger Intimates The Steelers Will Run The No-Huddle

With the NFL Draft over and done, the play books handed out and Rookie Mini-Camp now behind us, we start to really see the upcoming season take shape. Soon OTAs will be here and we'll get to see the rookies interact with the veterans for the first time. And if you're like me, this can all be just as exciting as looking forward to the actual games. If you're like me, there are two seasons in sports: Football season and Waiting For Football season.

That said, football in shorts, as Mike Tomlin would say, over the weekend brought the football world a semblance of things to come. By way of pics and videos at we got to see second-round draft pick Mike Adams at left tackle, last season's practice squad player John Malecki at center, first-round draft pick David DeCastro at right guard and, also from the practice squad, Trevis Turner at right tackle making up part of the first-team offensive line. Two will make the team, including one who'll start opening day, and two have a better chance of making the practice squad again (though, the team is reportedly high on Turner). And they are a part of the unit who'll be responsible for protecting Ben Roethlisberger.

Speaking of the aforementioned play book, Roethlisberger was on WDVE radio last week and, when asked about what Todd Haley is installing, he referred to it as the "Rosetta Stone." Being that Roethlisberger just finished his Bachelor's of Science degree in Education from Miami (Ohio) University, he should be able to study up on it easily enough. (Please tell me you picked up on the sarcasm...)

"I do know some stuff from obviously being in the building and walking by the rooms, sneaking in the rooms by myself and trying to look at things, because you can't meet and talk football. So I walked into the rooms to see what was kind of going on and I thought I picked up a Rosetta Stone book. Yeah I see some stuff and we're going to need to meet this week, trust me, because we've got to figure some stuff out", he said.

Big Ben Roethlisberger was mainly being facetious and he did illicit a jocular reaction. But Tuesday he was on the Rich Eisen podcast and spoke differently about the offense. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

"In these meetings I've had with coach Haley, he's all about the no-huddle and using our wide-receiver weapons and throwing the ball and stuff like that," Big Ben said on the podcast, which airs on the NFL Network Thursday and can be found in iTunes also. -

The Chiefs ran over 100 no-huddle plays in 2011, whereas the Steelers ran around 50. So we'll definitely see a modern-day offense, no "three yards and a cloud of dust" plays for this offense. Which probably isn't good news to many in Steeler Nation who have clamored for more running of the football. After all, the Steelers only ran the ball 32% of the time last season.

Personally, I'd like to see not more necessarily, but more efficient running of the ball. The goal line percentages were up dramatically from previous years, but the red zone and third down efficiency numbers weren't at all. That lends itself directly to the running game. Not necessarily being able to pound forward with the run, but at least to threaten with the run.

With a functioning, even threatening, offensive line and running game they can directly affect those ineffective red zone and third down numbers. In fact they can do so while still running the no-huddle. The implementation of the one does not preclude the use of the other. The low running game percentage stated earlier isn't something Haley wouldn't have noticed.

Haley is known for utilizing the weapons at his disposal and realizes the real strength of the offense is in Big Ben and the wide receivers and tight end he has. Add to that, the offensive line was directly addressed in the draft. Protecting Big Ben is now a priority. Haley would probably want to emphasize a quick release along with the no-huddle in order to further protect him and make the offense flow.

Regardless, Big Ben most likely is very happy with what he's seeing thus far in the offseason. He got a thousand pounds of new beef to protect him and knows he'll definitely get to play with all his toys when the season starts.


The Steelers have now signed four of their draft picks. Alameda Ta'amu, Chris Rainey, Mike Adams and Toney Clemons. Official numbers on Ta'amu show a $433,000 signing bonus and a $181,000 signing bonus for Rainey. The rest of the number are here:

All I have for the other two are total numbers: Mike Adams is about $3.5 million or so, while the contract for Toney Clemons is around $2.15 million.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bounty Scandal, Concussions Encompass Past, Present & Future Of NFL

The confluence of events this first week of May has to have Roger Goodell's head spinning.

There was the tragic passing of former NFL linebacking great, Junior Seau, there were the suspensions Goodell himself laid down on the Bountygate scandal, there was the class action lawsuit against the NFL from former players saying that they weren't protected for so long, and the NFLPA has filed a grievance vs. NFL challenging Commissioner Goodell's authority to suspend the four players he did.

Don't forget that DeMaurice Smith is caught between a rock and a hard place, too, because he has to defend players...against players. Players who put out bounties on fellow players. Just as importantly, players who are now railing against being fined and/or suspended.

But, despite the fact that Goodell remains historically inconsistent in matters of meting out punishments, I maintain that he got this one right.

Their grievance is of interest because there are over 50,000 pages of evidence in the NFL report. Add to the fact that they signed a CBA that gives Goodell the power to hand out these sanctions. So, yes, suspended Saints players will get the "due process" for which the union bargained. But you get caught with your hand in the proverbial cookie jar and you have to expect it to get slapped. -

"The way I look at it, Steelers [are] only ones who can complain about Goodell's power. 31 other teams could've voted against CBA but didn't. #karma" - Mark Kaboly, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Exactly, Mark. Steelers players are doing just that by the way. There was quite a Twitter buzz over the suspensions assessed by Goodell from Steelers Ryan Clark, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison. -

An example of how the Steelers players reacted is from Ryan Clark: “@RealRClark25: Wonder why the team got the least penalties in Bounty Gate! Think about who elected & rewarded the commish, it's the owners of the teams!”

Woodley and Harrison had not-so-dissimilar sentiments. Not unexpected considering there's no love lost between Goodell and the Steelers, especially James Harrison.

The reality, though, is that Goodell does have the power to levy fines and suspensions. He also has the power to hear appeals, if the NFL is treating Bountygate as an "off the field" issue that is. But if it's "on the field" then appeals go to an independent arbitrator.

The NFL is making sure those bases are covered too, though. Mary Jo White, a New York-based attorney who formerly was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was hired by league to review the bounty scandal. She calls the evidence against the players "quite strong."

“It is a rare situation where you have multiple independent sources with first-hand knowledge,” Mary Jo White, said in a conference call with reporters. “This is not something based on what somebody else said to them. It is an unusually strong record on which the commissioner acted.” -

If the players are so vehement over the suspensions because they're innocent of any and all allegations, why didn't they meet with Goodell to proclaim their innocence? -

Could it be because Hargrove provided empirical evidence when he signed a declaration that was submitted by the NFLPA? -

The players involved are on a real slippery slope here. They haven't done themselves any favors leading up to this and have instead tried to back door the situation by attempting to steer review process away from Goodell. -

That having been said, there is support for some of Goodell's power being taken away. ESPN's Mike Hill and Mark Schlereth were very blunt in tweeting their opinions on the matter.

“@HillSchlereth: "They need to change who hands out the punishments. It needs to be someone independent outside of the NFL."

Personally, I agree. It's my opinion that Goodell suspends players based upon the level of embarassment to the "shield" and not on actual infractions. It might even seem to the average or ancillary fan that Goodell has no rhyme or reason with regard to his discipline.

When Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the beginning of 2010, there was no arrest, basically no evidence and no conviction. On the other hand, Tank Johnson was arrested in Chicago for possession of a handgun in his sport utility vehicle. "It is unlawful to carry or possess any firearm in any vehicle or concealed on or about the person, except on one’s land or in one’s home or fixed place of business" in Illinois.

Johnson pled guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge and was sentenced. On February 12, 2006, Johnson, while still on probation, was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest after allegedly verbally threatening a police officer.

On December 14, 2006, police officers searched Johnson's home in Gurnee, Illinois, and discovered that he possessed six firearms, including two assault rifles. According to police reports, some of the guns were loaded and there were children in the house.

Johnson was even forced to appear in Circuit court to request permission to leave the State of Illinois to travel to Miami, Florida to play in Super Bowl XLI. Johnson met with Goodell to determine punishment for his off-the-field transgressions, with Goodell eventually imposing an eight-game suspension, with the possibility of a reduction to six games if Johnson followed certain requirements for violating the NFL player conduct policy.

Four games for no arrest and no case, but six games for having enough artillery to fortify Che Guevara's resistance movement? Not to mention child endangerment.

But Roethlisberger is the franchise quarterback of one of the league's premiere teams. Tank Johnson is...quick, name his draft year. Ok, well, name the position he plays. Exactly. Like I said, level of embarassment to the "shield" trumps actual infractions.

So, it's no surprise that Goodell came down harder on the Saints organization than he did the Patriots' brass: the player safety issue is his main trumpet call. The Bounty scandal directly defies that. Goodell wants a game with fewer paralyzing, career ending and even life ending injuries as his legacy. So he will react stronger when the "shield" is tarnished.

I understand, even applaud, WHAT he's doing, I simply don't agree HOW he's doing it. Wanting player safety is admirable, as no one wants to see another Mike Webster, Dave Duerson or Junior Seau. But too many fans, players and even officials are confused over what the rules actually say. Officials will flag a player for a supposed illegal and finable hit, but no fine comes. Then there will be a hit that the commentators question or that fans boo over because of no flag was thrown, but that receives a fine that Tuesday. Goodell has everyone confused and it affects his being able to completely establish a system that everyone can follow. Or even wants to follow.

Goodell and the NFL need to be more proactive with regard to both the clarification of the rules regarding defenseless, helmet-to-helmet and quarterback hits as well as advances in helmet technology itself. The fining of players for what are deemed illegal hits is reactive and therefore does not equal player safety. The rules on how and where to hit so as to maintain player safety are stated in the rule book, yes. But, as I said, they are incomplete and/or contradictory. All fines do is remind the players to adhere to rules they don't completely understand in the first place. Not to mention the fact that those rules apply to defensive players and not to offensive players. A defensive player cannot lead with his helmet, but a running back can lower his head and lead with his helmet to "attack" the defender. Again, contradictory.

With regard to helmet technology, though, I don't know it will ever advance to the point where the players won't be affected at all. As an NFL lineman once said, being on the offensive or defensive line is like being in a car crash 60 times a day. Well, is every car crash straight forward? Are not many of them from various angles? Can the one hitting often also receive injuries from the "crash"? The analogy is very apt, and can be expanded to include all such tackles, when you consider that few tackles are ever completely "head-on", there is always some form of torque involved that can adversely affect the head, neck and back, and both players can be hurt by a hit. Case in point: 2008 Ravens-Steelers AFC Championship game, safety Ryan Clark launches into Willis McGahee and both stayed down several minutes. - 

Now, don't get me wrong, that tackle was textbook and was legal at the time. He lead with the shoulder and the helmet contact was secondary and inevitable. But it's an example of the point being made. The NFL is an inherently violent game and there are certain aspects of it that are too dynamic to completely control.

It's true that the human body was not meant to endure that aforementioned inherent violence, but the players know what they're getting involved with when they sign up. That hasn't stopped hundreds of players from filing a class action lawsuit against the NFL for concussions received and for the NFL not taking proper precautions to protect them.

It's not something, per se, that Goodell oversaw, but he still feels the brunt of it as it falls into his lap. Especially since his emphasis has been on concussions and player safety. Because of this, are there post-traumatic stress lawsuits coming as well? Former New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall wrote a book about concussions and the other effects of playing in the NFL. He sat down for an interview with Amarie of to discuss these very things. -

Amarie can also be found on Twitter at @AmarieSCF and on Facebook at the Amarie SportsChat page. -!/amarie.sportschat

The future of the NFL may be quite different in the next ten years if more and more studies and books come out regarding concussions and their long-term effects. Whether it becomes one that's overly cautious to the point of testing players after every game or not remains to be seen. Regardless, the Saints Bounty scandal has had at least a hand in seeing to that coming to fruition. And to Roger Goodell being right in the middle of the head spinning controversies.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Terrell Suggs - Fall So Hard: Torn Achilles May Sideline Him For Season

Vinny Cerrato, via the Twitter account @1057TheFan, reported Thursday, May 2nd, that the Baltimore Ravens best linebacker and arguably best defensive player, Terrell Suggs, had torn his achilles, and was likely out for the 2012 season.

I couldn't be happier...or more upset.

Suggs being out for season for is a massive blow to the Ravens. -

As David Todd of says, "Suggs is more important to the Ravens defense than any single player to the Steelers defense. Troy, Silverback, Ike... Huge loss. Rookie Upshaw steps right in."

He's right. That one player will greatly affect the way the Ravens line up, the way they scheme and how much they blitz. Last year they were ninth in the league in blitzing, doing so over 36%. I expect that to increase. -

Last year Suggs had 70 tackles, 14 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions, gaining him the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. So like I said, I couldn't be happier.

Suggs is expected to undergo surgery on his torn achilles next week. In this blogger's opinion, he is likely out for the 2012 season.

I have a torn achilles and know first-hand the pain and extensive rehabilitation involved. Terrell Suggs tore his achilles in a conditioning test Thursday, but expects to be back by October. -

Wishful thinking. Suggs turns 30 years old also in October. Even if he is able to return then, It's safe to wonder if he'll ever be able to produce at the same level again.

As I said earlier, I have an achilles tear. I've done my research on recovery and rehabilitation. The average timeframe for an everyday person, depending on severity, is nine to 15 months. Allowing for another three to nine months before you're playing a pick-up game with your buddies again.

On the other hand, the average return time for an NFL player from a torn achilles tendon, with the best surgeons, therapists and facilities available, is around 11 months according to a 2006 study.

October? In order to face the Steelers the next month? In other words, five months? Again, wishful thinking. The absolute last person to listen to regarding a prognosis on an injury is the injured player. Realistically, Suggs simply won't see the field this year. Even if he were to make, he'd be largely ineffective.

I suppose the Ravens could take full advantage of the PUP list, as I've explained in a previous blog regarding Rashard Mendenhall, and make a decision on playing him or putting him on injured reserve at that point. Even then it's a stretch.

That, though, touches on why I couldn't be more upset. Playing the Ravens without Suggs is like the Ravens playing the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger. He's that important. Were he to be able, though, to rehab and make it back by the November 18th Sunday night game, we'd know we wouldn't be facing the Suggs we all love to hate.

As alluded to before, the Ravens defense will not be the same without Suggs. Not at all. He isn't the massive presence that is Haloti Ngata, nor is he the emotional leader that is Ray Lewis. But the Ravens defense doesn't completely scare without Suggs.

As The Ravens Insider surmised, "What can the Ravens do without Suggs? Could go with Paul Kruger at rush LB and start rookie Courtney Upshaw at SAM or vice versa." (The strongside linebacker {SLB} is often nicknamed "SAM" for purposes of calling a blitz.)

That might be the lone bright spot for Baltimore in this: Courtney Upshaw, the Ravens 1st-round pick, played Terrell Suggs' spot on defense at Alabama.

It still won't be the same. Not without Mush Mouth.

They certainly can't depend upon Ray Ray who lost a step two years ago and compounded that by losing another step last year. Arriving to the point of attack late and simply piling on top of the actual tacklers hardly says "lean on me."

The Ravens have tossed around the idea of going after Osi Umenyiora a few occasions in the past. Even as recently as last year. Suggs' injury may cause them to look his way again. They could certainly use the help.

Whatever they do as a team is going to be of real interest because of the loss Suggs represents. I personally would love to see him argue with Skip Bayless again, or to see his face like this once again: 

I'm afraid it just won't happen this year.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Junior Seau - The Darkness And The Light

This hits a little close to home.

Wednesday morning, May 2nd, 2012, it was announced that longtime NFL linebacker, Junior Seau, 43, among the greatest in the history of the game, was found by his housekeeper with a gunshot wound to his chest. It is believed to have been suicide. - 

Seau was a former USC star and was selected fifth overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played there from 1990-2002, then spent three years with the Miami Dolphins before finishing his career with the New England Patriots from 2006-2009.

Seau made the Pro Bowl 12 times and was a 10-time All-Pro. He was also on the NFL's All-Decade Team.

“Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family,” the Chargers said in a released statement.

Maybe there were signs. That's what first came to mind when I started to digest this earlier. When we think of these types of individuals we think they don't have a care in the world. That they live charmed lives of fame and fortune. That even when they lose, which Seau did in Super Bowls XXIX and XLII, they still have their fans and money to fall back on.

Rarely is that truly the case. Early in his career Seau was nicknamed "Tasmanian Devil" because of his play. It turns out he may have had his own demons to battle.

In October 2010, he drove off a beachside cliff in Carlsbad, California in his SUV and was found in the car on the beach, about 100 feet below the roadside. Hours before that he'd been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence involving his live-in girlfriend.

Seau later said that he wasn't trying to kill himself, but that he simply had dozed off at the wheel.

Like I said, maybe there were signs.

The situations surrounding Wednesday's events do in fact point to a suicide. Per U-T San Diego columnist Kevin Acee, “The gunshot wound was to the chest. It was almost certainly self-inflicted according to someone on scene.”

ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that the "Chargers confirmed reports on the stunning passing of NFL great Juinor Seau. Sad day. Thoughts and prayers with Seau's family. Police have [also] confirmed Junior Seau committed suicide.

I'm not going to delve too deeply into the ins and outs of the mindset or home life or anything like that. I don't know all of the details, though they may be divulged eventually, and won't speculate any further than I already have.

I'm writing this rather to say that judging or speaking out of hand about this is morally and ethically wrong. Sure, jokes will be made-it's inevitable. But nature abhors a vacuum, as does the mind of a dullard. The only way to fill that void is to callously joke about another person's suicide.

If it seems I feel strongly about this it's because I absolutely do. I've contemplated suicide twice in my life. I even made a poorly executed attempt once.

I've been told many times over the years of my adult life that I'm the type who gives good advice, or at least that I'm a good listener. I'm told how I seem to never let things affect me. I've been told that, aside from when I'm watching my Steelers or Lakers play, I have a quiet calm. Well you know the old saying, "Beware of the quiet ones."

It is that very type of person, though, that has been through much more hardship and gone to lower depths than you or than you may realize. Otherwise he wouldn't have been able to come up with those encouraging words in the first place. He knows them first-hand.

Unfortunately, some aren't able to cope the same way or as well. Some allow drugs or alcohol to befriend them. Some don't feel they have the strength and succumb to those aforementioned demons.

The mind is a vast frontier that has yet to be truly mapped or conquered. So I am most certainly not going to attempt pseudo-psychology and try to stake a claim on Seau's grey matter and reasoning. I don't begin to claim to know the actual cause for this or what he was thinking at the time. I simply remember what I was thinking. And it was frightening.

I had great respect for Seau on the field. Off the field he did have his share of domestic problems, though. Hopefully that won't be the focus of the initial reports.

Let's first remember the brilliant light that he stood in on the football field and not too quickly peer into the shadows that followed so closely behind in his personal life.

My condolences to his family. - John 5:21, 28, 29