Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Immaculate Controversy Solved?; Roethlisberger Apologizes

(by Jayden Matthews and Jason Robinson)

December 23, 1972, the day the Pittsburgh Steelers were born.

Of course we know the Steelers, originally the Pirates, were actually founded on July 8, 1933. As was the practice back then, Art Rooney, The Chief, took the team's original name from the baseball team of the same name (thus Chris Berman's endless bad imitation of NFL Films' John Facenda saying "the New York Football Giants").

But, for all intents and purposes, the Steelers were born when quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running back Frenchy Fuqua, the Oakland Raiders safety Jack Tatum and running back Franco Harris combined on what is now forever known as the "Immaculate Reception."

Sunday marks 40 years to the day of all holy days for Steelers fans, and the Steelers will celebrate the two score anniversary with a slew of events that culminate with the team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. -

The day is not without its controversy, though.

When Bradshaw threw a ball that looks to have been touched first by Tatum and not by Fuqua, and that Harris caught in stride before running to the end zone. -

The Steelers won the game after referee Fred Swearingen called the press box to speak to NFL supervisor of officials Art McNally.

Supposedly, Swearingen was fearful of his own safety amid a mob of Steelers fans who would not have reacted well, he and his fellow officials allegedly were informed that they'd only have four policemen at their disposal, to the news that a former rule regarding the initial touching of a pass by an offensive player had wiped out the playoff victory. -

NFL Films’ A Football Life series (aired Wednesday December 19th at 8:00 EST) focuses on the play that gradually and, from the perspective of the Steelers’ organization, reluctantly came to be known as the Immaculate Reception.

Former Raiders coach John Madden refused to be interviewed for the documentary. He is still bitter over what he has suggested was an outcome that was determined by unauthorized use of replay review.

As one would expect, all associated with the silver and black deny it having been legal. All loyal to the Black and Gold believe it did. But watching the A Football Life episode, there seems to be clear evidence that the ball hit Tatum, making it a legal play.

The shot to look for showed up later in the episode, but it was there. Hopefully, this will end the controversy.



Have you ever stopped and considered how bad it would have been if the Cleveland Browns had picked Ben Roethlisberger with the 6th pick of the 2004 NFL Draft instead of Kellen Winslow?

Not that we're trying to give you cold sweat-inducing nightmares here, but then-Steelers head coach Bill Cowher had wanted them to pick an offensive tackle also. Thankfully, Dan Rooney insisted on a quarterback. Cowher didn't think had seen enough of Tommy Maddox. Rooney won.

Thank you, Uncle Dan.

The presence of a true and immaculate franchise quarterback was the last link Cowher needed to get over the AFC Championship game hump as the bridesmaid finally got the chance to toss the bouquet in 2005.

After Cowher's departure, current head coach Mike Tomlin has been to two more with the Steelers and Big Ben at the helm. On-the-field success has been the norm for No. 7, but such was not always the case off of it.

The Steelers have been up hill and down dale at times with the once troubled quarterback. He has been petulant, obnoxious, arrogant and overgrown frat boy. His legal troubles even put him in the NFL's and the Steelers' dog house.

The 2010 season began with Big Ben sitting and watching the first four games. He was serving a suspension that handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Though there was never adequate evidence to bring charges to Big Ben, an example was made of him that was seemingly encouraged by the Rooneys to send a message.

Message received. Since then, he's also been endearing, open, honest and repentant. He's also settled down, graduated from college and has shown actual maturity. Traits that have been very overtly evident this week.

In his weekly press conference, Tomlin said that Big Ben said that he was still on board with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, whom he'd previously thrown under the bus, saying that he blamed heat of the moment. -

Further than that, Big Ben went in and apologized to Haley and the Rooney family on Monday, citing "frustration" as the culprit. Bringing plaudits from those who have covered the Steelers for years:

It's a sign of real maturity and a good start to the practice week for the Steelers who don't need any further distractions as they attempt to salvage their season. -

Hopefully, this will end the negative publicity that still attaches itself to the new daddy on occasion.



IMMACULATE TIDBITS: Cam Heyward and Troy Polamalu both missed Steelers practice for non-injury reasons. Ike (ankle), Al Woods (illness) missed practice also; Cortez Allen (groin) was a full participant in practice; Manny Sanders (rib), Mike Adams (ankle) and Keenan Lewis were limited. But Lewis said: "I'm playing, no matter what."


"I think it was a mistake, but it was a long time coming. When your star quarterback and offensive coordinator were really close and ownership felt that (Ben Roethlisberger) wasn't getting enough discipline. It wasn't a one-year thing. Since Ben wasn't getting the discipline, they also felt that (Steelers former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) was giving in to what Ben wanted to do as opposed to the philosophy of the Steelers, which has always been running the football first. When he (Arians) got away from running the football it created a problem in the mindset of the offense and became public enemy number one. I think the Steelers needed to see what kind of team did they have? Not a team that can run the ball 40 times and win. Now with (Todd) Haley, they don't have the personnel to do that and they're not winning." - Jerome Bettis said when he appeared on Fox Sports 1360 (Cincinnati) with Andy Furman and Artrell Hawkins.


Official word from Rashard Mendenhall on why he was a no-show for the Chargers game: "I'm not going into that."

Well...ok, then.


The Steelers have signed cornerback and local product Justin King. King played three games with the Colts this season before getting cut. He was a fourth-round pick of the Rams in 2009 and played with them for three years.