Steelers Thoughts #10 (9/28/15): (Next) Man Up

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Though I am a fairly serious sports fan, DAE as a blog treats sports structurally as a sideline rather than headline topic, and only covers two in earnest: boxing* and professional football. The former is built on the strength of individual fighters and individual events, with no true off-season to speak of, whereas the latter is mostly off-season, building to a sustained five-month crescendo of weekly hostilities that dominates each fall. Football, by turns a joyous and vicious game – often in the course of the same sixty minutes – works on such a tight, unforgiving schedule, with every game precious and important in its own right, that its fans have no choice but full commitment from the moment the first whistle is blown. I’ve often worried that doing any real justice to pro football on a non-dedicated blog would be a fool’s errand, and making a cursory review of the nine official editions of “Steelers Thoughts” so far makes me feel plenty foolish indeed. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #10 (9/28/15): (Next) Man Up”

Steelers Thoughts #8 (4/16/15): Poets, Seers, and Warrior-Kings

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Because of the (seeming) increased importance, or at least commensurate media coverage, of the free agent period and draft, fans like me can often find themselves with a skewed subconscious understanding of the NFL off-season. With the draft a mere (albeit punishing) two weeks away and free agent activity now reduced to a trickle, it feels on many levels like the off-season is winding down when, in reality, it’s barely half done. Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers might particularly already wish it was over, for the 2015 off-season – which, you’ll remember, began with Dick LeBeau’s emotional departure and Keith Butler’s promotion to defensive coordinator – has had a whiplash-inducing quality to it so far, with exceedingly long periods of eerie quiet suddenly punctuated not by a free agent signing, the kind of good faith reloading efforts that provide fans a moment’s excitement during the extended doldrum periods, but rather a full-blown life event, the magnitude of which might cause the recipient to update his insurance in real life. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #8 (4/16/15): Poets, Seers, and Warrior-Kings”

Steelers Thoughts #6 (12/1/14): Garbage Time

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The various quirks and conventions of this blog have taken root and grown in a highly organic, practically accidental way. Because I was particularly taken with a certain swatch of dialogue and decided, apropos of nothing, to quote it at the beginning of my first ever movie review – for the 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel – the introductory dialogue capture went on to become a feature of my subsequent reviews. Because I happened to be in a serious, self-reflective and analytical headspace, with no traditional subject matter in mind, when the time came to write the blog’s twenty-fifth post, it became an instant (and self-evident) tradition for each twenty-fifth post to focus on personal matters rather than my normal geek and pop culture ephemera. I knew from the moment that I launched DAE that I would periodically write about the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have been my unquestioned favorite sports team since I first “discovered” them at the age of five. I always figured that I would write whenever the spirit moved me, although in my heartiest moments I still never imagined I could stomach analyzing sixteen games per year, not including playoffs. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #6 (12/1/14): Garbage Time”

Steelers Thoughts #5 (10/27/14): Rare Air

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Expectations are fickle and fragile things for sports fans. They can serve as both crutch and anchor over the course of a long season. The wise fan monitors facts on the ground closely, considers trends and opposition, and, if needs be, adjusts his or her expectations accordingly. But football fans – indeed, fans of anything worth the investment – are just not overly cerebral creatures, or at least not on Sunday. We are ruled by our hearts, and the high expectations Steelers fans took into training camp 2014 and week 1 have already been both sorely tested and somewhat reconfigured through no real action on our parts. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #5 (10/27/14): Rare Air”

Steelers Thoughts #4 (9/29/14): Duck! Rabbit! Duck!

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I have a few points to make about yesterday’s last minute Steelers loss to the Buccaneers, and no wish to belabor any of them. Sixteen hours later, the sting is still fresh and the taste still bitter. It was one of the most frustrating losses in my recent memory, or, at any rate, has temporarily crowded out all other contenders from my personal shortlist. I certainly have no desire to detract from the performance of Tampa Bay, who were game, opportunistic, resilient, and tenacious in victory. Though Tampa played well enough to win, I also don’t think it’s homerism to suggest that, by most objective measures, the Steelers on the whole outplayed them. They moved the ball, often with ease, and for much of the game held close to a threefold advantage on Tampa in terms of yards gained. The Bucs parlayed a crippling turnover into an early lead but then seemed to succumb to our offensive pressure and relative defensive competence, before the Steelers, who have a well-established recent history of playing down to lesser competition, shot themselves in the foot late, taking it off the gas in the process. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #4 (9/29/14): Duck! Rabbit! Duck!”

Steelers Thoughts #3 (7/30/14): Are we there yet?

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Steelers Training Camp is officially underway in beautiful Latrobe, PA, though today is an off day for the team. Yesterday, the boys practiced in pads for the first time this year, and, though Mike Tomlin has in his press briefings kept things in strict perspective and been typically (and, I might add, properly) circumspect about praising anybody, there is nevertheless lots to talk about, both on and off the field. The air is thick with possibility, which, of course, is so much fuel to the fires of speculation. Soon enough, they’ll be raging, but I’ll do my best to keep this piece comparatively breezy in feel. There is, of course, absolutely no news to be found here, but this is just too fun a time of year for fans for it to go wholly unremarked upon. So, without further ado, my quick takes on some recent Steeler headlines, plus other tidbits. Mmmm…training camp! Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #3 (7/30/14): Are we there yet?”

Steelers Thoughts #1 (1/24/14): Vexing and Vortexing

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The hiring of recently deposed Tennessee Titans head coach and Hall of Fame Houston Oilers guard Mike Munchak as the Steelers’ new Offensive Line coach predictably has the hearts and daydreams of both our fanbase and local journalists all aflutter. I’m right there with them. Grabbing one of the best linemen in NFL history, with years of proven experience (and results) as first a line then a head coach? Score! He’s a local guy who wants to be in the ‘Burgh and brings instant unspoken authority and credibility to a line that is already trending up, despite having had more members than Spinal Tap in the last five years (including four centers in 2013). Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #1 (1/24/14): Vexing and Vortexing”