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 #9 (8/10/15): The Not Ready for Primetime Players

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We leave aside the noble, useful, stated purpose of preseason football for a moment, which is to allow a venue through which teams can effectively simulate, or at least approximate, NFL game speed and coaches have an extended opportunity to evaluate young talent in a crucible of combat ostensibly more competitive than training camp drills would be. We do this because the NFL and its member clubs comprise a cut-throat business cartel that would not only probably sell its soul for an extra 30 seconds of prime time ad revenue, it doubtless has many times over. Televised preseason football (gulp) springs from a modified carnival barker/snake oil salesman’s mentality, with the exception that instead of convincing Joe and Jill Q. American that their ho-hum lives are sadly and shoddily incomplete without the inclusion of this revolutionary new product, it is convincing folks with an authentic hole in their lives that the clearly substandard product being peddled is, in fact, a 1:1 replacement for it. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #9 (8/10/15): The Not Ready for Primetime Players”

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 #7 (1/14/15): Off-brand Aftermarket Parts Bonanza!

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Also known as the NFL offseason. Yes, I know meaningful games (and the Pro Bowl) are still left to be played, and I plan to at least pay lip service to this weekend’s impending conference championships and the gridiron scraps what precursed them, but let’s be real. This is a Steelers column, intended (mostly?) for Steelers fans, and for the Steelers, the offseason has already started in earnest. Because I intend for this to be my final published word on the team until well into NFL Draft run up, if not after the Draft itself, I’ll look to cover a lot here, very likely too much. My apologies in advance. Continue reading “Steelers Thoughts #7 (1/14/15): Off-brand Aftermarket Parts Bonanza!”

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?”