Tuesday, August 24, 2010

STEELERS, TOMLIN NEED TO "GET REAL"

"CLEARING MY DESK"

I know that there are many of you out there who after reading this are going to say, "Well, there goes another guy piling on poor Ben Roethlisberger". While you're certainly entitled to your own opinion, I'm also sure that there are many of you will agree that the Pittsburgh Steelers have once again erred on the side of kowtowing to Ben Roethlisberger's massive ego while failing to stand up for the image of the team.

ABOVE: Images like this one have populated the internet for years now.

For example: What business does Ben Roethlisberger have representing the Steelers as a team captain? Granted, this was a meaningles exhibition game, so who cares? I do. The Pittsburgh Steelers have long had a persona of being the team that distinguished itself from the rest of the NFL. Events of the last few years, and more importantly, the way the Steelers have reacted to said events have done little more than lower this once lofty franchise down into the run-of-the-mill murdering, thuggery, lawbreaking, drunk driving, gun-packing, drug abusing, spousal beating, night club and strip club shooting that is your NFL. And I don't like it.

Roger Goodell, to his credit, was sick and tired of the horrible image that his league had justifiably earned. So he did something about it. It didn't matter if Big Ben had been convicted or not, he had done major damage to the image of the National Football League. That's why he was suspended. But here's a good question, why has he been allowed to practice with the team and even play in preseason games? This guy is under suspension. He should be throwing footballs into a tire hanging from a tree. He shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the Steelers practice facility.

Instead, here he is, practicing with the team, playing in a preseason game and walking onto the field as one of the team's captains no less! I must be completely out of touch with reality, but please explain to me what kind of a message is Mike Tomlin sending to his team? If I were running the NFL, you'd better believe that I would have been on the phone the next day with Tomlin and pinned his ears back. Come on Mike, this guy's been a bad actor. He's under suspension. Treat him that way!!! He needs to grow up and fast. Keeping him in the role of captain does nothing more than tell him that "everything's A-OK Ben".  Well guess what, it's not.

ABOVE: Roethlisberger has been working hard most offseasons trying to wreck his career.

His juvenile behavior is costing this team a minimum of four games of not having its starting quarterback. Tell me, how in the world does that justify allowing this man to represent the team symbolically as its' captain in a preseason game? If I were Art Rooney, I would have told Roethlisberger to stay away from the club entirely. Don't forget, he's severely damaged the Steelers brand even more than the NFL's so I would have been smarting over that. Most certainly I would have spent the money and hired a special offensive assistant to coach him at a separate facility using former college players as his receivers. I wouldn't have taken a single snap from the other three quarterbacks who have done nothing more than practice the way they should...and most definitely, I would have not allowed him to retain the title of offensive team captain.
ABOVE: I can just imagine what his self description would sound like. "NFL quarterback, lots of fun..."


Once Roethlisberger had served his suspension, I would not have brought him back  as "the anointed one, our savior" either, but as a player who had to fight to get his position back. Believe me, if after four games this team is functioning properly if not efficiently, I do not believe that it is in the Steelers' best interests or even Big Ben's to turn around and hand him the keys to the car. What lesson will he have learned from that? The wrong one.

Speaking of learning lessons, Mike Tomlin, it seems, has a few life's lessons that he needs to learn too. Treating a prima donna (who needed to be knocked down more than a few dozen pegs) the way that he has handled Roethlisberger has completely sent the wrong message to the team, those fans who have at least half a brain and more importantly those who have loved this franchise all of their lives because it has always stood for more. Wake up Mike!
ABOVE: Count me out of the Mike Tomlin fan club, and if he can't get his organization to straighten out and fly right, Art Rooney II might find himself in that doghouse too.


I know that I'm probably speaking for only about a third of the Steeler fans who I'll call "The Illuminati". So let's just say that I am speaking for the Steeler fans who believe that this team should stand for something better. We're certainly not among the legion of fans who would want them to win at any cost, even if it meant compromising the types of players that the team employed. Then we'd be Cincinnati, Baltimore or Oakland. If you don't think there are a lot of these types out there, you should have heard the talk shows with callers arguing that the Steelers should have signed Terrell Owens.

I don't hate Ben Roethlisberger, but I do abhor what he has done. He is disrupting at least 25% of this season, if not more, due to his sophomoric behavior. Make him team captain? Ah, I don't think so. What's wrong with you Mike Tomlin? Are you taking coaching lessons from Marvin Lewis?

ABOVE: When you make it as a parody on South Park, I think it's safe to say that you've made a spectacle of yourself. Just ask Michael Jackson! Oh wait, he's dead!!!