Thursday, February 17, 2011

TRIPLE CROWN HOPES NOW DEAD. HOW ABOUT TWO CROWNS? ONE CROWN? NO CROWNS? NO!!!!!!


ABOVE: What looked like potentially the greatest-ever of seasons in Pittsburgh history could degrade into a period of heavy drinking to cushion the pain.

In the mercurial world of sports, it is an ever-changing landscape fraught with land mines everywhere. Despite these dangers, we had every reason to believe, back in December, that we could potentially have been looking at a most-rare Triple Crown season in Pittsburgh this year.

Back then, the Steelers were chopping wood, destroying the Browns and Panthers. Meanwhile, the Penguins, were riding a tsunami that was created by Sidney Crosby as he was playing the best hockey of his already-prodigious career. The Pens were featured on HBO as they approached playing the Winter Classic on New Years Day in Pittsburgh, certainly one of the largest events ever held in the city. Yes, things were certainly looking as good as they've ever been.


ABOVE: The rarely-awarded Triple Crown Trophy.

Meanwhile, over in Oakland, the Pitt Panthers continued to dominate Big East opponents led by sharpshooter, Ashton Gibbs. Pitt touched the number one spot briefly, but for the most part, they've settled into the #4 slot nationally, certainly nothing to sneeze at and most likely they'll be a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.


ABOVE: It would have been a phenomenal story for the "City of Champions", but alas and alack, not this year.

Once January rolled around though, things started to unravel. The first victim was the Penguins. After Sid suffered two major hits starting off with a blatant cheap shot in the Winter Classic, he was soon to be lost for Lord-knows-how-long with a major concussion, if not worse. Will Crosby be back this year? Probably, but don't be shocked if it doesn't happen.

Once Crosby was injured, it set into motion an avalanche of injuries including such notables as Evgeni Malkin (out for the year), Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu, and others. In fact at one point, the Pens had to bring up four players on one day from Wilkes Barre and two of them are now hurt! In addition to injuries, the Pens also lost Matt Cooke and Eric Goddard to suspensions. In the now-historic Islanders clash, they finished the game with about three players on the bench!

Escaping with an overtime 3-2 win against the badly-slumping Colorado Avalanche last night, the Pens have now won two of their last six games. They've hardly thrown in the towel, but this team has suffered such upheaval and loss of scoring talent, that barring the return of Sidney Crosby, they would seem to have little chance to make a deep run in the playoffs, being realistic about it.

Meanwhile, after stirring conquests over the Ravens and Jets, the Steelers did the unthinkable, losing for the second time in the SuperBowl in a performance that was definitely not one of their best on the "big stage".

So there's definitely no triple crown and a double crown now has heavy odds against happening too. So what about a single crown?

This very possibly could be Pitt's year. A week or so ago, Ashton Gibbs, at 16.4 points-per-game Pitt's leading scorer, sprained his MCL and hasn't seen the court since. So what has Pitt done in Gibbs' absence? They just beat WVU and Villanova on the road and last night dispatched a game South Florida team 67-55. Not only did they defeat the hoopleheads in their insane asylum, they also beat #10 Villanova in their bandbox on-campus facility where they had only won 46 in a row. While Gibbs continues to rehab, the Panthers keep rolling on. Their tremendous depth is right now paying major dividends for them as they allow Gibbs the proper time to rehab his injury.


ABOVE: Somebody won this baseball tournament. Notice that we haven't mentioned the Pirates in this championship conversation.

This Panther team seems to be one of the most mentally tough and "unrattleable" units in memory. But the NCAA's are a place where dreams can be dashed with one mediocre performance as we well know.

We've already lost one golden opportunity and the second one is flickering. Don't ask me why, but this might be the year when Pitt claims its first national title in basketball. Maybe since it would be such a big deal it would be more appropriate to be a "stand alone" championship for the city?

Nah. Let's Go Pens!

ABOVE: Pittsburghers may have to "break out the heavy stuff" if the Pens and Panthers falter as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW ABBREVIATION FOR GREED APPROVED BY WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY: "N.F.L."

ABOVE: The famous, soon-to-be-slaughtered, goose.

While the citizens are still reeling from the news that our country is currently pondering another $1.4 trillion deficit, along comes the N.F.L., literally bathing in money, awash in so much profit that it boggles the mind...and it's still not enough.

Yes the N.F.L. is planning on locking out its players as the end of the current labor agreement, March 3rd, moves ever closer. But is it easy to have any sympathy for any of these characters on either side of the table? Come on man!!!


First of all, the players, by any measuring stick available on the planet earth, are among the highest-compensated people in the world. It's actually funny sometimes hearing the players say things during a contract holdout like, "I have to put bread on my table." Was that bread on the table or were they planning on buying the entire bread plant? Maybe it was the entire county where the plant was located? Maybe they were looking to buy the entire notion, the concept if you will, of bread itself! Most recently it's even funnier seeing these multi-multi-multi millionaires falling all over each other to have surgeries before their health benefits run out! Good Lord! Could you imagine what would happen if a guy who has $50,000,000. in the bank had to pay $10,000 for a surgery? Why he'd be down to having $49,990,000 in there!!! Then what? How could he continue to live? Yes, these guys are truly delusional.


Then there are the owners. They are, by far, the most power-crazed group of people in this country, led by their high priest of avarice, Grand Poobah, Jerry Jones. Jones is the guy who just got done spending more money on a stadium than many countries have for a national budget. Yet his greed, and the greed of the league was so great, that they were even moved to install temporary seats for the SuperBowl so they could shoehorn even more people inside. Of course we also know that the jumbo screens, mounted outside of the stadium for the poor slobs who couldn't afford $5,000 tickets to get in, were not free to watch, as is the case with "Mario's T.V." located outside Penguins playoff games. Hey, why not hit 'em for a couple hundred? Right?


These guys will squeeze a buffalo nickel until it squeals. I'm glad they're now facing a class action suit for their illegal and unsafe seating. Do you know that they even placed some of the Dallas season ticket holders into folding chairs so that they could raise their attendance figures even higher? That's Dallas' own season ticket holders!!!

Oh there are no limits to their con games. Take for example that purist, Roger Goodell telling reporters that, "I have fans telling me all the time that they want an 18 game season." No Roger, what they're saying is that they don't want to pay full price for an exhibition game that means nothing where the veterans are playing to preserve their career when they're playing at all.

It is shameful that this league forces their season ticket holders to pay for this charade masking as football. Even that paragon of common sense, Major League Baseball, doesn't force their season ticket holders to underwrite their practice games. While true, the Pirates play their exhibition games in Florida, they're not expecting fans who attend games there to pay regular season prices. That would be a double insult, after all.

Yes, while our country continues to slide into a financial abyss and normal, everyday people have less and less money to really put actual bread on their table, it would be interesting to see the N.F.L., that bastion of freedom, liberty, apple pie and jet flyovers to proclaim that the owners want to really help the country they claim to love so much. In an unprecedented move, they would donate XXX,XXX,XXX million dollars annually to help fund job initiation programs for everyday people and help underwrite new businesses where manufacturing would be reestablished in this country instead of having to phone China for everything.

ABOVE: Our delusional government spends $450,000 to fly over a closed stadium at SuperBowl XLV for a five second appearance on television. No wonder we're in the shape that we're in!


The players, for their part, would agree to the new rookie salary scale, while the owners would agree to drop the exhibition games as a requirement for season ticket packages. In Pittsburgh, I'm sure that with a fireworks show or an appearance by Three Dog Night they'd still pack the place. If the Pirates can manage that, I'm sure the Steelers could. The players would then keep a status quo on the number of "live" games they'd have to play and the season ticket holders would even save a few bucks. Even better, people who can never get into a Steeler game would finally have a chance to do so...even if it was an exhibition. But the fireworks and Three Dog Night will make it all worthwhile!

ABOVE: The influence and popularity of Three Dog Night continues to be undeniable.

From the standpoint of supplying health benefits for retired veterans, the league would agree to provide matching funds from each new player contract at a negotiated figure. Whatever the player's union wants to pay, the owners will match it. This would create a pool of funds that each retired player would be entitled to request aid from if now physically and financially unable to provide for himself.

Yes there are all kinds of creative ideas that both sides could be proposed if they were really interested in doing good things for the game, their fans and their country. Unfortunately, these people on both sides are driven only by one word: greed. With that being the case, don't be shocked to see a full house for all Pitt games this season. That might be the only place to get your dose of live football this year.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

PITT MEATGRINDER KEEPS ON GRINDING UP BIG EAST FOES

The Pitt Panthers had to struggle the other night against their arch-nemesis, the West Virginia Mountain Kin, but even without their leading scorer, three point maven Ashton Gibbs (46% for the season beyond the arc), the Panthers (now 22-2) were able to win in Motown, a difficult place to play indeed, by a 71-66 score. Gibbs, the team's leading scorer at 16.3 p.p.g. is suffering from a strained MCL. He says he's not in pain, but he feels as though his knee is going to buckle when he tries to cut.


ABOVE: Travon Woodall, Ashton Gibbs and Gary McGhee celebrate another Pitt victory.

Gibbs is expected to be out 1-2 weeks. Along with his amazing 3 point touch, he is also averaging 89% from the free throw line. This is a player, obviously, whom you want to have on the floor and healthy during the upcoming Big East and NCAA tournaments.

Gary McGhee was once again a force to be reckoned with and if I've ever seen a player who is the perfect example of what the University of Pittsburgh's "Jamie Dixon School of Basketball" can do for a young man's basketball career, he is it.


ABOVE: A chistled Gary McGhee brings a physical style of play in an early-season conquest over UConn.

When he first arrived on the scene, McGhee was a rumbling, stumbling, bumbling, fouling machine. It was amazing how he could come into a game and immediately start piling up fouls and creating turnovers. His clumsiness was astounding for a division one athlete.

Today, McGhee is one lean, mean rebounding machine and the clumsiness is gone. He's a terrific rebounder, makes great outlet passes, runs the floor well, plays agressive defense and even scores with respectable frequency (22 minutes p.g., 7.3 points and 8.2 rebounds). What school wouldn't want a player like Gary McGhee on their team?

In short, Pitt would definitely not be 22-2 and ranked #4 in the country without one Mr. Gary Magee. This leads to another obvious question: How does Dixon do it? He consistently takes less than stellar talents and molds them into some of the finest players in the country. The Dixon way is the unselfish way. Anyone wanting minutes on this team had better plan on playing suffocating defense as well as a team-first style of offense. His players also become physical specimens during what must be relentless practices (they're always closed to the public).


ABOVE: Pitt players Ashton Gibbs, Gary McGhee, Tyrell Biggs and Gilbert Brown chill out before a game.

Right now we are watching the gradual transformation of one of Dixon's most highly-touted recruits in recent years, Dante Taylor. Taylor came with all of the McDonald's accolades attached to him when he arrived at Pitt, but he quickly showed that raw talent or not, he was far from ready for the level of play that his teammates had already been exposed to at Pitt. While he is not as bad as Magee was during his first two seasons, he is still well below the game that Magee has honed for himself today. Taylor also seems to have a chippy attitude at times during games. An example of this came during the recent WVU game where he "accidentally" walked into referee Tim Higgins in a circumstance that easily could have and in reality should have been called a technical foul. I'm sure this attitude hasn't eluded the scrutiny of Jamie Dixon either. It's just another rough edge that Dixon will have to "sand off" Taylor's game. Such is the life of a successful college coach.

Meanwhile the Pitt basketball machine just keeps on grinding up opponents methodically. With a two game lead in the Big East and an upcoming game against Villanova, everything's looking rosy for the "Dixon Basketball School". Hopefully Ashton Gibbs will be back soon, but in his absence, Travon Woodall will be getting more minutes than usual, a reward for a great team player and #6 man. He deserves them and he's more than capable. That's the Jamie Dixon way.

UPCOMING PITT SCHEDULE

02/12/11 at Villanova Villanova, Pa./The Pavilion 9:00 p.m. ET
02/16/11 vs. South Florida Petersen Events Center 7:00 p.m. ET
02/19/11 at St. John's N.Y./Madison Square Garden 12:00 p.m. ET
02/24/11 vs. West Virginia Petersen Events Center 9:00 p.m. ET
02/27/11 at Louisville Louisville, Ky./KFC Yum! Center 2:00 p.m. ET
03/02/11 at South Florida Tampa, Fla./Sun Dome 9:00 p.m. ET
03/05/11 vs. Villanova Petersen Events Center 4:00 p.m. ET

Monday, February 7, 2011

STEELERS SUFFER SECOND-EVER SUPERBOWL DISASTER


ABOVE: As seen from outer space, today a gigantic black hole is sucking the life out of the entire Pittsburgh area into "God knows where".

Just as every other Steeler fan who watched SuperBowl XLCDII2 or whatever the hell number it was, today we all have one thing in mind: Escaping the gigantic black hole that now threatens to destroy all of us.

As Steeler fans we don't accept losing easily. To describe it even more succinctly, losing for us is tantamount to a complete disaster, to be avoided at any cost. But I must admit that for as confident as I had felt prior to this game, that confidence came leaking out as though there was a two foot hole in a hot air balloon during that awful "Aguilera Anthem" that we all had to endure. The sight of seeing seasoned veteran, Hines Ward, hyperventilating was a little more than I could take. I was half expecting him to keel over. This was the time that was supposed to be our advantage! Our guys had been there before! Was this a sign that subconsciously the Steelers were already fearing the worst? Methinks so.

You already know what happened in this game, I'm not going to bore you with another blow-by-blow-by-blow recap, but I'm basically going to take a different approach to this story through actual pictures that were not cleared by the NFL. As everyone in the free world already knows, we basically beat ourselves, much the same as Neil O'Donnell did in SperBowl XXX with two interceptions and a killing fumble. These plays can best be described through the photos below.


ABOVE: Ben Roethlisberger's arm is hit as he throws to Mike Wallace. We all know what happened next: Pick six.

ABOVE: Ben forces a pass to Mike Wallace in tight coverage. After this second interception, four plays later the black & gold found themselves down 21-3

If there's one thing that was reinforced during this game though, it's that the Steelers never quit, no matter how deep of a hole they may dig for themselves. Another image that was further reinforced is that Pittsburgh fans have unquenchable thirsts, especially on the South Side at the many fine establishments there...


ABOVE: Trailing 21-10 at the half, Steeler fans stepped up their drinking by hijacking a beer truck in the hopes that their collective inebriated state would somehow transfer itself to Aaron Rodgers. In theory a fun idea, but it didn't work. This is the aftermath of that beer orgy. 

As I said earlier, the Steelers are not quitters. In the second half they came out smoking and stuffed the Packers, following it up with a Rashard Mendenhall ten yard touchdown run. However, for Mendenhall, who had become a solid ball carrier this year, he chose a most inopportune time to have the most disastrous play of his career.

The Steelers had stopped the Packers yet again and their momentum was threatening to take them all the way back into the lead. It was turning into a comeback of historic proportions. On second and two and just after an eight yard run, the third quarter ended. The Steelers had the ball on the Green Bay 40 with a full head of momentum. The first play of the quarter, unfortunately, was not good. That last sentence could best be described as an "understatement".

ABOVE: Rashard Mendenhall's fumble was the turning point in this game. It was enough to send many despondent fans over the side of the Westinghouse Bridge.

BELOW: Casualties were not confined to human beings. A television, set up for Pittsburgh Zoo workers was unfortunately observed by this pacyderm. The end result was not pretty.


While the Steelers then fell behind 28-17 on a Rodgers pass to Jennings, to their credit, these guys weren't about to go quietly into the night. Mike Wallace would score on a 25 yard touchdown pass, capped by a two point conversion scored by Antwaan Randle-El on a "wishbone-type" option play.

Amazingly, the Steelers were now only down by a field goal. They were now starting to resemble this guy:

ABOVE: Yes, it's the "T-1000" from "Terminator 2". Try as Arnold would, he just couldn't kill this guy.

On the very next possession, the Steelers defense, in a position to get the ball back, had Aaron Rodgers just where they wanted him. With the ball on his own 25 and facing a third and ten, Rodgers, the eventual MVP, did what MVPs do:


ABOVE: Heartbroken again, this time by a 30 yard completion to Grant Jennings, Aaron Rodgers sliced the Steelers secondary up for another big gain. The man is truly ruthless.

To their stubborn credit...again....the Steelers managed to force the Packers to successfully kick a 23 yard field goal, leaving them with a six point lead, 31-25, and a full two minutes to work for Big Ben. These two teams had been considered so close, was it possible that the Steelers could pull out another amazing finish and win by a single point?

There were three reasons why this ultimately would not happen. The Steelers had squandered two timeouts earlier in the half. This in itself comprised two cardinal sins for a SuperBowl game. Then there was Keyaron Fox. His bonehead personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff was completely unacceptable, especially for a team captain. Fox took this same unnecessary roughness penalty in another game earlier this season. With the SuperBowl on the line, it is inconceivable that a shove could have really been worth it to him at that moment.

ABOVE: Keyaron Fox demonstrates another personality flaw in an earlier game this season, celebrating over a helpless Carolina Panther.

So after Fox's idiocy, the Steelers now had to start at their 12 yard line. A pass to Heath Miller moved it to the 25. Hines then caught a pass for four yards followed by a throwaway and then two incompletions to Mike Wallace...and that was the ballgame, as they say.

Mike Tomlin, obviously very hot over this loss and more abrupt than normal was nonetheless gracious to the Packers in defeat. "Usually when you lose it's because of penalties and turnovers...But we're not about making excuses...ever. Our hat is off to the Green Bay Packers. They made enough plays today, we didn't."

For Pittsburgh fans their only option today is to register for disaster assistance while dealing at the same time with a classic case of football withdrawl. It's not going to be fun living in Pittsburgh until the draft. Maybe, if we can get some offensive line help and a couple defensive backs, we'll be able to look forward to next season. But with Evgeni Malkin out for the year and Sidney Crosby dealing with a concussion in Nova Scotia, it might be a long winter. We may have to pin all of our winter hopes on the Pitt basketball Panthers. Maybe Pitt can reverse their NCAA fortunes this time...

ABOVE: Thanks to some quick thinking by the mayor, Pittsburgh today opened an office of "Disaster Recovery".





Saturday, February 5, 2011

SO WHO'S PLAYING THEIR LAST GAME IN DALLAS?

ABOVE: Charlie Batch picked a bad year to have to declare bankruptcy as this     more than likely will be his final season as Ben's backup. Batch suffered massive losses when his property development plans flamed out along with the economy.


The Pittsburgh Steelers will be one of the last two teams playing their final game of the NFL season tomorrow night and once again they have a very strong possibility of having the final pick in the 2011 draft. But here's an interesting question that hasn't been discussed much since, of course, the main focus has been completely on the SuperBowl: Who won't be on the 45 man roster next season (if there is a season)? I thought it would be interesting, though, to speculate now, in advance of the SuperBowl, so that you might be able to glimpse a few of these athletes during what might be their final Steeler game.

What I've done is list all of the current active and practice squad Steelers and mark them with two different symbols. Those who I feel will most definitely be gone, I've marked with an "X". Those who are "on the bubble" will be marked with an "*". Of course it's just speculation, but it's part of the year-around fascination with the NFL. 

ABOVE: Antwaan Randle-El has become a master of the fair catch in a comeback season that has been largely forgettable.

Overall, I have 16 players who could go "either way" and three that I would be very surprised to see wearing the black & gold next season. More than likely though, I would expect to see seven to ten new Steelers making the final roster next year. This is an aging, heavily-veteran team, however the aging vets are amazing pure athletes. Of that group if any were to not make it back next season, that would probably be Aaron Smith. He's just been breaking down too frequently the last few campaigns.

ABOVE: It would be a great story if hard-luck wideout, Limas Sweed, could pull a miracle comeback, but that ship may have already sailed, unfortunately.

Guys like James Farrior and Hines Ward will more than likely be back. Their competitive fires still burn very brightly and I believe that both have at least one more season if not more left. Flozell Adams has been rock solid this season, but who knows, after 14 years and if the Steelers win the SuperBowl, he could just decide to go out on a high note.

But if your last name happens to be "Batch", "Sweed" or "Randle-El" you may want to start checking the "help wanted" ads.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2010 Final Roster 

No   Name               Pos      Stat.      Ht.    Wt   Birth.          Exp     College
71   Adams, Flozell  T        ACT      6'7"   338  5/18/1975    13    Mich. State     *
26   Allen, Will        DB      ACT      6'1"   200  6/17/1982     7    Ohio State      *
16   Batch, Charlie   QB      ACT      6'2"   216 12/5/1974     13    East. Mich.     
81   Battle, Arnaz    WR     ACT       6'1"   208  2/22/1980    8     Notre Dame    *
84   Brown, Antonio WR      ACT     5'10"  186   7/10/1988    0     Cent. Mich.
28   Butler, Crezdon DB      ACT      6'1"   191   5/26/1987    0     Clemson
25   Clark, Ryan       FS       ACT     5'11"  205  10/12/1979   9     LSU
74   Colon, Willie      T       RES      6'3"   315   4/9/1983      5     Hofstra
10   Dixon, Dennis   QB      RES      6'3"   209   1/11/1985    3     Oregon
27   Dwyer, Jonathan RB     ACT     5'11"  229   7/26/1989    0     Georgia Tech
93   Eason, Nick        DE     ACT     6'3"    305   5/29/1980    8    Clemson          *
79   Essex, Trai         G       ACT     6'5"   324    12/5/1982    6    Northwestern  
51   Farrior, James    ILB     ACT     6'2"   243    1/6/1975     14    Virginia  
50   Foote, Larry       LB      ACT     6'1"    239   6/12/1980    9     Michigan         *
73   Foster, Ramon    G       ACT     6'6"    325    1/7/1986     2    Tennessee
57   Fox, Keyaron     ILB     ACT      6'3"    235   1/24/1982    7    Georgia Tech
22   Gay, William     CB      ACT      5'10"  190    1/1/1985     4    Louisville
98   Hampton, Casey NT    ACT        6'1"   325    9/3/1977    10   Texas
37   Harris, Tuff        DB     RES       6'0"   198    1/23/1983    3   Montana
92   Harrison, James  OLB   ACT       6'0"   242    5/4/1978     7    Kent St.

76   Hoke,Chris          NT    ACT      6'2"   305     4/6/1976     9    Brigham Young
96   Hood, Ziggy       DE     ACT       6'3"   300     2/16/1987   2    Missouri
85   Johnson, David   TE      ACT      6'2"    260    8/26/1987    2   Arkansas State
13   Kapinos, Jeremy   P      ACT      6'1"    233    8/23/1984    2   Penn State      *
99   Keisel, Brett       DE     ACT      6'5"    285    9/19/1978    9   Brigham Young
68   Kemoeatu, Chris  G      ACT      6'3"    344      1/4/1983    6   Utah
4    Leftwich, Byron    QB    ACT       6'5"    250    1/14/1980    8   Marshall
64  Legursky, Doug     G      ACT      6'1"    315      6/9/1986    2   Marshall
23  Lewis, Keenan     CB     ACT       6'0"    208     5/17/1986   2   Oregon State
37  Madison, Anthony DB     ACT      5'9"    180     10/8/1981   5   Alabama
20  McFadden, Bryant CB     ACT       6'0"   190     11/21/1981  6   Fla. State      *
69  McLendon, Steve  DT     ACT       6'4"    280     1/3/1986    1   Troy              *
34  Mendenhall, Rash.RB      ACT      5'10"  225     6/19/1987   3   Illinois
83  Miller, Heath        TE      ACT      6'5"    256    10/22/1982  6    Virginia
21  Moore, Mewelde    RB     ACT      5'11"  209     7/24/1982    7   Tulane          *
29  Mundy, Ryan         SS    ACT       6'1"    209     2/11/1985    2   West Virginia
43  Polamalu, Troy      SS    ACT       5'10"   207     4/19/1981   8   USC
53  Pouncey, Maurkice   C    ACT       6'4"    304     7/24/1989    0   Florida
82  Randle El, Antwaan WR  ACT       5'10"  185     8/17/1979    9   Indiana         X
33  Redman, Isaac       RB   ACT       6'0"    230     11/10/1984  1   Bowie State
7    Roethlisberger, BenQB   ACT       6'5"    241     3/2/1982     7   Miami (Ohio)
88  Sanders, Emmanuel WR  ACT      5'11"   180    3/17/1987     0   SMU
61  Scott, Chris              T   ACT       6'4"    319      8/4/1987     0   Tennessee   *
72  Scott, Jonathan        OT  ACT      6'6"     318    1/10/1983    4   Texas
9   Sepulveda, Daniel      P   RES       6'3"    230     1/12/1984    4   Baylor          *
91  Smith, Aaron            DE  ACT      6'5"     298     4/19/1976   12  N. Colorado  *
89  Spaeth, Matt            TE   ACT     6'7"     270    11/24/1983   4   Minnesota    *
78  Starks, Max               T   RES      6'8"     345     1/10/1982    7   Florida         
6    Suisham, Shaun         K   ACT     6'0"     200    12/29/1981   5   Bowling Green 
80  Sweed, Limas          WR  RES      6'4"     220    12/25/1984   3   Texas           X
55  Sylvester, Stevenso  LB    ACT     6'2"     231     7/18/1988    0    Utah
24  Taylor, Ike                CB  ACT     6'2"     195     5/5/1980      8   Louisiana-Laf.
94  Timmons, Lawrence   ILB  ACT     6'1"     234    5/14/1986     4   Florida State
17  Wallace, Mike           WR  ACT     6'0"     199     8/1/1986      2   Mississippi
86  Ward, Hines             WR  ACT     6'0"     205     3/8/1976     13  Georgia
60  Warren, Greg            LS    ACT     6'3"    252    10/18/1981    6   UNC
56  Woodley, LaMarr       OLB  ACT     6'2"    265     11/3/1984     4   Michigan
97  Worilds,   Jason        LB    ACT     6'1"    262       3/3/1988     0  Virginia Tech
Abbreviations
ACT = Active
RES = Injured reserve
NON = Non football related injured reserve
SUS = Suspended
PUP = Physically unable to perform
UDF = Unsigned draft pick
EXE = Exempt

Friday, February 4, 2011

PITTSBURGH, THE CITY OF CHAMPIONS, AND DON'T YOU EVER FORGET IT!!!


Before our fans dive head first into another "ring game" I thought it would be great to look back and reflect on the greatness that we've been priviliged to see around here for, oh, about 40 years. During that time, the Steelers have already won six SuperBowls, the Penguins three Stanley Cups and the Pirates, amazingly, two World Series. That's 11 championships or one every 3 1/2 years! If the Steelers win on Sunday, that number will climb to 12 titles or one every three years four months! Should the Pens also win the cup this year, 13 titles would translate into one championship every three years one month. If Pitt would pull off a miracle in the NCAAs, then we're talking 14 championships or one every two years and ten months! This is insanity, but potentially it could happen which would make 2010-2011 the most championships ever in one year for this city. The most in one year until now was two in 1979 when the Steelers and Pirates did it and two in 2008 with the Steelers and Penguins doing it. 



A videographer by the name of "Toxic Sunset" has done another amazing job, this time producing a video titled, "City of Champions". "Toxic Sunset" is the same person who created the incredibly-stirring "Unstoppable" that is displayed at the top of our right hand column. This guy(?) (presumably) has tremendous talent and could be working for NFL films. I guarantee you'll love what he does with the Steelers and Penguins (sorry, no Pirates highlights in this one).

LEFT: The constant reminder that you should cherish every moment that we are now experiencing. Who among the Pirates fans of 1979 would have ever dreamed that it would be 31 years and still counting between championships (if there ever is another one again).

STEELER FAN VIDEOS FLOODING THE INTERNET

I've been receiving tons of email lately that contain humorous videos produced by Steeler fans. This first one, though, really takes the cake. It's been done as a c.g.i. (computer generated image) complete with computer-generated voices. With a Green Bay Packer fan sporting an outfit complete with a head of broccoli on his shirt, he gets into a spirited debate with a Steeler fan. Yes there are a few profanities, just to warn you, but it is very funny.















ABOVE: Broccoli in cheese sauce. If this is all there was to eat on a desert island, I would surely die of starvation. Yet it is the dish of choice for Packer fans. To see how this epic confrontation is decided between a Steeler and Packer fan click here! The video was produced by David Schultz and his production company is named "Xtranormal".

Then there's this full scale Hollywood production that details 24 hours in the life of a Steeler fan. It came to me under the heading "Steelers destiny video". Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me. So if you really want to see what a day is like for a Steeler fan before the SuperBowl, click here on 24/7 Chief Andres: A Yinzer's Road to SuperBowl XLV. This video is so high quality that even a multitude of profanities are bleeped out. So I give it a PG rating.


ABOVE: A typical Yinzer being interviewed in New Orleans prior to the Steelers losing there this year. I believe doing the interviewing is either Channel 11's Rich Walsh or this guy,

ABOVE: Separated at birth, Rich Walsh's older brother, "Baywatch's own David Hasselhoff. We've sent notice to Rich about the discovery.

Last, but certainly not least, I came upon this typical Steeler fan video where shots to the head are glorified by the opponent erupting into flames after being "jacked-up" by the Steeler. It's really funny, especially if you like seeing players being concussed (which of course all Steeler fans secretly do).


ABOVE: If only players really would combust into flames after getting "jacked up". I should talk to Raja Goodell about this idea. Then again, maybe not! So if you're in the mood for some good old Steelers violence, click here for Steeler Killer Hits! Brought to you by "BenDaFranchise Entertainment"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

BEN'S ENTITLED TO A LIFE, BUT IT'LL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN


"CLEARING MY DESK"
Editorial commentary by Angelo Spagnolo, Publisher

Okay, it's a given that Big Ben has screwed up plenty during the last few off seasons. If he wasn't wrecking his motorcycle, he was having train wrecks of other varieties. For his much-publicized brushes with the law, Roethlisberger became a pariah and was nearly shipped out a 'la Santonio Holmes. In fact, it was almost miraculous that he wasn't traded since his problems were far greater than those of Santonio Holmes. Some may argue that he's a great quarterback, the rarest of the rare commodities in the NFL. Others who focus on racial inequalities may argue that Ben, in addition to being a quarterback was also the "right color". While I personally don't prescribe to this theory, there aren't many Steelers who have screwed-up to half of the degree that Big Ben has who are still on the team.

He served a league suspension that was reduced from six games to four and has been a model citizen since his return. Despite my dislike of Roger Goodell, especially his most-recent attempts to make additional headlines for himself, I still feel that he may have unwittingly saved Roethlisberger's career from...Ben Roethlisberger.

Call it immaturity, call it being in love with yourself, call it having too much money, call it whatever you will, Roethlisberger had clearly lost his compass. His career was on the verge of an implosion.

Now comes word that Ben was out with the guys last night, treating his linemen to dinner and then drinks at a piano bar. There's no harm in that, right? Absolutely not. But in this era of instantaneous news reporting, Ben has to realize that he is now, unfortunately, a marked man. No matter how innocent this man's activities may be, like O.J. Simpson, another athlete who beat a rap for a crime that most Americans felt he had committed, Big Ben is viewed unfortunately in much the same way. Unfortunately, he's viewed by many as a rapist who plies his intended victims with liquor and who so far has eluded prosecution because of who he is, not necessarily because he's innocent. Just the way O.J. was followed around golf courses, supermarkets, fast food restaurants and laundromats, Ben Roethlisberger will be condemned to a life of having people looking through shrubs and turning on cell phone cameras in piano bars because of his past actions.

Sure, Ben did nothing wrong last night, but for as long as he is the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, he will be sentenced to a life of being scrutinized under an electron microscope. For this reason, Ben should have taken the high road and taken the guys out for a great steak dinner, a few glasses of wine and called it a night. I'm sure that everyone would have understood and then the denizens at TMZ could have focused on some other victim. But until Ben finally learns this basic principle, expect these kinds of stories to continue, no matter how innocent the activities may have been.

People may justifiably cry "foul", but the next person who can get that picture of Big Ben doing something awkward or worse, being drunk with a woman, will be able to cash in big on that picture. The bottom-feeders know this and they won't be going away anytime soon.

NOSTRADAMUS SEES A "LARGE CLOCK TOWER" LOOMING BIG AT SUPERBOWL XLV


ABOVE: Several workers, dressed appropriately in black & gold, work at polishing the public persona of "Big Ben".

Every once in a great while, when there are extremely important games involving our beloved Black & Gold adorned sports teams, we will go to the very great expense of bringing in the one, the only, Michel de Nostradamus to give us his take on the crucial, upcoming match. In this case, it's "The Big Game", "The Grand Enchilada", "The Bowl that is Super" or the game known only by those who have paid the NFL to use its name...The "SuperBowl".

Ever since we have begun using the services of Nostradamus a few years ago, he has established a perfect record in predicting the fortunes of our local teams...even going so far as to name "A young man by the name of 'Antonio'" as being the hero in the AFC Championship game.

As soon as the Steelers dispatched the Jets to the trash heap of the NFL vanquished with Antonio Brown's clutch third down catch, we sent an email to Nostradamus asking him for another prediction interview (paid of course). Naturally, he took the obvious opportunity to tell us that he "knew" we would be calling. He promised to get back to us and remarkably, four days before the game, we already have had that interview (Last week he waited until three hours before gametime).

So without further adieu and in deep gratitude for all of his prior great information, here now is our predictions interview with the amazing Michel de Nostradamus with his SuperBowl pronostications.

"P.B. & G.": So how do you see the Steelers doing in the "big game"?

Nostradamus: I see Hines Ward taking all of the money, especially James Farrior's.

"P.B. & G.": James Farrior's money?? What are you talking about?



Nostradamus: The big card game on Friday night. Tomlin told Hines to cool it on the strip bars, so the guys are having a big card game on Friday night instead. 


"P.B. & G.": Brother! I'm talking about the SuperBowl game on Sunday night. I need predictions about that game!



Nostradamus: You know that you must be more specific with me. I'm looking at thousands of years of history you know.


"P.B. & G.": Okay, you make a good point. Let me rephrase my original question. What is your prediction regarding the outcome of SuperBowl XLV on Sunday, February 6th beginning at 6:30 p.m. being played at the Cowboys stadium in Dallas between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. There, was that specific enough?


Nostradamus: Yes, very good. You're learning. It will be a titanic struggle, but those proclaiming to be men who slaughter meat whose fans, ironically, are partial to only dairy products will be in for an extreme disappointment. The defensive portion of the Pittsburgh unit will be particularly incensed due to the fact that they have achieved "underdog" status in this battle despite their unparalled success since...oh... 1974.

Also, there is a fellow who carries an odd-shaped object that I believe is covered with the hide of a sow, of all things, who will play a pivotal role. I believe his name is Rishad.

"P.B. & G.": Are you sure you're not talking about Rashard Mendenhall?

Nostradamus: Are you forgetting that I once referred to Hitler as Hister? I have a problem with names, okay?

"P.B. & G.": So go ahead, you were saying that Mendenhall will be a key?

Nostradamus: No, I said Rishad, if you will stop interrupting. Rishad will be big, the defense will be big, especially the one with the flowing locks. But the biggest one of all will be the one referred to as the "Large Clock". Yes the large clock will toll mournfully for the meat men of the bay, but that same bell will play a song that will be music to the ears all those who love him despite his human foibles.

"P.B. & G.": What type of a score do you foresee?

Nostradamus: I see the team from the three rivers inflicting great pain and injury as well as exerting their will over their green-adorned opposition. Yes, they ironically will be "green with envy" as the great silver prize, awarded by a man who perceives himself to be a king, is presented to representatives originally from Ireland as well as the large clock tower and his friends. In the end the vanquished will have scored just 13 points whilst the clock tower and his sow carrier will emerge with 24. This margin of victory will cause a great weeping and gnashing of teeth to all supporters of dairy products everywhere. Yay their supporters will rue this day for years to come whilst the legend of the men who each year are forged seemingly from molten metal will continue to grow.

"P.B. & G.": Thanks Nostradamus! Wow. That's a relief!!! I was really worried about this one! Now I can watch this game Sunday and really enjoy it!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NEED TO GET FIRED UP? THIS WILL HELP!!!

ABOVE: So why are we featuring a picture of the infamous Rowdy Roddy Piper? Read on dear readers! 

Sometimes the buildup to the SuperBowl gets on my nerves, such as when the NFL bullies people who have the audacity to even breathe the sacred word...SuperBowl...out loud. There, I did it. SuperBowl, SuperBowl, SuperBowl, SuperBowl for good measure.

I am sick and tired of hearing the SuperBowl being referred to as "The Big Game" or even, "The Bowl that is Super" because people are afraid of being sued by the NFL. Can you imagine that a football league could become so powerful that they could intimidate a whole country into not using a word?

You drive down streets and see bars and restaurants with signs that read, "Watch the Big Game here Sunday Night". So, is it the Penguins they're talking about? Maybe Pitt's basketball team is playing? The Pirates aren't playing so it certainly can't be them. No, of course we know it's the SuperBowl they're referring to.

I don't know, maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't remember when the Pens were in the Stanley Cup seeing signs that read, "Watch the Cup which Lord Stanley originated here tonight". Even in my youth when the Pirates were still relevant, I never saw a banner that said, "We have twenty screens for you to watch The Biggest Series in the World." Or even this year we might see, "Eat our hot wings and watch Pitt play in the Madness which March has now become."

How ridiculous.

Yes, I guess what I'm saying is that the NFL suits do nothing but get on my nerves with their heavy-handed attempts at controlling everybody and everything. But while I still need charged-up for the Steelers seventh SuperBowl win, I decided to do something a little different this time. That's when this guy, Jim Shearer, came in pretty handy.


ABOVE: Jim Shearer produces a weekly Steelers video entitled "YLDS" (Yinz Luv Da Stillers" If you click on this link you'll see his outstanding "Bowl that is Super" production including his band's punk rock version of a new Steeler fight song at the end of the video which is truly awesome. While that song was great, it also led me to view this Pittsburgher's other music video about the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper. This song is so perfect for such a dynamic character as Piper that you truly owe it to yourself to view these 2:49 seconds of absolute mayhem. It will also, coincidentally, get you primed for the 60 minutes of "organized mayhem" coming up this Sunday night! The song is appropriately titled, "My Man's Rowdy Roddy Piper".

ABOVE: The mutitalented Jim Shearer (far right) with his "Deck of Jack" band mates. He produces the penultimate Steeler fan highlight video each week and is the lead singer for "Deck of Jack" too! No wonder Pittsburgh's so great...it's because of multitaskers like these guys!!!!