Don't mistake this as censorship. You are free to write just about everything you want on this site. Very few rules. No politics, no racism/sexism/blatant mysogony (Sheli or Elisha jokes still permitted, and I'll throw you a bone and allow Tj Douschemonzadeh - though I must sheepishly admit, I like him as a football player). That's about it though. Anything else is fair game, even asinine comments like Byron Leftwich should be starting over Ben Roethlisberger. And I should say upfront that there have been lots of intelligent questions/statements being made in the wake of our 21-14 loss to the Giants. Reasonable mixes of frustration, befuddlement, and intelligence.
There was a book written by Jim Wexell recently titled Steelers Nation. It was about everybody - from the players past and present to the fans across the country and world - that collectively constitute this great franchise. And make no mistake about it, Steelers football and the image of the Steelers loyal fan base collectively make for a unique and strong brand that resonates across all corners of our great country. Do your part maintaining it and building it stronger. Especially during the dark days.
Five quick points that I just want to state.
1) Set The Bar High, But Stay Grounded
We're the Steelers damnit, and that means we expect to win. There's nothing wrong with having high expectations. In fact, I simply can't fathom what it would be like to have rock bottom expectations like so many franchises do many years. But remember, it's not us who has set them so high. It's the franchise and all the success over the years that is responsible. Is a loss in the AFC Wild Card round really a colossal disappointment? Is getting off to a 5-2 start woeful? Just as coaches say, 'it's about the process, the journey'...so too is it for the fan. Picking a team you love from a young age, following their every move, cheering the good times, while lamenting, and even occasionally laughing, at the bad times. Tying this in to last Sunday...I guess amidst all the disgust about the offense, people forgot to remember the emotions they felt when our defense stoned the Giants inside the 5 yard line twice. Did you not get up and scream something along the lines of 'BOOM!. GET DOWN! YOU DON'T SCORE ON THIS FU*&NG DEFENSE!' I sure did and it was just one moment of many in Sunday's game that help define why I love the NFL and the Steelers.
Take the highs with the lows and just stay buckled up for the ride. It's going to be a roller coaster of a year for the entire league, not just us. Already has been really for the whole league, including New York, who made Derek Anderson and the Browns look like the reincarnation of the Greatest Show on Turf.
2) Enough With The Fire Arians Talk
There is literally not one fan left who doesn't agree with this sentiment, but it ain't happening this year, and it might not happen for one more year depending on how things shake out down the stretch. But the day is coming. Bruce has proven he's not the right guy for the job - not when we have a defense that literally has a 1-3 year window (starting next year) where they will be amazingly dominant before multiple key players are lost to retirement or free agency. So anyway, the day will come, don't worry. And if it doesn't I guarantee you it will be because some light went off in his head miraculously and we went on a terror. There'd be nothing wrong with that would there? But likely, the day is coming. So while I'm not saying this subject is off limits or anything, just don't treat it like a novel idea that nobody else sees (probably including Tomlin and the Steelers front brass). If you want to dissect what went wrong with our game plan some week, give particulars of what you saw wrong and what you would have done differently, thats great. In fact, in a recent fanpost by TomlinEra (his first apparently), he mentions that Arians might be better off calling the plays from the coachs box upstairs where he'd have a better view of what was going on. Interesting thought. Something I hadn't considered nor heard anywhere.
Steelers fans have a reputation to uphold as being football savvy. I think it might get old if we just beat on that same drum for the next 9 weeks. And don't forget, fans of other teams have told us nearly every week this year how even-handed, friendly and attractive we make this space. Wins and losses shouldn't be the only thing that determines how we comport ourselves, in my opinion.
3) Extreme Positions Usually Backfire
Being overly homerific in the face of some harsh realities - like the ones we're facing - is only bad if one makes bold predictions about how things will change. Accepting reality while avoiding the temptation to trash players that the Rooneys have personally endorsed makes you no less of a fan. Just classy. And I'm by no means perfect here, nor will I ever be. I just the other day said it's time for Najeh to go. Like I said Monday, things are rarely black or white, and that applies to ripping into a millionaire athlete from time to time, even one on the Steelers. There just reaches a point when it no longer is analysis or understandable emotion, and is simply just repetitive noise instead. Also, I remind myself that Giants fans literally gave up on Eli Manning and were wishing they had drafted Ben Roethlisberger. Man, would I be eternally ashamed of myself with that kind of emotional outburst being on the record.
4) We Have Lost Two Football Games By A Combined 16 Points
This is a flawed football team. I know it, you know it. There's a reason Tennessee is 7-0 (besides having a creampuff schedule and being miraculously lucky with injuries thus far) and it's because they locked up their two tackles to 6 year extensions worth a combined $79 million dollars a few years ago before they could hit the market, and have tenured players at every position of the line. And it doesn't hurt that their offensive line coach has been with the team since he retired from the Oilers back in 1993 I believe. We, on the other hand, are undermanned upfront as of now, with a hodge podge of homegrown and cheaply acquired talent, all of whom are coached by a mediocre coach with no real prize feathers in his cap over the years. A quick analysis of our O-Line situation reveals that our personnel in the trenches will continue to make things extremely difficult on us for the forseeable future, perhaps even until 2010 or 2011. Yet, for how bad we've looked at times on offense, we sit at 5-2 after having the defending champs on the ropes. Face reality. We're good enough to continue to be competititve, and we're flawed enough that we'll blow some more opportunities moving forward. You know it's going to happen, so why act so outraged and shocked?
5) Sports Are Unique In Their Power To Bring Us Together
But it doesn't much work when incendiary and acerbic language is being tossed around haphazardly. Be real with your emotions - be pissed when you're pissed, speak up when you disagree. But try to do it in a way that keeps us all unified as part of the same ubiquitous Steelers loving family, and not in a way that makes us all feel like mere individuals navigating a big clusterfuck of cacophonous noise.
These aren't rules. Like I said, I don't censor, and I've had to deny requests from folks asking me to say something to some of our more opinionated members. Won't do it other than remind all of the basic and simple rules. Everything else is fair game. But the path may very soon get much windier and treacherous for the Steelers, so perhaps now's a good time for us all to check ourselves, take a deep breathe, then get prepared for whatever wacky and likely occassionally frustrating developments await.
I want to be proud of being a Steelers fan. That's all.