If Emmanuel Sanders can ball as well as he interacts with fans, he'll be just fine.
A schizophrenic roundup of links and thoughts from me to start your new week. Hope the weekend was enjoyable for all of you. Got a little taste of sunshine out here in Seattle for the first time in awhile. The weather is totally overstate here...or so I wanted to believe after my first year here. But year number two has proven to be every bit as drab as some warned. Oh yeah, in between going to the beach, I finished up this year's edition of the preseason publication for Maple Street Press. More on that some other time, but I'm pleased with it and super excited to get it out of my life. With that and school ending at just about the same time, it's on to other things in my life, including actually, more time writing and hanging out here with you all. Look forward to it. Have blessed weeks.
* The topic du jour to start this week's NFL news cycle will surely be the recent reports about the dangers of repeated head trauma, as is so frequently incurred by NFL players. The late Chris Henry reportedly had extensive damage to his brain tissue, despite just being 26 years old and a wide receiver..i.e. not someone who's banging heads with violent opposition every snap. (read: offensive/defensive linemen, running backs, etc.) From the reporting on the story done by the Post Gazzette:
The brain of the late Cincinnati Bengals pass receiver Chris Henry contained so many signs of chronic disease -- sludge, tangles and threads associated with late-in-life dementia or Alzheimer's -- that it shows a football player can sustain life-altering head trauma without ever being diagnosed with a concussion.
The brain damage may have contributed to Mr. Henry's troubled behavior and, ultimately, his death in December at age 26.
Yikes. What's the phrase for when a friend tells you too much about his exploits the night before? TMI? Sadly, I wish this could be a case of us being able to say 'too much information. What we don't know won't kill us.' Of course, we're talking about the health and well-being of human beings; young men conditioned to seek and destroy, and conversely, to jump right back up after being lit up. Not good news. The future of the game as we know it could very well be in jeopardy in the next quarter century or so. Just might be too much evidence of how morbidly violent and unnatural the game is.
* A quick tour through Steelers memorabilia land. Why? No reason. Might be fun. Firstly, help others in need and win some cool shwag by bidding for any number of items up for auction by the Western Pennsylvanian Salvation Army. A ball and team yearbook signed by the entire 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers rosters is up for grabs, as is a blue Penguins jersey signed by the whole Pens squad. Check out what else is up for auction if you're so inclined.
Next stop Craigslist.
If you're in the Pittsburgh area, you may seriously want to consider contacting this guy. Looks like he's desperate for money and in possession of some real cool vintage Steelers and Pirates stuff. Like? An October 3. 1948 Steelers program, Willie Stargell photos, old school 1971 WS cups, and according to him, a set of unopened 1968 baseball cards with Roberto Clemente on the cover. Apparently all can be had for a cool $70. You'd of course have to go check it out in person, but hey, my big beautiful 50 inch Vizio ($400) and my Macbook Pro in pristine condition ($550) both came from people on CL needing cash pronto. Sadly, I use neither at the moment. No DirecTv just yet at my new appartment, XBOX 360 is broken, and my girlfriend has hijacked the computer. That's not the point though, price was too good to pass :) I digress.
Oh, and someone's trying to sell a Willie Reed signed rookie card for $15 bucks. Maybe if it was $0.15 and I lived next door.
For those in the D.C. area, how about a Big Ben and Terry Bradshaw signed helmet for $375? In terms of investments, that one might be a good value, especially if you can talk him down a bit. Hell, relations between the two are at an all time low, people are down on Big Ben. Give it 10 years - Ben hopefully has a couple more rings on his fingers, he and Bradshaw have patched up their relationship, Ben's on the door of Canton, Bradshaw's made a complete ass of himself on television...the best is yet to come.
* Somewhat superfluous here, but a quick mention of a conversation I was having with rookie WR Emmanuel Sanders last Friday on Twitter. For all the 'noise' on Twitter, and for all its excessive hype, it is an incredibly useful tool for finding real-time information about tons of subjects. And, every so often, you can manage to easily rub elbows with folks you might be interested in kibbitzing with. For me last Friday, that was with Sanders, who's been quite active conversing with fans on both his Twitter account and his Facebook page.
Sanders was very chatty and friendly during our back-and-forth. He graciously agreed to do an interview for us at some point in the near future, so hopefully we'll be able to line that up before the start of training camp. One thing I'd like to share though in the meantime (aside from me asking him about having to downgrade in the female department from Dallas to Pittsburgh) is how he mentioned that he and Antonio Brown are particularly tight. I asked him which of the rookies he might be getting along with well, and he immediately responded with Brown, while also mentioning that the whole crop seems to get along well. Very good to see, as it's going to be an intense competition between the two for playing time this year. I think both have the potential to be significant contributors for the Steelers, perhaps as even as year, and definitely next season, but I personally found it to be extremely encouraging that the two will be pushing each other in a friendly way to get better as they try to carve out niches for themselves in the highly-competitive NFL. And about being disappointed with his dating prospects compared to the silly pool of attractive young women in Texas, Sanders simply said: 'to be a part of Steeler Nation, I'll leave 'em behind 100% of the time.' Very candid engaging young dude. Hope to get some time to speak with him soon.
* You can check out my first offering at the new Pittsburgh SB Nation Regional site here. In it I comment on Troy Polamalu's recent comments about the possibility of a lockout in 2011. Polamalu basically says that greed is the only thing that can possibly strip a blue-collar, football-loving America from pigskin in 2011. He's right, though I do hope the players are willing to put their money where their mouth is...or rather, be willing to stomach making a few concessions like the exorbitant rookie pay scale. But if you believe his teammate, Charlie Batch, that 2011 lockout is not just a distant possibility.
* As I was putting together the MSP Annual, I paused to think about the Steelers signing 38 year old long snapper Matt Stewart, a former linebacker in the NFL who hasn't played a down since 2006. Will this matter in 2010? Probably not, but you never know. The Steelers did find themselves in a bind when Greg Warren was lost to injury in 2008. I just think it's remarkable that the dude is finding a way...any way...to stay in the game he clearly loves to play.
* Last, but frankly most certainly the least, a quick mention of the positive momentum being gained by SB Nation, the parent network of BTSC, in the eyes of folks around the business world and Silicone Valley. When SB Nation rolled out its regional sites, the company got some love from the NY Times and other prestigious media outlets. Now, SB Nation finds its way on to Louis Gray's Top 50 Start Ups to keep an eye on, a list he put together earlier this month. I don't know much about Gray, but I do know he's a very well respected voice in the tech and 'new' media landscape. In all seriousness, it's the readers and community members of the 250+ SB Nation blogs - folks like you - that make the company what it is. Yes, there's some great writing on the network, but it's really the combination of the amazing proprietary technology we enjoy here (auto-refreshing commenting, collaborative publishing..i.e. fanposts, and the dizzying amount of content, conversation and insights you all provide that typify what this company's all about. Thanks for you all's continued support.
* Bonus Link ($): According to Mike Prisuta of Steel City Insider, converted defensive end turned fullbak Demetrius Taylor has shown enough during spring drills for Tomlin & Co. to consider extending the experiment into what I imagine will be at least the start of training camp. Too early to get too excited about this, or to overthink its potential implications, but Taylor certainly looks like he has the physical tools to do some bulldozing as an NFL FB. I really wanted to see Frank Summers materialize, but when you look at the two young men's physical makeups, it's hard to not think that Taylor might have the more durable and NFL-ready body. Again, lots of stories like this in mid-late June. But something to keep an eye on.