PITTSBURGH - APRIL 19: Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers speaks during a press conference following practice on April 19, 2010 at the Pittsburgh Steelers South Side training facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The media have a way of grabbing onto one concept and continually ramming it into the minds of their viewers and readers to the point it becomes "factual."
Case in point, the argument of who the best GM/Personnel Director of the NFL.
Immediately, 75 percent of those who follow the NFL will say a combination of Ted Thompson of the Packers and Scott Pioli of the
Patriots Chiefs. It's likely because the average fan knows three GMs, the one who oversees his/her team and Thompson and Pioli (so perhaps Chiefs and Packers fans only know two of them).
As unfair as that is, it's even less fair to overlook such roster management brilliance as Steelers Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert.
Pioli was given the Pro Football Weekly Pro Football Writers GM of the Year award in light of the Chiefs going from worst to first in the AFC West.
Let's be honest, he's still using capital he gained in his days as the GM of the Patriots. To his credit, he's pretty much the only former Patriot manager to have success anywhere else, leaving such visionary leaders as Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels and Eric Mangini in his dust.
Thompson's Packers absorbed dozens of injuries en route to his first NFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance.
With all due respect to Pioli, credence should be given to the GMs whose teams don't ever finish in last place.
With all due respect to Thompson - he certainly belongs in the argument of who is the best, even if it's essentially impossible to put one GM above the rest - Colbert's greatest success came in the AFC Championship game, and no one is the wiser to his existence.
The key to long-term success in the NFL is to get a franchise quarterback and lock him up long-term. After that, you get a core group of players who reflect both excellence on the field and a level of consistency and reliability. Then, you fill in the gaps with key role players, both of low-priced veterans and rookies and younger players in their first contracts.
In the AFC championship, Colbert's Steelers won because of his commitment to those ideals over the years.
It's difficult to say Rashard Mendenhall was not the most outstanding player of that game. Colbert took Mendenhall with the 23rd overall pick in the 2008 Draft. In his third season, Mendenhall gained a total of 154 yards and a critical touchdown that set the tone for the most dominating first half the Steelers ever had in a playoff game.
TE Heath Miller painted his Picasso against the Jets. A player known for excellent all around skills grabbed two catches (and had a third mysteriously overturned), including one that gave the Steelers the first of two first-downs needed to seal the game. He was an animal in run-blocking, and was a big part of the Steelers' 166 rushing yards.
NT Casey Hampton abused Pro Bowl C Nick Mangold all game, barely missing on two sacks and essentially stopped the Jets vaunted rushing attack on his own. It resorted in Jets goon Brandon Moore to take a few cheap shots at him.
While QB Ben Roethlisberger's individual numbers will not live on forever, he's not a quarterback which the sum of his parts is more than the sum of his whole. Along with the brilliant play call that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run, his passes to both Miller and rookie Antonio Brown to ice the game were as clutch as he's ever had, short of Santonio in the corner of the end zone.
Colbert's guy at the No. 15 pick in 2007, Lawrence Timmons, led the team in tackles in the AFC Title game, and the 2010 season. The 2009 first-rounder, Ziggy Hood, had three tackles for less than 2-yard gains. Troy Polamalu, the guy Colbert traded up 13 spots for in 2003, didn't have his best game as a pro, but we've all seen what happens to Pittsburgh's opponents when he does. Maurkice Pouncey became the only center I've ever heard have his name chanted during a game, and fans were nearly in tears when he went down early in this one. His performance on that first drive was a big part of the Steelers' ability to take nine minutes off the clock.
What do all of these guys have in common? Yep, first round picks under Colbert. You could even put Santonio Holmes in Colbert's favor in this game. ‘Tone made a nice move on Steelers CB Ike Taylor (a 4th round pick under Colbert), and Taylor slipped, never to recover. A 45-yard score by the former Steeler. But he was mostly ineffective the rest of the game. Colbert converted Holmes and his quarter-season suspension into starting CB (and former 2nd round Colbert pick) Bryant McFadden, who was allegedly hurt, but still only allowed one completion against the Jets.
"Third Down" Antonio Brown was taken in the 6th round of the 2010 Draft, and after a huge touchdown in the divisional round, and a key kick return and game-sealing catch against the Jets, has already paid dividends. Taylor stripped Mark Sanchez on a sack, and the fumble was brought back to the end zone by 2006 5th round pick "Big Play" William Gay.
Perhaps best of all, 2007 2nd round pick LaMarr Woodley, who's going to haunt the dreams of Packers RT Bryan Bulaga for the next two weeks, just set an NFL record for most consecutive games with at least one sack (6).
What about guys the Steelers didn't draft?
At 35, James Farrior is having one of the best years of his career, and his timing on Sanchez's snap count destroyed any significant offensive rhythm for the Jets. Ryan Clark, like Polamalu, may not have had his best game, but it's tough to say they'd be in the game without him. He was still a part of a pass defense that didn't allow big plays in the fourth quarter.
You've heard of James Harrison, right? The Jets wanted no part of Deebo, and tried to avoid him most of the game. He still collapsed the line and shut the Jets running game down.
They acquired Jonathan Scott and Flozell Adams to replace drafted keystone players Max Starks and Willie Colon, but out with injuries, and they performed so badly (according to most), they're going to play in their first Super Bowls, respectively.
Pioli did a great job patching the holes of the sinking ship known as the Chiefs, but failed miserably in their first playoff game. Thompson deserves a heap of credit for what he's put together in Green Bay, and this is in no way denying his rightful place in the Best GM argument. But Steelers fans know what their GM, a local product, has done over the last 11 seasons.
Oh, and his guys are playing for their third Super Bowl under him. None for Pioli, just one humiliating home loss to Baltimore. And Thompson can't sniff Colbert's ridiculous 10-4 playoff record and two Super Bowl championships.