It was a very fun final podcast for the Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 season. I didn't spend much time or invest any resources on fringe production quality, so the show definitely remained raw all year. But like everything else, it improved with practice. It's been quite fun taking to the internet faux airwaves each week -- and sometimes more than once per week -- all season. For most of the sessions, I've been joined by Bill Priatko, a former NFL player and longtime close friend of Dick LeBeau's. An octogenarian, Priatko's memory and mental acuity for the game then and now is amazing. As much as I enjoyed speaking with Bill each week, it was made more enjoyable by the presence of Dave Villiotti, a former high school player under Priatko during Villiotti's high school days in Swissvale. Dave's been writing about the Steelers on numerous fan sites, and he's penned great history pieces the last two years for my preseason print publications -- including one about Priatko this past summer -- but I was pleasantly surprised by how great he was on the show despite playing second fiddle to my ramblings and the understandable preferential treatment that I showed Priatko because of his vast catalog of stories and close access to LeBeau and the team.
Anyway, it looks like we'll keep it going throughout the offseason. Perhaps not each week, but plenty frequently, particularly while the playoffs are still being played and the first wave of interest in personnel assessment is fresh on the minds of Steeler Nation. Thanks to all of you for tuning in throughout the year. The numbers were pretty darn encouraging really considering how raw it was and how steep of a learning curve it was. It's harder and harder to find time to write everything I'd like at this particular moment in my life, but it's fun as hell to get a bunch out there in the 90 minutes or so each week that we record.
Also, huge thanks to Neal Coolong for his immense contributions this year. Having him on each Monday would be adding too many cooks to the kitchen. But it was Neal and his brother who helped me get the puppy going in the first place, and some of my favorite moments all season were learning a few things about the nuts and bolts of the game from Neal while listening to him break something down on the show. For as great a job as he does writing on the site, he's, in my opinion, even better talking about the game. Thanks Neal.
Good last show. Hard to remember everything covered, but the list includes:
- Complete Denver game breakdown
- Defensive breakdowns
- Ike Taylor's career worse game.
- Whether Priatko thinks LeBeau is interested in coming back to coach again
- Why Ryan Clark's absence proved to play a bigger role than we could have imagined.
- Run-Pass distribution against Denver
- 2011 season assessment
- Personnel assessment
- Why I think exploring possible Manny Sanders trade might be smart
- The unique and momentous saga that will be Hines Ward's future -- it's not just another player coming and going from a 'business'. We know it's a game and a money-driven enterprise both at the league, team and individual level. But let's not kid ourselves, it will still be tough to swallow seeing Ward play elsewhere, and it will be equally unsettling to see our beloved Steelers come to the unfortunate decision that there's no reasonable scenario in which keeping Ward makes sense unless it's for what a proud man like Ward might consider to be a disrespectful pittance.
- I'm forgetting plenty, but a fun 75 minutes for sure.