The Steelers, NFL, and Goodell: Venting my spleen before the Holidays

Mike Ehrmann

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If I want to be able to enjoy the massive quantities of traditional American/Puerto Rican food we’ll be having, and not have irritable bowel syndrome after I finally push myself away from the table, I’ve got to purge a few things now.

…and don’t bother me if I have specific facts wrong. When’s the last time your rant was 100 percent factually correct? Point is, some things just gotta be purged…

The Pittsburgh Steelers:

Is it just me or is anyone else beginning to see some loose threads unwinding from Tomlin’s Cloak of Infallibility?

Quasi-chronologically from Training Camp till now:

Keeping Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich and allowing Dennis Dixon to leave, jettisoning Jerrod Johnson and Troy Smith.

When somebody says the initials GQ in reference to the Steelers, they’re not referencing the haberdashery splendor of the players, they mean the Geriatric Quarterbacks. At least in the QB department, Tomlin is making Warren Sapp sound prophetic…

…his game management gaffes…

…icing his own kicker then going for a field goal 2 yards longer than he’s ever made before and where a miss would just about put the game into the lap of the opponents robo-kicker…oh yea, it did…

…his laissez faire attitude with his coaches, allowing Haley to think it was still Halloween and him impersonating Bruce Arians in the Ravens game.

Really Todd? A game plan that calls for 61% passing against a team that’s ranked in the high 20’s against the run, with a second string quarterback who, between trips to Lourdes for a little quick healing, hasn’t started a game since 2009?...

…Tomlin hasn’t even placated us once with a fresh new Tomlinism despite losing to the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and that abominable loss to the Baltimore Raven…

I’m not saying I want rid of Tomlin, but for me at least, he’s showing signs of becoming a carnival barker, spouting smooth patter designed to distract us from what’s behind the tent.

The NFL (and by its culpability, the NFLPA)

Whether by evil design, or sheer dumb luck, the NFL is wearing me down. I’m finding myself less and less able to summon righteous indignation over its multitude of colossal acts of ineptitude.

From "they’re guilty as hell" initial charges against the Saints for Bounty-gate to "ok, we’ll lessen the penalty, because we don’t want to prove our case"…

…to real referees who are supposed to be better than replacement refs, but no one can prove the replacement refs are gone by the quality of the refereeing…

When does it stop?

Take the Baltimore Ravens Ed Reed suspension/non-suspension for his hit on Steelers’ wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The fact of the matter is Reed hit Sanders helmet to helmet. That’s against the rules, or so we all thought. Otherwise, it was a good hit.

But in today’s NFL we’re told, such hits will not be tolerated. In fact, the NFL Penal Code is constantly being re-written so that enforcement of rules meant to stop such hits will easily take place, regardless of whether the hits actually occur at all (V. Cruz, plaintiff v R. Clark, defendant).

So the League announces it is suspending Reed for one game because he has a history of such hits (third in three years). Okay, that seems in keeping with its recent actions against Steeler players and others around the league.

But wait, Ed Reed wins revocation of the suspension on appeal.

But I thought the appeal system was set up so that Roger Goodell held the power of life or death?

It has to be true, the NFLPA said so in the Bounty scandal as it rushed to the defense of the players involved. Except that is, for the ones targeted by the Saints; guess they need to form their own union.

Then the League claims the reversal was based on the finding of an official independent from the league (but paid for by both the NFL and the NFLPA to "guarantee" impartiality).

So, now it’s ok for defensive secondary players to hit receivers H2H more than two times in a row before being suspended? Harrison had three hits and got suspended; I guess Ed Reed was the beneficiary of illegal contact inflation. Let’s see what happens when he reaches number four.

The end result of all this, as I see it is, the NFL wins twice by proving (1) the appeals process works [so the Saints players lose a major piece of their case against the NFL] and (2) the NFL can claim to the thousands of player suing it that they’re trying to protect them, but today’s players won’t stop hitting each other, and the mean ol’ appeal process takes away their ability to sanction the bad guys…

In my opinion, Reed’s hit complied with what football is all about. Sorry Emmanuel, but those types of hits are to be expected. So, on one hand I want to be upset that Reed got off scott-free (yea, $50,000 for a guy who makes millions is "free"), but I want to be optimistic that some sanity has returned to the governance of the game…but has it?

…the acid in my belly is gurgling again…

Roger Goodell

This guy is the greatest amalgamated reincarnation of P.T. Barnum, Harry Houdini and Mr. Dark (the Illustrated Man and co-owner of Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show in Ray Bradbury’s "Something Wicked This Way Comes".)

He obviously holds the owners spell bound with his whispers of revenue streams into their ears, while at the same time is performing sleight of hand tricks with the rules of the game to keep the players from ever establishing precedence for their actions, or even a standard by which to change how they play.

And of course, all the fancy rule changes meant to protect the players from themselves obviously, since they just won’t stop those infernal hard hits.

Of course, the best defense Goodell and the NFL has against the thousands of players bringing suit against the league on concussions is the players themselves. Aside from not being able to prove at what stage of their football playing lifetime was the last concussion before the one that caused whatever ailment they’re looking to cash in on, you have players like Ryan Clark who decided only after his second concussion in three weeks to use the league-provided helmet that offers the best protection; his reason for not doing so until now, his 11th year in the league? It looks funny.

Oh, and get this. Way back in May, the league announced implementation of rules starting in 2013 that will require all players to wear thigh and knee pads.

Really? What class action lawsuit has been filed by former players for boo boos on the knee? The league faces a legal battle with thousands of former players (and spouses, siblings, parents, family dogs, former kindergarten teachers, etc), and all the while the league has in its possession a helmet lined with Kevlar that is proven to be the most effective protection that licensing money and sole source contracting can buy, and its mandating knee and thigh pads?

Don’t look behind the curtain NFL fans, nothing to see there…

And finally, Steeler Nation, before I let you go…

As I was writing this piece, I was hopping back and forth perusing the various posts on BTSC, and came across a comment by a Cleveland Browns fan who uttered those words that breed holds so dear to its heart: Bandwagon.

To all you Browns fans, enough already. Before you utter one more time something about Steelers fans living in Ohio being in any way less of a "real" fan like you are, documentation is required to prove the following:

Have you spoken with every single one of these people in Steelers gear?...

…gotten their family history, probed into why they like the Steelers? Do you know for a fact the motivational factors involved with them exercising their god given right as specified in the Declaration of Independence to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

Don’t you know that it is their unalienable right to choose whatever team they want, regardless of geographical proximity?

Of course not, for by the very nature of the Browns organization and its fans, yinz violate the Declaration:

Life – the Browns have been a dead team for decades;

Liberty – No one is free to choose their team; if you’re born in proximity to Cleveland, you are required to follow the Browns, and only the Browns;

Pursuit of Happiness – given the previous two, it’s no wonder Browns fans are the most dictatorial, masochistic, bombastic, warped, miserable and self-loathing pieces of un-American bigoted crap that I have ever seen, heard, or smelled.

What "true" Browns fan could possibly even contemplate what happiness is if they’re relegated to such a miserable life of indentured servitude merely by the happenstance of their birth?

To all in Steeler Nation around the world, and to all our troops here and abroad who lay their lives on the line so we may spend our days free to express ourselves in as inflammatory or boring manner as we wish, I hope you and yours have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

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