Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Regardless of the quality of the Pro Bowl itself, Steelers tight end Heath Miller belongs there, and he should be named the starter, not a back-up or an injury replacement.
Big Steelers wins often result in curious radio hosts contacting BTSC for interviews. Monday was no exception.
The first with Todd Steward of 92.3 ESPN Radio in Selinsgrove, Pa., and the second was withAnthony Pierno of WSIA radio in Staten Island, N.Y.
Both spots were highlighted by the unprompted questions of each host about "how good Heath Miller" was during the Steelers' 23-20 win over Baltimore in Week 13.
My response was roughly the same both times. "For me, the best part was the fact Miller put up the performance he did in front of a national TV audience," I said, proudly, as if the secret of Miller had finally been revealed. "With all due respect to the Rob Gronkowskis and the Jimmy Grahams of the NFL, Heath Miller is not only on that same plane, but he's one of the best all-around football players in the NFL."
The fact that statement no longer draws the ire of non-Steelers fans accusing me of homeristic viewpoints shows progress.
We can build on this, people.
Miller had a season-high 97 yards on six catches and his first touchdown in five games. His athletic dive at the pylon will rank among the highlights of the season, displaying everything Miller is - a fierce competitor with other-world athletic ability willing to do everything he can to help his team win.
Now I'm gushing.
It's hard not to, and I even called myself out for it on the air.
I remember a video clip recorded from inside the Steelers locker room during the 1997 season. Coach Bill Cowher listed off a few players who had just been named to the Pro Bowl team that year, building momentum toward the end.
When he announced nose tackle Joel Steed had been named to his first Pro Bowl, the locker room erupted.
It sent chills up my spine. And you can tell this Steelers team holds Miller in that same light.
The Pro Bowl has come under fire recently, particularly with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers questioning the effort by the NFC in the most recent game, and a litany of fans and media members who find satisfaction in questioning the validity of the game itself.
It's hard to remember each day we've become so self-involved and serious in our following of this game we simply cannot tolerate anything that isn't designed specifically for ruthless competition, and anything less than full-tilt drama and aggression isn't fit for our short attention spans.
The point being, I could care less about the validity of the game itself. If the Pro Bowl is discontinued, fine, but there will always be a group of players honored at the end of the year as the best at their respective positions for their respective conferences.
If there has ever been a season in which Steelers fans should be emotionally invested in the selection of that team, it's this one. And if there's ever been a player who deserves to go there, it's Heath Miller.
I'd put money on Miller being named the team's MVP at the end of this season. He leads the team with 56 catches, seven touchdowns and perhaps the most important stat, he hasn't fumbled this season.
He's been used as a playside and inline blocker, a receiver deep and short and he's excelled in all of these areas. I legitimately think Heath Miller is one of the best all-around players in the league.
It may be a frivolous game, but the honor is still there. I'm more than comfortable in feeling Miller will receive a large amount of votes from his peers and the coaches (along with the fans, their votes have equal one-third weight), but Steelers fans really should do what they can to get Miller in the Pro Bowl. Vote for whomever else, this isn't a call to line-vote all Steelers players, but Heath Miller deserves to be named to this team as a starter, not a back-up or an injury replacement.
Let's give him a vote. Voting ends Dec. 17.