Memories of Santonio Holmes Outweigh His Post-Steelers Production

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 19: A Pittsburgh Steelers fan holds up a sign welcoming back Santonio Holmes #10 of the New York Jets who was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers during the offseason before the game on December 19 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

There are plenty of stats that stand out in the career of Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

There's his 18.1 yards per catch in his second season - one year removed from being the the Steelers' first round pick in 2006 - 25th overall. There's his 1,248 yards receiving in 2009, his last as a Steeler.

There's his nine for a buck 31 with 1 (arguably the biggest in franchise history) and a nice trophy after XLIII.

Four of those nine catches came on the team's final drive. Seventy-three of those 131 yards came on those final four catches, including the game-winner. Other recent Super Bowl heroes were jettisoned by the teams for whom they performed heroically, but none were as young and talented as Holmes.

More stats stand out since 9-131-1.

4: Games suspended for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy

52: most catches he's had in a season since leaving Pittsburgh

79: most catches he had in a season while playing in Pittsburgh

51, 654, 12.8: His catches, yards and yards per catch totals in 2011, the second-lowest, lowest and lowest marks he's ever had as a pro.

8-101-1: His totals in two previous games against the Steelers. It turns to 7-66-0 if you take out the 45-yard touchdown catch he had in the AFC Championship game, on which cornerback Ike Taylor became victim to the loose surface on Heinz Field. Holmes ran a slant, saw Taylor fall and turned his route upfield.

Outside of surface malfunctions and bad footing by Taylor, Holmes has essentially been silenced by his former team. In fact, the only thing really making noise as far as Holmes and the Steelers are concerned is the statistics of Antonio Brown. The third-year pro was the indirect result of the Steelers' trading of Holmes to the Jets in 2010 for a fifth-round draft pick.

The Steelers took that fifth-round pick, and dealt it to Arizona on draft day in 2010 for CB Bryant McFadden and a sixth-round pick. That was used on Brown.

The Steelers haven't looked back, nor should they. Holmes was stripped of his captaincy this season after being benched during his team's final drive in Week 17 last season - a touchdown on that drive would have sent them to the playoffs.

In almost three years, Holmes had gone from nudging the back pylon in the end zone to securing the bench on the sideline. Yet, Super Bowl XLIII will always be on our minds when we see No. 10 on the field. The green stings a little to look at, but there's enough white on his road jersey to make us remember John Madden eating his words, and confirming it should be ruled a catch, and the Steelers just took a four-point lead with 35 seconds to play in the Super Bowl.

Even if Holmes' career has dropped off tremendously since the trade, and he'll be attached to the losing end of one of the best trades in franchise history, there will always be some nostalgia behind the chorus of boos he hears when he walks onto Heinz Field.

For as outstanding a catch it was, it doesn't belong just to him. The only trophy he left Pittsburgh with is his MVP trophy.

And he can have it. I'm fine with the one still encased in the South Side facility.


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