A difficult loss this past week and then two weeks to think about it before we can move on. The lockout comes to an end, but the league had to hit bottom first. Hall Of Fame nominations are announced and the Immaculate Reception will be memorialized.
What's wrong with this picture? Let's say that you're running a business. A particular activity that you are conducting has your customers upset, your employees in open rebellion and your investors are openly critical of your actions. Your reaction to this is to basically blow them off, because for the time being at least you're still making lots of money and you've got the power, or at least so you think.
This was the NFL as recently as this past Tuesday. The credibility of the officiating had been destroyed over the course of the first three weeks of the season. Calls were botched, control was lost, games were lengthened by delays. The fans (customers) were flooding voicemails, tweeting, boycotting and threatening boycotts to register their displeasure. Players and coaches (employees) were speaking out even though to do so meant that they would be fined in punishment. The Networks (investors) were openly registering their disgust. Even the NFL Network, the house organ for the league, was opining on how screwed up this entire situation was. What made it worse is that the stakes for the league were so small. The amount of money involved for each team was about the amount that were being levied in fines to the employees that were speaking out. You were left to wonder how people who appeared to otherwise be intelligent would allow themselves to become so tone deaf and self defeating.
Finally, after the story graduated from sports news to front page status, became the fodder for the late night talk shows and the only thing that the Democrats and Republicans could agree upon, the league decided that the situation wasn't intractable after all and quickly reached a settlement with the officials union. Goodell found it in his heart to apologize. And one is left to marvel at how far off course you can be taken when ruled by greed and arrogance.
At one point during the Oakland game last Sunday when it appeared that a skirmish between Willie Colon and Richard Seymour might escalate into World War III I began to give some serious thought to how this debacle might effect the season. The impact on the Green Bay/Seattle game was obvious, but with so many close contests early on it would be difficult to not believe that the outcome of any number of games may have influenced by shoddy officiating.
The Steelers safety is $21,000 lighter in the wallet following his part in the frightening collision that left Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey unconscious during Sunday's game. Mundy avoided being suspended over the incident and is expected to appeal. It is the second fine leveled on a Steelers defensive player in so many weeks. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons was also fined $21,000 last week in response to a hit made on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Harrison and Polamalu
Outside linebacker James Harrison's struggles with his injured knee continue as he is forced to not practice once again. The news is better for safety Troy Polamalu who is expected to return to the lineup when the Steelers resume play against the Eagles.
Eight individuals with ties to the Steelers have been named candidates for selection into the Pro Football HOF for the 2013 class. The group includes Art Rooney Jr., Jerome Bettis, Bill Cowher, Kevin Greene, Jeff Hartings, Gary Anderson, Bud Carson and Buddy Parker.
Immaculate Reception Monument
As part of the festivities celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the franchise the Steelers will unveil a monument to one of the most famous plays in the history of sport. On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, December 22nd, a ceremony will be conducted at the exact spot of the play near Heinz Field.
The Steeler defense has been a central topic of discussion this past week in the wake of the second half collapse against the Raiders. There is a great piece on Dick LeBeau and the evolution of the zone blitz featured at Grantland.com this week.
I have had my problems with the fantasy football culture. While I have been able to identify some of the issues that I have been struggling with, I couldn't completely articulate my misgivings. this piece by Chuck Klosterman does a pretty good job at getting at the things that I think are disturbing about how this practice distorts our outlook on the people who play the game.
The Bye week is a good time for human interest stories about many of the players. The best piece that I saw this week was on Steelers.com and featured wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. A very affecting and inspirational story about the childhood of the veteran who was raised in Birmingham, Alabama.
LaMarr Woodley's star turn
This week's sign that the culture is going to Hell.
Our own Tony Defeo suggests that we may have witnessed an act of cosmic justice this week. As most Steelers fans know for the past seven years supporters of the Seattle Seahawks have complained unceasingly that their team was hosed by the officials during Super Bowl 40. So, given that the shoe is on the other foot so to speak what would be the ethical response of the Seattle fan community to the events of Monday night? Will they make common cause with the fans of Green Bay and insist that justice be done? Will hypocrisy take flight or will they play the punk and say nothing? So far the silence has been deafening from the Pacific Northwest. So, echoing Tony I think the time has come for Seattle fans to shut the hell up about Super Bowl 40. Or don't. I, for one, would love the opportunity to respond to a Seahawk fan on the issue of integrity. That would be fun.
Ending today not with a news item but a question. Clyde Cady, a member of the community wrote and posed the question; why do we say Steeler Nation when the name of the franchise is Steelers. Should it not be Steelers Nation? I've wondered about this issue myself, but folks more credible than I seem to subscribe to use of the term "Steeler Nation". So, here are the questions; what do you believe to be the correct term, and/or does it matter? Drop a comment if you care.