But alas, as happened to S.T. Coleridge, a Person from Porlock (in reality a Jagoff sales call from Baltimore) shattered my reverie and all but the scant details that follow are lost forever.
I had dreamt that I had been talked into attending an estate sale being held at the house of an elderly couple down the street. In the basement, amongst the usual rubble of a shared lifetime of travel, was a box labeled "Ireland". Within the box, to my surprise, was a small black pot no bigger than a football, with the lid securely fastened. I was suddenly overcome with a sense of excitable anticipation as I held the pot in my hands. There appeared to be some sort of script on the lid, and as I wiped away the years of dust and grime, the lid began to fade, the sides of the pot became increasingly hot, and a blinding golden light poured forth from where the lid once sat.
In my shock I dropped the pot and stumbled back, falling onto my backside. Where the pot fell and tipped over, stood a Leprechaun with a look of immense relief etched into his craggy face. As we stared at each other, I could feel his eyes taking my measure and, being part Irish, I immediately knew he had discovered in me a shared history and interests.
The extent of our subsequent conversation eludes my recollection, but the gist of it was that by having released him from imprisonment within his own pot, the Leprechaun would grant me three wishes (I know, I know, the Irish Wee Folk aren't genies, but roll with it), but the promised wishes came with conditions. I readily accepted the Leprechaun's offer and quickly made my wishes.
Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned Jagoff, the memory of the details and outcome of my wishes has disappeared. I do recall however, the basic guidelines I was forced to follow:
One wish has to deal with the game of football as a whole, meaning a rule change, a format change or some other fundamental structural revision, leaving all else as it currently exists ;
One wish has to deal with the NFL as an organization, meaning how it's organized, how it's operated or managed;
One wish has to deal solely and specifically with the nature of the Steelers team itself, the structure of the team, or how its run, or its offensive or defensive "philosophy".
And because Leprechauns aren't really the cute little guys you see on the cereal box and their wishes are as conditioned and restricted as the airlines' supposedly valuable "bonus miles" when it comes to trying to redeem them, the following restrictions apply:
The wishes cannot be directed towards an individual (wishing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a lifetime of uninterrupted, round-the-clock diarrhea is prohibited);
The wishes cannot be used to cause the Steelers to win the Super Bowl every year, nor cause the other team(s) to lose every game.
So I ask you, my fellow members of Steeler Nation, in this week of never ending migraine inducing, stomach virus incubating and flatulence producing pre-Super Bowl hype surrounding Ray Lewis and the Brothers Harbaugh, what would you wish for?
I'm sure my dream wishes were far more interesting, but being fully awake and of somewhat sound mind, here are my three, keeping with the terms and conditions as imposed by the Leprechaun:
1) Game related: A catch is ruled a catch if the receiver: (a) touches both feet to the ground completely in bounds and; (b) maintains possession of the ball within his grasp, using any/all parts of his body, regardless of how much the ball may move within that grasp, and the ball remains in that grasp without touching the ground at all until the player is downed, and/or the play is whistled dead. No more of the subjective "control of the ball" nonsense from the refs; if the receiver has enough semblance of control to keep the ball from touching the ground, he's caught it.
2) NFL related: Every NFL team that used or uses public financing for its stadium must surrender a minority stake in the ownership structure to the city that fronted the monies, up to 20 percent. The stake carries no voting rights pertaining to the operation of the team, but rather is held in trust for the benefit of the citizens of the jurisdiction encumbered with the bonds generating the monies provided. Further, the terms of the public financing must be fully audited and approved by a third party independent firm to ensure the business terms and the city's ability to re-pay meet fiscally sound standards. This would mean future deals can't be like the 2009 deal with the baseball Marlins where the people of the city of Miami will pay $2.4 billion over 40 years for a $600 million stadium, or the 1996 Cincinnati Bengals deal which eats up 16 percent of Hamilton County's annual budget, causing it to sell public hospitals to meet its obligations. The jurisdictions holding the stake may sell it to any third party investor at market value (including the income stream from any naming rights), at any time after a negotiated "black out" period and after first offering it for sale, at the same terms offered by an investor, to the team itself; however, 100 percent of any proceeds must be used to pay off or pay down any outstanding stadium debt obligation and only then may any surplus funds make it to the jurisdiction's "general coffers".
3) Steelers related: The Steelers focus on the passing game first, and formulate a "Ray Rice-like" safety valve running game for Roethlisberger. The days of a "balanced" run/pass attack are long gone, and won't be back anytime soon. However, this doesn't necessarily mean they go to a west-coast dink n dunk passing game, but rather find a couple of feature backs who are above-adequate in running between the tackles, but can also take on the role usually filled by Heath Miller in becoming a check-down alternative to the mid-to-deep game Rothelisberger is best suited for, and plays so well.