The Jersey Rules Committee met in emergency circumstances Thursday. An unprecedented gathering was needed to render a decision based on a matter of national prominence.
Ian, the lead blogger of The Steelers 'N At (and longtime friend of BTSC), is being chosen as Sunday Night Football's Fan of the Week, heading into the Steelers' Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
As part of many benefits he'll receive for this distinction, Ian will receive a Steelers jersey of his choosing.
We reached out to Ian offering our assistance in making such an important decision.
One of the other benefits is that they said they try to supply each Fan of the Week with a jersey and asked about which player I would like. I already own a Hines Ward, LaMarr Woodley (75th year black with gold block numbers throwback) and Mike Wallace jersey. I also have retired my Jerome Bettis and Levon Kirkland jerseys to a box in the basement. I usually hold my jersey purchases to a standard similar to those detailed on BTSC. I generally try to weigh the risk-reward of contract situations and player productivity.
It appears Ian has a decent base from which to start. Interestingly enough, though, the Committee has received a higher number of in-season rulings on jerseys than it's used to handling. Due to those requests, and the important one facing Ian, the meeting was gathered to rule on the first ever in-season Jersey to Buy.
The guidelines used in considering the best jerseys to buy are highlighted there, but here's a brief summary:
We determine four categories: Don't Buys, Qualifiers, Finalists and Champion. There is no set amount of members in the Don't Buys and Qualifiers categories, but there must be at least three finalists, including the champion.
The Oversaturation Rule:
"While allowable, it is discouraged to buy the jersey(s) of the most popular player(s)."
The Bandwagon Rule (Silverback Clause):
"A breakout Steelers player will emerge every year. Find the breakout player before he breaks out. Conversely, be careful not to join the masses in buying his jersey a year too late."
The Commitment Rule (Dermontti Dawson Clause):
"A player has to be assured of being on the team for at least another few years."
The Throwback Rule (The Steel Curtain Clause):
"A former player reaches Throwback Status when he has been retired from the league for five years, or has a combination of five years having played on a different team and is out of the league (aka the Rod Woodson Clause). If that player plays five years or more outside of Pittsburgh, then retires, a one-year waiting period is required."
The Wary Rookie Rule (Troy Edwards/Chris Rainey Clause):
"Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) in purchasing a rookie's jersey - in particular, the first-round choice. While it does fit the Commitment Rule, and the Steelers are known for an excellent track record selecting in the first round, it does not guarantee future success, but rather, suggest less than adequate research was done. The player hasn't proved himself yet, fans should encourage him to be among the team before becoming a standout on the team."
The Dress the Part Rule:
"The cheaper alternative is rarely better. Buy the real thing."
In July, we saw the first-ever split vote, making both Steve McLendon and Cortez Allen Champion. Allen also became the first-ever repeat winner.
As it stands right now, the Committee can see why it does not list the same player in consecutive years. Allen has fallen well off his highly anticipated production levels in 2013, and is not only no longer a champion, he's not even being endorsed as a Qualifier.
Oversaturation becomes much more important, and the level of "coolness" required is absolutely critical. Ian is representing Steeler Nation. In that, he has an opportunity to show a huge audience who they should know about on this team.
We're going to go with four Finalists and one Champion.
Without further ado, here are the results of the Jersey Rules Committee's Emergency Vote, taken 5 Dec., 2013 (we did not discuss Don't Buys due to the pressing nature of Ian's situation).
Linebacker Lawrence Timmons has continued his quiet streak of strong production. While he hasn't quite made the amount of plays he did last season (he was a Finalist in July), a big part of that is due to the fact he's had a rookie playing next to him all season. He's as Steeler as it gets, though.
Defending champion Steve McLendon has had a solid year. Not a spectacular one, but a solid one. We admit he's getting something of an unfair deduction due to our lack of desire to crown another repeat champion, but he is really more the victim of a few outstanding players having surged ahead of him this season.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown is well on his way to break the Steelers' single-season receptions and receiving yards records, absolutely something a national TV audience should know. Oversaturation is a concern at this point, though. Remember, this decision is being made for a very specific event, but one that could land Ian on national television. It was a deduction we had to make, but Brown's stock has increased dramatically all the same.
"Wreck It" Cameron Heyward has added wanton destruction to a Steelers defensive line that hasn't seen such activity since the glory days of Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel. He's the future star of the Steelers' front seven, and especially considering the game is in Ohio, where Heyward was a standout for the Buckeyes, it seems appropriate to flash his number so people can shut up about this "age on defense" thing.
Don't be at all surprised to see David DeCastro finish in the top spot come July. Injuries have delayed the start of his impressive career, but the lack of recognition of his talent (BTSC spoke with fans of many other teams that didn't even seem to realize DeCastro was playing, let alone becoming one of the best guards in the league) makes him an obvious choice, and a very worthy selection.
But some things simply cannot be topped. To be honest, this was barely even an argument.
Le'Veon Bell became a "Steeler For Life" after his head-rattling plunge into the end zone against Baltimore. He broke his helmet and took what looked like the most savage hit of the season - not from one defender, from TWO of them - and had a touchdown taken away due to a rule that should not be applied the way it was.
Along with that, it came down to one simple question...If the Steelers win this game, who's picture are they going to put on the side of the bus?
And while Steelers fans would be happy to celebrate for whomever's face would be on the moving promotional vehicle, Ian would best represent Steeler Nation with No. 26, if for no other reason than to show him - and the rest of the country - what he's accomplished despite a few set-backs early in his career.
Besides, anyone who takes a hit like that and plays in his team's next game deserves our respect.
Check out past editions of The Jersey Rules, dating back to 2010 and beyond.