Weekend Checkdown: the top stories of the week

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

What will be the narratives for the 2014 off season?

We may come to remember the 2013 season by its stench. Whether we choose to remember the winless September of the Steelers, or the truly awful spectacle of Denver's utter humiliation in the Super Bowl, 2013 will be characterized by a certain level of ugliness whose ramifications may extend into how we perceive the challenges that have to be addressed in 2014.

The Narrative

A week removed from the Super Bowl the 2014 season is largely a blank canvas. Decisions have been made regarding coaches and front office positions, but no one has been released, signed or drafted. The composition of the roster going into spring drills, much less training camp is at least three months from being determined. Yet we are well underway in articulating story lines that will dominate discussion on this site and elsewhere throughout the winter, spring and summer. It is a time that is full of fantasies, fears and what ifs. Its all harmless as long as you keep in mind that it involves largely fiction and speculation, Unfortunately, some will be judged as received wisdom when nothing will be further from the truth.

For example, one of the narratives that gained a great deal of traction last year was that Colbert/Tomlin had accumulated a track record of failed draft choices. In making their case much mention was made of 'failed' draft choices Jason Worilds and Cam Heyward.

Oops.

This year some of the narrative will focus upon Ike Taylor and the 'mistake' the Steelers front office made in retaining him and letting Keenan Lewis go. Joe Starkey of the Tribune-Review tries to make this case and is taken to task by our own Hombre de Acero. It should be worth noting that some of those who will take the position that Lewis should have been retained will be the some of the same individuals who felt that Lewis was a 'bust' two years ago.

The point is that over the coming weeks many of our fellow citizens in Steelers Nation will be in full blown MSU (Make [Stuff] Up) mode. Stories will develop over who will be retained and who will be shown the door. We will be told that the template for the future lies in Seattle. This in spite the fact that a year ago no one thought the Seahawks were the best team in their own division. And understand that when, months from now, many of these speculations prove to be false that few if any will (wo)man up and acknowledge the error of their ways. Instead most will move on to the next piece of speculative fiction secure in the knowledge that short attention spans virtually guarantee that no one will ever be held to account for their erroneous assertions.

The pot chronicles

Perhaps because some thought this past Super Bowl could be characterized as the Weed Bowl given the fact that marijuana is legal in both cities represented, the subject of whether pot is an appropriate medicinal or recreational option for NFL players has been up for discussion this week. The outspoken Ryan Clark finds himself at the center of this controversy and has allowed himself to be a lighting rod for critics of this topic. Some felt that his comments were the death knell of any chance for his returning to the team. Larry Foote also made his observations known.

More Clark

The Steelers captain was not limited to marijuana use as a subject of controversy this week. He also weighed in on Richie Incognito.

A Pittsburgh Super Bowl?

The success (or at least the lack of a disaster) with the first outdoor cold weather Super Bowl has led to emboldened conversation concerning replicating the feat in a number of other NFL communities, including Pittsburgh. However, in the past it wasn't only weather that would appear to disqualify Pittsburgh as a valid contender for hosting the event. A lack of seating capacity at Heinz Field as well as insufficient hotel space were also concerns. But this week Art Rooney allowed for the possibility that these issues might be able to worked out over the long term, and held out hope that an eventual Pittsburgh Super Bowl may happen.

Sanders, Worilds and Heyward

Pittsburgh's number two wide receiver is now attracting interest from other teams as a target of free agency as the Jets may view him as a replacement for another former Steelers receiver whom they may jettison (Santonio Holmes). The camp of Jason Worilds made it known that his price for staying in Pittsburgh would be a starting job, which renewed speculation that the price for retaining him may be to release LaMarr Woodley. Cam Heyward performed a self evaluation of his 2013 season and gave himself a 'C'.

Munchak

The new Steelers offensive line coach continues to be in the news as former Steeler Justin Hartwig tells why Mike Munchak could be such an asset to the team moving forward.

Double standard

Those of you of a conspiratorial frame of mind may find solace in the fact that when it comes to disciplining coaches that step on to the field of play the standard isn't consistently the standard. While the league basically threw the book at Mike Tomlin for his transgression on Thanksgiving night, coaches from three other teams have gotten off with warnings, thus adding fuel to the fire for those who believe that the NFL has it in for the Steelers.

Shear the Beard

Steelers players, coaches and fans showed up big and made Brett Keisel's fourth annual fund raiser for Children's Hospital a big success.

Franco

Franco Harris received the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement award at its annual banquet this week. Presenting the award was Joe Greene, who himself has been a Lifetime Achievement award recipient. The Sportsman of the year award went to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

Terry Bradshaw

The Steelers Hall of Fame quarterback and Fox Sports personality lost his father just prior to last week's Super Bowl.

Thursday Night Football

The league announced that CBS would be carrying Thursday night football games during the first half of the season beginning this fall. This means primetime exposure on free TV for the Thursday package. The NFL Network will continue to cover the games during the latter half of the season.

Dominant defense

Much has been made of the Seattle defense, and comparisons have been made to the 2000 Ravens and the 1985 Bears. Steelers.com asks that we not forget the 1974 Steel Curtain defense when discussing the most dominating units that have played in the Super Bowl.

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