What's worse than trying to find news when the NFL is on its pre training camp hiatus? Trying to find news when the league is on hiatus and its a holiday weekend. In my neck of the woods it would be harder to imagine the weather to be better; perfect for picnic/cookouts, outdoor activities of all kinds and just generalized chillin'. So, if you're waiting with bated breath on what may be in the Checkdown this week you might want to take stock of your situational priorities. I know I have my doubts right about now.
If you are a keen observer of the Steelers world, as is our Hombre de Acero, you know that June can be something of a hard luck month. Accidents, injuries and scandals are no stranger to that particular time of the year. So it is with a bit of a sigh of relief that we find ourselves now in the less volatile month of July. We didn't get through June unscathed. We lost Chuck Noll. But those who are likely to compose the working parts of the 2014 roster made it through in one piece as far as we know. As I have noted on a number of different occasions, boredom is much preferred to some of the alternative scenarios that could be playing out now.
Ike Taylor is unhappy to have taken a pay cut. Okay, show of hands. Who would be happy about taking a pay cut? I understand there are many who would so love to play in the NFL they would do so for nothing. I'm sure. But they don't call it professional football for nothing. I'd be worried if Ike wasn't pissed. In fact, I'm delighted. To feel otherwise represents the wrong attitude in my opinion. Yes, there is going to be some resentment from some quarters because its somewhat unseemly for millionaires to complain about compensation in the presence of thousandaires. Its sort of like complaining about downgrading from a filet mignon to a porterhouse in front of someone who is surviving on spam. But that's about two unfortunate truths that have nothing to do with Taylor. First, are skewed societal priorities as to whom we compensate and how much, and then there is the issue of making compensation a topic of discussion in the first place. Not exactly a dog bites man story.
Mentioned last week that Ben was speaking about the possible return of Keisel in a fairly optimistic manner. In a piece by Neal Coolong this week, a scenario was laid out that would have Keisel returning to the team in August under pretty favorable financial terms. A number of factors could impact such a potential decision including injuries, the acclimation of free agent Cam Thomas, and the development of young players such as Tuitt, Arnfelt and Williams.
When they have nothing else better to do some will resort to assembling lists and conducting surveys in order to create ranking that people can argue about. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's name has been coming up in this regard lately. So, according to the geniuses at ESPN Ben is a "second tier" quarterback. Do you believe that? I don't, but please don't tell Ben that. Putting aside pride for the moment, this is great news, the equivalent of Ike's pay cut. A chip on the shoulder is a good thing.
Top 25 Steelers
If you are going to do a ranking, make it one where its all Steelers. That what I say. That's what gives Dale Lolley a leg up on other efforts of this type. This week we get numbers 16 thru 11.
The Pittsburgh Sports Daily is a great resource for all things Pittsburgh sports. This piece presents a great summary of quotes made about the late Steelers head coach Chuck Noll.
Perhaps a more productive use of brain power and space than generating rankings and lists is providing insights into the personalities that play the game. Antwon Blake was a completely under the radar player last season who has attracted a great deal more attention as one of the candidates who hopes to help upgrade the play at the cornerback position in 2014. After being the one who was initially thrown into the fire to attempt to fill the gap created by the season ending injury to Larry Foote last season, Kion Wilson has fallen under the radar and has been basically written off by fans as having any chance of making the team this year.
Munch and Joey
I said last week that people couldn't get enough of new assistant coaches Mike Munchak and Joey Porter. Both were the recipients of high praise. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley call Munchak a "stud", a gushed over his inclusion to the offensive staff. Former teammate Larry Foote opined that Porter would not only be successful as an assistant, but also had the necessary ingredient's to become a head coach. We can only assume that Porter's check to Foote is currently in the mail.
Super Bowl rewinds
Another productive alternative to rankings and lists is to take a trip down memory lane to past glories. Steelers.com takes up make this week to Super Bowls IX and X where the team won the first two of their six Lombardis.
Speaking of memory lane, the Steelers site also continued its series of photos of the team categorized by decade. I got a bit of a thrill in seeing a couple of shots from a game that I actually attended (it was in a past life, of course).
Also, in honor of our nation' birthday, there was a photo tribute to military.