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The Added Value of Larry Foote and Antwaan Randle El's Return to Pittsburgh

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Hello Steeler Nation. Been awhile. My apologies and thanks for keeping the conversation going in my absence. I've been heading down the home stretch of putting together the preseason publication for Maple Street Press. I wanted to share just a brief excerpt that I recently read and enjoyed. It's from an article titled 'Pittsburgh's Getting The Old Band Back Together' by Neal Coolong about the return of Foote and Randle El, with commentary on Byron Leftwich and Bryant McFadden in there as well. Truth be told, B-Mac might be the most important of the four, but the idea for the article came together before March, meaning we'd not yet learned that Big Ben would be suspended or that McFadden would be traded for on Draft day. Anyway, while McFadden will undeniably play a big role on Dick LeBeau's defense, it's the magnetic, big personalities of Randle El and Foote that make for a good article.

It's an outwardly emotional game today, one that focuses around players' ability to keep themselves, and their teammates, motivated. Asking Foote and Randle El to play with and display emotion is like asking a Steelers fan to wave a yellow towel in the air. It comes naturally. It's what they do best.
With Foote, there's "The Stomp," a move in which he jumps, lands, and squashes out the imaginary and temporarily vanquished opposition. He does it when he records a tackle for loss, a sack, or even when he makes a play after a minimal gain. It's a move so recognized among his teammates, second-year cornerback William Gay did "The Stomp" against Detroit out of homage to Foote.


The net effect of seeing "The Stomp" isn't big in the stat book, but it energizes the fans. Randle El does the same, albeit without a patented move like Foote. Instead, after Randle El is tackled, he sometimes hops off the ground like it was spring-loaded, hops again and motions his arms in a non-verbal statement that he was "THISCLOSE" to taking it all the way. It's almost a marketing technique. He leaves the fans with a sense of anticipation for the next catch or punt return. The thought is, always, "He's going to break one today, I can feel it."


Neither "The Stomp" nor Randle El's unnamed "Wait ‘Til Next Time" gesticulations have any direct effect on the game itself, stat-wise, but they both provide a spark among the team and the fans. How much energy did the Steelers show during the 2009 season? Not enough. Maybe Foote's stomp could have fired the team up just enough during an overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. They could have been propelled to make one more stop. And with one more win, they could have made the playoffs with a team that seemed to be righting ship and catching steam as of Week 17.

I smiled and shook my head in agreement with the Randle El description. Great touch.

More from me soon.