For veteran readers of the site, you're surely aware of the hefty undertaking I've started at about this time the past two years -- beginning the early legwork towards putting together a comprehensive preseason annual about the Pittsburgh Steelers for an independent sports publisher in New England called Maple Street Press.
Part of me cringes at agreeing to take on the voluminous workload again this year. But I truly do enjoy their broad editorial values. It's very much in line with the overarching philosophy of this site and the SB Nation network. That's to say they believe in high quality, in depth analysis about one topic, rather than a mediocre B- overview of multiple topics. MSP's publications are 128 advertisement free pages devoted to your favorite team, in this case the Steelers. And the annuals are divided up basically into three sections -- (1) the essentials -- a review of last year, a comprehensive roster analysis, and an early look at the upcoming year's schedule of opponents...(2) feature articles on players/coaches/trends relating to the year before or the year that lies ahead...(3) a history section that highlights noteworthy stories from yesteryear.
And just like here, it's not just a one-man show. As the editor of the publication, I'm given a pool of money to dole out to fans, seasoned journalists, and history buffs to write contributing articles. To get a better sense of how I've approached putting together a diverse and rich read for fans the past two years, you can check out the table of contents from both the 2010 and the 2009 editions.
The specifics of this year's contents are still a work in progress, but despite the ongoing labor impasse in the NFL, we're back at it again this year. After having a few of my fundamental concerns addressed, I've been busy laying the foundation for much of the 2011 edition's editorial content.
A quick overview of what's in store and some of the contributors involved besides yours truly.
- We haven't heard much from maryrose aka Tim Gleason, the author of From Black To Gold: The Pittsburgh Steelers. Gleason most likely will be sharing his much anticipated thoughts on the lockout. Like everything he writes, it will undoubtedly leave us nodding our heads in agreement wondering why the relevant parties in the NFL weren't so reasonable and level-headed.
Dale Lolley, veteran beat reporter with a solid side-project blog, and recent Twitter convert will be writing for the second year in a row. Stoked about that, and even more so about what he agreed to write about -- defensive line coach John Mitchell. It will be a highlight, for sure.
- Sticking with the big name Pittsburgh media personalities. I'm thrilled that Craig Wolfey will likely be a contributor provided I don't screw anything up in our initial communications. I was thrilled to hear from his agent that he was all ears in terms of writing something for this year's edition. Very excited about working with him.
- His real name may not resonate with you, but you know him from around here. And believe me, the man's name rings out in all sorts of circles in Pittsburgh and our nation's capital, Washington D.C.. He's Mike Silverstein, better known to us 'round these parts as Homer J. Mr. Silverstein has hit two grand slams with both his '09 and '10 offerings -- his personal story about the Immaculate Reception -- an incredible piece that touched on Silverstein's early years hustling for opportunities in the PGH media landscape, his relationship with Franco Harris throughout that monumental season, and his encounter with The Chief moments after the most legendary catch in NFL history took place. Read it if you haven't. I didn't think he could possibly ever match that one, but he arguably did this last year with his tribute to the late Myron Cope. I'll likely be making available the Cope article to you all sometime this summer.
- There's a very unique history piece brewing as well about...well, I'd be a fool to mention the name behind the story because you likely would head off to wikipedia or Google to learn more, and part of the allure of the read would be lost this coming summer.
- I'm also ecstatic about luring back Freddy Nager, which some of you may know as TURFGeek here on BTSC. He's almost always going to be the smartest guy in the room, but for a Harvard grad and USC MBA, he sure as hell ain't stuffy or full of himself. We'll see what he has in store for us this year. His 2009 article -- Now That's Steelers Football -- A Marketing Professor's Guide to How A Small Market Team Created A Nation' -- is a must read, and it definitely sheds light on why Nager has found success in the advertising world, as a marketing/business/media professor at UCLA, and as the founder of his own full service agency Atomic Tango.
- You know I'd lean on my longtime supporters -- Ivan (RickVa) Cole, Andrew (5020) Friedman, Neal Coolong, and Larry (WolfpackSteelersFan) Acker. And she may be a more recent mainstay, but you didn't think I'd publish this year's edition without inviting Mrs. Rollett? Of course you didn't. I'll refrain from sharing too much, and to be honestly, there's s some big editorial decisions still to be made in a few instances. But I can say with confidence that there will cumulatively be a nice blend of 'past and 'present' narratives, as well as some mix of quantitative analysis and qualitative story-telling. If I'm missing a stats piece, don't be surprised to see resident stats guru John Stephens make an appearance. All a work in progress.
- Finally, I'm pleased to bring aboard JJ Cooper and Adam Gretz from Steelers Lounge and Pete Wilmoth of SB Nation Pittsburgh.
- And the process is not over. Hopefully there will be good news about how things are shaping up in a few month's time!
Before I sign off, I want to share a few thoughts that maybe even clears up a question or two you might have had about me. These projects -- from BTSC to the MSP annual -- they're just a part of what i occupy my time with. I was asked just yesterday in fact if this was my job. Nope. Just one of many part-time gigs that I juggle.
Obviously operations have become substantially more formalized around here since 2006, and yes, all those Prilosec Polls and Comcast posts help incentivize me with increasingly solid financial compensation. But I do other things for SB Nation to help pay the bills that divert attention away from my baby here at BSC. And just as importantly, if not more so, I am busier than ever pursuing new passions here in Seattle. I'd love to share what those are some time, but I'll refrain from now.And by all means, if you're interested in hearing off site, you now where to find me.
I mention all that just to remind you that I'm a fan like you -- a working dude who has to find solid paying work to pay the bills. while finding time to devote love and attention to a significant other and squeezing in fun. I don't need a pat on the back. I'm a lucku ass son of a gun. Not many fools get paid even a dollar to write about and stimulate conversations about the Steelers. And that's just a tiny example of how I'm way more blessed than I deserve to be.
Still, just wanted to throw that out there for those of you who weren't quite clear about who I am or what I do. No gold stars for me, seriously. I just want you all to know that I have stuck with this because of the people, not because I'm so rabidly obsessed with football I can't fathom doing anything else. And I take pride in doing this stuff seriously, but there have been and always will be slip ups as I just do my best to do a professional job with what's really just a hobby.
Again, I can't thank y'all enough for your support of not just me, but each other, the site, and what we all enjoy from it as a diversion from 'real' life and our love of the six-time champion Steelers.
Enjoy your weekends suckas.