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BTSC Steelers Six Pack Edition: Read at Your Own Risk Edition

The title of this six pack will make sense when you get to the sixth and final part of the post. It's been awhile since I've made time to do some of my patented rambling. Obviously been lots to talk about this past week, and I've been MIA. I look forward to very soon having time to continue on some of the thoughts and conversation starters I (probably confusingly) presented below, but good to get some of it out there.

Basically though, I feel Harrison's plight but really want to see him and other players go about self-organizing in the name of change much more creatively in the future. It's not something that we'll see happen tomorrow, or next week, month, or even year most likely. But given how taken players seem to be with social media these days, and given what we saw during the lockout with players conducting self-organized workouts, I know they have it in them to collaborate and find a way to make it even more crystal clear that without their extraordinary talents as a group, there will be no bickering over billions of dollars... because there won't be billions of entertainment dollars at stake.  - Michael B. -


IX - According to all sorts of ESPN's sources, significant progress was made Thursday night in the CBA negotiations. Apparently terms for a rookie wage scale have been agreed to, and a salary cap of $120 million is reportedly what might be in play in 2011. An interesting note about that figure of $120 million:

Because a 2011 salary cap of $120 million could cause problems for teams such as Dallas, Pittsburgh and others that currently spend more than that, one of the provisions being discussed is a one-player cap exemption for each team, according to a source. That exemption would be a $3 million credit in 2011 that would count against benefits paid out, a source said. That exemption, which could drop to $1.5 million next year, could save the jobs of players.

There's a boatload to work through in that article, but that's a wonderful thing. Even if the new CBA looks different than what's mentioned in that article, the fact that specific figures and clauses are being thrown out there only means we're inching closer and closer. If I wasn't so preoccupied trying to get this preseason publication off to press in the next few days I'd comment on it more thoroughly. But hopefully I'll be done in time to delve into the particulars of a new deal after it's (hopefully) announced and executed next week.

There's more...

X - Lawrence Timmons has nothing but nice things to say about James Harrison. In fact, he credits Harrison as the player who really helped him learn how to train and prepare himself physically and mentally after his somewhat disappointing rookie season. (Transcription)

XIII - Pete Wilmoth of SB Nation Pittsburgh makes the case for Jared Snelling as a free agent option that the Steelers would be wise to pursue once the lockout is lifted. Hey, datruth4life had the same idea to target Snelling in a late-June comment thread, so maybe both are on to something.

XIV - Please, please, please don't pay attention to bogus articles like this one that says 'the Rooneys need to take back their team'. There's some plenty valid points in there, but there's nothing there. Zero big-picture thinking or understanding of the real dynamics in play with the lockout, the type of leadership Roger Goodell has displayed since being named commissioner, nada. Luckily, Len Pasquerelli, a true veteran football guy, has written this awesome take on the situation for Steel City Insider ($). If you're not a subscriber to SCI, this is probably a good a month as any to pony up and pay for the next month, with training camp and a frenzied free agency coming up at some point in the next 30 days. 

(Please don't copy and paste the article in comments section, as SCI's editor Jim Wexell has always been cool to me and friendly to us here at BTSC)

XL - Again, unfortunate to have been to preoccupied to have shared this at the time, but I transcribed an interview with Ryan Clark from earlier in the week (prior to James Harrison's comments being published Wednesday morning). Clark's interview wasn't too noteworthy until he subtly took a huge jab at the Baltimore Ravens. The choice quote:

You can say it’s a rivalry if you like, but I really truly feel that for a game to be a rivalry, it doesn’t have to just be physical. I think for something to be a rivalry, both teams have to win equally. I think just the hate between the fans doesn’t make a situation a rivalry. I think in college it does, but in the league teams have to win equally, and that really hasn’t been the case in our situation.

Love it. Clark, of course, is wrong when he says that it's not a great rivalry. It is, but that's partly a product of them playing at least twice a year. He has a point though when he says that the 'rivalry' has been awfully lop-sided to be talked up quite like it is.

Derrick Mason, a veteran I respect and enjoy listening to when he has an opinion, didn't take the bait though in his response to Clark.

XLIII - Hehe, this is a job well done by Chris Chase taking Drew Rosenhaus to town for all the hypocricy and fallacious arguments he spewed on WQAM in Miami on Thursday while talking about James Harrison and his comments. I do agree with Rosenhaus on one thing though -- Harrison probably should be suspended for his actions. No, not for his comments about his teammates. Obviously that didn't break any league or team rules. I don't even think he merits a punishment for his comment about Goodell and what kind of bind he'd find himself in if the only thing standing between him not burning to a crisp was James Harrison's inclination to urinate.

I do however think you've got to pay the price for calling the commissioner of the league a faggot. Harrison knows it. He admits he was out of line and is prepared to pay the price. I won't go there, but there's definitely arguments to be made that using a derogatory term like that towards the comish is far from suspension worthy. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if only fines were issued to Harrison and DeSean Jackson, who did the same thing last week, only not directed towards the commissioner.

The bigger point to me though is not having the rank and file undermining the league's leadership like that. Before you go screaming, ''What leadership!?! F Goodell!'. That's not the point. The point is there's got to be better, more piercing and effective ways to let it be known as players that you're fed up with the leadership you're supposed to dutifuly respect and defer to. Not when you're already asked to toe the company line 24/7 and adhere to the NFL's uber-corporate and highly-regulated set of rules whatever your thoughts on the commissioner may be.

It's obvious players despite Goodell and think he's the wrong man for the job. I'm not a player, so I can't say I agree or disagree from their perspective. I do know for a fact that he's a decent man that has an enormous amount of personal traits that we'd all love to have in ourselves. But I think his core character has definitely gotten overshadowed by the financial pressure of his job. This isn't unlike what happens to politicians who forget their values at first sight of power and money, but the difference here thankfully is that the stakes are enormously low here compared to politics. This is a game. It's entertainment. The landscape has always been dynamic, and it's not impossible to enact real change and quickly.

I just don't want to see players like Harrison -- and from the sound of it others harboring similar thoughts -- waste their time and be misunderstood by a sensationalistic media because they couldn't get their act together and find a way to get rid of the problem and find a more tolerable solution.

Don't hold me to these off-the-cuff ideas, but I don't know, how about stage some sort of thoughtful demonstration against the commissioner as a players union during a meaningless preeason game? Like, say, walk off the field and circle the stadium to acknowledge fans in a loud, collective chant? 

Or instead of sharing your frustrations with a magazine that's desperate to turn a profit, or individually tweeting emotions and opinions that are destined to be dismissed as nothing worth taking seriously because of the nature of the medium, why not set up a website that players league-wide intelligently spell out why they feel the game is being taken in the wrong direction in certain respects? If it'd be easier to do 60 second video logs rather than writing, do that, just keep the tone civil, continue proving to arrogant owners that you're not the dumb, rash jocks you were less than a generation ago, and most importantly, build strength in numbers.

Whatever it is, make fans, the media and league executives pay attention because your efforts are so persistent, well-reasoned, and organized. If the cause is ousting Goodell or if it's making sure there's no 18-game schedule, be more creative than simply talking dollars and letting your anonymous lawyers do all the dirty  work for you away from the public eye. Pull on the emotional strings of the loyal, vocal followers at your beckon call. Trust in yourself to find creative solutions outside the courtroom. There's always the formal institutions and traditional bargaining table to fall back on. You're an irreplaceable ingredient. There are, believe it or not, other multimillionaires out there who know how to more effectively run a business in a non-hierarchical, innovative way. I guarantee that y'all can bring about the change you want to see and get your point across without resorting to name calling.