With a new Steeler season a few days away, my head is swirling with thoughts more random than a swinger's contact list. There are so many things I'm thinking leading up to the 2016 campaign that I'm busting, (Jerry, I'm busting!) to share them with you. Since you had the good sense to click on this, you get experience what I'm sensing. Welcome to my random thoughts.
- Opening week of the NFL season is like Christmas week for me. I build my anticipation up all week to a frenzy hoping to unwrap an XBox and avoid the disappointment of a pair of white socks and a fruitcake.
- The Steelers are opening on Monday Night Football for the fifth time in history. The team is 3-1 in MNF openers. Fans would love to wash the dirty chowder taste from their mouths from the last time, when they lost to New England 30-14 in 2002.
- The Redskins are planning on passing out burgundy towels to try and counteract the abundance of Terrible Towels that will invade their home field on Monday. Pathetic. I've seen it done before in San Diego. It never works. It only makes the Steeler fans twirl their 'Myron Originals" with increased vigor. Here's the difference, Steelers fans have purchased their towels multiple times and don't have to be bribed to wave them. It's the equivalent of begging for sex. It's undignified, but I guess it's necessary sometimes. So, I've heard.
- The opener on MNF will feel like a home game for Pittsburgh. The last trip to FedEx Field on the eve of the 2008 Presedential Election saw over 40% Steeler butts in Redskin seats. That kind of presence demoralizes the home team, their fans and media. It's kind of like coming home and finding a strange man in your kitchen and instead of beating the living daylights out of him, you sit idly by and are forced to share your seat at the table, your Hot Pockets and your wife with him. That does not happen at Heinz Field, but it will happen in our nation's capital. Occupy DC 2016.
- The newly-acquired Zack Mettenberger will start the season as the No. 3 quarterback in Pittsburgh behind Landry Jones. It's not what everybody wants, but he legitimately has to wrestle the spot from the incumbent. It can't just be handed to him. The real hope is that the Steelers never find out who the better backup is. You really want to keep both of these guys in the metaphorical "original box" with no need to take them out of their packaging, just like we all wish we could go back in time and do with our original Han Solo action figure, Furby and Tickle Me Elmo. Remember, they lose value as soon as you take them out of the box. I liken Ben Roethlisberger to Woody in "Toy Story", here's hoping his stitching stays in tact and we get to play with him exclusively for 19-20 games.
- Justin Gilbert's story could end up being a classic rags-to-riches tale like Punky Brewster or Annie. (Quite possibly the original "Dirty Red"). Like our favorite ginger, the Oklahoma State Cowboy was raised in football in a terrible, collegiate environment and now he has escaped Cleveland, where it was a hard-knock life indeed. However, I can't picture Gilbert, Mike Tomlin and Dan Rooney hoofing it to and singing "I Don't Need Anything But You". But Leapin’ Lizards!, it would be a showstopper.
- Pittsburgh native Wentworth Miller has directed a movie that is arriving in theaters soon called "Disappointment Room". Didn't they already make a movie about the Cleveland Browns war-room called "Draft Day"? Miller's most famous work could also be used to describe leaving the Browns..."Prison Break". Here's hoping that Justin Gilbert has as much success in that same role that Miller is reprising.
- Sammie Coates is listed as the starting kick returner in Pittsburgh. But Gilbert could possibly seize that role. Gilbert's average kick-return was 28.3 yards last season, markedly better than Markus Wheaton's 2014 average (24.0) and Dri Archer's 25.3 last year.
- 143 is the number to beat for Antonio Brown. While seven is the ultimate, numerical goal, I think AB becomes A1 when it comes to becoming the single-season reception champion. He would need to average nine catches a game to break that record held by Marvin Harrison. I just hope that he achieves both just to see what kind of presents he buys himself. I expect him to show up some week on the Northside channeling Kramer and Frenchy Fuqua by sporting Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or something even more flashy.
- David DeCastro needs to be presented a deal and to sign on the dotted line by 7:09 PM on Monday.
- DeAngelo Williams belongs in the conversation of best free agent acquisitions (this does not include undrafted free agents like James Harrison etc) in team history during the modern free agent era (1993-Present). If there was a Mount Rushmore for this category, I would say it would be Kevin Greene, James Farrior, Ryan Clark and Williams. Although it would be the first Mount Rushmore with the style of D-Will. I don't think we will ever see the image of George Washington sporting pink dreads carved into a South Dakota mountain.
- Anthony Chickillo reminds me of another Steeler linebacker who donned the No. 56 nearly 20 years ago, Mike Vrabel. Here's hoping the college defensive lineman and special-teams standout sticks around the Steel City longer than three years.
- I wish Bud Dupree a speedy recovery, but Arthur Moats is ready for his close-up. The loss of Alvin Bud puts in perspective the depth the Steelers have at linebacker, from James Harrison to A.J. Fort and all points in between.
- Wouldn't a good slogan for the backup linebackers be "You can't go to war without a Fort and Moats"? I know, I know. A little weak. If you don't like it, top it.
- The Union of Devin Hester and the Baltimore Birdies has me nervous. He's the kind of return man that gives the Steelers fits. I don't know if Mike Tomlin could even slow him down. I know he's long-in-the-tooth and this isn't 2006, but he's still faster than most humans. He's faster than me and I've been known to run a 4.28-40 when they put more food on the buffet at the local Sizzler.
- Javon Hargrave is an extra Taco Tuesday a week on Thursday kind of special. The Steelers rarely have a rookie start in an opener. This guy has K.I.T.T. (Knight Rider) speed and the body of the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle from ‘‘Stripes’’, the 1981 Bill Murray classic. I don't care if he played at South Carolina State or Bayside High with Zack Morris and A.C. Slater, this guy is a stud.
- I wonder what Lethon Flowers is doing these days.
Until next week,
Despite Shareef emphatically not liking it and even further thinking it's not kosher...Rock the Casbah.