Growing up I used to love the TV series Lassie. It was about a beautiful collie dog that lived on a farm and belonged to a little boy named Timmy. Each week they would experience another adventure and there would be another happy ending. I wanted Lassie to be my dog, she was so smart and brave. Truthfully, she had to be, because little Timmy repeatedly proved he was an idiot. Each episode a random adult had a conversation with Lassie concerning the whereabouts of little Timmy. They would sound something like this:
“What’s wrong, girl? Did little Timmy fall down into a well again? Or maybe it is that old abandon mine shaft this time? Did he wander into the forest and get lost again? Please Lassie, take us to him.”
And she always did. Because that is what heroes do. They find that which was lost and bring it home. They save the day.
The Pittsburgh Steelers sure could use a Lassie right now. Maybe she could help them find Stephon Tuitt and help turn his season around.
Stephon Tuitt is a large individual. He sucks at playing hide and seek. He hides in plain sight. I am positive I have spotted him on multiple occasions this season, or at least there is some very large man wearing a 91 Steelers jersey with the name Tuitt on the back trotting out on the field on game days. Problem is, once the game starts, that player disappears.
I saw a chart prior to Pittsburgh’s Week 6 game vs. the Bengals that stated the Steelers were leading the league in sacks again this season and it gave a breakdown of which players had sacks and how many each one had. I was shocked to see one glaring omission. Stephon Tuitt’s name was no where to be found on that list. That couldn’t be right, could it? We are five games into the season for crying out loud, and he has a total of zero sacks! That means that you and I have the same number of sacks as Tuitt. All of Steelers Nation to be factual. Please let me explain where I am going with that statement.
Recently after a tough loss, Tuitt decided it was a good idea to call out Steelers Nation for being overly critical of the team and implied some fans were not being supportive enough. He stated how if we are a Nation, then we are a family, and we are all in this together. All the way in, no matter if times were good or bad, for better or worse, if you will. I could see where he was coming from with a small portion of the fan base, and thought his statement had some validity.
However, if you are going to call out the fans and assess blame to the collective group, saying we all need to improve to turn this season around, then your own fickle finger of fate should be pointed right back at you too. Tuitt should have tried to lead by example from that point forward. He should be playing like a man possessed, a caged animal if you will.
I am not referring to sacks at the moment, because that aspect of the game is often out of one’s control. Many sacks are the direct result of another individual’s outstanding effort, and you may get the sack by being in the right place at the right time. Some sacks are a coverage sack, or was facilitated by creative defensive design.
I am referring to his ‘want to’, his overall desire to be great. The ability to make his presence known on the field. I don’t know about you, but I just ain’t seeing it. Tuitt is simply too talented to be invisible during the game. I fear maybe he just doesn’t want it bad enough. Heyward displays leadership, on and off the field. Watt has a non-stop motor and a desire to be great that is evident in his game. Shoot, even Bud Dupree can be seen running all over the field each game. He may not have a clue what he is doing, but at least he looks like he is trying.
I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. I did long before Stephon Tuitt joined the team, and I will long after he has gone. The majority of us will. Unlike Mr. Tuitt, we are not being paid millions of dollars for our loyalty or for our efforts. We support the Steelers because it is in our blood, a part of our very being, a bond formed through memories of smiles and tears with family and friends over the years.
I am hoping for Stephon Tuitt to find his way. We need him to be present and accounted for. We need him to perform with a fraction of the passion many of us feels for our team. If he can just do that, I am sure we will notice him. He would no longer be invisible.
After the Steelers’ exciting, come from behind road victory against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tuitt finally started to show signs of life. Through the first three quarters of the game, his performance was rather mundane. Then early in the fourth quarter Stephon Tuitt managed to bring down Andy Dalton for a sack. I was so shocked and excited I jumped to my feet and hollered, “There has been a Stephon Tuitt sighting!” My wife seemed to find my rather loud proclamation very humorous as she often does. I wondered aloud if that sack made this article irrelevant, and then reminiscing about my reaction allowed me to answer my own question.
If Tuitt had been performing this season at a level his talent and salary would suggest, then I wouldn’t have written the article in the first place. Nor would I have been both excited and shocked to witness him make an actual impact play in the game.
Too be fair, I did notice Tuitt maintaining his assignments throughout the game, and collapsing the pocket on a few occasions. He displayed a seemingly improved effort, and he did finally notch that elusive first sack of the season. But is that enough to silence the critics of a high priced player with enormous physical talents? Especially one who attempted to deflect personal responsibility by calling out the fan base of his own team.
I don’t think it will, nor do I think it should. He undoubtedly has so much more to give.