Fantasy football killed the game we got to play. The amount of generated by fantasy is too good for league to ignore! It has changed the players too! They use it as a measuring stick.— Brett Keisel (@bkeisel99) October 1, 2018
Grateful I got to play when the game still cared about Defense. It’s becoming obsolete. pic.twitter.com/eZA0umG5GC
Former Steelers’ defensive end Brett Keisel knows a little something about playing defense in the NFL. That’s why his recent Tweet can hardly be taken lightly. Although Keisel blames the demise of stout defense on the rise of Fantasy Football and all the money associated with it, that’s certainly not the only factor explaining why NFL defenses these days are hardly what they used to be.
Keisel’s remarks — along with a dynamite photo that personifies the grit of what once was an intimidating Steelers’ defense — touch on a particularly raw nerve for Steelers Nation. During the past few years, we’ve watched as the Black-and-gold defense has sunk ever-further into mediocrity — to the point where nowadays the unit has practically become the laughingstock of the league. Defensive players who can no longer tackle, along with rule changes that make conventional tackling increasingly challenging, lend credence to Keisel’s charge that hard-nosed defense — the way fans expect it to be — is becoming obsolete. For lifelong devotees of the storied Steel Curtain defense, this kinder/gentler version is particularly hard to swallow.
So take another long look at that photo of Keisel and his former defensive teammates, anchored by Big Snack — the ultimate monster of the middle. When you consider the overall talent and cohesion of that defense, it’s painfully obvious how far this once-mighty unit has fallen.
But perhaps Keisel’s comments are the slap in the face (or the cold shower) that the Steelers and their global nation truly need right now. While Keisel seems to believe the good old days of stout NFL defenses may be gone forever, his remarks might also aim to provide some much-needed inspiration for a unit which arguably has reached the lowest ebb in team history. More than any other factor, a back-to-basics approach to recruiting defensive players appears to be strongly indicated moving forward. As important as sheer athleticism might be, it’s more important to draft rock-solid football players. Unfortunately, this defense largely lacks the kind of impact players represented by the names Hampton, Smith, Keisel, Harrison, Clark, Farrior, Polamalu and Timmons.
Brett’s message is something the Steelers and their fans definitely need to hear as the team approaches what looks like a crossroads in their season. With Halloween just around the corner, it’s certainly legitimate to question whether the weekly chocolate bar being handed out to Pittsburgh’s ravenous fan base during the season might be getting progressively smaller and less appealing. Certainly, that’s been the case in both of the Steelers’ disappointing losses before their home crowd at Heinz Field in recent weeks.
Not that you need any further encouragement at this stage but, in the wake of Keisel’s comments, there’s probably no better time for the BTSC community to chime in with comments of your own regarding not only Keisel’s then-versus-now comparison, but also the larger topic of how the Pittsburgh Steelers might set about mending the “fence” in “defense” and hopefully recapturing some of their glories of yesteryear.