We can all, from time to time, get carried away with our own homer-ism. We see the world through black and gold color colored glasses. Every call that doesn’t go our way, we conclude, must come from a conspiracy. Roger Goodell hates us and wants to see us lose. I try to stand above all this, priding myself on being even-keeled. Even last year, once I understood the language as it was written, I conceded that while the rule was dumb, according to the rule ‘the Outlaw’ Jesse James did not catch that ball.
That said, if we can admit our own biases we have more ground from which to call out others on their biases. Consider Canton. There is, at one and the same time, no reason, and one reason that neither LC Greenwood nor Donnie Shell are in the Hall of Fame. There is no reason because they both played at an all-pro level for most of their careers. Measured by performance, they should have busts. But there is this reason — there are “too many” Steelers, and especially Steelers from the 70’s, in the Hall of Fame already. There are, at this point, and for at least that time frame, two different standards: one for the Steelers and a lower one for the rest of the NFL.
That, however, is not the only place we find a definite anti-Steeler bias. Consider the Pro Bowl. Now I likely won’t watch it. I certainly hope there won’t be any Steelers playing in it, but will instead be busy preparing for the Super Bowl. The issue for me isn’t the game, but the honor. And JuJu Smith-Schuster has earned the honor. The reason he was not already named to the Pro Bowl is the same reason Greenwood and Shell have not been enshrined in Canton. Too many Steelers.
Yes, it’s true the Chargers have 7 players named, compared to our 6. But the point remains. We have only one player named on the defensive side of the ball. That too is a travesty against the best Watt in football, as well as week 15’s AFC defensive player of the week, Smilin’ Joe Haden. But if JuJu had been named, we would have had six of our own guys on one side of the ball. Can you imagine a Pro Bowl where the center, one guard, one tackle, two wideouts and the tailback are all from the same team? If tragedy should befall and we get eliminated from or in the playoffs, chances are Ben will be there as well. So Juju gets left out.
But probably not. I believe, like Ben Roethlisberger, he will either be there, or be somewhere better. I don’t know if the official stats note the distinction between being chosen before the Super Bowl opponents are determined and being chosen after everyone who can’t or won’t play is eliminated. Either way though, he deserves the honor. He’s earned it. That he plays for the greatest team ever should not cause him to miss out. Let’s make sure he knows that we know he’s a Pro Bowl player not just to us, but to everyone in the know.