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Steelers News: AFC wins Pro Bowl, and good news on JuJu Smith-Schuster’s injury

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Pro Bowl Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at the American Football Conference (AFC) besting the National Football Conference (NFC) in the most meaningless football game every played — the Pro Bowl. However, after JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game with a leg injury, it was good to see the Steelers’ budding superstar reportedly is okay.

Let’s get to the news:

AFC wins Pro Bowl, Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster hurts knee

By: The Associated Press, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pro Bowl long has been considered a laughable representation of the NFL game.

It reached a new level of comedy Sunday as several players swapped positions.

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey caught a touchdown pass in the final minute, capping a dominate performance for the AFC defense in a 26-7 victory over the NFC in steady rain.

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game with a bruised knee, but the injury was not considered serious. However, he was limping on the way to the bus and declined comment. Smith-Schuster had one catch for 16 yards.

Teammate James Conner ran six times for 11 yards. Cameron Heyward had 1.5 sacks and tied for the team high with six tackles.

It was the third consecutive victory for the AFC, all of them at Camping World Stadium.

The last two were played in sloppy weather, with the latest one also coming amid temperatures in the mid-50s. It was far from ideal conditions, raising speculation about the game’s future in Orlando but fairly fitting considering the effort players provided. It was two-hand touch most of the day, with officials blowing plays dead at the slightest hint of contact.

“Who cares, man?” New York Jets safety Jamal Adams said. “At the end of the day, we’re like little kids out there just playing in the mud, playing in the rain.”

Regardless of the elements, the AFC made the plays the NFC didn’t.

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Indianapolis’ Eric Ebron on the opening possession, helping Mahomes earn the offensive MVP. Mahomes pleaded with voters to give it to Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, who caught three passes for 92 yards and ran for a score.

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

John Steigerwald: Chuck Noll the reason Pittsburgh became football town

By: John Steigerwald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh always has been a football town.

How many times have you heard that? It’s probably the consensus among the national media, but it’s only an accepted truth in Western Pennsylvania by people who are not old enough to remember when it clearly wasn’t.

Granted, that group is getting smaller every day, but those of us who were around when Chuck Noll was hired 50 years ago Sunday know his hiring is what eventually would change Pittsburgh into a football town.

On January 27, 1969, Pittsburgh sports fans were excited about the Pirates going to spring training. They also were preparing to say goodbye to Forbes Field because they were going to open the 1970 season at Three Rivers Stadium. (As it turned out, Three Rivers wasn’t ready until June 1970.)

January 1969 was not a good time to be a Pittsburgh sports fan. The Pirates finished 17 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, going 80-82 and taking sixth in the 10-team National League. Roberto Clemente, who had been booed early in the 1968 season, hit .291, the only time he was below .300 in the 1960s. And the Pirates were, by far, the best and most popular team in town.

When Noll showed up for his first day on the job, Pittsburgh was a baseball town, and it wasn’t close. The Steelers were something to do in between Pirates seasons. They were a civic embarrassment and a community joke.

Pitt football was so bad, it made the Steelers look like the Green Bay Packers.

There have been periods of hard times for local sports fans over the last 50 years, but it was never as bad as when Noll showed up.

The Steelers finished 2-11-1 in 1968 and fired Bill Austin, who went 5-8-1 and 4-9-1 in his first two seasons. I was 20 years old. They had managed four winning seasons in my lifetime, three of them since my 10th birthday.

They shared Pitt Stadium with the Panthers.

Are you ready for Pitt’s record the three years before Noll showed up to coach the Steelers?

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Jerome Bettis honored to win Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award in ‘adopted hometown’

By: Nubyjas Wilborn

As it is for many people, the trajectory of Jerome Bettis’ life can be traced through a set of fortuitous phone calls and sound decisions.

Bettis received a phone call on April 20, 1996, that would change everything.

The 5-foot-11, 255-pound running back had just completed a tough season with the Rams. Bettis only had 623 yards on 183 attempts in 1995, which was the Rams’ first in St.Louis after leaving Los Angeles. In his rookie campaign, Bettis rushed for 1,429 yards and followed up with 1,025 in 1994.

Steelers head coach Bill Cowher called Bettis to let him know that he would be coming to Pittsburgh.

“He said something that I’ll never forget,” Bettis told the Post-Gazette. “’If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ He was referring to my rookie year. We played against them they couldn’t stop me. It felt good to know he recognized my talent that way.”

Bettis played the remaining 10 seasons of his career with Steelers and ran for 10,571 of his 13,662 career yards wearing the black and gold.

“It’s an amazing organization. You don’t realize it until you get inside the culture. At first, you think it’s like any other team. But once you’re in, you see it’s different,” Bettis said. “It starts from your teammates to the coaches, to the administration and all the way up to the owner. Everybody in the building was on the same page. We were able to talk to the owner on a first-name basis. I appreciated that coming from a close family. It was an amazing opportunity to play for what I feel is the best organization in football.”

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)