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Should the Steelers go ‘All In’ for 2019? A Lesson from the Tortoise and the Hare

Fans might be tempted to go ‘All In’ for the 2019 season, but that might not be the smartest decision for the long haul.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

If you are a yinzer, and not merely a Steeler fan, you well know which professional franchise holds the record for most consecutive losing seasons. That would be the Pittsburgh Pirates. You will remember as well Crazy Bob Nutting’s Annual Fire Sale, where the prices on expensive stars were INSANE! If you’re with me so far you’ll also remember that before that streak ended, before the chant Johnnnny!!! Cuetttto!!! echoed down the Mon valley, Crazy Bob actually went shopping at the trade deadline. And every year since then the Pirates have been at least competitive enough that it remained, until the deadline, an open question whether we’d be buying or selling.

There are always teams out there that are willing to mortgage their futures for that one shot at a title. See the Vikings landing Herschel Walker, or the Saints getting Ricky Williams. Even with Ben’s retirement approaching, I’m grateful the Steelers’ front office doesn’t work that way. The urgency that is Ben Roethlisberger’s biological clock is a great motivator to drive the team to excel now, to focus, to fend off potential distractions. But it should not motivate them to trade five bad years down the line to get one good year now.

I understand the other side of the equation. There are teams, players and coaches out there that seem to ever be the bridesmaid, and never the bride. I’m looking at you Philip Rivers, and you Kansas City Chiefs and you Marty Schottenheimer. It’s maddening to always be a few bricks shy of a load. That, however, has never been our experience. The Steelers have been rarely bad and often very good. For the Steelers missing the playoffs is a dumpster fire season. Yes, we’ve lost too many AFC Championship games. Yes, we’ve missed playing in them too often as well. And yes, New England has the same number of Lombardis we have. But we still have never, in my lifetime, gone into a season grateful because we, like Cleveland this year, “have a chance to make some noise.” My goal is not to enjoy a great year but to spend all my life enjoying a great franchise.

Which means tweaks are in order. Learning from our mistakes is in order. Upgrades here and there are in order. Tossing a bad apple or two is in order. Upsetting the apple cart, however, is not a good plan. Let’s not spend our draft capital like Congress opening other people’s money. Let’s not cram tons of dead money into next decade’s backpack.

Flashy, furry, speedy hares may have all the sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit, but steady, stable turtles triumph in the long haul. Slow and steady wins the race.