In case you haven’t noticed, the Steelers aren’t receiving a whole lot of love from the national pundits this offseason.
That’s right, not many are predicting Pittsburgh will be much more than mediocre in 2019, with the average win-total sitting at around 9.5 or so.
As for those national pundits, it seems they never let an opportunity pass by without reminding the public just how bad the Steelers possibly could be this season.
Former Steelers corner Brandon Boykin was the latest to sit in front of a camera and let the audience know why he thought Pittsburgh could really, really suck next year. One reason he listed while appearing on the NFL Network (and I can’t believe I never thought of this during my many weeks co-hosting The Steelers Hangover with Bryan Anthony Davis this offseason— but then again, I’m not a former player, so what do I know?) was that Pittsburgh’s offense could really feel the loss of receiver Antonio Brown.
Boykin also said the Steelers could be in trouble in 2019 if Ben Roethlisberger goes down and one of the backups has to play. (In other news, did you know if you broke both of your hands, you’d be in deep trouble if you tried to drive your car with your feet?)
In fairness to Boykin, he’s just like so many others out there, a person who is simply going out of his way to look for reasons why the Steelers will soon fall on hard times.
It’s fashionable to want to see the Steelers fail these days, just like it’s fashionable to want to see the Cleveland Browns succeed.
It’s the world we live in. People love the underdog, and they hate the king.
Let’s face it, in a national sense, the Steelers are the Yankees. They are Notre Dame. They are the Lakers. They are (and I realize this will hurt a lot) the Cowboys.
You might ask, “Well, don’t all of those teams you’ve mentioned get a lot of love nationally?” Of course they do. The Steelers also generally receive a lot of national love. We’re just too busy noticing the hate—especially this year since, to reiterate, it’s really in-style.
In fact, it used to be fashionable to predict that Pittsburgh would win the Super Bowl just about every offseason (how many times in recent years did the great writer, Peter King go out of his way to predict such things)? We may not remember all of the King’s past love now that he’s predicting the Steelers will be fairly mediocre in 2019.
Back to the Yankees, Cowboys, etc. When you’re a team with a championship tradition, people just want to see you fail more. This is especially the case when you haven’t won in a very long time—something that is the reality for all of those aforementioned teams who continue to generate ratings and have, well, annoying fan bases (at least that’s the perception) who travel everywhere to see them.
The Patriots, your reigning Super Bowl champions, will soon experience this. Oh, sure, they have plenty of hate now (“I Cheer For the Steelers And Any Team Playing the Patriots,” reads the t-shirt you bought down at the Strip District), but they’re currently too darn successful to care about such things. And they certainly aren’t all that worried about any hate they may receive from the national pundits.
But there will come a day when New England is just another team with a championship tradition that hasn’t actually won in a while. The quarterback will be gone. The coach will be retired. The fans will go from cocky and arrogant to just plain annoying: “Why are there so many of them in this section? Don’t they know their team hasn’t won in years?”
The Steelers are that team right now. Maybe that will change if they win a seventh title this season, but if they don’t, you can expect more of the same hate and piling on in the 2020 offseason.
The Pittsburgh Steelers may be a giant, but they’re not one that people are afraid of right now. And that’s why it’s much easier to attack them from all sides.