“Tony, do you think (insert a question about the Steelers that can only have a positive or negative answer here)?”
Whatever the positive answer to such a question is, that’s what I normally go with as a writer/podcaster—in the offseason. If it’s a question about Mike Tomlin’s latest in-game challenge during the regular season, the answer will likely be negative. Why? I mean, have you seen that man try and do challenges? He’s been so bad at it during his entire career, they had to go and hire a guy to help him out, some sort of specialist. Evidently, this person was the heir apparent to Keith Butler as the Steelers next defensive coordinator, but then Pittsburgh went ahead and traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and that changed everything.
Anyway, I often get asked why I, as a writer/podcaster, am not more negative about the Steelers in the offseason? OK, I’m never asked specifically about my positive offseason takes, but that seems to be the time of year when I don the “Black and Gold glasses wearing” label the most.
My question is, who wants to be negative about the Steelers in the offseason? It’s the time of year when you get to see the pieces come together to form a puzzle you hope will lead to an exciting regular season.
Sure, maybe you lament how the previous regular season unfolded and climaxed.
And as it pertains to the offseason plan of attack, you might bristle at a free agent move or two—or the lack thereof. Maybe you question the direction the team took in the draft. But once those puzzle pieces start fitting together, you can kind of see what the team was trying to do all along.
Again, I ask, who wants to be a Negative Nancy all offseason? Not to name names, but I remember a couple of people who used to frequent the BTSC community often, and I don’t ever remember them truly being happy. Seriously, they reminded me of the Randy Quaid character from Major League 2 (not to be a Negative Nancy, but in my opinion, that was the weakest installment of the Major League franchise), and you just wanted someone to come along and heckle them until they left—I think that eventually happened, actually.
Honest to goodness, who wants to still be asking the “So you really think Tomlin is the right coach for this team?” question during training camp?
And I’m not just saying this stuff because I’m a writer/podcaster for a Steelers fan site, either. If you’ll notice, even most journalists of the credentialed variety spend the offseason hyping up whatever teams they happen to be covering. Just give them a listen whenever they make their weekly radio/podcast appearances. Unlike actual news, sports are supposed to be fun, and just about everyone who gets into the sports reporting industry does so because they were fans growing up.
Who wants to even think that some football team they’re going to be covering for the next four months is destined for two or three wins? Gee, that sounds like fun—going up to a bunch of malcontents each and every day and asking them what they can do to not suck as much.
How often do you really see outlets or magazines be overly-critical of a team when they’re previewing their upcoming season? Sure, they might offer up some negative opinions, but they almost always find a way to put a little positive spin on things at the end.
When it comes to the regular season, again, that’s a whole different animal. I’ve been called “careless,” “unhealthy” and just plain “mean” for some of the stuff I write about the team during the season. Why? I’m reacting to what I just saw. I’m reacting to yet another horrible challenge by Tomlin or the fact that linebacker Jon Bostic somehow had to cover receiver Keenan Allen (seriously, WTF was that all about)?
Why did Tomlin hold Ben Roethlisberger out for most of the second half in that must-win game against the Raiders two years ago? What is up with Roethlisberger’s interception rate over the past half-decade or so? Why did Randy Fichtner call that play? How about that one? What about that one?
See, I can do that kind of stuff when I want to. I just don’t want to do it in the offseason.
After all, I’d like to think the Steelers can go 19-0 this year.