I was doing hill sprints on Saturday (hill sprints are a great exercise that can burn fat...provided you eat right) when it suddenly occurred to me that it was former Steelers’ center Maurkice Pouncey’s birthday.
It is probably a little unsettling to anyone reading this that I would know such a thing. I mean, when you remember the birthday of your mom, your girlfriend or a child, that’s endearing and meaningful. But when you just happen to remember the special day of a football player who doesn’t know you’re alive (unless, of course, he’s reading this article, and if you are, Maurkice, I love you, man! Hey, PFF, y’all suck! — Ramon Foster), well, that’s just next-level living in your mom’s basement kind of stuff.
That might be true about the living-in-mom’s-basement vibe I’m giving off, but you can’t help whose birthday you happen to remember, right? Anyway, after I got home from sprinting, I decided to Google Pouncey’s birthday just to confirm. Sure enough, it was the 32nd special day of the recently-retired and highly-decorated Steelers center.
After Googling that, I researched the Steelers’ news of the day, courtesy of Behind the Steel Curtain, of course. That’s when I learned that the team finished its padless practice session without any healthy centers. Kendrick Green, the rookie third-round pick from Illinois, was excused from the day’s activities due to personal reasons, while both B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer left with what was described by head coach Mike Tomlin as minor injuries.
What an unintentionally fitting tribute to Pouncey on his birthday and kind of eerie when you really think about it. It was sort of a reminder of how precarious the center position may be until proven otherwise.
Who will man the position, now that the nine-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro has decided to get on with his life’s work after 11 seasons? It’s assumed that Green will take up the mantle and carry on the team’s very rich tradition at center, but one never quite knows how these things will pan out.
I think what happened on Saturday should be a reminder that a certain segment of the football population—let’s call them fans and media members—either took Pouncey for granted or didn’t appreciate just how talented he really was as he held down one of the most vital positions along the offensive line (I believe Pro Football Focus has gone on record as saying July 24 is a very overrated birthday).
Pouncey wasn’t the perfect center, but he was really, really good, and he might actually get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. To paraphrase my mom when I complain about work (or BTSC editors), you should kiss the ground Pouncey walks on!
Happy belated birthday to Maurkice Pouncey! Replacing you at center will be harder than many people think.