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Building the trust of Steelers fans in a world full of hot takes

When it’s the hottest of takes that get discussed more than anything else, is it better to be a trusted source of information?

Las Vegas Raiders v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

I love this job.

I can’t believe that I have the opportunity each and every day to discuss, whether spoken or written, the Pittsburgh Steelers. I write words that people read, and I speak words that people listen to. It is crazy to think about, and a complete blessing.

I thought it was best to start off this way when talking about how I personally look at information when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether it be my influence as editor here at BTSC or not, I want to be somebody that when someone asks me a question about the Steelers they trust my opinion enough to consider it.

Unfortunately, it appears that we live in a world that, at this time, it’s those who scream the loudest and make the most noise who are often heard. And sometimes in order to be heard, what needs to be said ends up coming with a lot of shock and sensationalism. Maybe it’s because of my age, but that just isn’t me. If you could listen to me on any of my podcasts, you would know that I have no problem speaking loudly and often, so that is not the issue. But I’m also not looking at stirring the pot and creating headlines just for the sake of doing so.

Honestly, I just want to be somebody you can trust when it comes to talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers.

We live in a world of hot takes. The more controversial the statement, the more it gets passed around. And rather than just make a general statement, it’s so much easier to load it up with ‘absolutes’ in order to make it more buzzworthy. But at what cost?

Personally, I like to call out the sensationalism and ‘hot-takery’ for how it ultimately doesn’t stand up to reality. Bringing facts to a ‘hot take’ argument makes it very easy to come out on the right side of the discussion because so often it is those sensational statements that can’t stand up to scrutiny and a fact-based response.

It’s not that all the ideas behind hot takes are bad. Often they start with a realistic statement that gets morphed to an extreme to where it is then unbelievable. To give an example, this past week I had someone comment on one of my Twitter posts sharing an article from the “Going For Two” series and they said Kendrick Greene was the worst starting offensive lineman in the NFL last season and the Steelers should cut him from the team.

It’s not the statement wasn’t rooted in some sort of truth. Kendrick Greene struggled greatly with consistent play his rookie season, so much so the Steelers identified the position group as an area of need and went out and added to it in free agency. I don’t think many are going to argue with that statement. But why take a regular statement and take it so far to the next level it becomes completely false? Kendrick Green was not the worst starting offensive lineman in the NFL last season. Heck, he wasn’t even the worst starting center in the division (at least according to Pro Football Focus). So why is there a need for over-exaggeration?

Something you may be asking yourself is why I feel the need to bring up this topic at this time. It’s just something that has been in the back of my mind as Jeff Hartman and I will be bringing back the “30 scenarios in 30 days” article series at Behind The Steel Curtain beginning today. Sometimes I struggle with coming up with some of these ideas as I’m not looking to ruffle feathers (despite what you may think when you see my first scenario coming out on Tuesday), but giving an honest opinion of what I believe will happen this season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the last thing I’m going to do is to offer a hot take without any support.

As we work through the series, there’s going to be times where we feel certain players may achieve certain goals during the season. And while it’s nice to offer the prediction of the scenario, the last thing we want to do is to throw out an unrealistic take just for the sensationalism of the topic. It’s one thing to think Najee Harris will rush for 1,400 yards this season, it’s another to make the statement that he will rush for more yards this season than anyone else in NFL history— past, present, or future.

So if you end up indulging in the series by Jeff and I about our various predictions, remember that the goal is for us to give something substantial yet grounded in reality. We are not looking for a ‘hot take’ headline. But we will offer our opinions, both positive and negative, on how things could play out for the Steelers in 2022. If we decided to take the hot take route, we could probably have our articles get a lot more traction for the time being. But instead of that being our goal, we ultimately want our readers to have a place where they can trust what they read when they take the time to look at the site. Hot takes fade away, but being a trusted place for information has staying power.

For me, this all comes down to integrity. I’ve tried very hard to be someone who gives grounded opinions and presents facts as best as I can. I would rather have 10 people coming to me for my opinions because they trust my words than I would to have 1,000 people checking it out just to see what kind of ridiculous, crazy stuff I’ll say next.