Late last December, as I watched the Steelers mail it in in a 36-10 drubbing at the hands of the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, I finally decided that I had seen enough of this football team.
I was going to be open and honest about how difficult it was to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers all throughout the 2021 campaign—really, how hard they had been to watch since 2019—and put my thoughts in an article for all to consume.
The “Always Gloom and Doomers,” the folks who were saying the team sucked even during the 13-3 campaign of 2017, would surely appreciate my work, especially considering Pittsburgh’s offense had been barely functional since Halloween of 2020—or three years after fans wanted Todd Haley, and his 25.4 points per game attack, fired.
Yes, much like Jerry Maguire and his mission statement/memo, I was getting super emotional as I finished off an article titled, “The Steelers aren’t even worth watching anymore.”
“Nothing left to do but sit back and watch the kudos start rolling in,” I thought the second my article went live.
Not so fast.
I was lambasted. I was called a bad fan, an embarrassment. I was harassed and emailed. I even had a falling out with Plip Pipper, the man I always consulted with when it came to all things salary cap-related.
Shortly after the Steelers' 2021 campaign ended with a surprising entry into the NFL postseason, followed by a not-so-surprising second drubbing at the hands of the Chiefs, I was asked to appear on BTSC’s What Yinz Talkin’ Bout Podcast, hosted by Kyle Chrise and Greg Benevent, where I would be given the “Worst Steelers Take of 2021" Award for my aforementioned article about how god-awful the Steelers were to watch last year.
I was proud of the award. I was thrilled to be interviewed by Kyle and joked with him a bit—he’s a funny comedian—but I didn’t back away from my belief that the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers were simply unwatchable.
I thought my award and appearance on Kyle’s podcast had closed the door on that article and my opinion of the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers.
But I wasn’t prepared for my opinion to go viral thanks to the high-profile nature of Kyle and Greg’s podcast.
Soon, the emails began to flood in by the dozens. Hate emails, of course—mostly just contained to the subject line, which seemed weird and a little impractical.
It would have been okay had the harassment been limited to emails, DMs and weird Facebook messages by folks calling themselves Michael Pettaway.
One day in January, weeks after my article and award, I came home to a house that had been totally vandalized with graffiti.
“I brake for 36-10!”
“Watching the Steelers is a privilege!”
“Trader!” (Sadly, even graffiti vandals get that word wrong, which may explain why they turned to a life of crime in the first place.)
“Look, it all comes down to coaching. Fact is, Teflon Tomlin has been riding the coattails of Bill Cowher for years and won his Super Bowl with the previous coach’s players. This is something the author refused to acknowledge in his so-called article. The Steelers have as much talent as any team in the league, but Dumblin isn’t able to get the most out of his players. When will Teflon Tomlin be held accountable? When will the author criticize him and not just the players?”
That last one was pretty extensive and well-thought-out for a graffiti vandal. Gave me something to think about, for sure, but why did this person only refer to me as “the author”? I mean, if you’re going to vandalize a man’s home, at least learn his name.
Fast-forward to today.
It’s the end of September, as the Steelers (1-2) prepare for a Week 4 matchup against the Jets at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday.
But while the name of the Steelers’ venue has changed since I wrote my infamous article last December, the quality of their play has not.
This team is still unwatchable through three games of the 2022 campaign—maybe even more unwatchable than all of 2021.
The Steelers are averaging 18 points per game through three weeks—15.6 if you take away Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick-six in Week 1. If the Steelers were unwatchable while averaging 20.2 points per game in 2021, what does that make them now?
The bottom line is this: I demand an apology from Kyle and the rest of the Steelers fans who harassed me for my opinion on the Steelers’ entertainment value in 2021.
Will an apology by Kyle, a retraction of the award, be enough, or should I take legal action?
Would money be enough, however? I don’t think so.
No, maybe I can ask for a settlement that would require all Steelers fans to watch this team while sober for the remainder of the 2022 season (I don’t know how Shannon White does it).
Perhaps they can be forced to choose between watching the Steelers' offense and watching the paint dry on the walls behind their flatscreen televisions.
If I wanted to get truly vindictive, I could demand that all fans who subjected me to pain and suffering have to sit through endless hours of “I don’t want to say I told you so, but...” snark from El Rocco.
That’s right, I’ll go THERE.
Maybe I won’t ask for anything. Perhaps just knowing that I was right is all the compensation I truly need.
In the end, that’s what being a sports fan is really all about, anyway, right?