If only his legal name was Kenny Brick.
I’m talking about Kenny Pickett, the Steelers’ second-year quarterback, and I’m bringing it up because of the new nickname given to the guys on the offensive line who are being paid to protect him: The Pickett Fence.
You could see that nickname coming as recently as Pickett’s rookie campaign when he was mostly running for his life, but it picked up steam this offseason when Pittsburgh signed guards Nick Herbig and Isaac Seumalo in free agency.
I believe the name became official on the night of Thursday, April 27, when the Steelers selected tackle Broderick Jones in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
I mean, if ever there was the perfect marriage between a quarterback’s last name and the nickname given to his hogs up front, it’s The Pickett Fence.
If only a picket fence—believe it or not, the inspiration for the new nickname of the Steelers’ offensive line—wasn’t so easily penetrable.
You’ve seen a picket fence, right? It’s certainly not an intimidating barrier. Little kids have spent decades breaching these fences just to get their lost Wiffle balls/frisbees/footballs/baseballs/basketballs/soccer balls. And they don’t even have to be their own Wiffle balls/frisbees/footballs/baseballs/basketballs/soccer balls, either. They could belong to the homeowners who built these picket fences just to keep little kids from coming into their yards and stealing their stuff.
These little kids can’t be stopped by a picket fence.
Ever watch the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life? While George Bailey found it almost impossible to escape Bedford Falls, it only took him one swift kick to penetrate Mary’s picket fence (I don’t think this was a metaphor, but it was 1946, and a very passionate scene followed, so it might have been).
Yes, you can poke a lot of holes in the new nickname for the Steelers' offensive line (these fences actually have holes). No, it’s not the toughest-sounding name ever created.
But let’s be real, isn’t The Steel Curtain kind of weak-sounding when you really think about it?
In case you don’t know, the name, The Steel Curtain, originated in the 1970s, and it was used to celebrate those legendary Steelers defenses led by Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert and Mel Blount. Actually, according to the late, great Dwight White, the name was originally meant for the defensive line of the early-to-mid-’70s that included L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, Greene and White.
One can argue over who it was originally meant to describe, but we do know that Steelers fans had decades to come up with something cool when the time came for their team—specifically, their team’s defense—to be really good. Yet, all they could think of was a curtain.
I’ve done some research, and I guess a steel curtain is a real thing, but does it sound all that intimidating?
Sure, it sounds intimidating now, when you picture those ‘70s Steelers defenses, as well as more modern legends like Rod Woodson, Greg Lloyd, Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Casey Hampton, James Harrison and, yes, T.J. Watt.
But what about when the name was first envisioned? How could anyone possibly think it would be intimidating?
Let’s say you’re reading this and are really, really old. You remember the early-’70s and were the person who first coined the name, The Steel Curtain.
Was The Steel Wall already taken?
How about The Steel Mountain? The Steel Fence? The Steel Tower? The Steel Castle?
Why’d you decide on a curtain? When I think of a curtain, I think of something that can very easily go up in flames. A cat can pull that damn thing down with little effort. A dog often wipes its nose on a curtain. Little kids often hide from their parents behind curtains.
At any rate, it wasn’t long before the nickname was used to describe the entire defense, a defense that helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls in the decade.
Fast-forward many years, and The Steel Curtain has become synonymous with every Steelers defense. Heck, one might say it’s synonymous with the entire organization.
Nobody gives it a second thought.
For that matter, nobody really questions what a Steeler is. Sure, it’s got something to do with forging steel or whatever, but does it really?
I looked up the definition, and sure enough, a steeler is someone who points, edges or covers with steel.
So, is the steel supposed to protect us or imprison the opposition?
I also found this definition: The foremost and aftermost plank in a strake, which drops short of the stem or stern-post.
What is a strake? Actually, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.
Along with “steeler” is the definition of “stealer.” We all think we know what a stealer is, sure, but if you go on the Facebook, Twitter and Youtube accounts of many NFL teams, Stealers are defined as a bunch of different people who stole Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, XIV, XL and XLIII.
What about the whole black and gold color scheme for our Steelers? I mean, are those pants really gold or are they kind of yellow?
I don’t know about you, but when I think of the color gold, I think of the hue used by the New Orleans Saints in their uniforms.
Maybe Wiz Khalifa was right all along.
I think Black and Yellow should replace Renegade.
I could go all day, but I’ll stop here and say this: The Pickett Fence will probably grow on you if you give it a chance.