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Random Awards From a Black and Gold Mind: A celebration of a not-so-regular season

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The Pittsburgh Steelers regular season is over, but before going to the playoffs we give out some not-so-usual awards from the 2016 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It’s been a typical season for the Steelers we’d say, if only Pittsburgh was located smack-dab in the middle of Mars. It was a tale of four quarters for the Steelers in 2016. The team started at 3-1, only to go 1-3 in the second quarter, 3-1 in the third and 4-0 down the stretch. It was such a strange year that my black-and-gold mind was going absolutely crazy due to the many twists and turns occurring every single week.

Every week, I convey my crazy Steelers thoughts in Random Thoughts From a Black and Gold Mind. Now that the regular season has concluded, I present to you a list of non-traditional awards to the team for notable actions on the gridiron:

  • Barnum and Bailey Award for Receiving Trickery: Eli Rogers

The first TD of Rogers’ career came in the opener against Washington, but it wasn't your typical grab. The ball bounced off of a Redskins defender, then Sammie Coates, then the facemask of Rogers and finally rested in his sandwich-grabbers for the score.

  • ”The Milk Carton Award” For Most Mysterious Absence: Ladarius Green.

Was it an ankle? Was it lingering concussions? Was he binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix? Nobody ever really knew. All I know is that he’s inspired my wife to use that “headache” excuse for way longer than necessary. Thanks Ladarius!

  • Worth The Wait Award: Ladarius Green

When Green finally arrived, he made a huge impact.

  • Oddest On-field Celebration: Lawrence Timmons

The "Law-dog” gets this hands-down for barfing in the end zone at Miami. And I thought AB’s twerking was over-the-top. This one not only takes the cake, it loses the cookies too.

  • Greatest Nickname: Tyler Matakevich

“Dirty Red”. This is not your father’s moniker for gingers. As the dad of a redhead, I erred in calling her that. Works better for a 22-year-old footballer, than a seven-year-old girl.

Runner-up: “The Munch Bunch” Is a great label for Mike Munchak’s offensive line. Down the stretch, they were the best unit on the team.

  • Best Fib in a Post-Game Interview: Ben Roethlisberger

For claiming that he was going to share his celebratory turkey leg with his linemen on Thanksgiving night in Indianapolis.

No way that thing even made it through the tunnel.

  • “The WTH is He Talking About?” Award : Mike Tomlin for constantly labeling things as popcorn. Of all the Tomlinisms, this truly confounded my cranium. It’s a good thing Orville Redenbacher is dead or he'd be confused too.
  • The Most “OG” Use of a Terrible Towel: Mike Mitchell

Like Ike, with the “Myron Original” wrapped around his face during multiple introductions, it looked like he was planning to rob the stagecoach at sun-up with Jesse James. No, not that Jesse James, WWE’s Road Dogg or the car guy either.

  • "The Oops, I Didn’t Know My Contract Was Expiring” Award: Markus Wheaton.

With just as many catches (4) as drops, the free agent in 2017 even made Jarvis Jones look eminently signable. It’s his walk year, but No. 11 may have nowhere to walk to.

  • Tom Selleck Award For Moustache Mastery: Landry Jones

Jones must not be very optimistic about his NFL future. With that soup-strainer under his nose, it looks like he’s already auditioning for the adult-film industry.

  • The “I Love It Here” Award: Arthur Moats

In an online video, Moats shows unparalleled excitement and team spirit upon hearing "Renegade” in the background while at a restaurant with his family. It was fun to watch how glad Moats is to don the black-and-gold.

  • The Under The Radar O’Reilly Award: The Ricardo Mathews Signing

In an unheralded move, Matthews has filled in nobly on the defensive line for Cam Heyward, proving that signing a DL from San Diego doesn't have to be a disaster. I'm looking your way, Cam Thomas.

  • The Sir Edmund Hillary Award: Sammie Coates

Even before the two fingers were broken, every ball that went No. 14’s way was an adventure and not always of the “Bill and Ted” variety.

  • The Jar Jar Binks Award: Antonio Brown

Of all of the great things AB did this season, the creation of the character, Ronald Ocean, was bizarre and failed to land. But resurrecting the name of Billy Ocean for his QB, cost many a fan $1.29 in downloads of the 80s-great’s music.

  • The Shaft Award: David DeCastro

The two-year Pro Bowler proved he was “one bad mother” when, after noticing Vontaze Burfict going for player’s knees in Week 15, lowered his head and absorbed a helmet-to-helmet from the dirty Bengal, scrambling Burfict’s eggs in the process. It was one of those heads up plays with his head down.

  • The Snoop Dogg award: Le’Veon Bell

This is not a marijuana reference. The rapper known as “Juice” let his future contract expectations known in his July release, “Focus”. "I'm at the top and if not I'm the closest, I'ma need 15 a year and they know this”. In November, Bell did it again in a single called “One”. This time he rapped, “If they don’t sign me big, I know someone will.” Message received, but I'm not so sure how much hip-hop is on Dan and Art’s Spotify. By the way, I lied. This also was a weed reference.

  • ”What About Me?” Award: Justin Gilbert

Everybody wants to see the former first-rounder from Cleveland get an opportunity. For some reason, his chances have been very few.

  • Assistant Coach of the Year: John Mitchell

Despite all of the injuries, a rookie NT and very little depth, Mitchell’s defensive line held up and stood tall in 2016.

  • The Most-Reliable Player You’ve Never Paid Attention To: Greg Warren

He’s only been the Steeler long-snapper for 12 seasons, but only the diehards know who this very valuable Steeler is.

  • The Drive of the Year: The "Immaculate Extension”

Christmas Day. 1:18 remaining. Division and playoffs at stake. Ravens. Enough said.

  • The Play Call of the Year: The Fake Spike

The other players on offense sold this play so well, because they didn't know it was going to happen. Only Ben and AB knew of the trickery about to ensue to attempt to shock Dallas. It's a shame that a defensive implosion nullified this great move. If not for the lapse with 42 seconds remaining, this would have gone down as the second-greatest play in team history. BTW, Dan Marino didn’t invent this—Gary Danielson did.

  • The Lee Corso Award: Lawrence Timmons

“Not so fast, my friend.” The 10-year vet proved he was far from done, with his defensive rebirth in 2016. So much of a rebound that he easily could be the Steelers’ defensive MVP.

  • Tweet of the Year: Vince Williams

VinnyVidiVici98’s tweets are always worth a read. But his tweet regarding Timmons (“This man Law dog ballin’ out of his mind. He trying to make me a backup for life.”) and Tomlin (“not bad for a cheerleader”) earn a tie for 2016’s best Steelers tweets. His Harambe the Gorilla tweet was a classic too. But you’ll need to google that yourselves.

  • Best Rookie Never To Play a Down: Jerald Hawkins

The fourth-rounder (123rd overall) out of LSU suffered a torn labrum and was out for the year on IR. The offensive lineman was said to have had a very promising camp and, along with Senquez Golson, could be a great addition in 2017.

  • Better-Late-Than-Never Award: Demarcus Ayers

It took 15 weeks for him to get a hat but, when Ayers finally arrived, he arrived in a big way. The 2016 draft class keeps looking better.

  • Best Display of Unity: David DeCastro, Vince Williams, Dan McCullers and the Entire Roster

The team, as a whole, made a very important gesture of unity when they expressed outrage over Terry Bradshaw’s derogatory, “cheerleader” comments directed toward their coach.

  • Best Retort: Mike Tomlin

“What do I know? I grew up a Dallas fan. Particularly, a Hollywood Henderson fan,” was a clever reply to Bradshaw’s comments by the Steelers’ head coach.

  • Best Plea To Fall on Deaf Ears: Mike Mitchell

Against Cleveland in Week 17, Mitchell’s shriek of shock, when a facemask penalty was on him after having his mask grasped too, was classic. “On me? Oh my God! Please look at it. Please look at it, sir, He grabbed mine. He grabbed mineeeeeeee!”

  • Most Indispensable Locker Room Presence: Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison

These two veterans serve as the heart and soul of the team. Roethlisberger pumped his young receivers and empowered them before the opener, questioned the intensity of practices, challenged the team for immaturity/lack of discipline and talked to AB about unnecessary celebration penalties.

Harrison, who became the team’s all-time leading sack artist, is the hardest worker on the team whether on the field or in workouts. His words of criticism also served as a catalyst for the winning streak. "It was totally shi**y. We are quite terrible,” Deebo said after the Cowboy debacle.

Both men’s on-field actions spoke even louder.

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So that’s the 2016 regular season wrapped up in a warped nutshell. Hopefully, more serious accolades will come to follow in the next 31 days.