I've been hearing a lot lately about how the Pittsburgh Steelers are mediocre, washed-up, average, not among the best in the NFL, not true Super Bowl contenders, not relevant compared to the Patriots of the world, and I can't sit around and listen to it anymore.
I sit here today in Crafton, Pennsylvania, the home of Bill Cowher and many, many, former Steeler greats, just miles away from Heinz Field where Pittsburgh dismantled the Colts last Sunday evening before a world-wide television audience. I truly believe the championship spirit that made the Steelers so great for four decades is still alive and they still have what it takes to win a seventh, eighth, ninth, even 10th Lombardi trophy.
The enemy loves to tell you that the Steelers are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the wild card race. The opposition likes to point out that Pittsburgh is 22nd in overall defense, 29th against the pass and that the offense is ranked 15th in red zone efficiency.
Let me tell you about statistics; statistics are just numbers used by the enemy to divide us, to make us think we're not who our parents and grandparents were, and that's fans of the greatest football team on the face of the Earth!
The experts and pundits have been asking what the Steelers are going to do to improve red zone efficiency. I'm here to tell you what they're going to do, but first, let me tell you what they've already done.
The Steelers have built an offense that includes the best quarterback in the world in Ben Roethlisberger, who is averaging 338.4 passing yards per game. The offense also employs maybe the best wide receiver in the history of the National Football League, in one Antonio Brown. Through 12 games, Brown has 93 receptions for 1,310 yards. The enemy has tried to tell you that Brown is too short to be mentioned at the top of the list of great receivers of today. But I'm here to proudly state that Antonio Brown's height hasn't stopped him from getting to where he is today, and it won't stop him from ultimately getting to where he rightfully deserves to be, and that's Canton, Ohio, where he will someday be crowned as the greatest who ever played the game!
The Steelers also have tight end Heath Miller, a player who comes to work everyday with a blue-collar mentality, a man who rolls up his sleeves and gives 110 percent in practice, in the film room and, of course, on the football field, where his grit and determination evokes memories of my father and grandfather as they went to work in the steel mills each and everyday, back when an honest day's work meant something.
The Steelers also have guard David DeCastro, the greatest in the world at what he does, a man who comes to work everyday with a hardhat and lunch pail, a man reminiscent of my father and grandfather, men who worked on the railroads for years, breaking their backs to make this great country of ours the best in the entire world!
I'm here to tell you there's a plan in place that will lead to a higher percentage, more touchdowns, more points. We will get this red zone offense working again!
That brings me to my next point that I'd like to discuss, and that's the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary. There's been a lot of talk about lack of talent and poor results, but I'm here to tell you those are just lies and propaganda put forth by the enemy to make you believe Pittsburgh doesn't have the greatest defensive backs in the NFL.
People keep asking about the results and what the team is going to do to get better. In a minute, I will tell you what the Steelers are going to do, but first let me tell you what they've already done.
First, the Steelers went out and claimed Antwon Blake off waivers. A product of the great college football factory that is UTEP, Blake endured one harsh summer with the Jacksonville Jaguars before arriving in Pittsburgh in 2013. Thanks to hard work, guts and the American spirit, Blake rose through the ranks to meet his destiny as starting cornerback for the greatest secondary and the greatest defense in the entire world!
I can go on and on, sharing similar stories involving Brandon Boykin, Ross Cockrell, William Gay, Doran Grant, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas and so on and so forth, but my time is short. However, before I move on to other things, I just want to assure you that the Steelers secondary of today has the same pedigree, the same talent, the same athleticism that the secondaries of the 2000s had, when legends such as Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor were leading the way. Today's secondary is every bit as intimidating and awe-inspiring as the secondaries of the 1990s that included Rod Woodson and Carnell Lake. Today's secondary evokes the same kind of fear and is just as dominant as your grandfather's secondary of the 1970s that included Mel Blount, Mike Wagner, Donnie Shell and J.T. Thomas.
The Steelers secondary and their defense as a whole are just as dominant as they ever were. Don't believe the lies the opposition likes to tell you. Keith Butler's defense of today is just as relevant as Dick LeBeau's defense of yesterday.
That reminds me of a story. As a young man in the 1960s, I worked at Pitt Stadium as an usher so I could put myself through school at CMU (back then, it was called Crafton Tech). One Sunday afternoon, following a game between the Steelers and Lions, I approached Dick LeBeau, who was then a defensive back for Detroit, and I said, "Mr. LeBeau, someday, you will become a defensive coordinator. You will invent a scheme that will come to be known as the 3-4 zone blitz, and you will terrorize quarterbacks and offensive coordinators as a coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers as you lead them to their fifth and sixth Lombardi trophies."
Of course, you know the rest of the story. LeBeau did indeed go on to become one of the greatest defensive minds of all-time, as he led the Steelers to their fifth and sixth Super Bowl victories with many top-ranking and dominating units.
Today, that spirit lives on in the likes of Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Mike Mitchell and Cam Heyward. The plan is working, and the results will soon come to fruition. Pittsburgh's defense will continue to grow and become the best in the entire world. Believe me when I tell you we will get this defense stopping again!
The enemy likes to tell you the Steelers have fallen behind in the fight to be the best at winning Super Bowls, that organizations like the Panthers, Patriots, Packers, Broncos, Bengals and Seahawks have passed them by in the Lombardi race. I'm here to tell you that couldn't be further from the truth.
I'm here to tell you that Pittsburgh is tied with three other teams for the eighth best record in the National Football League. And among teams with 7-5, 6-6 and 5-7 records, Pittsburgh is tied for first place.
Another thing the opposition likes to brag about is the coaching prowess of Bill Belichick, the supposed genius who has led the Patriots to four Super Bowl titles since 2001. People have called Belichick the greatest coach of this generation and have compared him to Chuck Knoll, the first coach to win four Super Bowls, when he built the greatest football dynasty of all-time back in the 1970s.
Let me tell you about Chuck Knoll. He was no genius, no. He was greater than that. He was dubbed the Conqueror by Myron Cope. Anywhere Knoll traveled, Cope hailed him as the great Conqueror Chad Knoll.
In-between stints as the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams from 1973-1977 and the Seattle Seahawks from 1983-1991, Knoll led the Steelers to four Super Bowl titles in six years in the 1970s and cemented his legacy as maybe the greatest head coach of all-time.
Coach Belichick, I knew of Chuck Knoll. I watched Chuck Noll. I considered him an idol. Coach, you are no Chuck Knoll.
Speaking of Myron Cope, back during the Steelers Super Bowl XL run, he invented something called the Terrible Towel, and over the past decade, it's become a unifying symbol for fans all around Steeler Nation. The enemy likes to tell you that the Towel means nothing, that it should forever be flown at half mast. I'm here to tell you that the Terrible Towel deserves to be twirled with the same love and the same passion as it was 10 years ago, when Myron first invented it.
Wherever you are, twirl that Terrible Towel fast and proud!
There's nothing wrong with the great Pittsburgh Steelers. They are just as good now as they ever were. Inside that organization beats the heart of a champion. Soon, the Steelers will rise up the ranks of the NFL to assume their rightful destiny as Super Bowl champions of it.
God bless you and God bless the Pittsburgh Steelers!