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Welcome to the season of nonsense

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Confessions of a football crank.

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Crank: a person who is often angry or easily annoyed

That's the dictionary definition and I own up to it. I find some aspects of the off season culture irritating, to put it mildly.

The biggest news event of the NFL off season - some might argue the only newsworthy event - in the six month period between the Super Bowl and the Hall of Fame induction is coming up this week. The league's teams will restock and, they will hope, strengthen their rosters via the 2015 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, the league's ambitions, some would call it greed, the desperate need for media types and their outlets to keep pace with content, and some fans who might be better off with a more diversified range of interests continue to inflate non events, nonsense and lies in order to the keep conversation going. We saw that on full display this week.

Let's begin with an example. If you don't find this funny and not a little pathetic then this piece is not for you.

This little hit piece on the drafting of Ike Taylor can be instructive on so many levels, particularly given the fact that it is a dozen years old so the jury is definitively in on the assertions made. The author is known to anyone familiar with the Pittsburgh sports media scene and it is probably not an exaggeration that he is admired by many and a role model (still can't believe I just typed that) for fan expertise. Let's review some of the highlights.

Taylor's draft profile on NFL.com says he did not play in 2000 because he "concentrated on academics." Before that, he was a Prop 48. Before that, he was dumb. Probably still is.

Really? You know, I get the First Amendment thing, but did you really have to go there? Unfortunately, many of us get bigger and older but never grow up. A typical juvenile bullying ploy is the very public denigration of another as a means of asserting one's own alleged superiority and as entertainment. This is where there is some misunderstanding about some of the conflicts that occur within the fan community. The issue isn't between 'positive' and 'negative', but rather between 'juvenile' (not biological age, but psychological maturity) and 'adult'. As someone who was originally attracted to BTSC as an 'adult' site I really don't have much of a problem with negative. When you're negative and clearly wrong, that's obviously worse, but when you go for the trifecta and add a layer of juvenile snark to the equation, then you've gone too far. And you are now threatening the integrity of what makes the site great.

And, what say you? Do you actually believe that Ike Taylor is dumb? Without getting into a long conversation about the differences between native intelligence and what can be wrought by environmental circumstances, I think it is fair to say in retrospect that the assertion that Taylor is dumb is a slander. Just as important though is the author paid no penalty for asserting his First Amendment rights. He has a platform, he's being paid, so shall we be surprised that many are influenced to believe that his comportment and that of others like him represents what being 'smart' about these matters looks like?

Taylor will be a total bust for the Steelers.

And speaking of teaching hundreds, perhaps thousands of people to embrace wrong headed thinking..,This practice of the premature declaration of failure is epidemic in Steelers Nation. Don't believe me? Let's look at some players who are currently on the roster, or recently so, who have been declared to be 'busts' by significant numbers in the Nation, not just some crazy person that found their way to a comments section.

Lawrence Timmons, Cam Heyward, William Gay, Vince Williams, Steve McLendon, Kelvin Beachum, Maurkice Pouncey, Keenan Lewis, Emmanuel Sanders, Jason Worilds and Marcus Gilbert.

Others who have been declared prematurely washed up include Will Allen, James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Ben Roethlisberger, James Farrior, Troy Polamalu (according to some, he was done four years ago), Charlie Batch (argued that he should have been put out to pasture years before he contributed to the 3-1 start in 2010 that led to a Super Bowl appearance and his winning performance against the eventual Super Bowl champs in 2012).

Why do so many continually travel down this path? Maybe because some think that 'smart' people are the first on their block to label someone a failure, to make talent or character evaluations minus sufficient evidence.

The other reason will be on full display this week; an over emphasis upon the short term value of first year players. A fact that bears repeating: Only one player from the famous Steelers 1974 draft class started for the team their rookie season. And I defy anyone to identify the first year player that was the difference maker for any of the six Steelers' championship teams. So whomever the Steelers draft this week the chances are high that they will be saddled by unrealistic expectations from some in the fan base.

What does that translate into in real terms? With a straight face people begin wondering (or flat out declaring) if Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones are busts. Also on the list of failures, actual or in the making, is Cortez Allen, Shamarko Thomas, Dri Archer, Rob Blanchflower, Brad Wing, and, of course, Mike Adams. The point here isn't that for some listed their pro football legacy will be that of disappointment, it's that its pretty much certain that for some, like Taylor, the assertions will be dead wrong. For many in Steelers Nation the track record is so horrendous that only a fool would pay any attention to anything said about these matters at all.

the selections of Polamalu and Alonzo Jackson fit like hand in glove.

Really?! Troy Polamalu and Alonzo Jackson in the same sentence. Any further commentary necessary? No,

Of course, I'm hardly infallible when it comes to judging this sort of thing.

Again, Really?

But I stand by my condemnation of Ike Taylor. Ike Turner would have been a better choice. Talk about a big hitter.

Ahh, and is this the point where someone says that we are not laughing with you, but at you? Maybe they had it right in medieval Japan where after something like this you were expected to go to a quiet place, take a sword and disembowel yourself. I'm not advocating such a thing, but I can appreciate that having the threat of such an outcome might serve as an incentive for some folks to be a bit more circumspect before popping off (or be permitted to do mock drafts).

My favorite mock draft rant is the one from several years ago when I had yet to develop the wisdom to totally ignore these things. We were in the latter stage of the actual draft. One person posted new mocks almost daily it seemed. As it turned out the predictions about the current draft were totally wrong. Undeterred, while the mocks were crashing and burning, said person came out with the first mock for the following season. Sometimes shame can be a good thing don't you think?

The Japanese may have been on to something.