clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Steelers fans got their wish with the Brady suspension, now the team must take advantage

New, comments

Steelers fans got their wish, as Tom Brady's four-game suspension to start the season was upheld on Tuesday. Now it's up to Pittsburgh to get the job done by taking advantage of a weakened Super Bowl champions right out of the gate in Week 1.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Did you actually voice or write an opinion that you hoped Tom Brady, who was waiting most of the summer to hear the NFL's decision on the appeal of his four-game suspension to start the regular season due to his likely knowledge and role in Deflategate, would start Week 1 and face the Steelers on September 10?

I'm not asking you, Cameron Heyward, who, when asked over the weekend if he wanted to face Brady, told reporters, "Yes, of course. The competitor in you wants to see the best team out there and why not beat Tom Brady in Gillette Stadium on a Thursday night game?"

If I could, I'd slap some sense into Heyward, but I can't even elude the clutches of a 40-something man who looks like Phil Collins when I'm playing flag football; I certainly won't try and tangle with a man who likes to fight 300-pound Kelvin Beachum in practice just as a warm up.

I'm actually asking you, loyal Steeler fan, but you can save your answer, because the initial question was merely rhetorical. I know at least some fans said it was their desire for Pittsburgh to face the Patriots with Brady under center, because they wanted their favorite football team to defeat the defending champions while at their best.

Thankfully, that crazy sentiment (I mean, it was crazy, this isn't college football) was the exception and not the rule. Judging by the reactions of joy when Brady was first given his four-game suspension to the outrage when the possibility arose that he could get off with nothing, I'd say the majority of Steelers fans were eager to see Jimmy Garoppolo take on Keith Butler's sort of new defense in Week 1. And, on Tuesday, when Brady's appeal was officially heard by the league and upheld by commissioner Roger Goodell, you got your wish (pending a possible date with Federal Court, of course, but let's not worry about that right now).

If I had to bet money, I'd say everything will be upheld in court, and the Steelers will have one huge advantage, come September 10.

Now, they just have to take advantage.

What did Bill Cowher always say when one of his teams clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason? I'm paraphrasing, but it was something about having an opportunity at hand and nothing more. (Mike Tomlin may have said this, too, as coach-speak is coach-speak--most coaches not named Rex Ryan are usually too hesitant to make bold proclamations.) It's one thing to have an opportunity; it's quite another to take advantage of it.

Some teams fight all season to obtain home-field advantage, only  to find themselves trailing, 24-3, at halftime of the AFC title game at Heinz Field. My point is, after all the talk of the Steelers having a huge leg-up over the defending Super Bowl champions right out of the gate, how's it going to appear if Jimmy Garappolo plays like the second-coming of Brady (I guess, in that case, Brady could call, well, text Drew Bledsoe and finally ask him what that's like) and passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns in a Patriots victory?

Can you imagine the jokes and the facebook memes?

Also, with the way training camps are run today (Steelers players have already had one off day, and practice in pads didn't start until Wednesday), most teams aren't clicking on all-cylinders in Week 1, and the Steelers may not even be in position to take advantage of this kind of break. You can say, all things being equal on the rust-meter, Pittsburgh, with its two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, will still have an advantage over the Patriots and their 2014 second round draft choice. And, you'd be correct.

But, again, it's paramount that the Steelers get the job done. It's not everyday breaks like this come along, and when they do, it's best to take advantage. Any minor edge in a season can mean the difference between a nice little playoff run and hoisting No. 7.

If the Steelers do take advantage and get off to a hot start in Week 1, next September, they may be able to throw themselves their very own little Thursday night party at Heinz Field--and nobody, other than trolling Patriots fans and their facebook memes, will care or remember that Brady wasn't around for the first game of 2015.