Once the Steelers' offseason becomes a reality, it can be a bit tough to find and/or produce news about the team, given the fact that there are six solid months of activity that doesn't involve large men tackling each other.
What's a writer/journalist/fan to do in-order to continue to feed the beast and/or stay satiated with regards to all things Steelers?
You have to be creative and inventive.
With that in-mind, here are the top 10 Steelers stories you're likely to read in the offseason:
No. 10: Steelers take (insert player here) in (insert person's or publication's here) latest mock draft
Mock drafts start-up (well, they never really end, but they start picking up steam) immediately after the Steelers' season ends, and they keep going at a high rate of speed all the way up until the draft starts in late April or early May. I ain't hatin', either. This is actually quite genius. With so many mocks, and with so much speculation leading up to the draft, it's a field-day for writers, as the stories and varied angles are endless.
To tell you the truth, if the annual draft was held about a month before training camp, it would be a writer's dream.
No. 9: The time the Steelers won that game
Nostalgia is an offseason staple for a writer. In food terms, it's like milk. As long as you have milk in the fridge, you can make so many things.
Here's an article from new BTSC writer Christopher Bondi that celebrates the most memorable games at Heinz Field. This kind of stuff is always great because it generates more memorable stories from readers. Of course, it also generates stuff like, "Why didn't you put (insert game here) first instead of seventh?"
Nothing wrong that. That type of discussion is what you want, and there really are no right or wrong rankings.
No. 8: That Steelers player I watched when I was a kid, and his career you may not actually be aware of
Go ahead and google "Louis Lipps." If you do, you'll see that a story I wrote about the Steelers famed wide receiver from the 1980s is the third thing that pops up, right behind his Wikipedia page and his career stats. How cool is that? Louie was one of my favorite players growing up, and who would have thought my childhood love of him would one day manifest itself in such a way?
Anyway, stories about players from yesteryear are a close sibling to the ones about memorable games from yesteryear. The offseason is the perfect time to write them, as readers are more likely to respond favorably (that is, of course, if they're not reading a mock draft).
No. 7: Is this a make or break year for (insert Steelers player here)?
This is always a good one because there's usually some Steeler player who has yet to live up to his potential, and if the upcoming year isn't a breakout one for him, he could find himself broke the following year.
For example, is the 2016 season a make or break one for 2013 first round pick Jarvis Jones? Considering the team elected not to pick up his fifth-year option, well, heck yeah it is!
Fear not, Jarvis. According to new BTSC writer Robert Hitchcock in this article from Tuesday, your fifth year could be a breakout one, perhaps giving the Steelers no other option but to, at the very least, transition tag you next March. In other words, Double J, you could break the bank next year and make Jason Worilds money.
No. 6: James Harrison just did something defiant
Yes, whether it's calling the commissioner bad names, taking participation trophies away from his sons, vaguely threatening to retire over the Steelers new schedule or trying to videotape his drug test, you can always count on Silverback to provide fodder for juicy offseason stories.
This is good in my case, because it provides a platform to write an antagonistic story about No. 92.
Speaking of which........
No. 5: Here's another satirical offseason story from Anthony Defeo
Whether it's an open letter to the Penguins and Pirates or an April Fool's joke about how the Steelers six Super Bowls aren't legit, the offseason is a great time of year for yours truly to write things that you will want to punch me in the face for.
People often ask me why I write such articles. OK, I usually get a great response, a ton of Twitter love (or mostly hate) and lots of emails.
In other words, duh!
Author's note: No. 5 isn't to be confused with the rage-inducing critical articles I sometimes write during the regular season that come after, of all things, a Steelers loss.
No. 4: Steelers face tough salary cap decisions
It doesn't matter what offseason you're in, the Pittsburgh Steelers just aren't going to have much room under the salary cap, well, until they restructure a bunch of players. This might help for a few months (but not usually), and sometimes these restructures (and don't forget extensions) lead to spin-off stories such as, "Have the Steelers freed up enough money to go after a big-time free-agent?"
And, obviously, the answer has always been "no."
No. 3: Watch Brett Keisel and Hines Ward do stuff
Whether it's an appearance at a Penguins game, a charity beard shearing, winning Dancing With the Stars or hanging out with The Bachelorette, you can always count on Hines and The Diesel doing the Steelers proud in the offseason.
Based on his Head & Shoulders commercials, along with his history of scaring people at wax museums, I was hoping Troy Polamalu would be very visible after his playing career ended. But as you know, Troy just doesn't march to the beat of his own drum; he marches to the sound of his own trumpet, complete with a harmonica sticking out of the end. Therefore, I'm more than happy to read the occasional story of Polamalu's mostly unorthodox charity work.
It doesn't matter what offseason you're in, there are stories aplenty about Steelers players with huge chips on their shoulders. In-fact, two weeks ago, I wrote a story about such stories.
Therefore, I'd just like to thank those players that have something to prove. There are three full months before the regular season kicks off, so keep those chips firmly on your shoulders.
No. 1: Ben Roethlisberger is noticeably heavier/skinnier this offseason
What kind of Steelers offseason would it be without speculation on the weight of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?
For years, the speculation (and jokes) centered around No. 7's nickname--Big Ben--being a little too accurate. Thankfully, this offseason, he has used a high-cardio (and I'm guessing low-calorie) diet in-order to shed about 15 pounds and looks to be in great shape at OTAs.
That can't be anything but good and should provide many more stories about how Roethlisberger's slimmer waist will lead to more effective results.
There you have it, the top 10 Steelers stories you are likely to read in the offseason.
Use them for good and not evil.