The afternoon of the Steelers’ AFC title loss to the Patriots, I was at some gym watching my nine-year-old nephew play a basketball game (the conference championship loss has nothing to do with anything, other than I wanted to give you a reason to complain about me bringing up New England again—which may or may not come right before you accuse me of writing another "clickbait!" article).
Anyway, my nephew, unquestionably a future superstar in some sport, was head-and-shoulders better than any kid on either team. Near the end of the game, he drove to the hoop for a layup, when some kid on the other team fouled him pretty hard and knocked him to the court.
Immediately, you could hear gasps from many folks in attendance (mostly, the moms), but right after the foul occurred, I said, "Well, that's basketball." My brother-in-law (the dad) turned to me and said, "That's what you do when someone is constantly getting the best of you."
I opened this piece with that little anecdote as a way to point out that my brother-in-law and I were in the minority that day as it pertained to understanding some of the things that take place in the game of basketball.
Which brings me to this past Sunday, and Scream-gate, better known as, "Was Todd Haley telling Ben Roethlisberger to shut the bleep up?"
Perhaps it's fitting that we're nearing the 54th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination. That’s because, in the days since Haley mouthed something terrible in the direction of someone else during the chaotic moments right before Roethlisberger found Martavis Bryant in the end zone for the game-tying 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter of what would ultimately turn into a 20-17 victory over the Colts, people have been discussing it non-stop and have even gone to the tape to try and read the offensive coordinator's lips in an almost super-slow-motion, reel-by-reel-like fashion.
Like most fans, I saw this happen live, and since Haley's outburst came on the heels of the offense having to take a timeout and then a delay-of-game while it was trying to figure out what play to call on the two-point try, I thought it was rather fitting that someone told someone else to shut the bleep up.
I also didn't think it was a big deal. Why? Because I've been watching football just about my whole life, and I've seen these exchanges take place between player and coach, player and player or coach and coach too many times to count.
I don't know when we as fans and the media started acting as if anything that happens in sports is the first time it's actually happened, but here we are, for the second time in 2017, dissecting a sideline outburst that occurred right smack-dab in the heat of the moment, and we're trying to figure out why.
I mean, it's football—yelling, screaming and swearing have always been part of the deal.
It's basically right there in the job description.
Like the late, great head coach John McKay once quipped when discussing some verbal abuse he took from opposing players: "It embarrassed me. Imagine using that kind of language on a football field."
Maybe Haley wasn't yelling at Roethlisberger, but actually at an assistant coach—special teams coach Danny Smith is the most likely candidate—as was reported by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"Shut the bleep up, Ben!" "Shut the bleep up, Dan!" does it really matter?
Although, don't Smith's friends call him Danny?
According to former Giants quarterback Phil Simms, the sideline "debates" with his old head coach, the fiery Bill Parcells, were usually insane.
Yet, they somehow managed to win two Super Bowls together.
There’s just certain behavior you expect when you’re involved in a football game.
It's kind of like watching one.
Ever watch an intense game with a family member or a buddy? How many times have you told someone to shut up and vice versa? How many times have you thrown a foam finger at your buddy for no reason other than you were aggravated by a missed field goal?
Do you even remember how you acted when the game is over?
Not usually, because it's all part of it.
Therefore, unless you're one of those loons who smashes a 53-inch flat-screen TV, there's normally nothing to apologize for after an emotional football game.
Ever see the clip of Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw talking strategy late in Super Bowl XIV? During the course of their sideline meeting, an NFL Films sound guy tried to stick a microphone between them, and Noll furiously chased him away. If you've ever seen the clip, Bradshaw didn't seem one bit flustered and basically picked up his previous thought mid-sentence.
Did this affect his play? Obviously not, as he soon hit John Stallworth on a 72-yard touchdown for the game-winning score.
The same held true for Roethlisberger on Sunday; whether he was the object of Haley's wrath or not, he managed to hit Bryant with a perfect pass.
As my title suggests, I really do hope Haley was screaming at Roethlisberger. And it's not because I hate Big Ben, or love Haley (I was once a card-carrying member of Team Arians).
I just want to get back to a time when emotional outbursts took place on the sideline without it turning into some kind of -gate.
Scream-gate; Gatorade-gate. There hasn't been this much focus on NFL sidelines since the Ickey Shuffle.