Category Archives: COLUMN

COLUMN: Dishing On CTE

Chronic Telepathic Encephalopathy, otherwise known as CTE, is probably a bigger topic than how many Super Bowl’s Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will end up with. It’s the most widely talked about topic in football, and possibly sports in general, right now.

In a recent study, 110 out of 111 deceased football players’ brains were found to have some form of CTE. That’s one brain that didn’t show signs of the disease.

There are currently so many theories out there on what CTE really even is, whether football actually causes it, or whether it’s something that can be detected before someone dies.

As of now, CTE can only be detected through brain studies after a patient has passed. There is Alzheimer’s disease, which is being linked to early on-set CTE but it can’t be confirmed at this time.

A lot of the CTE research and physical traits are science. But, to me, there is a lot of common sense that comes with CTE as well.

Anyone who thinks football doesn’t cause CTE is beyond idiotic. In many players cases, and lineman especially, their heads are banging off of one another on every play. While the helmets players wear are padded and well-prospective, it’s not even close to an end-all-be-all innovation to protect someone from head injuries.

How often have you seen head to head collisions result in people being concussed and literally knocked unconscious? I’ve seen it a ton.

One of my biggest problems, though, are the people who cry for football to be eliminated completely or changed to flag football.

Look, people. That’ll never happen.

Football is one of the biggest sporting draws in all of US sporting events. The Super Bowl contends to be one of the most watched television programs in a calendar year and it happens 11 months before the calendar even turns to a new year. People’s Sundays revolve around football. Some people skip Sunday Mass for football. Others will watch it over their wife’s television programming. It’s even aired on Thanksgiving and last season had a few games on Christmas Saturday.

The players love for the sport runs deep. It shows by the passion and the will to play through injuries every Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) even if they shouldn’t be.

The biggest thing is, these players know the risks they face playing such a high-speed and dangerous sport. They sign the contract full-knowing that one bad headshot could end a career. More importantly, it can impact your life after football, which many fans seem to forget that players still have.

Here’s an interesting soundbite from former quarterback Boomer Esiason on his belief that he has CTE:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/boomer-esiason-says-he-most-likely-has-cte-all-football-players-probably-have-it/amp/

As he says, he thinks all players have some form of it due to the head shots they often give and take. He also mentions that players get paid much better and have better benefits than those who played maybe 20 or 30 years ago and obviously further back.

Ask yourself, if those players knew what the current generation of players know now, does the older generation of players still play football?

Likely, the would’ve. But as we see some players like Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, and Brandon Albert retiring at the physical prime of their careers, it makes you wonder what truly would’ve impacted those players. Now, they’ll suffer the consequences.

Consider Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Big Ben has had his fair share of injuries, including concussions, over the years and went so far as almost hanging it up because he wants to be a dad for his kids and now a vegetable. That’s just one case.

That’s why the NFL has a lawsuit against it now with all the individuals who suffered life-altering injuries due to football and the league’s lack of protectiveness for their players.

Many parents are restricting their kids from playing football now because of the dangers and all the studies coming out. If that trend continues, their won’t be anyone to continue to fill out rosters. That shouldn’t be a problem for multiple generations but if large groups begin to quit at a time then eventually there won’t be football anymore.

Can you blame them for blocking their kids from doing it? There are many alternatives out there.

While no sport is really much safer than another, football is very dangerous.

Will that stop anyone from watching? No, including myself.

But do you feel for these families that have to watch their husband, son, father, grandfather, uncle, etc. suffer because he played football? Of course.

CTE is not going away any time soon. It’s going to continue to effect players’ decisions for decades to come. The research will only get more extensive by the day until a cure, or even a way to detect it pre-death, comes out.

COLUMN: Signing Tomlin A Winning Move

Say what you will about Mike Tomlin. All the dude does in win. In fact, in his ten seasons as the head coach in the organization, Tomlin has never had a losing season. He has had two 8-8 seasons and one 9-7 season. All seven others have been 10 or more. That is the definition of success.

Personally, I can say that I have stood by Tomlin for as long as he has been here. I did, however, turn against him during the losing skid last year. I had wanted him fired for the sole reason that, in a year where the Steelers were built to contend, they had fallen to 4-5 and seemingly had their playoff hopes crushed. Obviously, they did not lose a game the rest of the way.

Friday afternoon, the Steelers announced that they had given Tomlin an extension through the 2020 season.

As the news emerged, fans began voicing their opinion on the move throughout the social media waves. Many were in favor of the move. Others were mildly disgusted.

Tomlin can easily be ranked as one of the top five most polarizing figures in Pittsburgh sports today. Not that that’s something sports figures enjoy, but Tomlin isn’t one to listen to the outside noise. That is something that separates Tomlin from other coaches and players around the league.

Tomlin was well aware of his team’s first half underachieving in 2016. He didn’t need to check his Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to know it. He surely wasn’t going to take it from the media members.

He had lost Cameron Heyward very early on due to injury. He was without Ben Roethlisberger for one of the most important regular season games of the year against New England. He had to take a 4-5 team and right the ship and somehow carry his team to the playoffs. He had to trust his quarterback to find the right player to stretch a touchdown across the goal line in some crazy Christmas miracle.

He took this 4-5 team and turned it into a team that headed back to New England for the AFC Championship and simply got outcoached by one of the best to ever wear a headset.

Despite this, people forget that Tomlin was not only the youngest head coach to reach the Super Bowl, but also the youngest to win it. He is also only the eighth head coach to reach 100 wins in his first ten seasons. That means only seven other coaches in NFL history had averaged 10 wins in their first ten seasons. The Steelers are the only franchise to have three.

But people still want more, right?

One argument I’ve seen used over the years is that Tomlin has underachieved. He’s always had a Hall of Fame quarterback. He’s always had a very good running game to complement. While the defense hasn’t always been spectacular, the offense could’ve made up for it. So, is that on Tomlin?

I’ve always thought that Tomlin was good at in-game adjustments and had always risen to the occasion when the Steelers needed a big win. Whether regular season or a long playoff run, the Steelers’ head coach since 2007 has always stepped up.

Another knock on Tomlin, though, are his unimpressive numbers against sub-.500 opponents. He is well below the .500 mark in those. It’s said that he doesn’t get his team up for these games and always overlooks opponents.

Last season, they were shredded by a rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz, against Philadelphia in week three. He put up 34 points. They lost to the Miami Dolphins in week six by a 30-15 score. They allowed 422 yards, including an ungodly 204 yards to running back Jay Ajayi, which were the highest numbers allowed all season in both overall and rushing yards allowed.

How did Tomlin respond to his critics? By burying the Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card round. By beating the Kansas City Chiefs relying on Chris Boswell to nail six field goals in an 18-16 victory and losing to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game like previously mentioned.

Which brings me to my next point.

Belichick and Brady might be the league’s best quarterback-coach tandem in NFL history. Both have won five Super Bowl’s in their Patriots tenure. How can one possibly argue against someone who has constantly fallen to the two guys who make a case to be the best EVER at their respective jobs?

The Steelers are the best franchise in NFL history and that is backed up by the fact that they have won more Super Bowls than any other franchise in league history while putting themselves in a position to win another every year. They didn’t do it by hiring bad head coaches. Ask the Steelers what they thought about Chuck Noll (four Super Bowl’s) and Bill Cowher (one Super Bowl) and compare Tomlin likewise. It’s not even close. Mike Tomlin is an elite active NFL coach.

COLUMN: The Window is Closing on Stairway to Seven

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the most successful franchise since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger, winning six Super Bowls; more than any other franchise. Steeler Nation, and rightfully so, is quite proud of that accomplishment. It ties into why Pittsburgh is called the City of Champions.

The 1970’s were the glory days of the Steelers, winning four Super Bowls in six years. Many from those 70’s teams are enshrined in Canton, Ohio’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. They boasted the most dominant defense of all time in the Steel Curtain, a hall-of-fame quarterback, two hall-of-fame receivers, and Franco Harris, who not only is also a hall-of-famer, but is responsible for one of the most iconic plays in the history of the NFL.

Yeah, those were the good days.

The 2000’s brought some glory back to the Black and Gold. After drafting their first franchise quarterback since Terry Bradshaw, Ben Roethlisberger helped lead the Steelers back to that winning championship tradition, winning Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008, the latter being a superb performance.

This decade looked to be promising, when the Steelers appeared in Super Bowl XLV in 2010, but lost to Green Bay. Big Ben was still in his prime, the defense was older, but still solid, and Mike Tomlin looked like he was going to become an all-time great at the pace he was going at for such a young coach.

Seven years later, we still don’t have that seventh trophy.

Now, most other franchises and their fans would criticize us for being so selfish. None of them, however, would be singing a different tune if it was their team. Most teams, when going through a rebuild of any kind, will tear everything down and start from scratch.

Not the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Rooney’s are always trying to win. That’s what makes them the most successful franchise. You get to the top by sacrificing everything, taking risks, and sometimes having a little bit of luck, but you can get rewarded if you put all your cards on the table.

That’s what the Steelers do. They’ve had to rebuild the defense, and that is a process that is still going on. The offense has become explosive, all being built through the draft. GM Kevin Colbert and coach Tomlin deserve praise for that.

But this past offseason should have been an awakening for them, the players, and the fans.

With Big Ben now going on a year-by-year basis of whether or not he will continue playing, the Steelers’ window for getting that seventh Lombardi is closing. Le’Veon Bell‘s future with the team is up in the air. He wants to stay a Steeler, but wants to be paid, and rightfully so. He’s grown into arguably the best running back in the league. Outside of Antonio Brown, the receiving corps is possibly really solid, especially with the return of Martavis Bryant, but his inconsistency on and off the field leaves just a little doubt that it’s not as dangerous of a group as it should be. The defense, despite the front-seven getting better and better every year, is still not a defense you can say is a “Super Bowl” defense. It has potential, and that may even come to fruition this season.

But let’s face it: you can’t win a Super Bowl without a franchise quarterback. The only teams to have done it are teams that had all-time defenses (i.e. the 2005 Baltimore Ravens).

And we can easily take for granted the fact that the Steelers have had a hall-of-fame quarterback for the last 13 seasons. He may not be the best of his generation, but he is up there as one of the best, and for sure is one of the main reasons the Steelers have had so much success during his career. Just take a moment and think of where the Steelers would be without him or any other franchise quarterback. The 90’s ring a bell?

The window the Steelers have to win a Super Bowl with this group intact is closing. Ben’s time is coming to an end sooner rather than later. It could be after the upcoming season, or it could be five more years. I’d seriously bet closer to the former than the latter. It took the Steelers over two decades to get another franchise quarterback after Bradshaw; who knows how long it could be before the Steelers get another one after Ben hangs it up. Maybe the Steelers strike gold in the draft and it’s not long. Or, it could be another two decades. Steelers fans who remember the 80’s don’t want to relive it.


In Pittsburgh, we’re passionate about our teams. We expect the very best out of them every time they suit up for a game. There’s a reason why Pittsburgh is called the City of Champions. That’s the standard. Anything short of that is considered failure in our eyes. While I, nor the Steelers, can guarantee a Super Bowl this year, I will say this will be a fun year for the Steelers and the fans.

There is serious promise with this group. The offense is elite and the defense is getting closer and closer to being Super Bowl ready. It’s an exciting time to be a Steelers fan. They came up one game shy of the goal last season. 2017 is another shot at the elusive seventh Lombardi.