As I watched the Steelers and Redskins slug it out last weekend, a few things came to mind. The “Skins” won the game 17-13, yawn. The first thing that glared at me was this year’s group of young guns attempting to come north with the squad from the Steel City in September when the games have a tad bit more of importance attached to them.
Pittsburgh has a very nasty new crew of fellows who seem not to be aware of the fact that they are still supposed to be wet behind the ears and are required to continue to wear a bib while eating and must also request an adult or someone responsible for their care to wipe the Enfamil from the corners of their mouths and to change their messy diapers.
The year’s rookie class of the Steelers is led by defensive lineman Evander “Ziggy” Hood. They are playing as if they are angry at someone or something. All things seem to indicate that this young bunch of renegades seems to be using blow torches as hair dryers after they are shampooed and bathed and instead of regular Hefty paper towels to wipe the milk from their lips. These young performers seem to be quite comfortable using sandpaper in lieu of napkins.
I know that one game, especially a preseason one does not a season make but if he remains true to form, kick returner Stefan Logan took advantage of the chances that he was given to return punts and kickoffs. Logan handled five kickoff returns for a total of 157 yards which is a more than respectable 39.2 yard average which included a 60-yard return. He also returned four punts for 48 yards.
Imagine this, boys and girls. Steeler’ punter Daniel Sepulveda regularly pinning the Steelers opponents inside their 30-yard line and kick returner Stefan Logan consistently handing the Black and Gold the pigskin on the enemies side of the 50-yard line marker.
Now let me see. Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally. Oh no, wrong class. We don’t need basic algebra here, just basic math. The aforementioned simply implies, at least from a mathematical perspective, that Pittsburgh may more often than not have to travel less distance to score points and their opponents will have to cover more yardage to avoid a goose egg; brilliant, class dismissed!
It is time for this season’s “soapbox series” to begin, Steelers Nation!
The 2009 Steelers do not seem to need much in the area of motivation. When second string nose tackle Chris Hoke (who by the way could probably be starting for a few other NFL franchises) was being held by a few of the “Skins” O-linemen, he did not shrug it off just because it was a preseason game. “Hokey” marched to the sidelines and first caught the ear of Steelers center Justin Hartwig and then proceeded to plead his case to anyone who would listen. Now that’s what I’m talking about.
An infraction is an infraction, whether it is committed in pee-wee league competition or in the Super Bowl. Holding is illegal and it should be called and the appropriate penalty yards marched off. It is as simple as that.
There were so many penalties it often appeared that the Pittsburgh squad should have been wearing the striped shirts of inmates. At times it appeared as if the only convicts whose cells were being searched and individuals being monitored for contraband was the team from the Steel City.
Steelers Nation, get ready for Freddie. Freddie is not dead as the old school Curtis Mayfield recording states. Freddie seems to have possibly been resurrected in the persona of a few of the NFL officiating members.
During the Steelers versus Chargers contest played Dec. 28, 2008 at Heinz Field, the Chargers were flagged six times for 47 yards. They could have been penalized for possibly more than twice the penalties that were called against them. Now Pittsburgh was flagged eight times for 65 penalty yards. At least 50 percent of those calls were marginal or less. Are you getting the picture?
Penalties called, penalties missed or penalties even occasionally ignored, often means trading field position that is vital in a closely contested game. Infractions committed may result in continuing or discontinuing game scoring and even game winning drives. Penalties determine whether you go for it on fourth down or kick it away. If a play is questionable, then it should be reviewed regardless of whether a coach throws the red challenge flag or not. Coaches should not be discouraged from throwing the flag because they will lose a timeout if the challenge is unsuccessful. If a player argues that he was held, the play should be viewed and the penalty assessed. Blowing the whistle should not be the smoke screen and the end point for illegal and dirty play on the gridiron.
It is acceptable that the champions of any sport be the team to beat. What is not acceptable are monitors, officials or arbiters that are charged with the responsibility of guaranteeing fair and just play to allow their personal feelings about a player or a group of players to cause them not to always issue decisions based on the rules and regulations of that sport.
If a player does not do his job, he becomes unemployed. If an official misses one too many calls, he too should be on the soup line. Fair should always fair. And that’s the name of that tune.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)