Scapegoat

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“We the willing, led by the unknowing are doing the impossible for the ungrateful; we’ve done so much for so long with so little, that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”—.(Author unknown)

An old school group called Blood, Sweat and Tears released a song in 1969 called “Spinning Wheel.” Pardon my memory lapse but I recall that one of the lines of the song went something like this; “what goes up, must come down. Spinning wheel got to go round.”

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During the hours following the Steelers’ dreadful loss to the Raiders, just a few days before the Cleveland debacle, (a 13-6 loss) the spin machine in Pittsburgh was spinning out of control. Head coach Mike Tomlin had an opportunity to stop the RPM(s) but instead seemingly chose to jump on the out of control Ferris wheel. The sad thing about it is that Mr. Tomlin, the man who is supposed to be running the show, seemingly has now become part of the show.

 

My guess is that if Bill Cowher was still here he would not be trying to win the hearts of the media with glib and clever quotes extracted from the cinema and past press conferences. He would defend all of his players, spit flying in the face of anyone who dared to get close enough not really caring if they had received a flu shot or not. There can be no blatant favoritism in the locker room because if there is, none of the insiders or outsiders will respect or trust those in leadership positions or their evaluations.

Everyone made a rush to judgment. Steeler’ cornerback Ike Taylor was attacked unmercifully with no shield provided by his head coach. Instead, (at least publicly) Tomlin became one of the floggers, willingly joining and participating in Taylor’s public humiliation as opposed to standing in front of No. 24 and all of his men, gun barrels red-hot, defending them to the end. It is acceptable for the media to bash certain players; it is unacceptable for the head coach to accept an invitation to join the party.

The Steelers have now been branded by some as “losers.” The only real losers are the Steelers Nation who have been hoodwinked into thinking that their below average offense is led by an “elite” quarterback. Now hear this! There is a distinct difference between Big Ben and the crème de la crème field generals of the NFL.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers all have one thing in common; they normally “break down” the opposing defense on the road to victory. In Roethlisberger’s case, if the opposing team does not experience a defensive breakdown, the majority of the time the Steelers final destination will be defeat. This just in—Big Ben will not win the Steelers MVP award in 2009, write it down.

I have written several columns on Ike Taylor. I admire his dedication to his craft and his work ethic.

Each week Taylor suits up and shuts up. He goes out and shadows the opposition’s best receiver and also supports the run. He does not miss any games, plays special teams and does whatever is asked of him. When he does play hurt the public never knows it. He doesn’t whine and pine and play the PR game for sympathy from the public and/or the media just in case he has a sub-par performance (not that the Pittsburgh fans or media would give him any sympathy anyway). I admire Steelers All-Pro safety Troy Polomalu but regardless of how athletically gifted he is, his talent cannot be utilized from the sidelines.

If the Steelers do not like the play and production of Ike Taylor and don’t plan on re-signing him in the off season then they should release him immediately, plain and simple. I am willing to bet you a New Orleans crawfish dinner that 2009 will be the last year that Ike Taylor will be tied to the whipping post of the Pittsburgh media and fans. You think it is bad now, wait until Mr. Taylor departs the steel city. By the way, in excess of the 40 games that Taylor has started he has only allowed seven touchdowns. How many drive-killing picks has Big Ben thrown in 40 games? Taylor is also squeaky clean (except for a little trash talking to opponents) off the field. He is the definition of team player. I recently asked Ike about a story that I heard concerning ex-Steelers head coach Bill Cowher having to send him to round up the players from the local clubs. In response to the question he humbly answered: “I just do what I do.”

Roethlisberger reminds me of a child who has gained the favor of his parents over his brothers and sisters. Once a child realizes that they have the upper hand concerning any authority figure they tend to do whatever they want and assign the blame for their misdeeds to their siblings knowing full well that they will never be called to task or penalized for their behavior; so why change?

Big Ben was sacked eight times by the Browns. Was the offensive line that bad or were they sending him some sort of covert message? My advice to the coaches and management of the black and gold is for them to focus on finding solutions to their problems instead of assigning blame for them.

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