Prisoners of the past

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“There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison.” (Spoken by ‘King Osric’ from the movie ‘Conan the Barbarian’.)

The Pittsburgh Steelers departed the Steel City last weekend not only on a journey to play the Dallas Cowboys in the Lone Star State of Texas; they were by all accounts supposed to be on the road to the 2012 NFL post season. But ya know what? Somewhere along the road to prosperity their GPS failed and they detoured from the “road to prosperity” to the “back alley of incompetence and defeat.”

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They not only lost a game, they lost credibility. They lost the link to greatness; well maybe not entirely but they better have two forms of I.D. when they proceed to the lost and found to reclaim their “mojo” and “swag.” When your back is against the wall you are supposed to play to “live for another day.”

You are supposed to step up to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a single if nothing else. You may not clear the bases but at least one run should score. There is no excuse for the Steelers losing to the Cowboys, none.

There was one particular play when the Ben Roethlisberger was hit hard. When he came up off of the turf he winced and it appeared maybe one of his previous injuries had been aggravated. This is no freakin’ time for drama from any of the Steelers performers. The curtain is about to close on their 2012 season and if it does they will have no one to blame but themselves. Hey listen, ex-Indy Colts and present Denver Broncos QB, future NFL Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning had neck surgery, spent a year out of football, signed a contract with a new team and led his team to a division championship. Recently the Baltimore Ravens beat the Steelers at Heinz Field and when Steelers third string QB Charlie Batch returned the favor in B-more, well let’s just say this; the attention and adulation heaped onto Batch seemed to be just a bit too much for “Big” Ben to take. So he immediately rushed back against the Chargers and got “smizz-oked,” you diggg….There is a pattern of narcissism going on here. Before any of us can save anyone else, we have to be able to rescue ourselves. Before you or I can stand up in the pulpit preaching morality, we have to refrain from taking bills from our wallets leaving them on a dresser at a Nevada brothel.

“There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison.” Whoever you “think” you are does not alter the reality of who you really are.

The Immaculate Reception by Franco Harris decades ago meant nothing to the Cowboys Sunday evening. The record setting run by “fast” Willie Parker to basically seal the win for the Steelers against Seahawks in Super Bowl XLV is not even on the radar screen of Dallas QB Tony Romo. The game winning catch by ex-Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes to defeat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLVIII did not cause Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to lose any sleep Saturday night.

To the current crop of NFL performers and coaches, those deeds are buried deep in the vaults of legend and lore. The jewels of the Steelers past no longer sparkle and Roethlisberger’s throne room has now become a prison. The interception that he threw in Dallas will henceforth be known as; “The Immaculate Interception.” Past deeds of greatness only serve to capture and maintain the psyche of the fan base because yesterday’s performances, as in decades ago; don’t have any bearing on the paychecks of today’s NFL players. Now hear this; Colin Kaepernick the 2nd year QB with the 49ers strolled up to Foxborough and dismantled the Patriots post haste by the score of 41-34. Kaepernick threw for three more touchdowns and one less pick than Patriots future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady. This unlikely feat happened just hours after Roethlisberger threw for two yards less (339) than Romo (341) and threw his season murdering pick in overtime at Dallas. This was not the Roger Staubach, “Too Tall” Jones, Troy Aikman or Emmett Smith Cowboys, this was the 2012 run of the mill version.

It seems as if the majority of NFL franchises are not afraid to place a bet on the future. This next list of NFL rookie starting QBs is startling: Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Robert Griffin III, Redskins, Andrew Luck, Colts, Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins. Two second year QBs also stand out; Cam Newton, Panthers, and Andy Dalton, Bengals. I firmly believe that none of the “inexperienced” QB’s would have thrown that same pass that gave the Cowboys their second wind in regards to advancing to the NFL postseason and may have sucked the air out of the Steelers chances. When will Ben Roethlisberger discontinue to scramble in and out of the pocket to keep a drive alive just to ultimately “kill” it?

Fans and friends of the Steelers nation, do not allow the grandiosity and victories of the past to hold the present and future hostage in the prison of mediocrity.

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.­­­com or 412-583-6741. Bruce can also be heard on the “Odd Couple Sports Show” where he is the AFC North and NFL analyst. The show is hosted by Adam Ragle streaming live on the WCWA Fox Sports Toledo 1230AM. Bruce is featured on Tuesdays from 10-11 a.m. during the NFL season. Listen to Aubrey’s archived “Odd Couple” segments on: http://www.worldspeak­connnection.com click on ‘Fair Catch.”)

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