With all the important issues going on in Pittsburgh there’s none more important to Pittsburghers than the Steelers draft. Did it help or hurt their chances of going to the Super Bowl?
One thing is for sure; the Steelers of 2013 will not be the Steelers of 2012. Even though most of the starters will be returning many key players will be gone.
James Harrison, gone. Casey Hampton, gone. Mike Wallace, gone. Rashard Mendenhall, gone. Willie Colon, gone. Keenan Lewis, gone. Ryan Mundy, gone. Will Carter, gone. And even though it’s not official, Charlie Batch, gone. Byron Leftwich, gone.
The draft gave people a break from all the heavy hitting of the mayoral race, the city council races, school board races, and judge races. But people in Pittsburgh are just as serious about their Steelers as they are about who’s going to be in whatever political office.
Jarvis Jones, an outside linebacker who led the nation in sacks from Oklahoma was the first choice. He is being counted on to replace James Harrison. Not this season, however, because Jason Worilds will handle that position in 2013. But don’t be surprised to see Worilds moved to the inside spot in 2014 replacing Larry Foote, to make way for Jones.
Le’Veon Bell is a big running back who many are comparing to Jerome Bettis. He will have to sit behind Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman this season but should move past them in his second or third season.
Markus Wheaton, a wide receiver, went in the third round. With the departure of Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders will join Antonio Brown in the starting lineup. But there will be an all out battle for that third receiver slot and Wheaton should win out before the season is over. Justin Brown, selected in the sixth, will also battle for playing time.
Shamarko Thomas was selected to backup the two aging safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. With Mundy and Allen gone he will probably see a lot of time and will be looked upon to eventually replace one of them in the near future. He’s an outstanding player and would have gone much higher if it wasn’t for his height, 5 foot 9.
Landry Jones, a quarterback from Oklahoma, was the big surprise of the draft, but it didn’t surprise me. Ben is getting older and it’s time to start looking for a replacement. Lundry is a four year starter for the Sooners and owns every record there is at this football school. He will be the third string quarterback this season with the recently signed Bruce Gradkowski serving as the second string quarterback, but don’t be surprised if he moves ahead of him next season. That means that the two old veterans Leftwich, and Batch are gone.
Finishing out the draft for the Steelers were Terry Hawthorne, cornerback; Vince Williams, linebacker; and Nicholas Williams, defensive tackle.
Surprisingly no offensive linemen were selected, which says the Steelers management must be happy with all the young talent they have acquired over the past three years; so happy that they chose to let veteran Colon go. They do have some very talented young players on that offensive line, but the question is can they keep them healthy? If Ben Roethlisberger gets rid of the ball quickly, yes, if not it’s going to be a long season.
Overall the draft was a very good draft, and if everyone stays healthy the Steelers will be in the playoffs again, in pursuit of another Super Bowl, with eight returning starters on defense, and eight returning starters on offense.
Changing the subject. One of the people here emailed me an article from the Afro American newspaper upset over the fact legendary sports writer Sam Lacey wasn’t mentioned in the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in Major League Baseball. As I stated in my movie review and column, the movie only dealt with Robinson’s first two years in White professional baseball: his one year in the Dodgers minor league, and his first year up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. That’s all there was time to deal with, and do it justice.
Just like all the complaints about the movie “Red Tails” about the Tuskegee Airmen people wanted the whole story told in one movie and there’s no way that can be done in a two or even a three hour movie.
After World War II a crusade was created in which every Black paper throughout the country fought to integrate baseball, even though they knew it would be the death of the Negro Leagues. The Courier, with by far the largest national circulation, led the fight. Wendell Smith was the lead sports writer for the Courier, but there were others with the Courier as well as Lacey with the Afro American, and a key writer with the Chicago Defender but I can’t recall his name at this time.
These sports writers traveled with their teams all over the country sending back stories to their papers about the great exploits of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cool Papa Bell and many others including the young Jackie Robinson. It was the Black Press that fought through its sportswriters, and its editors, and publishers to get the doors opened for Blacks in professional sports.
It was men such as Lacey, and others who were names in the fight. But there was no name bigger than Wendell Smith in this fight, mostly because more people read the Courier at the time than any other Black newspaper.
Maybe someday someone will tell the whole story. Maybe the Black Press will use its influence to get some of the big money people to create follow up movies, telling the stories of these great newspaper people and the fight they forged to open the doors not just in sports but in all walks of life.
Yes, there are many untold stories out there that are begging to be told.
Where are you Tyler Perry, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, John Singleton or whoever? Let’s not hate on each other, let’s try to get the whole story told.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)