About a week before Steelers training camp at St. Vincent’s college was scheduled to conclude, I had just returned from an afternoon practice. I was downtown waiting on my Port Authority chariot to arrive. I always purposely leave my media credential around my neck just to spark conversation good and bad from the Steelers nation.
On this occasion there was a young Caucasian lad riding along with his father. His dad’s face turned beet red when the youngster looked over at me and spied my credentials and asked; “do you work for the Steelers?” I smiled at him and replied; no, but I cover them for the New Pittsburgh Courier. I continued on by asking him; “have you ever heard of the New Pittsburgh Courier?” I was pleasantly surprised when he answered; “yes sir, I learned about the paper when my dad took me to see the movie 42.
His father then chimed in, he looked at my credentials saw my name and said; “Mr. Bruce, I wanted to make sure that my son saw the struggles of African-American players long before his two favorite players Andrew McCutchen or David Ortiz were even born.”
At that point I was a bit too weary to discuss Black History; hey February was long past. However, I have to say this. There are some Whites that know about and respect our history more than a few of us do and I was quite happy that I was given the opportunity to meet and have a conversation with him and his son.
Anyway, I continued on by asking his son another question. Young man, (his name was Trenton Blair Jr. and his dad was Sr.) “how do you think the Steelers are going to do this year?”
“I think that they are not going to do good because they allowed Mike Wallace [former Steelers wide receiver] and James Harrison [former Steelers outside linebacker] to leave the team. James Harrison is almost like Darth Vader nobody wants to mess around with him and Mike Wallace is faster than anybody in the NFL.”
These my friends were the words straight from the mouth of a babe.”
If a ten year old could see the handwriting on the wall, the management of the Steelers should have been able to see the wall, especially a wall that they themselves constructed.
When I was exiting the bus, the lad smiled and said, “Steelers forever.”
When the Pittsburgh Steelers set out on the journey of the 2013 season, regardless of the negative circumstances looming, they remained a confident bunch. There may have been a few doubts in their minds because after all, they lost two vital playmakers one from the offensive and defensive side of the ball, but hey they still had a reason to think that they could dredge at least another year of two out of an aging team.
They set their eyes on the distant competition because there was nothing to fear but fear itself and maybe the word “rebuilding.”
Whatever they found in the AFC North they would have to just deal with it. They took courage from what players remained with the team and as always they were fearless. Yes they were glimpsing shadows of the Cincy Bengals, the Cleveland Browns and last but certainly not least, the 2012 NFL Champion Baltimore Ravens looming over their Lombardi trophy case but Pittsburgh realized that Cleveland and Cincinnati had no trophy case because they had no trophies to put in it and the Ravens dismantled their squad so that the money needs of their “most valuable player” starting QB Joe Flacco could be met.
The shadows of the past continued to appear and reappear but ya know what boys’ and girls’? Dead men can tell no tales and neither are they capable of getting out on the playing field and competing. The boy said that they allowed two of their most excellent players disappear, poof, gone.
The beginning of the season would prove and showcase blatant flaws that surfaced and exist because of questionable fiscal priorities regarding compensation for players who would and should have had a positive impact on the Steelers level of competition.Choosing athletes to compete for your particular team is not and should never be confused with neurosurgery. All one has to do is observe a player, any player and hope and pray that player will perform as well for you as he has performed for his high school, or college. Money oftentimes is not a guarantee that a player will perform or respond to competition. But sometimes you have to pay the cost to be the boss. Just ask the boy.