It is that time of year, ladies and gents. What time is it? Well as if you didn’t know, it does not snow in August and if you lose your afro pick, just make a few “twisties” and grow some dreads. It’s make ’em, or break ’em time at Steelers training camp now in full swing at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe. Sometimes heat, coupled with stress, may occasionally cause temporary insanity but usually a Valium or Prozac washed down with a forty of Old “E” will cure all that ails ya; but has Mike Tomlin lost his “fro” comb along with the split ends and the brain matter located beneath?

Big Ben Roethlisberger is sitting on a minimum four-game suspension to start the 2010 campaign and ya know what? “Big Benny” is still splitting time with the boys sitting in the first chairs. I happen to be vexed, perplexed and puzzled as to why such an imbecilic concept would even be considered when the primary goal for any coach is to walk off the gridiron victorious.

Check this out. When the season begins, whatever “auxiliary” signal caller is anointed to temporarily sit the “field side” throne of the Steeler Nation, they will not be facing the opponents’ 2nd or 3rd team on any given Sunday. The man who lines up behind center will be facing the opponent’s best defenders.

The athlete who replaces Roethlisberger should be getting 70-80 percent of the first team reps until Ben has served a minimum three games of his four- or six-game suspension. There is no way, shape, form or fashion that any athlete who has been handed his or her penalty for an alleged or verified offense should be rewarded indirectly or directly. We get it Pittsburgh, or at least I think we do. Big Ben is the starting QB of the Steelers but he is currently being prepped to serve at least one-quarter of the season as the world of sports’ most visible and overpaid “couch potato.” Big Ben should be armed with an oversized pair of tweezers removing bench splinters from his “hiney.”

Recently there were two high profile management signings within the Steeler monarchy. There was reportedly a two-year contract extension given to Coach Tomlin and a five-year extension tendered to Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert. I was initially concerned about the disparity of the length Tomlin’s contract in comparison to the length and scope of Colbert’s pact.

But ya know what, if Tomlin continues to show blatant and transparent favoritism to any individual or particular faction of players, then hey, maybe someone in the Steelers’ regime knows something that we will never know about the administration or players’ confidence or lack of in their current head coach. See folks…take politics for example. If you support right-wing issues you will more than likely attract right-wing supporters, ditto for the left-wing. But one cannot have it both ways. Both sides have whipping posts and you are going to have to have your appointment with the “cat-o-nine tails.” I don’t care what you do or say, how you make out will depend on how many lashes you have to take and who’s doing the whipping.

Coaching on any level is about more than Xs and Os and reluctantly spewed glib one-liners at useless press conferences. Coaching a group of warriors is about loyalty to those who sacrifice their blood, sweat and bones for the greater good. Trusting in and believing in the man is the key before ever learning any system that the man can put in place.

I’m hopeful the tenures of both Tomlin and Colbert mirror the longevity of the careers of their predecessors. “But let me make one thing perfectly clear,” as the late President Richard M. Nixon used to say. And while I am quoting dead presidents, was it Lincoln who said, “A house divided cannot stand?” Well, in light of whoever might have said what, you have my permission to use this next quote by yours truly at any time or place. This is an Aubrey Bruce original. “A locker room divided surely cannot contend for or win the AFC North, make the playoffs, win the AFC Championship or Super Bowl XLV.” How ya like them apples?

Although these players are behemoths in physical size in comparison to normal standards, they possess the egos of small and fragile china dolls. And, oh by the way once a china doll is shattered, the next destination for this work of art is “Le Rubbish Canasta.” Once a leader loses the loyalty of the troops, turn out the lights, the party’s over.

All is certainly not fair in love and in contracts. If you don’t believe me, ask around because I’m certain you will be able to give a particular coach residing temporarily in the Black and Gold Zone “a penny for his thoughts.”

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@new­ or 412-583-6741.)

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