There is a buzz zipping through Steelers Nation faster than the scalpel of a plastic surgeon in Hollywood. What is all of the chatter about you ask? Duh, it’s all about the quarterback controversy bubbling up in the town of a zillion Iron City “brewski’s” as well as other player personnel issues.
First things first, let’s discuss why there is even a quarterback controversy at all. Let’s reexamine the root of irresponsible behavior over the years by “Big” Ben Roethlisberger that has precipitated not one but two ill-advised decisions that have directly affected his playing status and the wholeness of his team. The off the field actions by No. 7 revolved around and continue to be centered on the concept of self, self, self.
Realistically, there should be no despair in “Mudville” because the “loot” fairy flew in from the Steelers lair with the ink on a contract worth well over 100 million “clams” to Big Ben. There should have been included somewhere in the fine print little things like, no riding on motorcycles helmetless and hanging out with strange females without a chaperone or at least a witness or two.
Remember when Big Ben was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident on June12, 2006 that left him with a broken jaw and other injuries? When the Steelers kicked off the season in September, Big Ben was still not fully recovered and was not under center. Charlie Batch promptly dispatched the Miami Dolphins in primetime on a Thursday night which featured new NBC football analyst, ex-Steelers running back Jerome Bettis high stepping onto the football field in street clothes.
Roethlisberger began to lobby for his reinsertion into the starting lineup and eventually convinced someone, ex-head coach Bill Cowher, the team doctor or a combination of the two that his visual perception was okay and he was ready to play. Well, well, well, he then went into the “black hole” of the Oakland Raiders and promptly threw two picks that were returned for TDs in a very nasty but tasty 20-13 win for the hapless Silver and Black. The loss possibly kept Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.
Hit fast forward to 2010; one alleged sexual assault case dismissed, another still pending. If it were not for the personal improprieties of Roethlisberger there would be no quarterback controversy. QBs Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon would still be taking turns holding the clipboard on the sidelines and current No. 2, Byron Leftwich, would be auditioning as a sidearm knuckleball pitchers for the Dodgers, (don’t get hyped Leftwich fans, just kidding). Consequences of one’s behavior should not penalize a team or even an entire city.
Pittsburgh began the 2010 preseason by defeating the Detroit Lions, by a rain laden, soggy bottom score of 23-7. “Cuss” words from an official came down just as hard as the storm that dumped sheets of water on the Steelers faithful and delayed the game for over an hour. From the beginning the “Benwatch” was on. Mike Tomlin started Byron Leftwich, the quarterback who, in all probability, will begin the regular season sitting in the first chair. Leftwich completed a less than stellar 6 of 10 passes for 43 yards. He had a couple of “questionable” misses. He was relieved by Dennis Dixon who appeared to be razor sharp completing 6 of 7 passes for 128 yards and a score. Dixon also utilized his legs with 6 rushes for 31 yards. In what may have been his last or next to his last hurrah for Pittsburgh, Charlie Batch came in with 4:12 remaining in the game to finish off the Lions.
This year will most likely go down as more than just a season that spotlighted the roles that backup players attempted to fulfill or failed to fulfill.
The 2010 season will also profile the hasty decision by the Steelers to trade one of their bonafide playmakers and rising NFL star Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets. The Holmes deal was supposedly based on behavior that was below Steelers “character” standards and detrimental to the team. Whose behavior has been more detrimental than that of Roethlisberger? There will be a “domino effect in 2010. Holmes may have been the scapegoat of all the “Big Ben distractions because Pittsburgh dealt Holmes to an AFC opponent for almost peanuts. The Jets will visit the friendly confines of Heinz Field Dec. 9. On that day, the Steelers Nation had better hope and pray that their terrible” towels won’t have to be utilized as crying towels. Pittsburgh also has two storied but rapidly aging linebackers, James Farrior and Larry Foote, competing for a starting spot but in reality those two players should be competing just to make the final roster. The NFL is not “tinseltown.” No team can go “back to the future” because when any team attempts to do that, “Stormy Mondays” will always be the result of “shaky Sunday’s.”
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)