Often considered one of the ugliest uniforms, not only in NFL history, but sports history, the “bumblebee” throwbacks of the Pittsburgh Steelers are a very polarizing topic. Over the course of the last few seasons since their unveiling in 2012, the team is 3-1 while wearing them, including their offensive explosion last season at home versus the Indianapolis Colts. One of the losses should have an asterisk by it though, as the team was missing franchise cornerstone, Ben Roethlisberger, and instead had the services of cement-footed Byron Leftwich in a loss to their hated rivals, the Baltimore Ravens.
As Dave Bryan noted earlier this offseason upon the release of the 2015 schedule, the team will again don the “prison-looking” uniforms in week 9 when they host the Oakland Raiders, a team that dating back to 2004, owns a 4-1 record over Pittsburgh. However, the team will look to raise it’s record to 4-1 when donning these 1934 throwback uni’s, who despite being the laughingstock of many fans and analysts, hold extreme value to those on the field wearing the jersey.
“I love representing the tradition and the history,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said, according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I wish we could wear all of our throwback jerseys. It pays tribute to them and it’s kind of cool to see what we would have looked like back then.”
Whether watching from the stands or the comfort of your own living room, when the team wears these particular uni’s, they look like a band of bumblebees buzzing up and down the field, and on the offensive side of the ball, the skill position players have taken the unit to the next level, under a very fitting nickname, “The Killer B’s.” The moniker seems to have grown in leaps and bounds since that 51-34 thrashing of Indy last year in week 8, in which Roethlisberger threw for 500+ yards and 6 touchdowns, and also seemed to be the launch pad of a successful rookie season for wide receiver, Martavis Bryant.
We can start with the unquestioned leader of the beehive in Roethlisberger. In the Colts game last year, he was a cool 31 yards from breaking Norm Van Brocklin’s 63-year old record for passing yards in a single game. After a career year in which he threw 32 touchdowns to only 9 picks, he also tied for the league lead with Drew Brees for passing yardage, with 4,952 yards. At only 33 years of age, he still should have several years of great football in him, and when I say that, I mean the type of football Steelers fans are accustomed to seeing from their star quarterback. And when I say “only 33” it’s in reference to other quarterbacks around the league, like 37-year old Tom Brady or 39-year old Peyton Manning who are still playing well, and have talked about playing into their 40s.
Next up we have stud tailback, Le’Veon Bell, who is arguably the greatest multidimensional threat in the game today. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder can hurt opponents just as effectively on the ground as he can through the air, and despite his large frame, he shows the wiggle and burst of a back much smaller. Perhaps his best asset is his patience in allowing blocks to develop. Despite a looming suspension to begin the year, my money is still on Bell being the #1 choice in fantasy football circles, and once his suspension is over, look for him to have a major chip on his shoulder.
The next two B’s are at wide receiver, with All-Pro Antonio Brown staking his claim to be mentioned as the NFL’s best at the position, along with the promising second-year speedster, Bryant. Despite being only 5-foot-10 and
186 195 pounds, Brown is all but unstoppable, whether it be turning a short bubble screen into a long gain, going across the middle or running by defenders on a deep route. That’s where the big-bodied 6-foot-4 Bryant comes into play, as he can use his size in the red area, out-leaping defenders or putting his 4.42 wheels to use on the long ball.
The “Killer B’s” are a very appropriate name for the current cast of offensive stars on the roster, and it’s not only warranted from the bulky-looking gold numbers and stripes on the jersey. Bees can fly, and with Ben in the driver’s seat of the hive, it’s going to be a pillar of the team for 2015, as the defense is in the midst of a face lift. To the team, it’s a way to honor Pittsburgh greats who came before them. Who knows, maybe in 2055, the jerseys will change again and the team will wear 2015 throwbacks, commemorating a record-shattering offense.
“Wearing jerseys like this is meaningful,” tackle Marcus Gilbert said, according to Varley. “It represents the past and great history of the Steelers organization. We will wear it with pride.”