It’s seriously one of the best articles you’ll read this month and comes at an appropriate time, right before Sunday’s showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas interviewed several Steelers and Ravens’ players, some current, some retired, about the history and meaning of the NFL’s best rivalry.
There’s a collection of stories that are must reads. From Hines Ward talking about his aggressive nature, to Willie Colon’s thoughts the first time he faced them, to Rashard Mendenhall explaining how Ray Lewis destroyed his shoulder during his rookie year. Tons of great info. Seriously, go read it. I’m going to keep adding the link until you do.
Wanted to pick one in particular that just seemed to encapsulate the rivalry, which hit its peak in the first few seasons under Mike Tomlin. The time Bart Scott challenged Tomlin to put fullback Dan Kreider in the game.
“We are losing big in Pittsburgh one year, and I was known for always going to the opposing sideline during timeouts. I am arguing with Dan Kreider, the fullback then, in front of Mike Tomlin. Tomlin has his arms crossed, listening. So I say, “Coach, he’s talking a lot of s—. Put him in the game, and run an iso, and I bet I knock his ass out.”
“So, Tomlin asks Kreider, “You want him?” He says, “Hell yeah, I want him coach!” Tomlin uncrossed his arms, threw his hands and pointed for it. Now Kreider is running in mad. He’s putting his chin strap on. I run out, and lo and behold, he runs the play. The down block came in, and I hit him, “pow!” and I tackle Willie Parker at the same time. Kreider jumps up too fast, runs to the sideline, but he only made it back to the numbers before he collapses. They had to call a TV timeout.”
Ventura interviewed Tomlin for the article and asked him about this play. His response.
“I will never confirm. But Bart is not a storyteller.”
Scott says that’s the moment he became a fan of Tomlin.
Kreider, unfortunately, ended up suffering a concussion on the play. He would miss the following week against the Cleveland Browns but returned to finish out the season.
This, by the way, all came in Tomlin’s rookie season, way back in 2007. The Steelers won that day, 38-7, a complete beatdown of the Ravens while the franchise celebrated their 75th anniversary, bringing in legends from the past to celebrate.
It was James Harrison’s Scorched Earth game and the one where Hines Ward did this to Ed Reed.
Steelers/Ravens. Gotta love it.
And here’s the link one more time. You better go read it.