Happy Friday to all of you once again and welcome to the weekend.
This is the last Friday we’ll have to make it through before the start of training camp as this same time next week the team will have completed their first practice at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. The team will report on Thursday and that means we’ll have plenty of interviews to recap on that day in addition to finally knowing which players will open training camp on the team’s Active PUP list.
It’s an exciting time for sure and the Steelers first preseason game will take place three weeks from today. Football is in the air once again and it’s a welcomed feeling. With that said, on to sad personal note.
As many of you might already know by now, my father passed away on Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer. While I will certainly miss him, I’m glad he didn’t suffer very long. I’m also glad I was able to spend some quality time with him a few weeks ago.
I can really thank my father for me being a fan of the Steelers. You see, he was a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys in the early seventies and mostly because of quarterback Roger Staubach having been in the Navy, as he had also spent time in that branch of the armed services as well. Him being a Cowboys fan obviously required him to not be found of the Steelers and as a four-year-old anarchist, I quickly gravitated to rooting for the team my old man liked the least even though I lived in Florida, miles away from Pittsburgh. The rest is pretty much history, but I will detail it for you just the same.
From roughly four-years-old and on, I collected everything Steelers and owned quite a bit of merchandise such as jerseys and book bags. Steeler football cards were my prized possessions early on and I quickly learned how to read football box scores in the papers. I would throw tantrums on Sundays if we didn’t make it home in time from church and lunch to watch the Steelers play if they were on television that week. A few well-deserved beatings occurred along the way, as you can probably imagine. Birthdays usually included Steeler themed cakes, all of which were made and decorated by my mother. Birthday gifts usually included some sort of Pittsburgh sports merchandise.
My love for the Steelers was very quickly followed by an obsession with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins. I can remember watching Pirate games on a small black and white television in my parent’s bedroom whenever they would play the Atalanta Braves and Chicago Cubs on TBS and WGN, respectively. As for the Penguins, I watched countless amounts of their games against the New York Islanders and New York Rangers whenever they were shown on the old USA Cable Network. I also watched the now defunct Pittsburgh Spirit MISL team as well. I collected Steeler, Pirate and Penguin trading cards starting in the early seventies and still have most them to this very day.
When I was about seven, my parents took me to Atlanta to see the Pirates play the Braves a few times. I remember pretty vividly watching Willie Stargell play as he was my favorite. Not too many years later, my father took me to Atlanta once again to see a preseason game between the Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons and afterwards I met Lynn Swann and Franco Harris and had my picture taken with both of them.
I was eaten up with everything black and gold as a child and all because of my father. I never dreamed at the time that I would be doing what I do today, which is covering the Steelers 20 hours a day.
Later this evening, my wife and I will travel back to Florida to bury my father on Monday and I plan on returning on Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meantime, Alex Kozora, Matthew Marczi and a few of the other great contributors, will all easily keep the site full of content for you to view.
As usual, I’ll end this Friday with five questions for you to answer in the comments below. Peace and love to all of you and thank you all for sharing my passion with me.
1 – Now that he has decided to turn down the Steelers best offer, will running back Le’Veon Bell eventually wind up earning more than $48 million over the course of the next three seasons (2017-2019)?
2 – Of running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, linebacker L.J. Fort and wide receiver Demarcus Ayers, which one has the best shot at ultimately making the initial 53-man roster this year?
3 – Of first-year Steelers players, cornerback Mike Hilton and running back Terrell Watson, which one will the masses be the most excited about exiting the team’s second preseason game?
4 – Name one current player on the Steelers 90-man roster who has the best shot at opening the 2017 regular season on the roster of another NFL team.
5 – Can you briefly recap the origin of your Steelers fandom for me?
Question 1 – Steelers Depot readers were given one last chance to predict whether Le’Veon Bell would sign a long-term deal before the deadline. While many people were hopeful; over 59% correctly foresaw that a long-term deal would not be consummated. The consequences have been the overwhelming point of Steelers discussion all week long.
Question 2 – This was an interesting question since Le’Veon Bell only played in 15 games including the playoffs in 2016. Still 59% believe that he will have less than 407 touches this season even if he plays more games. A lot of that may have to do with Martavis Bryant being back in the line-up. According to the Pro Football Reference; James Wilder established the record number of touches in a single regular season at 492 back in 1984.
Question 3 – The Steelers have a lot of underappreciated people according to the readership. Twenty-seven players different players were named with only two being mentioned more than two-times: Jesse James (4) and Bud Dupree (3). Here are the others just so they don’t feel left out: Ross Cockrell, Mike Mitchell, Eli Rogers, Joshua Dobbs, Cameron Sutton, Senquez Golson, Ramon Foster, Vince Williams, Cam Heyward, Roosevelt Nix, Justin Hunter, Xavier Grimble, TJ Watt, LT Walton, Brian Allen, Keion Adams, Colin Holba, Sean Davis, Stephon Tuitt, Marcus Gilbert, Chris Hubbard, Robert Golden, Alejandro Villanueva, Ethan Cooper and Ben Roethlisberger.
Question 4 – 68% do not agree with Alex Kozora that Hines Ward is not a Hall of Fame worthy player. A slightly smaller percentage (64%) believe that Hines Ward will eventually get in. Many acknowledge that his stats may not be enough but that he was a complete player when you factor in his blocking forcing the NFL to change its rules. Hope it happens within my lifetime; but not optimistic.
Question 5 – This was the most decisively answered question. Over 78% said they would not be reading Bruce Arian’s book. That said, it appeared that most had a favorable opinion of him either as an offensive coordinator or a head coach. Several people said that they were glad he left when he did because it likely extended Ben’s career. Bruce Arians has said he buried the hatchet with the Steelers organization and it appears most fans bear no ill will towards him. To quote Michael Corleone; “It’s not personal (Bruce); it’s strictly business.”