If there is one thing that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had enough talking about, it’s drama. The season was plagued with drama before it really even began. And the worst of it, from their perspective, had been the perception—whether it is unfounded or not—that the proliferation of drama is symptomatic of an undisciplined team, locker room, and coaching staff.
The Steelers’ defensive captain, defensive end Cameron Heyward, is down in Orlando right now preparing to partake in the first Pro Bowl of his career, and he is not overly happy about the questions about discipline following him down there. In fairness, though, the Steelers are basically sponsoring the Pro Bowl this year, with 10 players voted in, plus the coaching staff being there.
Heyward said that he weighed whether or not he even wanted to accept the Pro Bowl invitation (he went in as an alternate) following the frustrating loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ironically, he officially is replacing Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, though he would also have gone in in place of Khalil Mack.
“But you have to make the most of a situation”, he said. “It’s an awesome experience. Every player should get to experience this. Now I have to tell my guys to get back here, too. Hopefully, we’re busy [playing in a Super Bowl], but I want to see more defensive guys here”.
Ryan Shazier was the only other defensive player voted in—and the only defensive player to go last year—but he of course is not there this time as he continued on his long road to recovery from a spinal injury suffered on the field.
But he didn’t hold back when the questions turned back to the season, and he was asked about the team’s alleged lack of discipline. “It’s a load of crap to me”, he said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“We’re grown men. We’re not in Little League”, he added. “We lost the game, and we overcame a lot. A lot of teams would have fallen by the wayside. [Head coach Mike Tomlin] kept everyone focused and moving on to the next problem. Obviously, we had too many problems to deal with, but that’s not on him”.
Many would beg to differ—many have, in fact, from fans to beat writers and beyond—and believe that Tomlin should own a lot of blame for the number of non-football-related troubles that they encountered this season.
“Stuff happened this year. You never could have expected some of the stuff that happened. Some of the stuff is football-related. A.B. knocked over a Gatorade bottle…And Martavis just wanted to play football…There were things that happened this year that were maybe unique”.
He concluded, “it falls on me and Ben [Roethlisberger, the offensive captain]. We’re leaders. As much as we talk about the drama and stuff, it wasn’t like guys were getting arrested or anything, or being caught with stuff. We’ll move past it. It’s nothing that will stick with this team”.