The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 season will unquestionably be defined by drama and disappointment, which is a shame that it would coincide with the season in which they also lost the Ambassador, Dan Rooney, in addition going through the traumatic on-field spinal injury of Ryan Shazier.
It was a virtual weekly soap opera, however, with fresh drama the likes of which I have never seen a professional sports team have to deal with over the course of a year, and all seemed rather un-Steelers-like.
While many of the players in the locker room downplayed how that all came about, and pointed to the media for exaggerating a number of things and highlighting things that were otherwise insignificant, there is also a very apparent sense that the players are hoping to avoid repeating the cyclical charade of the past year.
That is what defensive captain Cameron Heyward talked about during the Pro Bowl last week. While he was defensive of the job that the coaching staff did on the field in keeping their players in line, and placed the blame on himself and his teammates for their execution, he also suggested that things need to change, and that people need to grow up, without naming any names.
“I just challenge all of us to not let that stuff happen again”, he told reporters, according to Jeremy Fowler. “Who’s to say we have to have all that stuff going on? We can be a better team because of it, grow from it, but that stuff is not going to get us anywhere”.
Now, on that point I’m sure everybody can agree. I can’t imagine that there is much of any benefit for the locker room being repeatedly bombarded by questions and criticisms due to drama that the players largely brought upon themselves. David DeCastro in particular was not happy with the way some players handled the postseason.
“We’ve just got to make smarter decisions”, Heyward went on to say. “Guys got to grow. I thought it got way too much media publicity with it. We’ve got to close ranks and get back to work”.
So there are two thoughts here working in conjunction. On the one hand, be smarter. On the other hand, work together, trust in each other. These are not competing ideas, and work in conjunction with one another, but they are also separate.
It doesn’t help that some of their most high-profile players have brought in the drama, such as Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Martavis Bryant, even Ben Roethlisberger. Others, especially the younger players, have had issues with keeping their thoughts to themselves. So, surely, there is some maturing to do.
What is done is done, however, and the only thing left to do, as said, is to be smarter in the future. Learn from the past and come together as a group. Use this as an opportunity to growth individually and collectively. At least this way, perhaps, something can be salvaged from the chaos of the 2017 season.