The Pittsburgh Steelers were a team that seemed to be embedded within a telenovela last season, enduring weekly drama after weekly drama, and yet they persevered. They finished with a 13-3 record, tied for the best in the league, which helped them earn their first postseason bye week since 2010.
Still, opinions even in the locker room of how much those frequent incidents might have affected the on-field product varied. At least, some players such as David DeCastro seemed more annoyed by it than others, whether or not its impact was tangible.
Despite their regular-season success, the team is ready to move on after a disappointing early exit in the postseason. When Antonio Brown arrived in Latrobe yesterday (amid spectacle, admittedly) and was asked about 2017’s distraction-filled drama, he said that “last year don’t matter. What we have here is the 2018 group, a bunch of hungry guys excited to earn our jerseys and to be with the 2018 Steelers”.
At least any drama that currently exists is not new. Le’Veon Bell didn’t sign a new deal and he’s not a training camp, but we expected that. even his teammates, when asked about the topic, reacted accordingly as a been-there, done-that reality that does not their daily routine in training camp.
Mike Tomlin was even less interested in entertaining the conversation over distractions. During his address to the media yesterday, he was asked about Brown’s response mentioned earlier, and weighed in from his own perspective.
“I think every time I come here I’m singularly focused on the development of this group and the challenges that lie ahead in that charge. The past is the past. I don’t seek comfort in that regard”, the 12th-year head coach said. “I don’t worry about things that transpired with other football teams. I’m focused on this group and the men in it and how we go moving forward. I imagine that’s the mentality of the men that just ran down on that field. Many of those guys weren’t here a year ago”.
Indeed, there are many new faces not part of last year’s drama, such as Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic, while others who were a part of that are gone, most notably Martavis Bryant and Mike Mitchell. You can make of that what you will.
“That’s just the nature of football at this level. And that better be your mentality, because we’re all undefeated, we’ve all got a clean slate, we all have work and opportunities and challenges that lie ahead”, Tomlin continued in setting his focus on the future rather than the past. “And how we deal with them—how we go about this process—is what’s going to define this group. Definitely not something that’s transpired in the past, whether it’s ’17 or ’16 or whatever year”.