If there is one thing that a team that generates a lot of drama cannot afford to do, it’s to lose too many games. The past two years have shown us that with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While there were even more frequent non-football events that they had to deal with in 2017, they still went 13-3 and received a first-round bye.
This past season was another matter, posting only a record of 9-6-1, which came half a game shy of being good enough to receive a postseason berth, either as a wildcard or as a division winner. The fact that they have been losing has only magnified the off-field storylines.
That’s something that veteran tight end Jesse James talked about back on Monday, expressing some frustration with the amount of headlines the team was generating that had nothing to do with winning important games.
“Ah man, we are — Kardashians”, he told Jacob Klinger. “We have, I mean, we’re something. It’s Le’Veon Bell issues, you have more stuff popping up weekly, Jeremy Fowler’s reporting stuff about Le’Veon every other week. There’s just people calling people out”.
When a comment like that comes from James, who grew up as a diehard Steelers fan and considers it a blessing to be able to play for the organization, you know that it’s pretty serious.
“We lost a lot of games we should’ve won. I think there’s changes that’ll be made at some point this offseason. There’s things we got to account for and look at in a hard way”, the tight end said. “And we make adjustments to what we’ve been doing, because had a lot of distractions outside of the locker room this year that we need to handle better going forward”.
Klinger notes that he declined to point specifically to what those other distractions might have been, and I’m sure some of them we might not even have been made aware of or at least have been given the full context, but we know enough to understand where he’s coming from.
The Steelers are certainly not the only team with drama of this sort—and let’s be honest, it’s not a new thing either, there will always be some type of drama on any football team—but many are questioning whether this team can succeed with the amount of distractions that they provide for themselves.
Do I think they only won nine games this year because reports of things happening in the locker room leaked out? No, I don’t. I think they earned their record with their play on the field—and perhaps a bit of assistance from the officials. But they certainly don’t do themselves any favors by giving themselves additional, non-football things to worry about.