2019 Offseason Questions: Will Off-Field Distractions Affect 2019 Season?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will there be any notable off-field ‘distractions’ once the actual season gets underway this year?

OTAs finally get underway today, arguably the first really significant bit of on-field, actual-football occurrence of the year. It’s the first time that a full practice with the entire team takes place, not to mention it’s the first time we’re going to be hearing from a lot of player since the end of the previous season.

And boy has a lot been said since the previous season ended. The first couple of months after the Steelers’ 2018 campaign came to an end were certainly not boring. They ended up being discussed just as much or more than the teams who were actually still participating in the playoffs, which Pittsburgh did not reach.

That’s not to say that they failed to reach the postseason because there was too much going on inside the locker room, but at the same time, while many players and coaches downplay it, they also uniformly say that they hope to have a quieter year this time and that they’re tired of the talking.

Arguably, the two players most central to the distractions were Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, and with both of them now in other locker rooms, the prevailing thought is that most of the drama left the building along with them. But will that really be the case?

We can’t simply say that ‘winning cures all’, either, because the 2017 season when they went 13-3 was full of plenty of drama as well, even during their extended winning streak in the middle of the season. But that also shows that distractions don’t have to cost you games, either.

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