Max Starks won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was there for three of them, although he was injured in the one that they lost in 2010. Drafted at the same time as Ben Roethlisberger, he played nine seasons at both left and right tackle, a full-time starter for the majority of that time.
And now an NFL analyst. And he hasn’t been all that bashful so far in showing his black and gold colors, truth be told. More recently, he as featured on an NFL Network segment in which he was asked if he was buying the Cleveland Browns as seemingly the favorite to win the AFC North.
“I am not one of those people”, he said, though it wasn’t just because of the Steelers. In fact, he hardly even mentioned them. “Not because of my affiliations and my time in western PA”, he said, before talking at length about the team that actually won the division last year.
“You have to remember who the champs are. It’s the Baltimore Ravens that are the AFC North champions, and Lamar Jackson is gonna have something to say about that in year two”, he said. “And you can’t just dispel that with the addition of some sexy picks. You have to make sure that you finish number one”.
He did say that he doesn’t see the Cincinnati Bengals being able to compete for the division title this year, working on three straight losing seasons for them and experiencing a lot of turnover this offseason, but he thinks everybody else is in.
“It really comes down to Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cleveland, a three-dog race for who’s gonna be that AFC North champ”, Starks said.
The Browns are being hyped after they went 5-3 in the second half of last season with an interim head coach and offensive coordinator and rookies playing all over the field. After adding some very significant additions in Odell Beckham, Jr., Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, Kareem Hunt, and through the draft, Greedy Williams, many haven’t hesitated to jump on board the bandwagon in Baker Mayfield’s second season.
But we are talking about a team that has literally never won the AFC North since its inception in 2002, and in fact has hardly even had a winning season since then. The Steelers and Ravens have been among the most stable and consistent franchises in that time. It’s rare that either has had a season in which you went in thinking they could not be competitive.