If there is any one common thread for the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout this entire year, it would have to be adversity. They have had everything from a blonde mustache to a death plaguing their psyche between January and October, and now the latest has been an arrest of one of their own, that being fifth-year outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, a well-respected member of the locker room.
Chickillo was arrested over the weekend after allegedly grabbing his girlfriend and tossing her to the ground in the midst of an argument, during which he also claims that she punched him. The Steelers instructed him not to report to the team facility yesterday, and his future remains in question, even to his teammates.
Defensive captain Cameron Heyward told reporters yesterday in the locker room, “I really haven’t had a chance to process it” yet. I don’t recall that any incident such as this has occurred since Heyward has been with the team, from 2011 on. “I’m just letting everything unfold and looking at it from an outside perspective”, he added.
It would be a bad look, I think, if he were to voice a stronger opinion, one way or the other. He is not in a position to make decisions for the team, so doing so and potentially risking going against whatever stance the team ultimately takes would be an unnecessary wrinkle in the story. So no ‘Free Chickillo’ hats.
As for Mason Rudolph, he did go so far as to call Chickillo “a great friend of mine, a great dude”, adding that he wants to have him back, but offered, “I’m going to let coach handle that, logistically”.
It can be very complicated within a locker room when a situation such as this arises. For the most part, players are friends, and bond off the field, so you’re talking about dealing with both a friend and a colleague at the same time.
And you obviously have an inclination to be there for and support your friends. Really, they don’t have any more information, for the most part, than any of us do about the incident that took place and exactly how it unfolded. All they can base their thoughts on is what they know about Chickillo as a person.
The most frustrating part of this is that it happened during the Steelers’ bye week. Teams go out of their way to remind their players to keep their nose out of trouble during this time. “We talked about staying out of it and not being involved in it”, Heyward said. “But it is what it is”.