The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: 2020 statistics should have an asterisk next to them if any significant records are broken, if something about the season is materially different from the ordinary (such as games played without a large number of significant players due to quarantining).
Explanation: This might not be very important in the grand scheme of things, but perhaps it’s something to think about. Let’s say a quarterback throw 60 touchdown passes this season, Patrick Mahomes, but he does so playing against defenses that hardly practice, and in several games against players from off the street in the secondary. Should this record be qualified?
In the event that the 2020 season is materially different than should be expected, then yes, there should be some acknowledgement of that. For example, whenever something of significance is referenced regarding the strike-shortened 1982 season that involved replacement players, accomplishments are usually qualified with some variation like, ‘outside of the strike-shortened 1982 season’.
Whether a formal or informal acknowledgement, accomplishments should always be placed in context. If the unique and unlikely-to-be-repeated circumstances of one specific season produce outlier results that achieve records, then it has to be discussed within that framework.
As long as it’s an NFL season and it occurs within the NFL, it’s an NFL record. We don’t give O.J. Simpson bonus points in any official capacity because his 2000-yard season game in a 14-game season, for example. We don’t penalize anybody who sets records now in 16-game seasons. And it won’t happen when the regular season expands to 17 games, either.
Assuming that the season actually takes place, then it is to be treated like any other season in the record books. If Tom Brady misses a season, there are no special exceptions made for the accomplishments of his opponents. So if Mahomes throws for 60 touchdowns this year, as long as it’s against NFL defenses, it’s an NFL record like any other, no exceptions.