Ever since the drama of early last offseason, the mood around the Pittsburgh Steelers shifted to a more fraternal tone. It was something that players discussed throughout the Spring and the Summer, that it seemed players were closer than before to one another, that there was more interaction between offense and defense, etc.
The biggest variable was Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell being gone, but of course the fallout that they created with their post- (and pre-) exit comments, which fueled plenty of media coverage about everything that was ‘wrong’ with the team, likely also helped to foster that bond.
Whatever caused it, though, the team was brought closer together, and that relationship only seems to have gotten stronger. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seemed to suggest as much when he was talking to reporters yesterday.
“I hate for me to say that guys want to play for me, because that sounds self-centered a little bit, but I think we’re all excited to play for each other”, he said, when asked about what his return in particular means to the team and their motivation.
“I know I missed out on last year, guys that I’ve enjoyed playing with over the years, and some longer than others”, he went on to say, “but we have a lot of fun on the football field together, so I think we’re all looking forward to getting back out there and doing it together and kind of showcasing what we hope everyone knows that we can do”.
The quality of the product on the field and the potential for this team to make a deep run into the playoffs, possibly even win a championship, surely helps to foster that camaraderie as well. Success tends to have that calming presence.
And when you really look at it on paper, this 2020 team probably has the most talented team that the Steelers have been able to assemble for the past decade, and that includes balance. The defense is loaded with high-quality performers, and those on offense who aren’t already established veterans are up-and-comers with obvious potential.
There is reason to be excited about this team both on and off the field. It’s a good time to be a fan—and perhaps a better time to be a player. Granted, we don’t know how much longer the team’s proverbial ‘championship window’ will remain open, but with each passing day it sounds more and more likely to be longer than many expected.