The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics 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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will you be watching Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson in the Pro Bowl (and T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward)?
The last time the Steelers had multiple offensive skill players in the Pro Bowl was in 2018. None of them made it this year on the original ballot for 2021, but third-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson and rookie running back Najee Harris both accepted the opportunity to be an alternate Pro Bowler this year—replacing division rival Bengals, Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Mixon, respectively.
By the numbers, both young players put up Pro Bowl alternate stats this year. But watching them on tape, you see the Pro Bowl talent, so I certainly have no objection to their being recognized in this fashion.
Still, the Pro Bowl as an actual event, particularly the game, is a dying beast, at least relative to NFL content. The Pro Bowl still draws good ratings in comparison to general television programming, but not the sort of numbers the league typically pulls.
Regardless of the fact that the game has lost so much of its prior prestige, especially once they moved the game to before the Super Bowl and started pulling Super Bowl participants, it’s still fun to see guys get excited to be making it for the first time.
That’s why I have zero sense of surprise that both Harris and Johnson accepted the opportunity to be a Pro Bowler as alternates this season (aside from the fact that it does come with a paycheck). Johnson stated that it was a goal of his, and he was clearly disappointed when it didn’t happen. I’m sure it was a goal for Harris as well. Now they’re Pro Bowlers, for perhaps the first of many times.