The Pittsburgh Steelers are not in a good place right now. But it’s a spot that every franchise finds themselves in no matter how long they are able to sustain a period of success, and the free agency and salary cap era have only made it even more volatile
The ‘r’ word, rebuilding, has been thrown about with increasing velocity recently, with Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson even invoking it, though not in the way that most mean, and he said yesterday that he didn’t want to use that term (undoubtedly after the response to his first usage).
Still, you look at the team and it’s hard to think there’s any other path forward. That’s what former Steelers great Brett Keisel said yesterday when he appeared as a guest on his good friend Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin podcast. The two did win a couple of Super Bowls together in Pittsburgh, so they may know a thing or two.
“I don’t know, man. It’s a tough spot that they’re in right now, and I definitely think they’re gonna be rebuilding”, he said on the show. “They have to. I mean, you have a franchise quarterback for 18 years and you draft a number one pick, like, you’re rebuilding into that system and to what this kid likes and how he’s gonna do his business”.
That kid would be Kenny Pickett, the first-round pick out of Pittsburgh—right next door. He just made his first NFL start two days ago, so we’re still very much in the infancy of the next chapter of this team. Just because it was a 38-3 loss doesn’t mean it’s a dark omen for what he will bring.
“I really like the Pickett pick. I’m pulling for him, and I really think he can be tough”, Keisel said of the rookie, while also going into his friend’s mindset watching Pickett play. “He’s a fighter, he’s a tough kid. I watched him in Pitt, like, he’s tough as heck. Every time a player gets drafted to do your job that you did for such a long time, it’s super difficult, it’s super weird to watch. We’re all so used to when you’re playing going out there and doing it”.
Roethlisberger just retired this offseason after spending 18 seasons as the Steelers’ quarterback. Now a family man used to running errands, he’s spending Sunday with his children watching his former team. He said previously that the Pickett jersey is already a popular one in his household, and his boys are the ones who beg to go to games.
Bringing Pickett in was certainly a local frenzy—even though he is a New Jersey native, he views Pittsburgh as a second home at this point. It’s one thing to attract attention however; in order to sustain it, you have to start winning.