A most remarkable thing occurred this Thanksgiving across America.
Literally billions of people across the world were absolutely mesmerized by what is happening in Qatar, the most unlikely of stages for the Earth’s most popular sport in its greatest moment…the World Cup.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo get a chance to finally win sports’ most important prize for his nation of Portugal and be declared the greatest player to have danced on the pitch? Or will it be Lionel Messi, his aging galactic co-star who will instead rise to that proclamation for his own country?
He’ll have his work cut out after his Argentina suffered one of the events’ greatest upsets to Saudi Arabia, with each of their players getting gifted a Rolls Royce Phantom. Meanwhile, Brazil is once again displaying a style and athleticism that Pele aptly described as the “beautiful game”.
Even the United States team taps into global headlines with their match against England…the Red Coats against the Yankees…being one of the most anticipated.
Yet in America? While turkeys are being roasted and potatoes are being mashed? What was most important?
It was the Dallas Cowboys playing the New York Giants.
With more than a dozen magisterial matches of World Cup soccer available to replay for the America audience, the Cowboys and Giants ended up drawing the largest regular season NFL television audience in the history of the game.
Yes, (American) football is alive as ever in the good ol’ USA and has long been America’s favorite sport (sorry baseball). It’s still top of the charts, number one in the hearts from coast to coast.
Just…not for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not this year.
Where once their games were always prime time affairs, being nationally televised and dominating evening night features on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays, the Steelers are no longer must-see-television.
They are 3-7. One of the bottom dwellers in the National Football League.
The team is on a path to be as irrelevant to this year’s playoffs as the last pick of the NFL Draft and few outside the faithful really even care a wink who plays quarterback for them.
If a butterfly flaps its wings in Acrisure Stadium will it make a difference halfway around the world? Not this year. Not since the catsup left the bottle on Heinz Field.
These are the dark days of Steelers Nation. These are the 1980’s all over again if we’re not careful.
Yet…as Steelers Nation we…must…still rise to the occasion and remain ever true, and ever spinning those Terrible Towels.
So, let’s give it a Spin.
The Most Precious Resource
Did you hear that sound? That was last reasonable gasp of a competitive Steelers 2022 season as the Cincinnati Bengals choked out the last life with a 37-30 victory last Sunday.
This was the most-must win of them all and the Steelers came up short…once again.
The disappointing loss drops Pittsburgh to 3-7 on the season, leaving them many wins away from Wildcard relevancy and hopelessly behind the division leading Baltimore Ravens.
The Bengals look like they are capable of giving the Baltimorians a tough go at it. But all the Steelers have left in terms of competition is a roll in the mud with the Cleveland Browns to decide the division dregs.
At this point, even if the Steelers went on the unlikeliest of a seven-game winning streak to finish the season, they still would not be guaranteed a ticket to the dance.
The reason coaches get fired mid-season is they can no longer see the forest through the trees, and they start chopping the pines all around them in a desperate attempt to preserve their jobs.
They can’t see farther than the next game, or even the next play, as all the headlines around then are screaming for their removal. They’ve lost that franchise mindset. They’ve lost that loving feeling with their team.
Coach Mike Tomlin has as cushy of a coaching seat as there is in the National Football League so despite the poor record and performance of this year’s team, he has the unique luxury of realigning this team for the future.
And he must.
After all, winning is everything in the National Football League.
So you can’t mortgage the wins of the future for meaningless ones today.
The future is now, Steelers Nation. The most precious resource in the National Football League is playing time under the lights, during actual games.
Despite urban legends being floated out by those who never played the game, you don’t learn from watching.
Which is why one of the most moronic thoughts uttered by the local media was one where Tomlin was being criticized for “sacrificing winning” to develop its rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Yo…that’s what we got left. Developing these players for the future.
Evaluate. Coach. Forge.
This all needs to be melted down for future Steel. If not, we’re wasting the team’s most precious resource.
Picking On Pickett
Breaking news! Apparently, Kenny Pickett isn’t Johnny Unitas yet.
Steelers fans can be among the most fickle. One day they are chanting “Kenny…Kenny…Kenny” and the next they are pondering, “I wonder if we can talk Ryan Fitzpatrick out of retirement?”
Pickett ended the Cincinnati game with respectable numbers. He was 25 of 42 for 265 yards, with a touchdown. Most importantly, he led the offense to 30 points.
That is quite a bit for THIS offense. The kid literally left it all on the field.
Unfortunately, he left it all on the field by the end of the first half of the game and refused to pick it back up. His performance was admittedly uninspiring for nearly all of the second half, until he was able to muster a late game touchdown when his team was already down 23-37.
Yet, let’s be clear. The Steelers should win EVERY game where their quarterback offers up 30 points. That’s regardless of whether he shoves all that productivity in the first quarter or spreads it evenly like butter on toast throughout the game.
The Steelers lost because they refuse to cover any Cincinnati player with the number 85 on their jersey. The Ghost of Ocho Cinco still haunts and this game it was Tee Higgins who was responsible for the defensive horror show. Not Pickett.
Not too long ago, the New York Jets traded away their high number one draft pick quarterback to replace him with another high number one draft pick quarterback, only to bench this one, Zach Wilson, this week.
The Cleveland Browns have been going through more high number one draft picks in the past two decades than Uncle Melby has told bad jokes at Thanksgiving dinner.
Let’s not be Cleveland. Let’s develop Kenny. Patiently.
Speaking of firing offensive coordinators…
Wait, were we talking about firing offensive coordinators? Yes, we are always talking about that in Steelers Nation. Matt Canada is just our latest victim of abuse.
Whenever did it happen that offensive coordinators were allowed to climb up the high ivory towers to call football games from their heated rooms, with fancy catering and probably shoulder massages?
For all we know, Canada could be up their watching the Disney Channel rather than paying attention to what’s happening below. (Maybe we’re onto something?)
What happened to the good ol’ days when defensive coordinators were able to chest bump their offensive counterparts in front of a national audience when poor play calling resulted in yet another three and out?
Chalk me down as one who despises the idea of all coaches not being on the field with their players in the heat of the battle.
Add that to the list of “let’s make football football again.”
Are You Ready For Some Football?
Well…yeah, kinda sorta. What kind?
True confession here. The Spin is slightly distracted by the spectacle of futbol, or football, the World Cup kind. I’m a massive fan of “o jogo bonito” whether it’s Club or Country and every four years this is one of the joyous, most entertaining of times.
If you’ve never enjoyed watching football…or soccer, give it a whirl. The Fox Sports app makes it easier than ever to watch a few of the games live or on replay and to see what all of the global fuss is all about.
And certainly, give the United States team some support. They won’t make it too far (just being honest…our best athletes play in the NFL, NBA or MLB), but they are hugely watchable.
Meanwhile, you may not have realized this but OUR Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be under the lights in a Monday Night Football matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
The fact the 3-7 Steelers are getting a showcase against the 4-6-1 Indianapolis Colts is proof enough that Monday Night Football isn’t as prioritized to the NFL as it once was.
Although the playoffs significance of this matchup are nil for both teams in this game at Indy, there continues to be far reaching implications for Pittsburgh.
Although a championship for this season is far in the past, there is much to play for the Steelers. So don’t miss a minute of the action.
Because, the future is now.