Let’s get straight to some stuff:
--- LaMarr Woodley did not go from one of the best pass-rushing outside linebackers in the league to underperformer simply because he signed a big contract in 2011 worth $61.5 million over six years. He signed that contract in August, not long after the owners’ lockout ended and training camps opened. He then went on to become one of the NFL’s best pass rushers through the first half of the 2011 season with nine sacks through eight games. Hamstring injuries ruined the second half of that season and he did not have another sack.
--- Chat today 1:30.
--- I wrote an analysis of the linebackers Sunday and received some feedback via Twitter on Larry Foote, whom I said the coaches wanted back. Some say they need to cut him and move on. OK, but move on to whom? Stevenson Sylvester? They much prefer foot. Sean Spence? He may never play again. No. 1 draft pick? They better go outside before they go inside with that pick. Foote would return for the veteran minimum and that’s less than what it would cost to even issue Sylvester a RFA tender.
--- This should be the draft in which the Steelers find a replacement for Troy Polamalu, not for the 2013 season but for after the 2013 season. They have no one under contract at safety who could step into either Polamalu’s or Ryan Clark’s jobs.
--- Clark had some strong comments after he heard those anonymous ones critical of Woodley. He did not argue whether the critique of Woodley was correct or not, he said the fact they were made at all signals a “fracture” in the Steelers once tight-knit locker room.
"My biggest problem with that is not LaMarr, or is not someone's feelings about LaMarr," Clark said on the NFL Network. "My problem is now it's public. We were talking about the Ravens earlier, we were talking about the brotherhood, we were talking about the family that they were. We all have arguments with our brothers, sisters, cousins, but that stays in-house. What you talk about then stays there and it doesn't get out to the public. So that is the problem. ...
"That shows that this team that is normally close, you had the Joey Porters, the Alan Fanecas, just down the line, leader after leader, this team was close-knit. It shows there is a fracture in that. I think that is the most disappointing thing about that coming out."
Onto your questions, even a few that include statements:
--- YOU: It seems there is a trend for pro athletes owning PBA teams. I am only casually aware of the PBA and the ownership list I'm aware of is Woodley, Bettis, Terrell Owens, Chris Paul, BillyJean King. Is this a trend or has it always been this way and why?
ME: It’s a trend that started just this year because the PBA has a pro league for the first time and it’s obvious they sought celebrity “ownership” to attract some attention. I haven’t heard that King owns a team. Woodley owns the Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits. Here’s a link to a story about it:
--- YOU: Loved the "throwback" stories you put in your slog today. As an outsider to the world of sports journalism, it is fascinating for me to read about how things work and especially to hear about how things used to operate.
You alluded to having a ton of great stories to tell and my hope is that maybe you share some of those over the offseason periodically. I think it would make a great "segment" in your slog, but I know you have enough other work to do without having to entertain fans like me with old anecdotes. It would make good reading though. Have you ever considered writing a book about your experiences?
ME: Thank you. I’m holding out on that book until I have a Bill Clinton-like advance offer to write it.
--- YOU: From cap articles I've read on other teams,
Cincinnatti and Indianapolis are the only playoff teams with
the cap space to make big gains in roster strength
relative to the Steelers. The Patriots, Ravens, Niners,
Redskins, Broncos, Texans and Atlanta all have cap problems
of their own. I don't have time to research the other playoff teams.
Non-playoff teams like the Browns and Dolphins
have cap space to sign expensive free agents
(like Wallace and Keenan Lewis), but they will also need good
drafts to close the talent gap between them and the Steelers.
The odds of them catching up to Pittsburgh in one year
are not that high. Even close-t0-playoff teams like the
Giants and Saints have cap issues.
While cap articles are not my favorite, the
"doom and gloom" articles about Pittsburgh's cap
rarely mention how many good teams are in a similar
If you agree, consider writing a short paragraph
on it. (Today's column had a sentence on it, I think).
ME: Apparently, you include the 8-8 Steelers in the group of “good” teams?
--- YOU: "What scares me are kids with cancer and North Korea testing nuclear bombs. Nothing in sports scares me."
I'm 35-years old now, Ed. Ten years ago if the Steelers lost a game I'd be upset about it for a full week. Now, I almost don't care anymore. In fact, my friends try to talk with me about football and I find myself thinking, "does it really matter?" It took me awhile, but I realized my life is not impacted one way or another whether the Steelers win or lose a game. And I was one of those diehards that dished out big money to watch my team play the Cardinals in the SB from the 3rd throw.
I think I'd take myself all the way out of it if I didn't have a 6-year old son that wasn't starting to get into it. I hate to sound like I'm piling on, but Goodell's changes to the game really eliminated my interest. I liked the physicality. I like 6-3 games. I hate that a player can't touch a qb in a myriad of places. I watch the NFL network (not as much anymore) and they still play replays of 70's players killing each other. Hypocrisy?
Do you ever take a step back and ask yourself why so many people care why the coach went for it on 4th down instead of punting? If people were as passionate about their kids as their devotion to their football teams, this country would be a much better place. Sorry for this, but that quote at the top of this email is my mindset exactly.
(I'm not trying to belittle what you do, btw. You're great at what you do)
ME: I made that comment in response to someone saying something about the Steelers “scared” them. It was not meant to dismiss sports as part of our entertainment package, like watching the historical adjusting in the movies Argo and Lincoln. You can still enjoy the event, but some people take this entertainment stuff way too seriously. You can be passionate about the Steelers without allowing that passion to envelop you. You also can be passionate about the Steelers and have room to be passionate about books, movies, cooking, coin collecting and, yes, your family. It’s all part of putting things in perspective. Believe it or not, football rules have changed throughout history, starting with Teddy Roosevelt’s threat to ban the sport if they did not make it safer. Among the most severe rules adopted for safety reasons came in 1978 and somehow the sport thrived. I saw Greg Lloyd run over to a prone Jets wide receiver, Al Toon, and slap the ground three times to count him out after he was knocked out by a brutal Thomas Everett tackle in a game in New York in 1989. That kind of stuff is unnecessary even if Steelers fans may have enjoyed it at the time. Toon retired from football after nine concussions in eight years.
--- YOU: I know it is a moot point, but to divert your attention from the next question about a huge possible Steelers' free agent signing, I was curious your thoughts on Three Rivers Stadium vs. Heinz as it pertains to holding in noise. Do you notice a significant difference? Although, an ugly cookie cutter stadium (Three Rivers) I remember going to games as a kid there in the 90s when the place was rocking and deafening. Heinz with its open end towards the city offers a sweet view that most die hard fans could care less about, given that we are not suffering through the Pirates at PNC where a great view is a must to take your attention away from what is happening on the field. I was just curious as this does not seem to be a topic that has been ever discussed here much.
ME: I never concern myself with noise, and it would be hard for me to determine because I’m in a booth that separates all that clatter with thick glass, of which I am grateful. Judging by comments I receive, however, many agree with your assertion that Heinz Field is not as efficient a noise-maker as was Three Rivers. Count me among the extremely small group who prefers the days in which, when the opponent had the ball, Chuck Noll would hold his arms out to try to quiet the crowd in a show of sportsmanship as opposed to the Heinz Field scoreboard which now begs for noise when the opponent has the ball.
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