So we are officially one week into the offseason. In fact, we just spent our first Sunday without football since September 4th. How did everybody do? I’ll have to admit I had the junkie itch a bit around 1:00 myself. It’s going to be a long couple of months. Apparently for the Steelers, it’s going to be a drama-filled couple of months. The past week has been almost like watching an episode of The Real Housewives of Pittsburgh with everybody trying to start drama. In between there was a shaving of a beard and good news of someone definitely staying with the Steelers.
One side involves Hines Ward and his future with the Steelers. The will-he-or-won’t-he saga will be decided fairly quickly, seeing as how he is due a roster bonus on March 1st. The other drama brewing in the Burgh revolves around the new Offensive Coordinator, Todd Haley, and Ben Roethlisberger. The big thing to remember is, nothing has come from any of the parties involved in this drama directly, but every NFL “insider” and Pittsburgh media member alike are trying to scoop each other into discovering the dirt first. How did it get this bad?
On Friday, the NFL Network was reporting from “insider sources” that the Steelers had planned to release Ward. This apparently was news to both the Steelers and Ward himself; who released a statement via his Twitter and Facebook pages reiterating his willingness to restructure his contract in order to remain a Steeler. The Steelers have not really made any official statement on the matter, mostly because they don’t have to. They seem to be already in the midst of restructuring contracts in order to get within the salary cap and make the offseason moves that are necessary for success. Thanks to Omar Khan staying with the Steelers as resident capologist and not even going to interview with St. Louis for their General Manager position.
It’s important to point out that the same reporter that’s claiming his “insider source” told him the Steelers were cutting Ward also stated his “source” told him that Steelers LB Coach Keith Butler was a “lock” for going to Indy. We all see how that turned out. I’m not going to knock the guy at all, mostly because he’s got one leg up on me, he gets paid to write his BS and I do it for free. But this one report spread like wild fire and got all of Steeler Nation up in arms about the uncertain future of their favorite smiling wide receiver. Whoever his “source” was should not be a part of the Steelers organization. That’s a crappy way to treat the most decorated wide receiver in franchise history. This will get worked out because the Steelers are a class organization and Hines is a class player. This isn’t about money, in my opinion. This is about the fact that Hines was noticeably not a part of the offense this season and his status on the team will have to depend upon how big of a contributor he can still be. This comes down to Haley and his plans for the offense. He’s known for not implementing “systems” but getting the most out of the players he’s coached. Let’s hope he can do that with Ward and make a case for his retention on the team.
Speaking of Haley, he made his Black & Gold debut on Thursday at a press conference at the team facilities. Mike Tomlin introduced him and made a very deliberate point to include the fact that he was the one doing the searching and hiring of the offensive coordinator. That was key, in my opinion, to at least in part dispel the rumors that Art Rooney II had stepped over Tomlin in order to higher the OC of his choice. The focus of the drama surrounding Haley has now shifted from the Tomlin/Rooney II relationship to the Ben/Haley relationship. This is due to the fact that Ben’s interview to Ed Bouchette of the Post Gazette highlighted that Haley had not yet introduced himself to Ben. That’s pretty much it. And the press is running with this like it’s the hottest piece of gossip they’ve ever heard. This is going to be the downfall of Ben and Haley’s relationship, the fact that Haley didn’t seek Ben out at the facility and say, “Hi Ben, my name is Todd, I’m your new offensive coordinator.” Really? We’re not going to at least pretend a little bit that these guys are adults and professionals? I realize that Haley is known for a hot temper and Ben was upset that Arians was dismissed, but jeez, you really want me to believe that Ben and Haley are going to play the “Well if he’s not going to say hi to me, I’m not going to say hi to him” game? I’m not buying it. I know Ben made his point to say he wanted to have a talk with Rooney and Haley is the new kid in town but it is February after all. I kind of think this might be blowing up nothing into something. If I’m wrong, than I’m seriously overestimating both Ben and Haley. I’m just not buying that there’s going to be some underlying drama between the two of them all because of a lack of a hello.
Thankfully, there were some good stories this week coming from the Steelers organization. As I stated before, Omar Khan has decided to not pursue a General Manager opportunity with the St. Louis Rams, even opting to not interview. I have complete confidence in Khan’s and Colbert’s abilities when it comes to the salary cap and the signings that need to take place. Another member of Steeler Nation was lost this week when Brett Keisel had his second annual “Shear the Beard” to generate donations for Children’s Hospital. Everyone from teammates to Tomlin bid on their chance to take a swipe at Da Beard. In the end Brett was clean shaven for the first time since last February, I have no doubt there will be a nice accumulation of Da Beard back when he reports to Latrobe in July. I love to see the players do stuff like this, mostly because it not only shows their charitable side, it shows their love for the city and that’s something I feel like is unique to Steelers players. I live in Florida and you just don’t see that many Jags, Bucs, or Dolphins sponsored events at all.
Here is hoping the Steelers drama settles down in the coming weeks. I intended to use this post to go around the league with newsworthy stories and not always focus on the Steelers. I’m sure someone from the Bungles will be arrested soon anyway so I’ll be able to report on that. Until then like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives, in Steeler Nation.
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