What We Learned This Week in the NFL Offseason:
- 2012 Steelers Dysfunctional Locker Room Tour Continues
- NFL Combine Begins
- Manti Te’o addresses media
Just when you thought all that could be said about the Steelers 2012 locker room situation had been said until Hines Ward joined the NFL Network on Friday to throw his comments in the pot regarding the “disarray” that contributed to the Steelers dismal 8-8 finish. Ward eluded to the comments made about LaMarr Woodley (who we all hope is just taking to the gym to avoid all this horrible publicity) and insinuated that there never was this kind of drama in the Steelers locker room when he was on the roster. Ward stated that,
“When you lose so much leadership in the locker room, that’s when things present itself like that. Guys start finger-pointing, calling out other guys. That is not the Steeler way. We’ve always had a rule: We are a band of brothers. We’ve always collectively kept everything in house…But there was no finger-pointing and calling each other out. That’s a total disarray, a locker room in disarray.”
I love me some Hines Ward. I’m a little biased to criticize him because I have quite possibly an unhealthy obsession with him but that’s a story for another day. I can’t quite seem to keep quiet about Ward saying no one called anyone out when he played on account of he totally called Ben out when he played. He called him out like almost every season. He mostly called Ben out for his injuries or his um tendency to publicize his injuries after the fact shall we say. Totally fair statement, and in fact it’s one of the biggest criticisms of Ben to this day. Sure he’s a tough guy and plays hurt all the time and can take so many beatings but is there any other player in the NFL that will go on and on about how many broken ribs, clavicles, ankles, wrists, toes, knees, tails, etc. he’s played with? The point is Hines totally called out Ben on a regular basis so it’s silly for him to come out now that he’s no longer a part of the Steelers locker room and speak on the dysfunction as if it’s something he never encountered. I also think this is quite a dead horse already. The locker room would have been the happiest place on Earth if they would have just won some of those games they lost in ridiculously frustrating fashion so let’s just get on with the 2013 season already shall we?
The first step towards the 2013 NFL season began in Indianapolis this weekend. The NFL Combine began this weekend, otherwise known as The Underwear Olympics where hundreds of potential NFL draft picks parade around in Underarmour gear and run, jump, pass, catch, and get poked and prodded by team executives. I love watching the Combine. Maybe it’s because I’m a nerd and I watch anything and everything football including college football so it’s fascinating to see where some of these players I’ve been watching in college will end up, and maybe it’s because I enjoy watching well built men run around in their underwear. Who can say? Either way there were some definite highlights from the first two days of action on the field for the combine. The first day was saved for the offensive lineman, tight ends, and special teams players and the most notable player of the day was Terron Armstead, a 300+ lb lineman from Arkansas-Pine Bluff running a 4.71 40 yard dash. Not that a lineman absolutely needs a fast 40 time to be an effective lineman, but that is pretty impressive. It makes me kinda long for the days of a fat running back. They don’t make ‘em like Jerome Bettis anymore. Watching this hefty dude barrel his way down just makes you long for the days of a rotund running back plowing through the line towards the goal. Ah those were the days.
Speaking of running backs, University of Pittsburgh’s own Ray Graham participated in drills on Sunday morning and ran a disappointing 4.8 40, near the bottom for running backs. If you’re a Graham fan, this could be trouble for him but he was only expected to be a late-rounds pick anyway. According to Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, who always has something interesting and intelligent to say and never just speaks for the sake of making noise, added that 40 times aren’t always relevant for running backs. In fact he stated he’d rather have his running backs be “quick rather than fast”. Excellent insight. Naturally the Steelers brass were paying close attention to the corps of running backs and wide receivers on Sunday, as those are two of the top positional needs the Steelers are looking to fill this offseason. The Steelers are projected to go defensive with their first round pick, but most likely will grab a running back and wide receiver in the second and third rounds.
The NFL Combine has become bigger and bigger each year with more fan interest growing and this year can be difficult to garner fan attention what with the lack of splash skill position players available in this year’s draft. Fortunately for television, there is the Jerry Springer-like show that is Manti Te’o to follow when tracking the 2013 NFL draft class. The linebacker from Notre Dame arrived in Indy on Sunday and met with the media to address the elephant in the room otherwise known as his internet hoax-dead girlfriend story. Te’o didn’t go into too much detail in his press conference other than to say that he’s looking to put it behind him and doesn’t think the ordeal will affect his draft stock. Odds are it really won’t. When it comes down to it, the guy was tricked/catfished/hoaxed/however you want to call it into a relationship and then played up the sympathy card of her tragically dying of cancer during the season for his own benefit. I’d love to be in the interview room to hear his explanations to GM’s regarding this bizarre situation because you know they’re going to ask for more details than his PR machine will allow him to talk about in press conferences. Te’o has to convince NFL team ownerships that he’s not as clueless as you would expect someone that could fall for a fake girlfriend could be, as well as not as callus as someone who exploited said fake girlfriend’s death from cancer to bolster his public image in a Heisman Trophy race. Also, he’s kinda got to convince them that he’s the linebacker that ran rough shot all over Notre Dame’s 2012 opponents, and not the line backer that missed about a thousand tackles against Alabama in the BCS title game. Good luck buddy. I’ll be watching and I may or may not just be checking out your package.