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Steelers Pick A Winner: Here Comes Booger


Toldja they read our blog.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, having evidently read John’s post on the city’s Roller Derby scene, were not to be outdone by the Wrecking Dolls having a player with the WWE-esque nickname of “Snot Rocket Science” so they went out and one-upped them by signing former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive end Anthony “Booger” McFarland.

I’d love to give you a scouting report on good ‘ol Booger but alas, he tore his patella tendon and missed the entire 2007 season. However, McFarland should still be somewhat familiar to football fans as he was a starter on two Super Bowl championship teams. He was highly regarded enough for the Indianapolis Colts to give up a second round draft pick for his services a couple years ago when it finally occurred to them that occasionally stopping the other team from scoring might be a better idea than simply hoping to score 55 points a game. Unfortunately, their high regard immediately plummeted to callous disinterest when he failed a recent physical.

Still, I like this signing for two reasons and since they are pretty insightful, I will share them with you.

1) McFarland probably still has some gas left in the tank. I know the temptation is to lump this in with the other Steeler Reclaimation Projects (see Barlow, Kevan) as doomed for failure but I’m not totally sure about that. McFarland played in Tampa Bay for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Who was Kiffin’s defensive backs coach? Mike Tomlin.

This could very well be a case where McFarland took a bargain basement contract from an old friend with the hope that he can prove he can still play and thus earn a better deal from the Steelers or another team somewhere down the line. The NFL is a cruel, harsh place where dreams go to die. Kinda like Vegas. They don’t suffer cripples or invalids and if you can’t play, you’re thrown in the garbage heap with the rest of the trash. But every once in awhile, all you need is a little spackle, a little bondo, and a little TLC to transform that broken old lamp into an awesome bedpost/door knocker. Damn you, Ty Pennington!!

2) The Steelers need the depth. Last year, we pulled off the rarely done Defensive Hat Trick of leading the league in pass defense, run defense, and total defense. Then DE Aaron Smith went down. What happened? Well, that’s why I have his name listed in the Steelers MVP voting over on the right. We immediately surrendered 150 yards to the Jets’ Thomas Jones. Then we got gashed by some third string rookie making his first start for Cincinnatti whose name I can’t even be bothered to remember. Then, worst of all, came the 200+ yard wrecking that Jacksonville dumped on us.

It’s almost like the Steelers sometimes forget football is a contact sport. People get hurt. The 11 guys who start the season aren’t likely to be the exact same 11 who finish it. Some soldier inevitably falls along the way. It’s a game of attrition.

Now, I understand you can’t have 11 starters and then also have 5 back-ups as good as the starters. You simply can’t pay everybody. But the drop-off between starter and back-up doesn’t need to be quite that severe. With most teams, if the starter is an honors student, the back-up is in college prep. With the Steelers, our back-ups ride the short bus.

Last season, the law firm of Kirschke & Eason was an utter disaster. One player, albeit a great one, went down and our entire run defense collapsed. If McFarland can play at anywhere near his previous level, he gives us a very solid run-stopper to plug in whenever need be. Will be beat out any of our starters? Highly unlikely. But if injuries occur, and we all know they will, we won’t have to worry about our entire defense going down with them.

All in all, a very nice pick up by the Steelers. I know it gets frustrating that while other teams are in luxurious showrooms checking out the latest Audi or BMWs, we’re in the used car lot kicking the tires and hoping to make lemonade out of a lemon but you can’t argue with success. And there really aren’t many teams in the NFL better at managing, maneuvering, and surviving life in the salary cap era than your Pittsburgh Steelers.