The 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers draft is in the books and by most accounts it was a stellar one. The Home Team stepped up and addressed the offensive line, the defensive line, linebacker, running back, receiver, and tight end. Guard David DeCastro is already penciled in as a starter and tackle Mike Adams should be able to compete against the injured or departed Max Starks for the job of protecting Ben’s blind side. All praise be to Rooney, Colbert, and Tomlin; great job, men. Great job until the phone lines started lighting up on every sports call in show in Pittsburgh. Radio, television, and the internet are all up in arms over the Steelers choosing ‘bad apples’ and players with ‘character issues’ and ‘off field concerns’. I am confused at how patrons of media outlets that play music by The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Snoop Dogg, and Nirvana, have R rated comedians doing in studio appearances, and promote movies written by Seth Rogan can have issue with a college student sparking up (we are a culture of double standards). Many callers cited “The Steelers Way” (a document I cannot find anywhere online or in my library) and how the current management team has completely abandoned the said way in favor of allowing ‘thugs’ and ‘degenerates’ into an otherwise squeaky clean and trouble free locker room. . How dare the Steelers, this storied franchise, subject its loyal and law abiding fan base to these terrible, and in one case, subhuman creatures?
This righteous indignation is aimed abundantly at Mike Adams with lesser (though I don’t know why) attention being given to Chris Rainey. Mike Adams played at Ohio State University and got himself in a jam for selling his Big Ten championship ring and getting some tattoos with the money. This act ran Adams and teammates that did likewise, afoul of the NCAA and cast aspersions upon the, until then, sterling reputation of Ohio State University…… Yeah, I know…… Then there was the matter of Mike Adams failing a drug test at the NFL combine. Adams tested positive for the sticky icky just prior to his audition for one of the best gigs in the world. That is why they call it DOPE. Stupid, stupid move on his part; he has no excuse for not knowing that the NFL, along with many other companies, large and small, test their prospective employees for drugs. So, here we see two instances where this person has displayed questionable morals and poor judgment. According to most of the population of western Pennsylvania, Mike Adams is a lost cause and the Steelers should have stayed away from him like they have stayed away from problem personalities in the past. The things Adams has done in his past are enough to inform a large demographic of what Mike Adams will do in the future. The risks of even having this scum in the locker room, that is now somehow completely void of leadership, far outweigh any contribution Adams could ever make. What if Adams gets into the organization and corrupts Troy Polamalu or Brett Keisel? Will Dick LeBeau be puffing the cheeba on the South Side now that a malignancy like this has been drafted? And what of this other wicked low life the Steelers have invited into the hallowed halls? Chris Rainey was arrested for stalking a former girlfriend. I will not lightheartedly discuss allegations as serious as these but I can say that from information that is available to the public, Rainey sent a potentially threatening text saying ‘Time to die’. Rainey, in his own defense, stated that he didn’t know you could get in trouble for sending a text. Well Chris, you can and you damned well better know it now. Another stupid, stupid move.
Smoking marijuana is illegal. Plain and simple it is against the law. Currently it is about as illegal as running a stop sign, having your television too loud, or driving over the speed limit. I am not here to support the Pot Lobby but Mike Adams was not busted for selling, buying, or transporting dope. He failed a drug test. Failing a drug test is not illegal unless you are on probation for another crime. Mike Adams is not. Stalking is a serious crime. It is as serious as attempted murder. Chris Rainey was not convicted of any crime. I fully support the morals clauses that the NFL and other corporations have in place to enforce behavioral safeguards and to protect the product that is being placed, in the NFLs case, on display. If you sign their contract, you obey their rules and that’s how it should be. They are paying you to do a job and to stay the hell out of trouble while you are working for them. It’s risk and reward. It’s business AND personal once you are in the big leagues. Any player that disgraces himself impacts his future earnings and reputation. Adams in particular wasted his grade A draft status by blazing up.
The Steelers have done their research on both of these picks. The Black and Gold was interested in Mike Adams even knowing of the ring for cash for tats scandal. As soon as the failed drug test came to light, the Steelers made it clear that Adams was off their draft board. He was no longer in consideration to become a Pittsburgh Steeler. He had just been spurned by a 6 time Super Bowl winning team and perennial contender. According to published reports this was the reality check Adams needed. Instead of setting his sights on getting signed with Cincinnati, Baltimore, Philadelphia, or the New York Jets, Adams called Pittsburgh and asked if he could come to town and talk face to face with management. He asked what he needed to do to be placed back in consideration. Whatever transpired in that meeting allowed the Steelers management enough comfort to risk selecting Mike Adams in the second round. That is a lot of responsibility on BOTH parties involved here. Steelers Nation loves their players but seems almost as fond of a juicy ‘I told yinz so’ moment’. Chris Rainey lived with the Pouncey family for a while and they have seen fit to vouch for his character. Not a bad thing to have the endorsement of a family with two sons in the NFL.
It is the Steelers way to proceed with caution in a let the buyer beware market. That brings me back to the afore mentioned ‘Steelers Way’. Of course I have absolutely no way of knowing the inner workings of the Steelers organization but I can only surmise that as a successful business model, The Steelers Way has always included an amount of risk and reward. Ernie Holmes had some documented anger and drinking issues in his past and I’m pretty sure it did not escape the scouting department that Steve Courson packed on an amazing seventy pounds of muscle and lowered his 40 yard dash time in just six months. Justin Strylzick, Eric Green, Tim Worley, Marvel Smith (Pro Bowler, Marvel Smith that is), Santonio Holmes, James Harrison have all been employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers warts and all. Revisionist history has made the Steelers Way out to be all Joe Greene, Merril Hoge, Troy Polamalu, and James Farrior. There have been enough Ernest Jacksons and Carlton Haselrigs along the way to keep the front office humble and vigilant and as soon as the risk of a person like Jeff Reed outweighed the reward of a player like Jeff Reed action will be taken.
My formative years were spent in the time before cell phone cameras, social media, and the 24 hour news cycle. My immediate peer group and I benefitted from the proper guidance of family, teachers, employers, and once or twice the Pennsylvania State Police. I can tell you from firsthand experience that ‘The Pennsylvania State Police Way’ can either be by the book or it can come in the form of a very direct conversation where my only words were ‘hello’ and ‘yes, sir’. Although my missteps were few and by all accounts minor, I am still thankful for the guidance and for the second chances I’ve been given in my life. Let’s all hope that new Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Adams and Chris Rainey will be able to say the same.