Steelers Need To Just Play Football


I wonder what Taylor would think if he knew that some of those fans don’t like the way he’s playing right now. Would he still sign their Terrible Towels? Credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

In lieu of writing a post about the key factors the Steelers need to focus on in order to win against the Bengals this Sunday night, I’m going to say this:  Just play some damn football.

After the abysmal loss to the Titans last Thursday, the media and blog posters alike took the Steelers to task about their lack of discipline, poor 4th quarter play, and major concerns about the overall contention of the 2012 team.  Certain players on said roster have decided that the media and Steeler Nation are being too hard on the team and outright questioning the fandom of those who criticize – as if somehow we are being judged as politicians are in the political media circus:  Just how big is YOUR flag pin?

Just as wrapping one’s self in the American flag does not define one’s patriotism, wrapping one’s self in the sacred Terrible Towel and blindly looking the other way about the glaring problems of this team does not define one’s fandom.  So when players like the ever Tweety Rashard Mendenhall and (please don’t kill me for pointing you out) James Harrison start questioning Steeler Nation citizens’ fandom, I would kindly ask that you shut yer yap and just play some damn football.

I spend my $100 Sunday NFL Ticket Max upgrade in order to watch the Black & Gold wherever and whenever I want.  I put off plans every Thursday, Sunday or Monday night the Steelers are scheduled to play.  I’ve indoctrinated my wife and son to the ‘Steeler way’ so that we can all enjoy the game together.  I take hours out of my day every day to write about this franchise that I’ve loved since I was a teen.  The love of the game and the love of the Steelers is now four generations deep in my family – since almost the beginning of the Pittsburgh Pirate days in the 30’s.  I’ve made the sacrifices as has my father and his father, so don’t question my fandom when I or anyone of Steeler Nation begin to critique.  It’s quite rude when those we invest in question the validity of our investment.

Ike Taylor is the latest Steeler to come out this week and question those that question… well… him.  In his own radio show, Taylor has decided that the media is too hard on the team, and on him.

"I always felt like, you know, if we’re in the same city, regardless what’s going on with the team, why can’t we just be family? Why can’t we just point out the facts? Why does one individual have to be pointed out?"

Well I have to tell you, Ike, I don’t know what utopian family you come from, but my family is always critical and always points out each other’s faults.  (Well, at least my East coast family does.  My Midwestern family is a bit more passive aggressive.)  And even though we get critical with each other, and spat, and yell, and question, and disagree – there’s still a heap of unconditional love there for each other.  No matter how bad things get, we will always be there for each other and root each other on.  And, I have to say that you miss another point.  We aren’t all from the same city.  A huge chunk of Steeler Nation hails from all over the nation and the world.  If you weren’t so busy wallowing in your own current state of mediocrity, you would realize that this whole thing is bigger than you.  Steeler Nation is bigger than you.  There are folks from around the world that love this team and cheer for the current players and admire those who have graced the roster.  It seems he and other players on this roster forget that Steeler Nation is one of the greatest fan bases in the world.

The game is a team game.  Yes, you are being pointed at – but you are far from being singled out.  I take issue with your defensiveness.

"The stats are the stats.  Y’all look at numbers, y’all throw numbers out, the numbers don’t lie. And, if you want to go by numbers, we’re not doing as bad as what they say we’re doing."

What are the numbers?  Well the defense is ranked 5th in overall yards.  They are 4th in passing yards, 10th in rushing yards, and 18th in points.  Even though yards allowed looks good, the stat that is glaringly bad is the points – 18th.  Last time I checked, it’s points that decide who wins and loses a football game.  So maybe you should check that stat, Ike.  Let’s also put some context around that awesome 4th in passing stat.  The Steelers outscore, out possess, and out defend their opponents in the first three quarters.  That will without a doubt keep yardage down.  But, when the 4th quarter comes around, everything goes to hell.  The offense starts to lose control of the possession game by not sustaining longer drives.  The opposing offense has been getting better field position because of the last stat.  Shorter field to defend means less yards to give up.  Ike, did you know the Titans started on their own 40 yard line in that winning field goal drive last Thursday?  They only had to drive 30 yards to get in FG range.  There’s no stat for that except for the L in the win/loss columns.  How do the stats justify an 2-3 record and winless on the road?  Oh right.  They don’t.

I don’t like being critical.  I don’t want to call out the shortcomings of this team.  I would love to talk about how this team keeps dominating the competition.  I would love to point out that the team is 5-0 or 4-1 and that they are to be reckoned with and the favorites to go to the Super Bowl.  That’s not reality and so why would you ask me and ask the rest of Steeler Nation to live in a dream land?  The team is not playing like a playoff team.  The team has problems.  Are you ever going to man up to them, or just keep pointing at the non contextualized stats?

Part of the awesome experience of today’s technological world is that as a fan we can experience this game in any way that we want to.  Pick a media form and there’s tons to ingest: Tweets from players, streamed radio shows, video interviews on YouTube.  You name it, it’s out there for you to consume.  Players enjoy this ego massaging machine called the internet – to the point that it becomes detrimental to themselves.  What they tend to forget is that while they are whining, swaging, and overall being a boob, is that the majority of crazed fans are also super smart.  They see through the BS.  They cock that eyebrow or look over their glasses when they and their fandom are being put into question.

I get it guys.  Football is a rough and physical game.  The amount of training and sacrifice of the body that goes into playing football is mind boggling.  Football’s hard.  But, your first world problems of making millions and being critiqued from those who help pay your way – absurd.

Knock it off, just play some damn sound football, and get stats that matter – winning.