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Podcast: The Steelers’ championship window is still open, barely

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/01/2020 - 7:36am

In a brand new show titled ‘Yeah, I said it’, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping for a few more years where they are serious Super Bowl contenders. Some call this the “Super Bowl Window”, but the reality of the situation is the Steelers’ window is barely open.

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams talks about why fans should realize the window is still open, barely.

Time to deliver the goods on the latest show.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

Check out the audio below:

Feel free to give us your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below, and don’t forget to follow us on all our audio platforms by following the links below:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

The Chiefs and 49ers are good, but how their regular seasons ended also made them very lucky

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/01/2020 - 6:59am
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Both the Chiefs and 49ers could have very easily started the playoffs in the wildcard round, which may have led to a totally different Super Bowl LIV match-up.

It was the evening of December 11, 2005. The Steelers had just knocked off Brian Urlacher and the Bears at Heinz Field earlier in the day to begin an epic journey that wouldn’t end until team owner Dan Rooney hoisted the Lombardi trophy at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, some two months later.

Yes, Pittsburgh’s incredible playoff run as the sixth seed in the AFC all the way to Super Bowl XL champion was the kind of magic that most of their die-hard fans will cherish forever.

But it almost didn’t happen.

While the Steelers win over Chicago reignited their season after a three-game losing-streak dropped them to 7-5 and on the outside looking in at the postseason, a lot of work still needed to be done.

Even if the Steelers had won out, they still wouldn’t have qualified for the playoffs without some losses from other teams in other stadiums. One of those teams that needed to lose was the Kansas City Chiefs, which brings us back to that evening of December 11, 2005.

The Chiefs, who entered the day with a one-game lead over the Steelers in the wildcard standings, appeared poised to hold onto that advantage, thanks to a fourth-down stop against the Cowboys, who were driving for the winning score in the waning moments of a Week 14 match-up in Dallas.

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, their defense was called for holding, Dallas was given a fresh set of downs, and Kansas City went on to lose the game to fall to 8-5.

Pittsburgh ultimately finished one game ahead of the Chiefs in the standings and qualified for the playoffs by the slimmest of margins (KC would have won a tiebreaker based on a better conference mark), before going on to make NFL history.

But, as I alluded to earlier, it never would have happened, if not for a holding call in a game involving two other teams.

I open up this piece with that little trip down memory lane to illustrate just how lucky both the Chiefs and 49ers are to be participating in Super Bowl LIV this Sunday evening at 6:18 p.m. ET.

Yes, it does seem like the football gods got it right this time, what with San Francisco, the number one seed in the NFC and an all around great football team, facing off against a Kansas City squad led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, by all accounts the new face of the NFL.

But as good as these two football teams are—and, to be completely clear, they are very, very good—they could have very easily been watching this Sunday’s game at home like the rest of us.

The Chiefs entered Week 17 looking very much like a team that would have to start the postseason as the number three seed in the AFC. The Patriots, who lost to Kansas City at home just weeks earlier, still had the upper-hand for the number two seed and a bye. All they had to do was knock off a Dolphins team that once looked like the worst in all of football, one that lost to a Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers team by 10 points earlier in the year.

The Chiefs handled their business at home against the Chargers in their final game, but so what, right? New England losing at home to the Dolphins? But that’s exactly what happened, as Miami scored the game-winning touchdown with mere seconds left to knock the Patriots down to the number three seed and elevate Kansas City to the AFC’s number two spot.

As for the 49ers, they entered their final regular season game facing this proposition: Defeat the Seahawks on the road to clinch the NFC West and the top seed or lose to Seattle and fall all the way down to the fifth spot.

Fast-forward to the end of the game, and the Seahawks had a first and goal from inside the 10. But just when the 49ers looked to be in trouble, they held off Seattle and clinched everything that was to be clinched heading into the postseason.

The 49ers looked pretty methodical in their two postseason home victories, while the Chiefs needed some Mahomes magic to storm back from large deficits in each one of theirs.

But I doubt the 49ers would have looked so dominant and methodical if they were forced to win three road playoff games en route to an NFC title. In fact, I doubt they would have even come close. As for the Chiefs? It’s hard to imagine them bouncing back from huge deficits on the road.

And let’s also not forget that Kansas City benefited from Tennessee knocking off the top-seeded Ravens in the divisional round, thus guaranteeing the Chiefs two games at Arrowhead Stadium.

Yes, I truly believe the Chiefs and 49ers were the two best teams in football heading into the postseason, but as history tells us, sometimes, it’s not always the two best teams that advance to the Super Bowl. It’s the teams with the most luck on their side.

Would you rather the Super Bowl be moved to Saturday, or to have the Monday after off?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/01/2020 - 5:40am
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The latest FanPulse information from SB Nation answers this question, and others, heading into Super Bowl 54.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, like all 30 NFL franchises who aren’t participating in Super Bowl 54, will be watching on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers square off in the biggest sporting event in North America.

But it isn’t as if the players are the only ones who will be watching the game. Almost the entire continental United State tunes in, even if it is just to watch the commercials. With the game not starting till shortly after 6:00 p.m. ET, it can lead to some late nights for fans who are celebrating a little too hard.

This makes people regret some of their decisions on Monday morning. Maybe it was one too many cocktails, or that last helping of buffalo chicken dip. Either way, the water cooler talk on Monday almost always consists of talk of the game, followed by why they are at work the day after the Super Bowl.

There are two possible solutions:

1. Go from Super Sunday, to Super Saturday. This would leave Sunday as a recovery day for those who partake in the game.

or

2. Make the Monday after the Super Bowl a recognized day off for majority of workers across the country.

Which would you prefer? According to the SB Nation FanPulse data, most fans would rather have Monday off than move the game to Saturday.

Check out the data:

While this sounds great, the reality is there is a stronger likelihood of the game being moved to Saturday than companies deciding to allow employees to have a day off because of a football game.

A potential future resolution is if the NFL extends the season the Super Bowl could be played on the same weekend as President’s Day. This wouldn’t give everyone that Monday off, but enough would be off where it would be nice to watch the game knowing work is beckoning the day after.

Check out some of the other FanPulse data which was gathered from NFL fans around the globe!

Black and Gold Links: Troy Polamalu, a no-brainer for induction into the Hall of Fame

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/01/2020 - 4:31am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take at how Troy Polamalu is a no-brainer selection to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Let’s get to the news:

  • As if he needed any more endorsement from any of us, but Troy Polamalu being a Hall of Famer is a no-brainer.

Labriola on why Troy Polamalu belongs

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

Jack Buck was behind the microphone doing the play-by-play, but it was in a different sport in a different era. Still, the words he used that night in Los Angeles to describe what Kirk Gibson did during Game 1 of the 1988 World Series could apply to so many of the football moments authored by Troy Polamalu in venues in so many different NFL cities.

”I don’t believe what I just saw.”

Troy Polamalu was 7 years old when the Dodgers faced Oakland in the 1988 World Series, and his own career as a professional athlete would begin 15 years later when the Pittsburgh Steelers made him their first-round pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. During his 12 seasons, Polamalu played in 158 regular season games, and he started every one of those except for the 16 during his rookie year.

He amassed 783 tackles, with 32 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries for a total of 39 takeaways; he had 12 sacks and 14 forced fumbles; and he scored five defensive touchdowns. He was voted to the Pro Bowl eight times, he was voted first-team All-Pro four times, and in 2010 he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But such a bland recitation of statistics and accomplishments just doesn’t begin to describe the player Polamalu was, or put into context the impact he had, or come close to explaining the human highlights film he always will be.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • A look back at the last time we will see Steelers playing football until training camp.

More Steelers takeaways at the Pro Bowl

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

Sights and sounds from ESPN’s broadcast of the 2020 Pro Bowl on this afternoon at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.:

T.J. TD: Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt was a big part of what became the splash play of the game when he recovered a fumble on fourth-and-goal from the AFC 9-yard line early in the fourth quarter and returned it 82-yards for a touchdown.

Watt picked up the ball after it had been knocked from Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins’ grasp by Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell and carried it all the way into the opposite end zone. Watt even extended the ball back in the direction of Cousins, who was in pursuit the entire way back down the field, at about the 15-yard line and then executed a slide upon crossing the goal line.

Watt beat Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward to the recovery.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Predictions for the Hall of Fame...does Alan Faneca get in?

Our Hall of Fame votes: 57 NFL analysts pick the 2020 class

By: ESPN Staff Writers

THE LOCK

1. Troy Polamalu: 227 points

Safety: Pittsburgh Steelers, 2003-14

Résumé highlights: Two-time Super Bowl champion (XL, XLIII); four-time first-team All-Pro; last defensive back to win Defensive Player of the Year Award (2010).

Key stat: 32. Polamalu had 32 career interceptions, and also forced 14 fumbles, recovering seven.

They said it: ”His actions as a human being were just as impressive as any of the many inhuman plays he made on the football field.” — Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert

CLOSE CALLS

4. Alan Faneca: 69 points

Guard: Pittsburgh Steelers 1998-2007; New York Jets 2008-09; Arizona Cardinals 2010

Résumé highlights: Super Bowl champion (XL); nine-time Pro Bowl selection, six-time first-team All-Pro.

Key stat: 12. Faneca is one of just 12 guards in league history to be first-team All-Pro six or more times — the other 11 are already enshrined in Canton. His teams were among the league’s top five in rushing six times in his 13 seasons.

They said it: “It started with him. He was the guy up front.” — Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

HOW⁉️@tpolamalu pic.twitter.com/w9LUkDA5kT

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 31, 2020

Modern-Era Finalist @afan66 shares what it would mean to him to be elected a Hall of Famer and his reaction to seeing his former coach @CowherCBS get elected to the Class of 2020.#PFHOF20 | @steelers pic.twitter.com/z9TRkGgMyA

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) January 31, 2020

You don't mess with greatness.

VOTE for the Immaculate Reception NOW: https://t.co/XuAUJpdyKw#NFL100 pic.twitter.com/Pbzm3l0sJ1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 30, 2020

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions: Offseason, Vol. 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 5:47pm
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There is plenty to talk about regarding all things black-and-gold!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. Right out of the game, what is your prediction for Super Bowl 54??

2. On our Steelers Preview podcast, you can hear it below, we debated a lot of topics, but I wanted to include this one into the Six-Pack: Which Super Bowl loss hurt worse? Super Bowl 30, or Super Bowl 45?

3. Look into your crystal ball and tell everyone how many years the Steelers have left in their Super Bowl “window”...

4. What was the greatest/your favorite Super Bowl halftime show?

5. If you are headed to a Super Bowl party, what is your go-to dish/drink you are bringing to the gathering?

6. Of the Steelers’ six Super Bowl championships, which one was your favorite, and why?

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Steelers Super Bowl Flashback: Super Bowl XL vs. the Seahawks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 2:19pm
Photo by Gregory Shamus/NFLPhotoLibrary

The creator of “Random Thoughts From a Black-and-Gold Mind” flashes back to the game that ended a 26-year championship drought.

My DMC-12 in my black-and-gold mind operates on auto-pilot. So, as I open the door to my cranial Delorean in anticipation of the date displayed on the time circuits, I pray that it’s not from the 60s (those were dark times in the ‘Burgh). But I was pleased to be only going back 14 years when the Lombardi trophy returned from its 26-year Steel City siesta.

The year was 2006.

It was a day when America lost the comic brilliance of Franklin Cover, the man who portrayed Tom Willis on The Jeffersons. Also Costa Rica held presidential elections, slasher thriller When A Stranger Calls was No. 1 at the box office and, although the song was nearly 21-years old and it was February, I was walking on sunshine.

For the first time in ten years since their devastating loss to Dallas in Super Bowl XL, my Steelers were in the Super Bowl. They needed a series of improbable events and planetary alignment to get there. That scenario included a must-win 4-game streak to end the 2005 season, plus a Carson Palmer injury in Cincy, a Ben Roethlisberger miracle tackle in Indy, and a win in tough-to-play Denver to get there.

Tickets were going for three grand a piece and I just couldn’t scrape that kind of cheddar together. I was bummed but elated as the day grew closer. The night before the game I was invited to spend the evening in Maryland with my girlfriend’s family for Mexican Night. It was right around 7pm and the game was 23 hours away, when my future brother-in-law (a Ravens fan) looked at me and said, “I forgot you were a Steeler fan. I had free tickets come across my desk yesterday. If I would have thought about it, I would have given them to you”.

I’ve been speechless maybe one or two times in my existence.

A flood of ideas popped in my head, which included many that would result in my beating the refried beans out of him, then being incarcerated and missing the game altogether. While I stuttered and he kept babbling, my future wife implored him to just stop talking. I regained my speech when he absurdly said how “the game is tomorrow, you’d never get there anyway”. I explained that I could be in Detroit in seven hours and asked him to call somebody to see if he could get me the tickets. I felt like a desperate crackhead looking for one more score. He said he would call while I hyperventilated on my future in-laws’ couch. I’m pretty sure he lied, but he said he called to no avail. To this day, I haven’t fully forgiven him.

I woke up the next day and drove to Johnstown to watch the game with my parents and sister. I couldn’t watch the game with my girlfriend, because superstition didn’t allow it. We spent the Saturday before each postseason with each other and then I drove a long distance to watch the game. I needed to keep that party going, because heaven knows that the Steelers’ fortunes ride on my watching habits. Everything was pretty much a blur of excitement up until Aarron Neville, Aretha Franklin and Dr. John performed the Nation Anthem at Ford Field in Detroit. Then I marveled as I watched Jerome Bettis — unwittingly duped by his teammates to run out onto the field in his hometown for what would be his last NFL game — while a sea of past Super Bowl MVPs looked on.

The Seattle Seahawks won the kickoff and elected to receive. There was very little action as each of the team’s first two possessions ended with punts. On their third series, Seattle started strong, courtesy of a short Chris Gardocki punt that Peter Warrick returned a yard short of midfield. Three plays later, Matt Hasselback seemingly completed a dominant drive with a touchdown pass to Darrel Jackson. However, he was called for what even Tunch Ilkin called a “ticky-tack” offensive pass interference play on Chris Hope. This stalled their drive and Josh Brown put Seattle up 3-0 to end the first quarter.

The Steelers, especially Ben Roethlisberger, didn’t play much better to start the second quarter when he threw a pick with his team finally driving. On the next Steelers’ drive, Roethlisberger came somewhat alive, as he converted a third-and-28 with a 37-yard across-body heave to Hines Ward down to the 3-yard line. After Jerome Bettis got them to the one, Roethlisberger faked a handoff and seemingly dove his way short of the end zone. But after a brief stutter by the ref, a touchdown was signaled and Seattle challenged to no avail. The half ended as Brown missed a 54-yarder on the next drive and Pittsburgh ran out the clock leading 7-3.

After the disappointing debacle that was The Rolling Stones at halftime, Willie Parker electrified Steelers Nation, going 75 yards untouched through an Alan Faneca-made hole to paydirt and a 14-3 lead. It replaced Marcus Allen’s epic 1984 jaunt in the record book, and still stands as the longest run in Super Bowl history.

After Brown missed another FG, Pittsburgh drove again and were on the verge of putting the game away when Roethlisberger threw another interception from the six that Kelly Herndon returned 76 yards to the Steelers’ 20. Hasselbeck then cut the lead to 14-10 when he found Jeramy Stevens for a 16-yard score.

After the Steelers punted, Matt Hasselbeck drove the Seahawks down the field to the Steelers’ 1-yard line. But Sean Locklear was called for a hold and Ike Taylor intercepted Hasselbeck three plays later.

Four plays later, Pittsburgh ran a reverse that appeared to be blown up by Seattle. But Ben threw a devastating block that allowed Antwaan Randle El to throw a 43-yard touchdown pass to an all-alone Hines Ward, who galloped into the end zone giving the Steelers a 21–10 lead. It was the first time a receiver had ever thrown a TD pass in the Super Bowl. Ironically, both ends of that tandem had played QB on the college level.

Photo by Allen Kee/NFLPhotoLibrary Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images

Seattle attempted a comeback but, on the strength of a Casey Hampton sack and Jerome Bettis draining the clock on seven straight runs, the Steelers triumphed as the clock ran out. Steelers Nation celebrated while Seattle felt robbed. Ward was named the MVP, Jerome Bettis retired on the podium and Bill Cowher beamed as he handed the Lombardi to Dan Rooney.

As for me, It was the first Super Bowl championship I witnessed in my adult life. I was on an amazing high that was 26-years in the making and I never wanted to come down. As I drove two hours back to Maryland in a driving snowstorm late into the night, I listened to the post-game on the radio and found myself alone in tears in my car. I reached my apartment around 3am when the urge hit me to drive past my girlfriend’s sister’s husband’s house and honk the horn in celebration.

I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess what I ended up doing.

8 Steelers whose cap savings highly outweighs their dead money if released in 2020

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 12:22pm
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Several members on this list will most likely not be in black and gold in 2020

With the Pittsburgh Steelers up against the salary cap for the 2020 season, much discussion has been made about which players may become cap casualties this off-season. I have already outlined the players on the team which would cost more against the cap than to keep them for the season as well as the players who could save the Steelers some cap space but the dead money hit would be a lot to overcome. Just to clarify, “dead money” is the amount money already paid to a player that has yet to be accounted for under the salary cap. This time, let’s look at the players who can save the Steelers a significant amount of space under the salary cap.

Here is a list of the eight Steelers who have at least $1 million higher cap savings than their dead money amount if they were to be released for the 2020 season. Granted, some of these players the Steelers would not consider moving on from anytime soon based on their on-field production. But whether or not their departure would be likely given their salary cap situation, it never hurts to know the numbers. All figures listed are courtesy of overthecap.com and reflect if the player was a pre-June 1 cut (the only type available the the final year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement).

Cameron Heyward Dead money: $3,751,250
Cap Savings: $9,500,000

It’s true Cam Hayward has the highest cap savings of any player currently on the Steelers at $9.5 million. With less than $4 million in dead money, the numbers align for the Steelers to make this move to save money. But sometimes making a move based on numbers defies all logic which is the case here. Moving on from an All-Pro player coming off an amazing three-year stretch of production just to save cap space is not a formula for success in the NFL. If not for it being the final year of the CBA, Heyward would most assuredly receive a new contract.

Alejandro Villanueva Dead money: $3,390,000
Cap Savings: $5,000,000

Coming off a year in which he struggled, Villanueva could bring a $5 million savings to the Steelers. The problem is, the Steelers have plenty of other questions to answer on the offensive line this season so having to find a replacement left tackle as well is not the smartest move just to save money under the cap.

Mark Barron Dead money: $2,875,000
Cap Savings: $5,250,000

Some Steelers’ fans have already written off Barron as a cap casualty in their mind. While the Steelers could save over $5 million, it’s unclear how much they value Barron at the current price. When signed last off-season, the Steelers did structure the contract in a way where moving on after one year was possible.

Vance McDonald Dead money: $1,455,000
Cap Savings: $5,672,500

Vance McDonald is the rare player on the list who has a contract with the Steelers if they choose, but there is a club option for both 2020 and 2021. While many believe the cap savings would be very beneficial to the Steelers, the bigger question remains if the Steelers can replace McDonald for less money than what they would spend to keep him in 2020.

Anthony Chickillo Dead money: $1,097,500
Cap Savings: $5,000,000

I have questioned why the Steelers signed Chickillo this past off-season, especially since his plantar fasciitis injury which bothered him in 2018 also affected his 2019 season. Being able to save $5 million, I don’t see why the Steelers would bother to keep Chickillo for such a price. Based on his 2019 production, if his cap savings was half of what it is currently the Steelers should still make the decision to move on.

Ramon Foster Dead money: $1,575,000
Cap Savings: $4,000,000

In interviews following the Steelers Week 17 game, Foster appeared to see the writing on the wall that his time with the Steelers may be coming to a close. It’s a shame such a solid player and great leader may become a salary cap casualty, but age is not on Foster’s side at this point in his career.

Jordan Berry Dead money: $375,000
Cap Savings: $1,800,000

Cutting a player to save less than $2 million for the cap doesn’t help a lot, but if the Steelers feel they could replace Berry for much cheaper it may be something worth considering. Berry was having a fantastic year early on, but his struggles late in the season is what remains in the mind of my Steelers’ fans.

Daniel McCullers Dead money: $125,000
Cap Savings: $1,500,000

There are many who are wondering why McCullers continues to be a player the Steelers continue to keep around. Yes, they could save $1.5 million towards the cap in 2020. But with the expected departure of Javon Hargrave, McCullers might be in the Steelers plans as to how to cover the position.

So these are the eight players currently under contract with the Steelers who have a salary cap savings which is more than $1 million than their dead money hit. While cutting any of these players does carry some cost against the salary cap, the money has already been paid to the player so they are not taking any more cash out of pocket if they were released. Of course, this is strictly from a numbers perspective. When factoring on-the-field performance, some of these players are no-brainers to keep while others should be looking for the call from the Steelers’ front office sometime in the next several weeks.

3 crazy ideas I would like to see in the next NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 11:04am
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

All three of these ideas maybe unattainable in the NFL’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement, but they sure would be nice

With the NFLPA and owners looking to establish a new Collective Bargaining Agreement either this off-season or in 2021, there are several things both sides really want included. Whether or not these issues will be enough to cause a work stoppage remains to be seen. The last thing either side wants to do is abandon their fan base who they rely on to ultimately support the league by not having their product on the field.

With that in mind, what would the fans like to see in the new CBA? Is there something we think would be good for the game that either side may not necessarily think is important?

Unfortunately, fans do not get a seat at the table. The only way we can really make a difference is in our viewership and hard-earned money we put towards our favorite NFL teams. But what if we did get a say? Here are three ideas I have for the next CBA which I would love to see included.

3 players who don’t count towards the salary cap

I think this idea would be a unique way to remove the franchise tag from the equation for the NFL. Having three plays not affecting the salary cap would benefit the players because elite superstars could earn an even higher contract. This idea could also benefit owners in retaining their players. Ultimately, I think the advantage would go to the players on this one. But this is not my concern.

Here’s how I would like to see a play out: The top three salaries in a given year of players who were drafted by the team do not count towards the salary cap. By drafting players who become superstars which teams wish to retain, they can break the bank as much as they want for those players. Also, teams could structure contracts to where a player could move in and out of being one of the top three salaries. For example, when a player signs a new deal and most of their first year is a signing bonus, they are relatively low cap hit as that money gets spread out over the years of the contract. If a team works the salary cap correctly, they could have four or five players who they are given contracts that could rotate in and out of these top spots based on how cap friendly each year would be.

To use the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers as an example, the top three salary cap numbers for the year are Ben Roethlisberger, Stephon Tuitt, and David DeCastro. Ben’s cap number is $33.5 million with Tuitt cashing in at just under $15 million and DeCastro just over $13.5 million. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is on the Steelers, he would be one of the top three salaries. But what about Cameron Heyward who is going into the last year of his contract? If the Steelers were to sign Heyward to an extension, especially if it were not the final year of the CBA, they could give him a deal with a large signing bonus and have a lower cap hit for 2020. As his cap number goes up, he would move up into the top three.

Additionally, the Steelers would not have to worry about breaking the bank for T.J. Watt at the end of his rookie deal. He would certainly be a player who could go into the top three salaries. As for others, the Steelers could just work some “cap magic” with those players. But a player like Joe Haden who is the fifth-highest cap number on the Steelers would not be eligible to be one of the uncapped salaries since he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.

With this whole idea, it would allow teams to retain players they drafted who have become elite players and would command a large salary on the open market. If a team struggles to draft a franchise quarterback, they would have to use their salary cap room to sign one from somewhere else. But for teams who are skilled (or lucky) enough to draft them, when they go into their second contract it would not penalize them to where they could no longer sign other quality players.

One last benefit of implementing such an idea would make it possible for a player would always be able to sign a larger contract with the team who drafted them rather than on the open market. Another team may not have the cap space to sign a big named player, but the team who drafted them would have no restrictions other than what they are willing to pay.

Adding a second bye week which must fall before a team’s Thursday night game

I proposed this idea when I had my own version of a 17-game schedule which I published in the fall of 2018 before the NFL even toyed with the notion of adding only one more game to the schedule. Adding a 17th or 18th game isn’t the issue right now, because even if the league stays with 16 games, having a bye before Thursday night games would be of great benefit to the players.

Many players are not recovered enough from a Sunday game to begin practicing on Wednesday of a normal week. When a team only has two days to practice before their Thursday night game, their bodies are not ready and the game plan is not always fully developed. By adding another bye week which would fall before each team Thursday night game, bodies could heal and the same amount of practice time in between games is attainable.

Would there be any benefit for the owners to have another by week? Even if the games are still the same number, adding another week to the season adds revenue. Yes, there may be one or two less games each Sunday. But if there is a whole other week in which advertising space can be sold, the money is there for the taking.

As a fan, I sometimes don’t know what to do when the Steelers are on their bye week (unless I strategically plan a vacation). But if one of those byes happened to come where I knew the Steelers would be playing just a couple days after they normally would, it would make the situation not nearly as difficult to get through in my opinion.

Add a short term IR designation

I feel the league did something wise when they allowed teams to have one player return from the Reserve/Injured List after eight games. I feel the league was even wiser by adding a second player and not making teams designate those players when they first went on Injured Reserve. But what about a player who is going to miss a few weeks but may not be worth using the designated to return option?

I suggest allowing each team have a short-term Reserve/Injured List player. Because it is so short term, the player would have to be designated when the team put them on the list. Instead of missing eight games, the player would only have to miss four and could begin practicing after three. This would have been a great designation for Benny Snell Jr. when he had his knee scoped this past season. By instituting this rule, it could allow the team to have the extra player on the roster in the injured player’s absence but not have the player miss half the season.

The way I would do this would be to allow one player at a time to be out with this particular status. Also, if the player took another week or two to come back, they could stay on the short term Reserve/Injured List longer and return whenever they are ready but another player could not be used on the list as long as the original player was still out.

So these are my three ideas of things that could be interesting to see in the new CBA which will be coming before games are played in the 2021 season. What do you all think? Are any of these ideas worth going into the agreement? Do you have another idea which you think would be good for the NFL? Or do you like one of these ideas but think it needs to be tweaked in some manner? Make sure you vote in the poll and leave your comments below.

Why Bill Nunn deserves to be the next Steelers representative in the Hall of Fame

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 9:32am

Some might not view scouts as worthy of Hall of Fame induction, but when you learn about Bill Nunn you see why this should change.

(Editor’s Note: This article was written by contributor Chris Ward. He did the back end work on the interview and produced the article for BTSC.)

Earlier this month it was announced that Bill Cowher and Donnie Shell were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as members of the 2020 Centennial Class. Two other Steelers legends who are among the 15 modern-day finalists — Troy Polamalu and Alan Faneca could join Cowher and Shell this summer with enshrinements in Canton if they’re voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame by the Selection Committee on Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl.

Polamalu should be a lock for the Hall, Faneca should get in as well unless there’s some bias of too many Steelers being in this year’s class. However, there should be at least three Steelers enshrined into football immortality this summer. It’s a real shame that one man won’t be joining them though, and it’s an even bigger travesty that he wasn’t even nominated as a contributor for the Centennial Class by the blue-ribbon panel. That man is Bill Nunn, who was a scout for the Steelers and architect of those great teams from the 1970s who went on to win four Super Bowls in six years.

Without Nunn, the Steelers don’t find diamonds in the rough like John Stallworth (Alabama A&M), Mel Blount (Southern University), L.C. Greenwood (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Ernie Holmes (Texas Southern), Dwight White (East Texas State) and Shell (South Carolina State), who played at historically black colleges and universities. And quite frankly, the Steelers’ 1970s dynasty probably doesn’t even exist without Nunn.

Prior to accepting a part-time scouting position with the Steelers in 1967 and eventually a full-time position in the scouting department when Chuck Noll was hired in 1969, Nunn was a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Courier and from 1950 until the late 1960s, Nunn would select the black college All-American football team for the Courier and held an annual awards ceremony. Nunn would travel all over the South every fall to compile information on players for his All-American team, along with that he built close relationships with coaches and athletic directors at HBCUs.

“I think Donnie Shell is a perfect example where he might have not ended up playing in the NFL at all except that his coach in college knew Nunn and knew what the Steelers were doing and Nunn had that connection, so he was able to give him a shot at the NFL,” said Andrew Conte, author of “The Color of Sundays: The Secret Strategy That Built the Steelers Dynasty,” a story that gives an in-depth look at Nunn’s scouting strategies that helped reshape the franchise, along with breaking racial barriers. “There were a few players like that, Sam Davis was another one, guys who went undrafted from small black colleges that have been overlooked, but because of Nunn they were able to get a shot at playing in the NFL.”

Teams are fortunate enough if they select one player in a draft class who goes on to have a Hall of Fame career. The Steelers struck gold in 1974, as they would have five future Hall of Famers from their rookie class in Lynn Swann (first round), Jack Lambert (second round), John Stallworth (fourth round), Mike Webster (fifth round) and Shell, who went undrafted. It’s by far the greatest rookie class in the history of the NFL and probably all of sports. It’s a feat that won’t happen again. There’s six Hall of Fame members across the league from the 1974 rookie class, five of them are Steelers and the other member is Dave Casper, who was selected by the Raiders in the second round. That statistic in itself just shows how far in advance the Steelers’ scouting department was compared to the rest of the league at the time, and Nunn had a lot to do with that.

“You look at the 1974 draft, they were able to take Swann so early in the draft and hold off taking Stallworth until later in the draft because Nunn basically figured out that Stallworth was worth taking and nobody else knew that because Nunn held onto the tapes from his tryout at Alabama A&M,” Conte said. “I think those two things put together, the Shell one that really stands out in my mind, but then the ability to get Stallworth so late in the draft that sort of really allowed them to get four Hall of Famers in their first five picks.”

Nunn was able to find superior athletes at small black colleges throughout the South and the rest of the teams around the league knew there was talent there, but they were way behind Nunn.

“When Nunn came to black college campuses as a reporter from the Courier he was really seen almost as a celebrity,” Conte said. “He would end up staying at the athletic director’s house or the coach’s house, the president’s house. He was really treated like a special person. By the time he became a professional scout, he already had such an advantage because he knew all these people and knew his way around these schools, and at the same time, conversely, a lot of the white scouts felt uncomfortable going into an all-black campus and try to figure out what was going on. Everybody knew that there was talent at black colleges by the point Nunn came around, but they didn’t know how to go find it.”

In 2014, the Pro Football Hall of Fame decided to add contributor as a category for nomination to make the Hall of Fame in an effort to get more deserving contributor candidates in. Since then, only one scout has made the Hall of Fame and that was Gil Brandt in 2018.

Brandt was an executive and scout with the Cowboys from 1960-1988 and helped pioneer many of the scouting techniques used by NFL teams today. Brandt oversaw the drafting of nine Cowboys’ players who went on to be Hall of Famers, in addition to constructing two Super Bowl championship teams for the Cowboys in the 1970s. In comparison, the Steelers had 11 players who went on to have Hall of Fame careers under Nunn’s watch, along with architecting four Steelers’ Super Bowl championship teams within six years in the 1970s. If Brandt is in the Hall, Nunn should be as well. Making the Hall of Fame as a scout is no easy task, however. Of the 27 contributors in the Hall of Fame, Brandt is the only one that comes from a scouting background.

“It’s tough, scouts really haven’t gotten the shot at being in the Hall,” Conte said. “It’s one of those things where we don’t see them as much. Whenever I talk about Nunn, I always mention, here’s a guy that never threw the ball, caught the ball, never had a breakaway touchdown, didn’t stand on the sidelines coaching the players, and yet I think he was as responsible, and in many ways more responsible for the success of the Steelers during the 1970s than almost anyone else.”

Nunn had a tremendous eye for talent, but his contributions to the Steelers were more than just helping the team win Super Bowls and building one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL. He was a champion for change. He was a trailblazer to opening the door for players at small black colleges who probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance if it wasn’t for him. For those two causes, it’s hard to fathom how Nunn is not in Canton.

“If you were standing in the room, making the argument for why Nunn deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, you would point out the players like Stallworth and Shell, the players that Nunn identified that nobody else saw and then you would talk about the players that didn’t make the Hall but contributed to the Steelers’ championships,” Conte said. “And then you would really remind people that this was a person who contributed in a very special way, at a time that’s hard for us to understand exactly today what kind of challenges Nunn was facing at that time.

“When he first started out looking at draft boards, teams had markers on the board where they would identify the black players from the white players and that was one of his contribution saying ‘take that marker off there, it doesn’t matter what color the guy’s skin is, it’s about what he brings to the team.’ I think that’s the greatest contribution he made, this idea that we don’t evaluate players based on their skin color or the way they look, we evaluate them on their ability to play and what they can contribute to the team. When you look back across the success that the Steelers had collectively, and now individually, a lot of that goes back to the work that Nunn did, without a lot of fanfare, without a lot of attention, but that has tremendous results that continue to play out decades later here.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s blue-ribbon panel for the 2020 Centennial Class got it wrong with not even nominating Nunn. Hopefully, in the future, the Hall of Fame gets it right and enshrines Nunn into football immortality, as he certainly deserves to be right there along with the 11 other Steelers greats in Canton that he helped bring to Pittsburgh.

It’s nice Steelers fans don’t have to root against the Patriots in Super Bowl LIV

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 7:46am
Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The 49ers and Chiefs are in Super Bowl LIV and not the Patriots...for a change. Therefore, I can just sit back and watch without any bias or malice.

I bought into a $5 poll for this Sunday’s Super Bowl match-up between the 49ers and Chiefs, but that’s the only skin, as they say, I have in the biggest professional football game in the history of mankind (for this year, anyway).

Oh, sure, I’ll be pulling for whatever two numbers I get (I have yet to find that out, but my aunt won on “6” and “8” way back in Super Bowl XIX between the 49ers and Dolphins, so it might actually be my birthright to come out victorious no matter my draw), but I don’t really care, otherwise.

That’s a good thing.

For the first time since the Broncos took on the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, the Patriots aren’t in this game.

Therefore, I can just sit back and not root for whomever is taking on the Patriots. I don’t have to get disgusted with stupid calls at the goal line (Pete Carroll) or blown 25-point leads (2016 Atlanta Falcons). It will be fun to just enjoy a Super Bowl without engaging in a little schadenfreude.

I ain’t got no beef with Patrick Mahomes. I would likely have one with Jimmy Garoppolo, but he was traded to San Francisco from the Patriots two years ago, a transaction that almost guaranteed New England’s eventual regression into the same post-Super Bowl malaise we all have to suffer through. That’s a welcomed relief, too, because I was beginning to wonder if Bill Belichick was an actual vampire and not just someone who acted like one at news conferences.

I’d like to see Andy Reid finally get a ring after all these years. But, at the same time, watching the 49ers go from 2-14 to the king of the hill in just one year would be pretty cool, as well.

I know, I know, San Francisco would tie the Steelers with six Lombardi trophies with a victory in Super Bowl LIV; I suppose I could be “angry” at the 49ers because of that possibility, but as the quotation marks suggest, it would just be contrived.

In other words, I just don’t care. The Patriots beat that out of me by winning three more Super Bowls since 2014 and tying Pittsburgh a year ago.

What’s the point of worrying about yet another fan base walking around wearing “Got six?” t-shirts?

There are so many potentially great story-lines with this Super Bowl.

I mentioned Reid and him perhaps finally reaching the Promised Land after so many years of coming up short.

Of course, there’s Mahomes, who is already the new golden boy of NFL quarterbacks. But what if he comes up short? That would certainly take a bit of the shine off of that gold (losses in the Super Bowl always do). Anyway, to borrow from Robert Duvall in the movie The Natural, whether Mahomes wins or loses on Sunday, it’s going to make for a great story.

And if Garoppolo goes on to win a Super Bowl just two years after being traded away by a reportedly reluctant Belichick in order to appease a reportedly insecure and threatened Tom Brady, that would be a story that would continue to have life for years.

As for the fan bases, there doesn’t appear to be much that is really all that objectionable about either. On one hand, you have the 49ers fans whose team used to be the gold standard for NFL success in the 1980s and early-to-mid-’90s before soon regressing into one of the laughingstocks of football—a label the 49ers have worn for a good bit of the last 25 years. On the other hand, there are the Chiefs fans, many of whom weren’t even alive the last time their team was in this game.

No matter the outcome on Sunday, I’m sure I can find a way to be happy for either fan base.

It’s nice, this deal about not having to root against the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Although, if someone keeps me from winning my football poll, that might be a whole different article altogether.

The ‘Patriot Way’ would see most Steelers Unrestricted Free Agents walk for draft capital

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 6:30am
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The New England Patriots always seem to have a high roster turnover rate but somehow always have replacements

The Pittsburgh Steelers may choose to take a page out of the New England Patriots’ playbook when it comes to 2020 free agency. The move is simple, if you can't sign a player on a team friendly deal just let them walk, wait to sign any replacement, and earn a compensatory selection.

Just think back to the 2019 offseason when the Patriots couldn't come to terms with Trey Flowers, Trent Brown, Cordarrelle Patterson and Malcom Brown. What did they do about losing players of their caliber? Nothing, at first. They just let them walk, and in 2020 they will be awarded for it.

The compensatory formula would suggest the Patriots will receive an extra 2 third-round picks and 2 more sixth-round picks. All they had to do was not panic and wait for the second waive of free agency, which last year started May 7th. In the following 9 days they brought in Ben Watson, Dontrelle Inman, Jared Veldheer, and Jamie Collins. At which point those contracts can no longer effect the formula.

So what can the 2020 Steelers learn from the Patriots? For starters they absolutely cannot overspend on any of their own UFAs. While losing a Bud Dupree or Javon Hargrave will hurt in the short term, the long term compensatory-pick acquisition would help ease the pain of losing those starters.

Secondly, there's no point for the Steelers to spend any money on a first waive free-agent, they’ll cost too much for this team anyway. The second waive free-agents always feature stop-gap players this team will likely look to bring in, so they may as well maximize their compensation.

Losing Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave will probably earn the Steelers two 2021 third-round picks, Sean Davis will earn a contract to play elsewhere likely adding a lower tier comp-pick and even B.J. Finney could command a nice pay-day on the open market, adding yet anther pick.

While it may make for a boring off-season, the obvious long term success of the Patriots is apparent and the strategy is worth a conversation among team management.

What do you think? If you're Kevin Colbert would you be willing to wait out free agency to acquire compensatory selections? Let us know in the comment section below!

Podcast: Are fans delusional to think the Steelers offense is a quick fix?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Preview” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

The 2019 season is now over, and with the Pittsburgh Steelers now in the offseason, it is time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Is the Steelers’ offense a “quick fix” in 2020?
  • Steelers Trivia
  • Super Bowl Predictions
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, Bryan Anthony Davis and Dave Schofield walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

The After Party podcast will be published in audio platform after 12:00 p.m. ET, and the audio can be found below:

Black and Gold Links: There will never be another Steelers 1974 NFL Draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/31/2020 - 4:28am
Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take at how the 1974 Steelers NFL Draft class will never be duplicated. Ever.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Just imagine if the 1974 Steelers draft class was selected in 2020? What would Mel Kiper Jr. say about the class? Interesting to think, but there is no doubt it is the best class in NFL history.

A draft class like no other

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

January 29, 1974

The greatest NFL Draft class ever was selected

Lynn Swann. Jack Lambert. John Stallworth. Mike Webster.

All four players were selected by the team in the first five rounds of the NFL Draft on this day in 1974.

Four players who will always share a bond. Four players who made up the NFL’s greatest draft class ever. Four players who were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after their careers ended.

On that January day no one could have had an inkling of the success the four Steelers’ legends would have. But as is the case even until today, some tried to give their analysis.

The following was written by a sports columnist in the Jan. 30, 1974 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following the first five rounds of the 1974 NFL Draft, after the Steelers had picked Swann, Lambert, Stallworth, cornerback Jimmy Allen and Webster:

”The Steelers seem to have come out of the first five rounds of the draft appreciably strengthened at wide receiver but nowhere else. They didn’t get a tight end, and the ones remaining are more suspect than prospect. They didn’t get a punter, although none of the nation’s best collegiate punters went in the first five rounds. They didn’t get an offensive tackle who might’ve shored up what could well become a weakness. What they did get was Swann, who seems to be a sure-pop to help; Lambert, who figures to be the No. 5 linebacker if he pans out; and three question marks.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Taking a look back at some of those preseason predictions.

Grading our 32 NFL preseason bold predictions: Hits, misses and regrets

By: NFL Nation, ESPN

Pittsburgh Steelers

Bold prediction from September: Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will lead the NFL in receiving yards.

My predecessor, Jeremy Fowler, had some pretty high expectations for Smith-Schuster, and the Steelers’ WR1 wasn’t able to live up to them. Not only did Smith-Schuster play with three different quarterbacks — two inexperienced — he also had the first significant injury of his NFL career (knee), causing him to miss four games. With just 552 receiving yards, Smith-Schuster wasn’t even the leading receiver on the Steelers’ roster. That honor went to rookie Diontae Johnson with 680. — Brooke Pryor

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Five teams that could be the 49ers of 2020, and all the similarities

By: Bill Barnwell, ESPN

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)

Similarity: Their starting quarterback lasted two games, too. Sense a trend here? Ben Roethlisberger struggled against the Patriots in the season opener, then went to the locker room just before halftime in Week 2 against the Seahawks and never made it back onto the field. He underwent season-ending elbow surgery, and while it’s generally not a good thing for a 37-year-old quarterback to undergo elbow surgery, Roethlisberger had several extra months to heal by virtue of suffering his injury in September as opposed to December or January.

The Steelers are priced into a Roethlisberger return because of his contract structure, so I would expect him to be the starting quarterback in Week 1 of 2020. His presence would be a massive upgrade for the Steelers, who were useless on offense with the combination of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at quarterback. Over the second half of the season, the Steelers averaged just 12.4 points per game on offense, which was last in the NFL by more than three points per contest.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

"One of the best players to ever play the position."

Hall of Fame guard Mike Munchak explains why #PFHOF20 Finalist @afan66 deserves to be in Canton. pic.twitter.com/lcvQqOxw7f

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 30, 2020

Hall of Famers @MelBlountYLI & @donnie_shell talk about the @ProFootballHOF, playing together, their NFL careers & more.

FULL : https://t.co/OqXBQZiNqA pic.twitter.com/AhpysS0GVc

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 29, 2020

all of the best photos of @joehaden23 from 2019!

MORE : https://t.co/loskr52UuH pic.twitter.com/fijzwYnvmE

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 30, 2020

Even my boys know that Harley is my favorite. #GirlDad pic.twitter.com/xi8rjEPAg9

— Mike Tomlin (@CoachTomlin) January 30, 2020

Caden Cadaval is the #Steelers winner of the @NFL Next 100 Super Bowl Contest and @RodWoodson26 surprised him at his home with a trip to the Super Bowl for him and his parents!#NFL100 | #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/OXqNgsEy5c

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 28, 2020

Steelers Super Bowl Flashback: Super Bowl X vs. the Cowboys

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/30/2020 - 2:33pm

With the Super Bowl matchup set without Pittsburgh, BTSC looks back at the Steeler Super Bowl wins. Next up, Super Bowl X.

I once (actually many times) heard Huey Lewis croon, “So take me away, I don’t mind. But you better promise me, I’ll be back in time. Gotta get back in time.” Never wanting to disappoint one of my musical heroes, let’s fire up the Delorean and get back to January 18, 1976.

As we arrive, I have no bars on my phone. Wonder why? So I pick up a newspaper and see where full diplomatic relations were established between Bangladesh and Pakistan...five years after the Bangladesh Liberation War, Future President Jimmy Carter was a day away from winning the Iowa Caucus, Barry Manilow (like the year before) was top of the charts as “I Write The Songs” was Number One on the radio and Jack Nicholson and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was tops with movie goers.

Meanwhile in the world of sports, the football world was converging on Miami for the tenth edition of the best of the best facing off for football supremacy. Welcome to Super Bowl X between the Cowboys of Dallas and the defending crown winners, your Pittsburgh Steelers. Let’s get down to the field.

The excitement and hope of a repeat performance waned a bit immediately when the ball was kicked off. Former Steeler Preston Pearson fielded the ball and immediately handed it off to to the infamous antagonist of the Steelers, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson for a 52 yard return. Gerela saved the touchdown with a tackle inside Steeler territory that would haunt the Steelers the entire game after the kicker badly bruised his ribs on the play. Facing a strong wind, Vietnam Vet Roger Staubach went to the air to no avail. On the next play, L.C. Greenwood sacked the Cowboys quarterback thus forcing a fumble in which the Center, John Fitzgerald, recovered for Dallas. The NFC representative was forced to punt away.

Maybe because the mobile Terry Bradshaw had a taped knee, the Steelers came out working their ground game with their first opportunity on offense. They too could not muster a first down and Bobby Walden came on to boot it away. However, No. 39 (odd digits for a punter) mishandled the snap and Dallas swarmed to the football With Walden jumping on it. Walden, who was partly responsible for the Vikings only points a year before in Super Bowl IX, may be the most beleaguered player in Steeler SB history. Taking advantage of the mishap, Staubach immediately found Drew Pearson (Yes...the recent Hall of Fame-snubbed Drew Pearson) for 29 yards and the score. Dallas led the game 7-0 and it was mentioned by CBS broadcasters that the first offensive touchdown in all nine of the previous Super Bowls was scored by the winning team. It was also the only first quarter TD the vaunted Steel Curtain Defense allowed all season. Steeler fans globally became nervous as a piñata at a birthday party.

Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

Bradshaw and Pittsburgh would answer on the next series though. After four straight running plays, Lynn Swann had his first acrobatic/tight rope grab of the game with a majestic play of 32 yards over DB Mark Washington to the Cowboys 16. On third-and-one on the Cowboys 7, the Steelers employed a two-tight end set that usually signals a run. Instead, Bradshaw and Guard Gerry “Moon”Mullins crossed up Tom Landry’s team and Randy Grossman caught a pass in the end zone to nod the score at 7.

The Cowboys would counter as well with a time-churning drive (6:12) that extend into the second quarter. The possession featured mostly runs with Robert Newhouse getting 30 of the 51 yards on the ground on five carries. It was inconceivable to see the Steelers run-on in such a manner. At the 19, Ernie Holmes ferociously rushed Staubach forcing him to hurry a throw. The pass was nearly intercepted for what very well could have been a pick-six by Steeler Team MVP Glen Edwards. Instead Toni Fritsch nailed a kick from 36 yards and the Cowboys retook the lead by a score of 10-7.

The broadcast team of Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier noted that the two contestants aren’t early-scoring teams, but maybe they would break records. The Steelers on the next possession looked to continue the streak of scoring with a heavy dose of runs by Bleier, Harris and Bradshaw combined with a leaping grab by John Stallworth, but Cliff Harris broke up a completion from No. 12 to Franco Harris on a fourth-and-one at the Dallas 36. If completed, it looked like Franco would have possibly have taken it to the house. But Dallas took over on downs instead. From there the scoring spree stalled as both defenses played all out with reckless abandon.

After both teams traded punts again, the Cowboys were poised to score again after starting at their own 48 and getting the ball down to the Pittsburgh 20. But the Steelers defense transformed into a steel trap and gobbled up the Dallas opportunity like a promiscuous cougar would a carafe of Chardonnay. L.C. dropped Staubach for a loss of 11 and Dwight white did the same on the very next play for another loss of 11 to force a punt. It was the second and third sack of the day for the vaunted Steeler defense.

The Steelers were driving again towards the end of the first half with 3:47 to play in the half and pinned back deep at the six yard line. On a third and six from their own 10, Bradshaw dropped back and unleashed a pass that would go down as one of the greatest in Super Bowl lore. It was the Lynn Swann circus catch where he famously leapt in blanket coverage by Mark Washington, tipped the ball in the air and hauled it in while falling to the Orange Bowl turf. The play covered 53 yards. A few plays later, Bradshaw was being harassed by the legendary Ed “Too Tall” Jones. No. 12’s spinning pirouette to avoid a sack was a beautiful sight as “The Blonde Bomber” completed a pass to TE Larry Brown. However, the Dallas defense stiffened and the Steelers were not able to score when the badly-bruised Gerela missed his first field goal attempt of the afternoon with :22 remaining in the half. At the break, the “Boys” led the defending champs 10-7 and the world enjoyed the melodic sounds of “Up With People” at intermission.

To start the final 30:00, the Steelers went three-and-out and Walden barely got his punt off and the Cowboys started again in great field position. On the Steelers’ radio broadcast, Jack Fleming stated the need for the Pittsburgh defense to force a turnover. After two running plays, Fleming got his wish when J.T. Thomas snagged a Jolly Roger pass at the 40 and raced 35 yards to the Dallas 25. The Steelers achieved a first down, but couldn’t get in the end zone. So on came the maligned Gerela again to try to tie the game, but he was again not well enough to convert the 33-yard attempt. But in failure came a crucial turning point. In a move that inspired the pen name of one BTSC’s finest, Cliff Harris Is Still A Punk, the (Hall of Fame) safety patted Gerela on the head like a teacher would their dumbest (but lovable) student and then thanked him for the help. This display of gratitude netted attitude and actually changed the game’s latitude. Jack Lambert, who took great exception to the act, threw Harris to the turf and admonished the punk safety. Lambert, would surely have been ejected in today’s NFL, but was not shown the gate in 1976. An angry linebacker got even nastier at that moment and his fellow defensemen did as well.

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

After that, Lambert started playing even more like a man possessed and forced a quick three-and-out. The Steelers ended up having to punt the ball away as well after another non-call of interference in favor of the Cowboys.

To start the fourth quarter, Mitch Hoops punted the orb away and Dave Brown had trouble reeling it in, but luckily J.T. Thomas was present to fall on it at the 17. On the next play, a scrambling Bradshaw found Franco Harris streaking down the sideline. It had appeared that the inspiration for the Italian Army would break off free for an 83-yard score, but he was deemed out of bounds at the 43. After a devastating 18-yard loss on a Randy White sack, the Steelers had to punt the ball away once more. Then the Steelers sacked Staubach again and America’s Team had to punt as well. With Hoops standing on the Dallas 1, Noll sent ten men after Hoops and Reggie “Boobie” Harrison blocked the ball through the end zone for a safety and the Cowboys only led by the score of 10-9 with 11:28 left to go in the game.

After Mike Collier (who I see often in my town) fielded the free kick and bolted 25-yards to the Dallas 45, the Steelers charged towards pay dirt and got as far as the 19 through effective runs, but they had to settle for a Gerela field goal (finally!) of 36 yards and their first lead of Super Bowl X. It was now 12-10 with 8:41 left.

Dallas’ attempt to storm back on the next possession was not to be. After surviving Preston Pearson’s fumble of the kickoff, the effort was quickly thwarted when Mike Wagner intercepted the white-clad No. 12 at the 24 and scurried all the way to the Dallas 7-yard line. In the Steelers’ booth, Myron declared that the Steelers wouldn’t settle for a field goal and that they needed the touchdown to put the game away. However Franco fumbled and recovered it inches from the end zone and the Steelers, not listening to Cope, took the three from Gerela’s toe. The score was now 15-10 in Pittsburgh’s favor.

After another Steeler sack, the Cowboys punted the leather back to the Steelers with 4:25 left in the contest. On third and four, Bradshaw dropped back to pass and unleashed a gorgeous bomb of 64 yards to Lynn Swann for a touchdown straight down the middles the field. On the play, No. 88 beat Mark Washington once more. While Swanny celebrated in the end zone, Bradshaw never got to join in on the hoopla due to getting obliterated by a Larry Cole shot to the head. Out with a concussion, TB12 didn’t learn about his heroics and good fortunes until he was in the locker room. Gerela, in true fashion, hooked the extra point off the left upright. It was now 21-10 with 3:02 left.

But Dallas wasn’t ready to hang up their silver helmets just yet. Despite a sixth Steeler sack, Staubach needed only five plays and 1:14 to score a touchdown. The Dallas QB found Percy Howard for a 34-yard score to cut the Steeler lead to four. The catch by Howard, over Mel Blount, would end up being the only one ever in the player’s career.

With 1:48 left, all seemed lost for Dallas as Moon Mullins pulled in the onside kick. But Terry Hanratty and the Steelers couldn’t move the chains after starting on the Dallas 42. Using their timeouts, Dallas was expecting to get the ball back via a punt. However, remembering his team’s kicking woes all game, Chuck Noll didn’t want to risk the kick and the Steelers turned the ball over on downs. After only taking :26 seconds off of the clock, the Steelers decided to rely on their dynamic defense one more time. But the Steelers held. With :03 remaining, Staubach (much like in the NFC Championship) threw up a Hail Mary into the Touchdown Zone, but Edwards intercepted the ball and the Steelers realized victory for the second-straight Super Bowl.

Steeler fans rejoiced and were getting used to the euphoria of winning. The MVP Award went to Lynn Swann for is four-catch and 161-yard performance. The honor could have gone to Jack Lambert with his 14 tackles and his standing up for Gerela to turn the momentum needle towards the Steelers. Another who was dominant was L.C. Greenwood and his four sacks of Staubach on the afternoon. The Steelers were back-to-back victors and the players were known as heroes in their adopted city.

As for me, I was a young lad of four. But I remembered the hoopla surrounding the game as we went to my grandparent’s house for a party. I’ve seen pictures of me decked out in black-and-gold and was starting to realize that a special sentiment was brewing in the Steel City for football and the men who played it.

The Highs and Lows of the Steelers’ 2019 season: The shut down pass defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/30/2020 - 12:31pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

After a rough two games to start the season, the Steelers had an exceptional “post-Minkah” portion of 2019

Now that the Steelers 2019 season has concluded, the long off-season has begun. As we move through the remainder of the NFL postseason and beyond, it’s time to look back at some of the numbers the Steelers put up (or failed to put up) this past season. There are some numbers that are great, while others are definitely short of the mark. Either way, let’s put some context behind a few of the statistics for 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers produced during the season.

We have already looked at some items such as takeaways, sacks, points scored, and rushing. This time, it’s a category where the Steelers made a vast improvement during the season.

Pass Defense

The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers defense is a tale of two parts of the season: pre-Minkah and post Minkah. While the pre-Minkah period was only two games, the sheer difference beyond those games is undeniable. Granted, the Steelers did start the season against two teams who eventually made the postseason, there were plenty of other teams who also made the playoffs where the Steelers fared much better.

To begin, the Steelers gave up 3,113 passing yards in 2019. This amount ranked them third in the NFL behind the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots. Of those 3,113 yards, 2,473 occurred after the Steelers acquired Mikah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins. So in two of the Steelers 16 games, 20.6% of the passing yards they surrendered came in those games. Additionally, the Steelers surrendered 23 passing touchdowns on the season, six of which occurred in the pre-Minkah period. This means 26.1% of the Steelers’ passing touchdowns came in 12.5% of their games.

To point out how much Minkah Fitzpatrick meant to the secondary, the Steelers only surrendered pass 18 plays in which the total yardage gain was 25 yards or more. This total was only one behind the New England Patriots who led the league with 17. But of these 18 plays, six of them occurred in the first two weeks before Minkah Fitzpatrick joined the Steelers. So over the final 14 games of the season, the Steelers gave up only 12 pass plays of 25 yards or more. As for passing touchdowns of 25 yards or more, the Steelers only surrendered three on the season all of which were both before Mikah Fitzpatrick join the team.

Another interesting statistic when it came to the Steelers pass defense was they led the NFL with 11 games where their opponent had under 200 yards passing for the game. One factor in this number is yardage lost due to sacks comes out of passing yards. With the Steelers leading the NFL with 54 sacks, these yards added up in many games. With the 11 games where the Steelers held their opponent under 200 yards passing, all of them occurred in the 14-game post-Minkah period.

When it comes to pass defense, the effectiveness of all players on the field is the true reason behind success. With the players upfront getting more pressure on the quarterback and cutting down on the time to read defenses, the players in the secondary have to hold their responsibilities for less time. In all, it’s the great balance throughout all levels of the Steelers defense which can be attributed to their success against the pass in 2019. And with the majority of the Steelers defense under contract for 2020, the Steelers are hoping to grow in all aspects of the defense.

Cam Heyward wants a new contract, but he needs to look at it from the Steelers’ perspective

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/30/2020 - 11:27am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Heyward wants, and deserves, a new contract, but he needs to realize he might have to wait.

“June or July, but if we can get something done earlier, I would love it,” Cam Heyward said.

Yeah, that is an actual quote from Heyward regarding his contract needs. He wants a new contract, but says he wants a deal before summer. Heyward might be in for a rude awakening on getting an extension at all in 2020.

“They’ve done right by me so far, and I want to continue to do them right.” Again, another quote from Heyward. The Steelers have done right for their two time All-Pro, to the tune of $65,955,028 over 10 seasons — 99 games, 54 sacks, five fumble recoveries, six forced fumbles, 30 pass deflections, and 397 total tackles.

“I want to make sure as them being my employer and them being my family, you always want to make sure that you represent your family well.” Of course the Steelers are going to take care of one of their valued family members, just like the team has done with countless other members over the years in the Kevin Colbert era. But Cam, if you really care about your Steelers family, wait until 2021 to push for an extension. You can say all the right words, but they don’t add any salary cap bucks to the Steelers’ 2020 salary cap. The team is actually in the negative heading into the new league year.

Heyward will be 31 by the start of the 2020 season.That’s not old by NFL defensive end terms. Being too old is not a concern. His productivity and ability to dominate during a game aren’t concerns, either. The concern is that the Steelers are broke at a time when they can’t dig themselves out of their normal kicking-the-can practices. Pushing the problem down the road into another year by restructuring huge numbers of contracts is not on the table due to the 30 percent rule in the last year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

NFL players and their agents know full well where NFL teams’ finances stand. An agent’s job is to know what a team can and will do for a player. So Heyward talking about wanting a new deal right now is unrealistic unless he takes a team-friendly deal. (The Steelers are currently $1.43 million under the cap.)

Stephon Tuitt is the sixth-highest paid 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. No Steelers fan will confuseTuitt for Heyward in terms of their production or the number of games they’ve played. (Tuitt has missed 16 games in the past three seasons.) Heyward is under contract in 2020 for $1.5 million less than Tuitt. Technically Heyward will make $9.5 million this season, but he counts $13,251,250 against the NFL salary cap. Is Heyward the superior player? Absolutely, but he needs to wait until 2021 to receive the contract that he deserves.

Heyward will eventually need a better contract. Steelers fans need to quit with the pipe dream that any of the team’s players are going to take hometown discounts in a $16 billion business when the face of the franchise, Ben Roethlisberger, ($30 million over three years) refused to do so.

Sure, the Steelers could sign Ironhead’s son to a long-term deal, and the deal could actually save the Steelers some cap space in 2020, but what could it cost the team in future seasons? Could signing Heyward to a market-value deal cost them the ability to sign Bud Dupree and other free agents? Read the quotes above again and then ask yourself if Cam should be asking for a contract in June, July, or March — or if he shouldn’t expect one until 2021.

Report: NFLPA telling players to prepare for 2-year strike

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/30/2020 - 10:14am
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a report from ESPN, the of the NFLPA DeMaurice Smith stated the players will need to sit for 2 seasons if they choose to have a work stoppage

In a report from ESPN’s Dan Graziano, NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith stated players need to prepare for a 2-year strike if they choose to go the route of a work stoppage for the 2021 season.

“I’m here with a group of people who are willing to take a labor action,” Smith told ESPN on Tuesday. “And people need to understand that it’s really easy to call for a work stoppage; it’s really hard to win one. So that’s why I started notifying players four years ago about saving their checks, making changes to their debt structure, and the reality is that if we want to hold out and get everything we want, that’s probably going to mean a two-year strike.”

While at first glance it appears the NFLPA is ready for a long work stoppage because they are key issues they feel need resolved, looking deeper it appears Smith’s warning may be more towards players who feel they need to strike for issues which may not be backbreaking to the negotiation process. In reality, most NFL players are not prepared to go two years without a paycheck. Therefore, this warning was probably more for the players as they go down this road rather than to owners or fans.

“Any collective bargaining deal is going to be a package of things,” Smith told ESPN. “Is it going to be an agreement where you get 100% of everything you want? Probably not, and one of the reasons that we’re in a position of bargaining right now is because the league didn’t get everything they wanted in 2011. If they would have retained the unilateral right to increase games, my guess is we wouldn’t be talking about the possibility of an early deal.”

One of the biggest issues with almost every Collective Bargaining Agreement is money. One main issue the players are looking for is a greater share of the revenue generated by the league. The owners, on the the hand, are looking to do more things to increase the revenue. The players would like to finally get to a 50-50 revenue split while the league is looking to increase the number of games in the regular season-schedule.

Graziano laid out the timeline for the NFLPA and the owners in coming to a new deal. The first step taken will be today when union reps meet.

The meeting Thursday will include player reps from 30 of the 32 teams — all but the 49ers and Chiefs, who are preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl. No vote is currently expected to be taken at that meeting, but the union hopes that everyone comes out of it with some idea of where things stand and what kind of action the players want to take going forward.

Whenever it is that players and owners agree on a proposed new CBA, the 32 team player reps would have to vote on it first, and it would need a two-thirds majority vote in order to advance to the next step. That next step is a vote of literally every single player in the league, and that would only require a simple majority to pass. The owners need two-thirds of their membership to support a new CBA before it can be ratified.

Assuming no vote is taken this week, the next likely flex point would be the NFLPA’s annual meeting in March in Key Biscayne. At that meeting the NFLPA will have to elect a new president, since current president Eric Winston is no longer on a team and therefore, according to the NFLPA’s rules, can no longer hold the position. In addition to that election, players likely will take some sort of CBA-related vote at their March meeting. Either they’d vote on a proposed new CBA or, if that’s not an option, they likely would hold a vote on whether to authorize a player strike in 2021 if no new deal is approved by then.

The good news is both sides are working together now in order to get a new deal in place. With restrictions on player’s contracts and other things affected by this being the last year of the current CBA, coming to a new deal would greatly benefit teams such as the Steelers. With the league wanting to add another game to the schedule, the NFLPA may not want a new CBA until after this season. Only time will tell if the two sides can come together sooner than later on an agreement. If the answer is later, players will have to decide if a work stoppage in 2021 is something they are willing to carry out long enough to be effective in receiving their demands without hurting player’s financial stability.

The full article by ESPN’s Dan Graziano can be seen here:

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith tells ESPN, "if we want to hold out and get everything we want, that's probably going to mean a two-year strike." CBA talks reaching a critical point this week: https://t.co/tKARvwcz7k

— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) January 29, 2020

The Pittsburgh Steelers impressive streak no one is talking about

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/30/2020 - 9:25am
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Between consecutive games with a turnover and not surpassing the 30-point threshold, one of the Steelers impressive strikes has gone unnoticed

The Steelers are in the midst of several active streaks which lead the NFL. One talking point at the end of the season was how the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers went all 16 games of the regular season where they committed at least one turnover. They were the only team in the NFL to do so. Having a turnover the last seven games of 2018, the Steelers current 23-game streak with at least one turnover leads the NFL.

The last game the Steelers did not commit a turnover was in Week 10 of 2018 when they defeated the Carolina Panthers 52-21. Also, this was the last game in which the Steelers surpassed 30 points scored. So when it comes to scoring over 30 points, the Steelers have the same 23-game streak. If looking at merely reaching 30 points, the Steelers have gone 20 games as they scored 30 points in their Week 13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018.

Rather than focus on the negative, one streak which has been discussed with the Steelers have done is their three straight seasons of surpassing 50 sacks. The last time this was achieved was in the year 2000 by the St. Louis Rams. But there is one other streak which has not been mentioned by many around the NFL:

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the longest active streak of regular-season games in which they have registered a sack.

How many games has it been for the Steelers? 57 games. The Steelers have gone 57 regular-season games of recording at least one sack. This means the Steelers have recorded a sack in every game over the last three seasons. The next closest current streak is the Carolina Panthers with 30.

The last regular-season game the Steelers did not record a sack was in Week 7 of 2016 when they fell to the Patriots at home 27-16. If you recall, this was a game started by Landry Jones at quarterback.

Where this streak falls historically has the Steelers ninth longest of all time. Although sacks did not become an individual statistic until 1982, they were recorded as a team stat since at least 1949. The longest streak of consecutive regular-season games with at least one sack belongs to the Detroit Lions of 76 games from 1960 to 1965. Should the Steelers get a sack every game of the 2020 season, they would move into second place only three games behind the Lions. If the Steelers merely go four games into the 2020 season with recording a sack, they would be tied for fourth place with the Dallas Cowboys from 1968 to 1972.

It should be noted the Steelers streak is of regular-season games. The last game the Steelers did not register a sack was their divisional loss at Heinz Field to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017. If including the postseason, the Steelers still would lead the NFL with 32 consecutive games.

Either way, the manner in which the Steelers have gotten to the quarterback over the last three seasons has been key to their defensive goals. Adding a much improved secondary for 2019 has taken the Steelers defense to the next level. And with the Steelers able to keep the majority of their players for next season, the sky is the limit moving forward.

The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers offseason will probably upset you

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/30/2020 - 7:45am
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Limited cap space, positional needs, and depleted draft picks will handcuff any outside creativity.

Many Steelers fans (myself included) will play armchair General Manager this time of year. Making up offers for top free agents, putting together packages to move up in the draft, or giving the imaginary ax to players we don't feel give this team the best opportunity to win.

2019 was an anomaly for the Steelers management. Trading up for Devin Bush and dealing for Minkah Fitzpatrick are moves Steelers fans aren't accustomed to seeing. But don't expect such bold moves for Kevin Colbert and Co. two years in-a-row, and I’m expecting a return to the status quo in 2020.

When it comes to player retention it doesn't appear that many surprises are on the horizon. The facts are Bud Dupree is looked highly upon by management and likely receives another deal. While Javon Hargrave’s price tag will be too high for the Steelers to extend his services.

But when it comes to player cuts I can't imagine the long list of possible cap casualties actually end-up being shown the door. The Steelers spend most of whatever cap space becomes available to bring back Dupree. But with only 5 (or 6 depending on the compensatory formula) draft picks and the highest being the 49th selection, the Steelers won't be able to plug up every roster hole with first year pros. I could imagine a world where either Vance McDonald, Mark Barron, or Ramon Foster are still on the roster come training camp. While that might be surprising some of those guys might just be the best option heading into next season.

Then comes the draft. When the Steelers are on the clock with there 49th section you might be screaming at the TV scream for a stud Running back, Tight End or even a Quarterback, but looking at the aging Offensive Line I wouldn't put it past them to re-energize the unit by injecting some youth with their top pick. I could only imagine the Twitter replies now; however, it might just be the right call. Protecting Ben Roethlisberger and whoever else might be under center next for the Pittsburgh Steelers, should be a priority.

And lastly, free agency, I’m sure a few of us would like the team to change one of its core philosophies, but if you're holding your breath for Derrick Henry, Eric Ebron or Amari Cooper to sign on the dotted line — you're going to be disappointed.

The moral of the story is don't expect fireworks in 2020. I know that the tight cap, low picks, and one of your least favorite players squeaking through to see another year might disappoint you. But if you're at least prepared for it, the pill may be easier to swallow.

Most Epic Non-MVP Performances in Steelers Super Bowl History

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/30/2020 - 6:35am
Photo by Focus On Sport/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich championship history. BTSC lists the best not to win MVP honors.

While they may have company again around 10:00 p.m. on Sunday Evening, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their reign as six-time Lombardi winners matched last year by the New England Patriots. Nobody can forget the five men whose MVP performances made those victories possible. Guys with monikers like Franco, Swanny, TB, Hines and Tone have been immortalized in Steeler Nation for winning Best in Show honors. But many more men to don the hypocycloids on their domes besides Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes were responsible for those six rings. BTSC has prepared a ranking of the best-of-the-best not to be awarded the MVP trophies on those six championship teams.

Honorable Mention

Franco Harris - Super Bowl XIV

Franco, the MVP of Super Bowl IX, was paramount in every big game of the 70s. Two of Harris’ 46-yards on the grounds led No. 32 to paydirt, the first and last scores of the contest. Franco also added three receptions for 66-vital yards.

Lynn Swann Super Bowl XIV

Swanny was knocked out of the game in Pasadena by Pat Thomas in the third quarter of this game, but his contributions were considerable. No. 88 battled double coverage for an acrobatic 47-yard score and left with five grabs for 79 total yards.

Larry Anderson - Super Bowl XIV

The return specialist was far down the list of names of the Steelers’ Dynasty of the 1970s, but his performance in Super Bowl XIV was phenomenal. No. 30 had five kick returns for 162 yards and an average of 32.4 ypr.

Jack Lambert - Super Bowl XIV

With 5:24 remaining in the game, the Rams were trailing by five and drove all the way down to the Steeler 32. When a touchdown could have been lethal, “Jack Splat” went airborne to snag a Vince Ferragamo pass and essentially put the champagne on ice for the team’s fourth championship of the decade.

Ike Taylor - Super Bowl XL

Ike was never known to have the best hands, he only had 17 career picks in 12 NFL seasons. But one of those rare interceptions came with the Steelers clinging to a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter. Matt Hasselbeck heaved a third-down pass towards Darrell Jackson near the Steelers’ end zone. Ike pulled the pigskin out of the air and raced 24 yards. Less than two minutes later, Antwaan Randle-El tossed the legendary TD pass to Hines Ward and the final score of the first Steeler SB victory in 26 years.

LaMarr Woodley - Super Bowl XLIII

Woodley was usually a force in the post season. His first sack of Kurt Warner in Tampa was big. But his second, a strip sack, was recovered by Brett Keisel to secure Lombardi #6.

The Top Ten

10) Willie Parker and Alan Faneca - Super Bowl XL

Typically a Steeler running play in 2005 consisted of FB Dan Kreider blasting a hole for Willie Parker to run through. But on second-and-ten at their own 25, the Steelers called for the 34 Counter Pike. This play was mostly a short-yardage, one-back set run used for Jerome Bettis on the goal line. But on the second play of the second half, Alan Faneca pulled and blasted Seattle LB Leroy Hill to free “Fast Willie”. Parker would sprint 75 (of his 93 yards on the day) to give Pittsburgh a 14-3 lead and own the longest TD run in the history of the Super Bowl. It was quite possibly the greatest combo of block and run in Steeler history.

9) Dwight White - Super Bowl IX

Photo by Richard Stagg/Getty Images

“Mad Dog” holds the distinction of being the first Pittsburgh Steeler to score in a Super Bowl. His safety, the result of tackling the ultra-mobile Fran Tarkenton in the end zone after a fumble, was impressive on it’s own. So was his batted-pass that resulted in a Joe Greene interception. But doing those things hours after losing 20 pounds and just having been released from the hospital shortly following a bout of viral pneumonia at a rainy Tulane Stadium in New Orleans is stuff of legend. No. 78 spent the week after the Super Bowl back in the hospital.

8) Lynn Swann - Super Bowl XIII

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The balletic Swann loved playing the Cowboys. Three years after an MVP performance over Tom Landry’s club, No. 88 hauled-in seven passes for 124 yards and the decisive 18-yarder with 6:57 left to play.

7) Joe Greene - Super Bowl IX

On a rainy and muddy day in Louisiana, “Mean Joe” led a dominating defense that shut out the Minnesota offenses do held them to 17 yards rushing and 119 total. If it wasn’t for a blocked punt, the Vikings would have been the only team to be held scoreless with the Lombardi on the line. No. 75 had both a crucial interception and a fumble recovery on his stat line as well.

6) L.C. Greenwood - Super Bowl X

“Hollywood Bags” had a glamorous day in Miami in 1976. In a tight game that didn’t feature a lot of scoring, the man with the golden shoes set up a time share in Roger Staubach’s real estate. Although sacks were not an official stat, Greenwood taillied four that day.

5) John Stallworth - Super Bowl XIII

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Had the Alabama A&M star not been injured to miss the second half of football, his stat line could have been legendary. Stallworth caught only three balls, but they garnered 115 yards and two scores - one 75 yards and another for 28.

4) Jack Lambert - Super Bowl X

Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

Lambert had 14 tackles at the Orange Bowl that day, but his biggest one was the tone setter. Kicker Roy Gerela made a TD saving tackle on the opening kickoff that badly bruised his ribs and affected his kicking. With the Steelers down 10-7 in the third, Cliff Harris mocked Gerela for missing his second FG attempt by patting him on the head, Lambert reacted and threw Harris to the ground to show Dallas that the Steelers couldn’t and wouldn’t be intimidated. The action by No. 58 spearheaded the turnaround and the Steelers won 21-17.

3) Ben Roethlisberger - Super Bowl XLIII

Ben’s Super Bowl debut in February of 2006 wasn’t great at all, but it helped bring back Lombardi to Pittsburgh. His second foray could have netted him the last Cadillac Escalade to be awarded to an MVP, but the ride went to Santonio Holmes who caught Ben’s game-winning TD pass with :35 left. To get there, Big Ben engineered an 88-yard drive that culminated in one of the greatest plays in the history of the big game. On the day, Roethlisberger completed 21-of-30 for 256 yards and that one score for six yards to put the Steelers ahead for good.

2) James Harrison - Super Bowl XLIII

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

James Harrison had four tackles and two quarterback hits in Super Bowl 43, but the big story was his decision to drop into coverage at the end of the first half. The Steelers worked on this scenario in practice a few days before and it paid off. Kurt Warner had led the Cardinals to the two-yard line and was on the verge of taking a 14-10 lead into the half. With the Steelers on an all-out blitz, Warner looked for Anquan Boldin who should have been all alone. But Harrison started his blitz and then dropped back to intercept the ball. Thwarting the drive wasn’t good enough for Deebo as he followed a convoy of blockers for 100 swerve and lung-collapsing yards and a 17-7 lead at the half. It would become one of the greatest defensive plays and the longest score in Super Bowl lore.

1) John Stallworth - Super Bowl XIV

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Terry Bradshaw was once again the MVP of the Super Bowl, but Stallworth very well could have won the distinction for his epic performance at the Rose Bowl in January of 1980. No. 82 only had three catches on the day, but they were huge. With 12:15 remaining in the game, the original TB12 found Stallworth for a 73-yard score on a third-and-eight on their own 27. This gave the Steelers the lead back. But on third-and-seven at their own 33, the duo put the game away with a 45-yard collaboration. Stallworth’s Non-MVP day ended with 121 yards and a fourth Lombardi for the Steel City.

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