Well, holy hell. Wasn’t that AFC Championship Game the throwdown everyone, expected, and deserved? Two titans of the AFC having yet another remtatch to see who is who? Two greats, with history, both recent, and historically, to add to their legacy? Steelers and Patriots, two rivals vying for for supremacy in the American Football Conference? Who doesn’t want to see that display?
Oh, oh, oh, wait, hang on. What’s that? The Steelers lost to the Jaguars in the Divisional Round? Oh…
So, going into this season, there were more than a few issues: long-term contract extension for Le’Veon Bell (NOPE), the future of THE BEN, who will replace Ryan Shazier, BOSS TODD taking the Camaro tour to THE HARDLAND.
All of that was before
concentration training camp started. Every day, someone else has suffered potentially serious injuries. Every time I read the paper recapping yesterday’s events, and who went down again, I become Homer and the swear jar.
Antonio Brown: OUT
Bud Dupree: OUT
Artie Burns: OUT
Joe Haden: OUT
Ramon Foster: EXTREMELY OUT
Alejandro Villanaueva: FINE! No, he’s out, too.
By the time this post goes up, Maurkice Pouncey will contract dysentery, Juju Smith-Schuster will be crushed by a falling safe, and Cam Heyward will trip into the Springfield Mystery Spot.
Seriously, what in the crap? How does this happen in the first ten days of training camp? Personally, I blame the current CBA, which forbids players and coaches from even speaking on the phone during the off-season. Ugh.
Anyway, so you want a 2018 Stillers preview? No? Fair enough, but, here it is.
To be honest, I have no idea what this season will be. On paper, the Stillers should win no less than ten games, win the division, and challenge for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Again, on paper. With so, sooooooooooo many key players already hurt, who the hell knows? The coaching staff and front office keeps saying none of these early injuries are significant. Maybe they’re not. They also said the same thing about second-round pick Sean Spencer’s knee in 2012; he never played a down in his first two pro seasons as a Steeler, because of said “minor” injury. If we’re already banged up this much before a preseason game has been played, who can make a logical conclusion for later? Maybe most, if all, come back, and lead this team to a historical season. Maybe most can’t, and those that do slog through an injury-filled and less-than-mediocre season.
Once again, if THE BEN and the main core stay (or get) healthy, Super Bowl number seven is attainable. If this pattern of injury remains, this team might win the otherwise manure AFC North, and lose the Wild Card Game to… uh, Buffalo, maybe?
Thing is, I know none of you reading this will feel any sort of pity, remorse, or even consideration to me, a Steeler fan. And you know what, you’re right. The Steelers are just as shitty as any other franchise in the NFL, we just manage to hide it better. The Rooneys, again, on paper, are a fine, upstanding group of owners. They don’t overreact, they often don’t make bad decisions, and they like playing the long game. It’s served them well over the last almost five decades. That said, they let James Harrison (2008 Defensive Player of the Year!) stay on, after he was charged with battery, and letting his dog attack children. That same offseason, they quickly cut fourth-string receiver Cedric Wilson, after he was also charged with battery. Those charges were later dropped, after he was released. We still have THE BEN. THE BEN might have become a better person through the years, but, he’s still THE BEN. Enough said. Our Yinzer fans are supposed to be “higher” than those in the Dawg Pound or Black Hole. We’re just as bad, probably worse, due to our self-delusion. For every visiting fan who said they, “had a great time with Steelers fans! They were so nice!” there are another half-dozen others saying a drunken, shirtless guy from Carrick screaming at an eight-year-old in a Bills jersey, “HOW MANY RINGS DO YOU FUCKERS HAVE?!?!” And I’ll cheer when they score, because I am also a horrible person.
So, I will continue this exercise in self-loathing. Some people (looking at you Balls) made the right choice, and quit. I cannot. I was born here, I was raised here, and while I left for a decade, I returned. This is my heroin. I can’t kick it, no matter how bad I feel about supporting it. It’s literally part of my DNA.
Optimistic outlook: 12-4, first round playoff bye
Worst-case scenario: 6-10
I’ll still be watching on game days, because I suck. Fuck me. #HereWeGo