Thursday, August 23, 2007

King Names Tomlin Head Coach of All-Future Team

In a new article on, Sports Illustrated's Peter King attempts to predict which NFL players and coaches will be best at their respective positions in 2012. Notably, King chooses Mike Tomlin as the head coach of his 2012 All-NFL team. No Steelers' players are included on the list.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bus' New Autobiography Reportedly Full of Surprises

In today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Ed Bouchette writes that the forthcoming Jerome Bettis autobiography "Bus: My Life in and Out of a Helmet" (Doubleday) is full of big surprises. Among other things, Bettis claims that the Steelers wanted to release him in the summer of 2000, and that he faked injuring his knee during practice to keep that from happening. Reading Bouchette's piece, it sounds like Bettis' book is of the tell-all variety, at least in terms of players and coaches who are currently out of the NFL. But some of the juicy bits sound a little un-Steelerlike. Click here to check out Bouchette's piece and judge for yourself.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Steelers' "D" To Be More Aggressive in '07?

According to the latest installment of Pro Football Weekly's "The Way We Hear It" defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau may be planning to unveil a more aggressive scheme in 2007. Click here to read (all the AFC North) blurbs.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

PFW Says Browns Most Likely To Go From Worst To First

Believe it or not, in the new edition of Pro Football Weekly, publisher Hub Arkush tabs the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Bucs as the two teams most likely to go from worst to first in their respective divisions. I can see Tampa Bay winning a division title (and Arizona too), but the unless Brady Quinn plays like Ben Roethlisberger did as a rookie, I can't envision anything but a third- or fourth-place finish for the Browns.

Even more galling, Arkush writes "Mike Tomlin is going to have to find out Pittsburgh isn’t preschool before he’s ready to win." Click here to read the article.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Theismann's Reaction to Keisel's hit on Campbell

For what it's worth, here's how Washington Redskins announcer Joe Theismann reacted to Brett Keisel's (penalized) hit on Redskins QB Jason Campbell: "You just hate to see this. There's no excuse for going low at the quarterback.... He [Keisel] had plenty of time to be able to adjust his hit.... A 15-yard penalty is not enough. ... I wouldn't say it was dirty ... I wouldn't say it was intentional, but he was coming in low the whole way."

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Redskins Seek to End Ugly Pre-Season Streak

On Saturday night the Washington Redskins will seek to end an embarrassing (pre-season) streak of futility when they take on the Steelers at FedEx Field. Specifically, the Redskins' first-team offense has failed to score during any of the team's last six pre-season games. For more information about the streak see's Game Center preview.

The Redskins and Steelers last met in the preseason on August 26, 2005, with Washington treating its fans to a 17-10 victory. In preseason, the two clubs have met 17 times, with the Redskins holding a 12-4-1 lead in the series.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Taylor on Expectations for 2007

In a new post on his Pro Football Weekly blog, Eric Edholm gets word from CB Ike Taylor about how the Steelers are handling outsiders' expectations regarding the team's chances in 2007. Click here to read the post.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Steelers' 2007 "Hotel Requirements" leaked

For what it's worth, The Smoking Gun has published a copy of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2007 Hotel Requirements. Although the document is 16 pages long there's really nothing remarkable about it; the Steelers are a surprisingly low-maintenance party. Most notable is the fact that Heinz Ketchup ("MUST BE HEINZ") must be available at all team meals. Interestingly, the organization is not as strict about steak sauce, requiring Heinz 57 but also allowing A1.

Click here to view the Requirements.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Here We Go Steely, Here We Go!

Steelers fans have been awfully hard on the team's new mascot, Steely McBeam, since the big guy was introduced earlier this week. At least one blogger has started a petition asking the organization to make Steely disappear. And message boards routinely express the sentiment that the Steelers don't need any sort of mascot whatsoever.

But like it or not, McBeam is here to stay. After all, the Rooneys aren't going to jettison Steely just because of a little public pressure. And to be fair, it's difficult to develop a lovable mascot when your inspiration is a steelworker.

So maybe we ought to demonstrate a little patience and throw our support behind McBeam, who will presumably make his in-game debut tomorrow night at Heinz Field when the Steelers host the Green Bay Packers. As it is, being a mascot is a dangerous and somewhat thankless job, and Steely probably went thru hell to get the gig, as we previously chronicled here.

So tomorrow night, maybe the fans can take up a chant in Steely's honor: Here We Go Steely, Here We Go!

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

One Fan's Opinion of Steely McBeam

These thoughts come courtesy of our friend Nick, who e-mailed them to The Steelyard this morning:

The new Steelers mascot, Steely McBeam, is hideous, just like all the Steelers' other mascots over the last 20 years. He looks like Mr. Peanut's drug addict brother.

But look at the history: We had The Fan, who looked like The Tin Man struggling with bulimia, and I guess The Thumb, which looked more like a giant penis than anything else. The thing frightened adolescent girls.

The Steelers don't need a damn mascot; they have fans who are colorful
enough—not to mention the ultimate team sport symbol, The Terrible Towel. Throw Steely into a Bessemer converter before it's too late.

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Very Early Returns ...

These thoughts come courtesy of our friend Nick, who sent The Steelyard the following e-mail earlier this week:

The offensive line needs work, but this Carey Davis from God-knows-where University might be a beast. #41 shows promise too; I'm not sure Kevan Barlow will be collecting his $600,000. And how 'bout LaMarr Woodley; he looks like our rookie of the year. Fifth-round pick William Gay played well against New Orleans too. With a last name like Gay you just know the kid is either going to grow up to be an interior decorator or a serious tough guy. It is preposterously early but I am pleased. Let's hope fast Willie's knee problem is just "camp knee."

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Long Odds on Steelers Winning the AFC

The MGM-Mirage odds for winning a conference title in 2007 are as follows: The Patriots, Colts, Chargers and Ravens are the top four favorites in the AFC, followed by the Bengals (6-1), Broncos (6-1) and Jets (8-1). The Steelers are eighth at 10-1 odds. To me that sounds about right, although I would flip-flop the Chargers and Colts, as well as the Steelers and Jets.

Click here to view a complete list of the odds for all NFL teams.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tomlin Featured in Today's (NY) Times

The sports section of today's New York Times features a nice article on Mike Tomlin. The writer, Clifton Brown, even took the time to interview the owner of the deli where Tomlin worked while he attended William & Mary. And the accompanying photo (of deli owner Peter Tsipas holding an autographed Steelers helmet), suggests that Paul's Deli Restaurant has a chance to one day become a Steelers bar--or Steelers deli, as it were. Click here to access the article online.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Porter Has Knee Surgery

According to former Steelers' linebacker Joey Porter recently underwent knee surgery and will be out of commission for at least two weeks. As one might expect, the surgery was performed by famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews. It's the third time in less than two years that Porter has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery, hardly a comforting thought for the Miami Dolphins, who gave Porter a five-year $32 million contract that includes $20 million in guaranteed money.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Porter to Have Right Knee Examined

Joey Porter's career with the Miami Dolphins is off to a shaky start. is reporting that the former Steelers' outside linebacker is having his right knee examined today (after missing the last two days of practice). No report is expected to be forthcoming until Monday. Sounds like Joey may have to refrain from doing 'da boot' for a while.

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Remembering Cowher's Preseason Debut

With Mike Tomlin's head coaching debut now just hours away it's worth looking back to see how Bill Cowher fared in his first preseason game. The final result wasn't positive, with the Steelers losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 35-33 at Three Rivers Stadium. If I remember correctly, the game came down to the final play (a missed field goal, perhaps) and ended in controversy. As the players left the field Rod Woodson began arguing with the referee; then Cowher intervened and continued what would become the first of many post-game "discussions" with the officials.

Interestingly, Cowher's second preseason game came against tonight's opponent, the New Orleans Saints—the result a 26-0 loss. But his club rebounded to win its last two preseason games—against the Chicago Bears and New York Giants—and finished the preseason 2-2.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Finally...the 2007 Season Begins

For those of you living in a cave, the Steelers' 75th season begins on Sunday with the AFC-NFC Hall of Fame game versus the New Orleans Saints at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, OH. Kickoff is at 8 pm (ET) and the game will be nationally televised on the NFL Network.

Head coach Mike Tomlin conducted a pre-game press conference on Friday, Aug. 3, at 11:30 am on the campus of Saint Vincent College. Be sure to check out for the full transcript.

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Dead Money on Steelers' Cap Now Over $10 Million

Pittsburgh has always done a solid job of managing the salary cap, keeping the amount of "dead money" counting against its cap to a bare minimum. But after cutting Joey Porter, Duce Staley, and Chris Gardocki (among others) $10.335 million of the Steelers' 2007 salary cap is now taken up by players no longer on the team [per updated figures posted on August 1 by Steelers Live 'Xtra]. With this year's cap set at $109 million that's roughly 10.5 percent of the team's allowance, a higher percentage than in years past.

In case you aren't familiar with the mechanics of the salary cap, here's an oversimplified example of how a team is charged with dead money: Let's say a player signs a four-year contract with a $1 million signing bonus and base salaries of $500,000 each year. The cap charge for his first season would be $750,000 ($500,000 for his salary and $250,000 for one-quarter of his signing bonus). If that player is released after, say, only one season with the team, the remaining prorated portion of his signing bonus ($750,000) "accelerates" and counts against the cap the following year, even though the player is no longer on the roster. Meanwhile, the remaining $1.5 million that would have been paid in salary (over the next three seasons) "disappears." This arrangement explains why the Steelers are sqeamish about signing aging veterans like Alan Faneca to long-term contracts that include enormous signing bonuses.

Of course, a certain amount of dead money is inevitable. Draft choices—like Orien Harris, Charles Davis, Cedrick Humes and Omar Jacobs—sometimes don't pan out, and veteran players (like Jeff Hartings) often retire before completing their contracts. So the Steelers certainly aren't the only team above $10 million. According to, Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans and Oakland are all over the $10 million mark—and there may be others. Yet, when it comes to this problem no one compares to the Houston Texans, currently saddled with more than $30 million in dead money, a serious competitive handicap.

As for players who remain on the Steelers' roster, LT Marvel Smith is scheduled to count $6.645 million against the Steelers' cap in 2007, the most of any player on the team. LG Alan Faneca, NT Casey Hampton, WR Hines Ward and DE Aaron Smith have cap charges of $6.12 million, $6 million, $5.92 million and $5.46 million, respectively.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Polamalu's new contract v. LaRon Landry's rookie contract

NFL fans regard top 10 draft picks as potential saviors, the kind of players that can change the fortunes of a troubled franchise. Yet, early first round selections are becoming so expensive to sign that teams may increasingly look to trade out of the top 10 in future drafts. In fact, some 2007 first rounders are signing rookie contracts that surpass the value of those signed by established stars with Pro Bowl credentials and Super Bowl rings.

Case in point: Last week Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu signed a contract extension worth $33 million over five years, a deal that includes $15.375 million in guaranteed money. By way of comparison, rookie safety LaRon Landry (chosen sixth overall in the 2007 draft by the Washington Redskins) just received a five-year $41.5 million contract that includes $17.5 million in guaranteed money, making him the highest paid safety in the league.

With top 10 contracts reaching such exorbinant heights it's no wonder that three top picks remain unsigned, including #1 overall choice JaMarcus Russell (Oakland Raiders) and #2 overall selection Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions).

To find out the current status of all 32 first round picks click here.

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