Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Advance word on forthcoming Rooney book

Last week The Steelyard received an advance reading copy of Dan Rooney’s forthcoming book, “My 75 Years With the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL” (Da Capo), scheduled to hit stores on November 5. Longtime Steelers’ fans probably won’t glean a whole lot of new information, although there are certainly some interesting bits about past drafts and personnel changes. For instance, concerning the Bill Cowher-Tom Donahoe spat, Rooney writes, “Bill didn’t want Donahoe in the coaches’ meetings because he thought Tom was a spy. Tom thought Bill was finished as an NFL head coach.” Pretty strong words from both sides, don’t you think?

But to me the most interesting item concerns the 2004 draft. Rooney writes that with Eli Manning and Philip Rivers off the board early in the first round “our people seem to have focused on Shawn Andrews, a big offensive tackle from Arkansas as our likely number-one pick…. But when out turn came, I couldn’t bear the thought of passing on another great quarterback prospect the way we had passed on Dan Marino in 1983, so I steered the conversation around to [Ben] Roethlisberger. After some more talk, we came to a consensus and picked Roethlisberger.”

All I can say is, Way to go, Dan! It would have been foolish to take a right tackle over Big Ben, especially since the Steelers were badly in need of a long-term solution at the QB position. I’ve always believed that when a team has a chance to select a potential franchise quarterback it has to seize the opportunity--particularly a team like the Steelers, which rarely has a chance to select in the top 10 of the draft. In my opinion, the Steelers have been too quick to pass on quarterbacks over the years. For instance, back in 2000 the Steelers had the opportunity to trade the 8th overall pick (used to take Plaxico Burress) for two of the Jets’ first-round picks (one of which could have been used on Chad Pennington). Selecting Pennington would have been a worthwhile risk back in the Kordell Stewart era.

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