the week was buried below the continuing nonsense about Ben Roethlisberger's broken-sprained-damaged-healthy-fine toes. I won't even waste another second on that soap opera, but did find Roethlisberger's "second public plea" for the Steelers to keep Plaxico Burress very interesting, and for the most part uplifting."> the week was buried below the continuing nonsense about Ben Roethlisberger's broken-sprained-damaged-healthy-fine toes. I won't even waste another second on that soap opera, but did find Roethlisberger's "second public plea" for the Steelers to keep Plaxico Burress very interesting, and for the most part uplifting.">

Blog ... If I Were A Carpenter

The most interesting news of <a href="http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05033/451416.stm"> the week</a> was buried below the continuing nonsense about Ben Roethlisberger's broken-sprained-damaged-healthy-fine toes. I won't even waste another second on that soap opera, but did find Roethlisberger's "second public plea" for the Steelers to keep Plaxico Burress very interesting, and for the most part uplifting.

One of the positives I take from it is that the young quarterback really does enjoy Burress' company on and off the field. Since I've sniped all season at a media that overrates Burress' importance to the team, readers might assume I'm dismayed at the quarterback's positive appraisal, but it actually made me feel good about both of them. What's there not to like about a young quarterback making a public plea for the return of a wide receiver? Even though I'm against overspending to sign Burress, I'm willing to listen to a more educated opinion, and certainly Roethlisberger's is all of that. But what I liked even better about the pronouncement is that it had to be made publicly. Yes, it was made through the media, ergo it wasn't made to the head coach or the front office. I'm relieved that Roethlisberger didn't take matters into his own rookie hands here. Not that I don't think quarterbacks should have a voice in team matters, but not rookie quarterbacks, or even young quarterbacks. Three-year vet Kordell Stewart once sat in on the interview process to fill the offensive coordinator position. The hiring of Ray Sherman in 1998 was a disaster. It also, I believe, negatively altered Stewart's perception of his importance within the organization. He wasn't a true leader after only three years in the league, but had the role foisted upon him by a coach who thought it would help his quarterback become a leader. Bill Cowher put the cart before the horse and the result was the worst hire of his career.

OK. So I like Roethlisberger standing up for one of his boys, and that he didn't feel he was important enough to take that thought directly to his bosses. At the same time, I also believe this is the perfect opportunity for the parent (Cowher) to tell the child (Roethlisberger) "no." It's what parents must do from time to time, to show their child he can't have everything, and in my mind Burress is a luxury. While Roethlisberger's feelings help Burress' case if he would in fact settle for a reasonable re-signing bonus, I'm against a big payday for all of the reasons I've listed throughout the season: stiffed the team in the off-season; too much money at the position; doesn't produce enough; the "stretch-the-field" argument is a figment of the media's imagination; and the team won (5.67 and 0) without him. And, frankly, he's not talented enough. I thought that point became clear in the AFC championship game.

Here's another argument against re-signing Burress: Author Chris Harlan pored through NFL play-by-play sheets for data that tells us Burress caught only 51.5 percent of the passes thrown his way (35 of 68, corrected in the print edition of The Beaver County Times), which is well off the percentages posted by the elite receivers in the game. Now, Burress supporters point to his 19.9 yards-per-catch average, which ranked second in the league. Third in that category was another fifth-year receiver, Todd Pinkston, who's likely on his last legs in Philadelphia because of a perceived lack of courage. Pinky, the 36th player drafted the year Burress was drafted 8th, averaged 18.8 yards per his 36 catches. Burress caught 35 passes and outscored Pinky 5 TDs to 1. In their careers, Burress averaged 16 yards per catch and Pinky 15.3. If you hold Pinky in as low regard as Eagles fans do, you'll agree the YAC stat is overrated. There's also this guy: Gary Ballman. He played five years with the Steelers in the 1960s after being drafted out of Michigan State. In his fifth year, he caught 41 passes (16.2 avg.) and scored 5 touchdowns. He had a career YAC of 19.1 with the Steelers, but was shipped to the Eagles and became all but forgotten in Pittsburgh. Now, the Steelers won only 7 games the next 3 years, but that won't confuse me. Not after what I watched in the biggest game of Burress' career. He mistimed his jump on two big plays and wouldn't come back for a third pass. He's...just...not...that...good. Sorry, Ben.

FOUND IN THE E-MAIL

Ed finally decides to take a vacation. He books himself on a Caribbean cruise and proceeds to have the time of his life - until the boat sank. He found himself swept up on the shore of an island with no other people, no supplies ... Nothing. Only bananas and coconuts.

After about four months, he is lying on the beach one day when the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen rows up to him. In disbelief, he asks her, "Where did you come from? How did you get here?"

"I rowed over from the other side of the island," she says. "I landed here when my cruise ship sank."

"Amazing," he says. "You were really lucky to have a rowboat wash up with you."

"Oh, this?" replies the woman. "I made the rowboat out of raw material found on the island. I whittled the oars from gum tree branches; I wove the bottom from palm branches; and the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree."

"But ... but ... that's impossible," stutters Ed. "You had no tools or hardware. How did you manage?"

"Oh, no problem," replies the woman. "On the South side of the island, there is a very unusual strata of alluvial rock exposed. I found if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into forgeable ductile iron. I used that for tools and used the tools to make the hardware." Ed is stunned. "Let's row over to my place," she says.

After a few minutes of rowing, she docks the boat at a small wharf. As Ed looks onto shore, he nearly falls out of the boat. Before him is a stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white. While the woman ties up the rowboat with an expertly woven hemp rope, he can only stare ahead, dumbstruck. As they walk into the house, she says casually, "It's not much, but I call it home. Sit down, please. Would you like to have a drink?"

"No, no thank you," he says, still dazed. "Can't take any more coconut juice."

"It's not coconut juice," the woman replies. "I built a still. How about a Pina Colada?"

Trying to hide his continued amazement, he accepts, and they sit down on her hand-woven couch to talk. After they have exchanged their stories, the woman announces, "I'm going to slip into something more comfortable. Would you like to take a shower and shave? There is a razor upstairs in the cabinet in the bathroom."

No longer questioning anything, Ed goes into the bathroom. There, in the cabinet, is a razor made from a bone handle. Two shells honed to a hollow-ground edge are fastened on to its end inside of a swivel mechanism. "WOW! This woman is amazing," he muses, "what next?"

When he returns, she greets him wearing 'nothing but vines' strategically positioned, and smelling faintly of gardenias. She beckons for him to sit down next to her.

"Tell me," she begins suggestively, slithering closer to him, "We've been out here for a really long time. I know you've been lonely. There's something I'm sure you really feel like doing right now, something you've been longing for all these months. You know..."

She stares into his eyes. He can't believe what he's hearing!

"You mean ...", he swallows excitedly, "We can watch the Steeler game from here?"

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