Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York,
And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
- Richard III, Act i, Scene 1
Shakespeare's mangled villian has nothing on the Steeler media, except, perhaps, sobriety. He speaks in iambic pentameter as well, which is a trick I've never seen the Post-Gazette pull off, although I'm pretty sure that StillTrap could pull off a nice quatrain on why Jason Gildon is overrated. Richard III was miserable in happy times, and so it is in the Pittsburgh papers this horrific Spring of 2002.
Reading the off-season press in Pittsburgh, one is left with the impression that the Steelers are just one more pitcher of beer away from complete disaster, that the team is out-of-control, and, of course, that StillMill is the Anti-Christ. All of this is complete nonsense, although I still haven't heard back from Mill about why he felt compelled to get a tattoo that reads "666" imprinted on his scalp.
Let's recap, shall we, the major stories in the press this off-season:
- Tee Martin maybe, perhaps, could have gotten some extra bucks from some Tennessee alumni
- The Steelers drafted an offensive lineman. -- yawn -- Hey look! There's a quarterback from Indiana!
- Plaxico Burress over-parties like it's 1999. When he was 20 or something, I think.
- Jerome Bettis should get the Chunky Soup ads because he's a Chunky as Terrell Davis' mama.
Now, for your bored weekend edification, here's my reaction to the major stories:
- Gasp! Egads!
- The offensive lineman who might not start is the story, dolts.
- Who cares?
- Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.
Now, I'm not going to blast the Steelers beat writers just because they're creeping around Pittsburgh suburbs looking for cigarettes and open booze stores while I'm chained to my word processor trying to come up with some angle for a column in the middle of the May football desert. Instead, I'm going to blast them because they're convinced that controversy and scandal are the only ways to prop up sales of newspapers this off-season.
There are two stories which matter to me, but that perhaps is because I'm more worried about what happens on the field than off it:
The first real story this off-season, in my opinion, is that the Steelers are so well set with their starting line-ups that they have the luxury of drafting an offensive lineman who, if Cowher follows a typical pattern, may sit on the bench to learn for a while. Contrast this to the situation in Cleveland, where an overpriced makeshift line is being put together and five players have to learn each other for the fourth straight year. In Baltimore, the team is just one Jonathon Ogden groin pull away from having the worst offensive line in the NFL. And, in Cincinnati, the Bengals atill haven't left town and Mike Brown didn't get a brain transplant.
The Steelers are so primed heading into this next season that the only real concern is that they will coast too much during the regular season and not get home field advantage throughout.
The other major story, in this humble and over-caffeinated writer's opinion, is how Rooney's extraction of a couple of hundred million dollars for a new stadium has finally allowed the Steelers to compete on equal footing with the other teams in the NFL. Except the Bengals. And the Cardinals. Oh, and the Vikings. And the Ravens, because David Modell is a moron. Actually, combining the team's historically strong talent evaluation skills, smart emphasis on building talent on the lines, and talented existing cast with the bags of money that Rooney is getting from Heinz is creating a squad that is a good bet for a Super Bowl slot for the next three years.
But, no, let's worry about what car Tee Martin drove in college.
In Baltimore, they have ditched most of the talented defense that carried the team to its fluke Championship in 2000. Peter Boulware and Ray Lewis are busy practicing their Playstation skills while the rest of the team works out, and their agent is spending his time figuring out new ways to insult Brian Billick. In Cleveland, Dwight Clark has bolted town following some wonderful palace intrigue, there's still no offensive line, and no one can figure out if Tim Couch or Courtney Brown will ever show that they were deserving of being top picks. In Cincinnati, well, the Bengals are still there.
Oddly, though, in reading the papers in those cities the tone is generally one of optimism and hope. The Baltimore and Cleveland press continue, for whatever reasons, to fall all over themselves to praise their head coaches, and even in Cincinnati the front office is only being called numbskulls three times a week at most.
But in Pittsburgh, we're hearing about pitchers of beer and and too many Twinkies in the land of Bettis.
I would like to take a moment to invite the Steeler-media to join me in reality. Reality is good. Reality is nice. In this world, the Steelers are strong and getting stronger. And no one cares if Plaxico Burress had too much to drink somewhere in Virginia.
Join us in reality. There are bars here too.
G.W.Lee has recently offered to spew his opinions on several sites on TheInsiders. Not that anyone cares, or should, but he likes his steaks with some red in them, his cigars time-consuming, and Irish Whiskey without ice or any sort of other crap to take away from the experience. Other than that, mind your own business, and ignore his wisdom at your own peril.