Remembering Days Past

Today was undoubtedly a good day for the Pittsburgh Steeler organization. They saved themselves $6+ million by releasing Kordell Stewart and they finally put an end to the turmoil of allowing Stewart to have a chance at starting for the Steelers.

But, it also is a day of sadness. For the past 7 years, fans of the Steelers have followed Stewart through his early days as the Pop-NFL superstar "Slash" to his first and ultimately successful year as a starter in 1997, and through his beer-battered, weepy years of 1998 and 1999 to his Lazarus-like resurrection in 2001.

Yet, his inconsistent play and the elephant-like memories of fans would forever undermine any hopes of an encore of his darling-of-the-day year of 1997. That year was the most special. We forgave the high interception-touchdown ratio. We absolved him of his early-quarter mistakes. We excused his poor time-management skills. We condoned all of this because he was young.

His unexpectedly early (too early, possibly) success in 1997 would eventually bring about his downfall, and unto that the franchise spent the next 5 years slapping his wrist, downplaying his demotion in 1999 and playing the fans for fools. They told us to wait until the offensive coordinator position got solidified, to wait until our receivers got better, or to wait until Dermontti Dawson got healthy.

Then, in the second-half of 2000, it looked like Kordell Stewart might have finally come back around. It looked like all of the excuses over the years had been proven valid, and we knew not whether to cheer or shut up.

We cheered and cheered. And he once again let us down. This time it would be the final Pittsburgh at least.

Stewart's release is a cause for sadness. He was groomed for years to be the franchise quarterback Pittsburgh's been searching for since Terry Bradshaw. And he failed. In fact, everyone associated with this grand experiment failed. And today the franchise is back where it started: the day Neil O'Donnell left for New York in 1996.

We're still searching for our franchise quarterback and the search should be aggravating and exciting. But don't expect any grand experiments this time.

For your enjoyment, and since I'm traveling down Memory Lane, I've listed some major events that occurred in 1996.

World News

  • Great Britain alarmed by an outbreak of "mad cow" disease (March 20 et seq).
  • Militant Taliban leaders seize Afghan capital of Kabul (Sept. 27).
  • Scientists analyzing a Martian meteorite claim that it may provide evidence for the existence of ancient life on Mars.
  • Dr. Ian Wilmut and his team clone the world's first sheep from adult cells. The lamb born in July 1996 is named Dolly.

National News

  • Valujet crashes in Everglades; all 110 aboard killed (May 11).
  • Bomb mars Summer Olympic games in Atlanta (July 25).
  • FBI arrests suspected Unabomber (April 3).
  • Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.32.
  • Jazz great Ella Fitzgerald dies.

--The Steel Apple

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