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A Review of The Ones Who Hit The Hardest

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 4, 2016

The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's SoulThe Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the ’70s, and the Fight for America’s Soul by Chad Millman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

What a dud! What a waste of time and money. What a bitter disappointment. And how about that subtitle — “The Steelers, The Cowboys, The ’70s, and the Fight for America’s Soul?” What a load of crap! What horseshit is that?

I’m a lifelong Steelers fan with a healthy memory and respect for the Pittsburgh/Dallas rivalry and that’s what I expected this book to be about. It wasn’t. It was a book about the Steelers, yes. It was mostly about the Rooney family, about Chuck Noll, Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell, Jack Ham, with mentions of Mel Blount, Mike Webster, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Rocky Blier, Terry Hanratty, LC Greenwood, Dwight White, Fats Holmes, etc. Some decent stuff on the players and team. Almost all of it well known already. Virtually nothing new. How about the Cowboys? Equal treatment? Hardly! You get Tom Landry, Duane Thomas for a couple of years, for some unknown reason — literally makes no sense — and then, Tony Dorsett, who’s from Pittsburgh and who’s portrayed as a mega-asshole. That’s it. Okay, I guess we don’t need to know anything else about the Cowboys.

Well, if we don’t learn anything new about the Steelers and if we don’t learn much at all about the Cowboys, what is in the book at all? Um, the steel industry and labor unions. Literally. At least one third of the book, perhaps a great deal more, is a history of the steel industry and labor unions dating from the late nineteenth century centering in the greater Pittsburgh area. If you’re into Pittsburgh manufacturing history or even US manufacturing history, I guess that’s pretty damn great for you. Since it’s virtually not even remotely tied into the the alleged “true” topic of the book — the Steelers and the Cowboys — I don’t really give a flying fuck about it. That’s not why I bought the book. There’s more info in this book on labor union bosses, even on people who ran for labor union president and FAILED — like that fucking matters about anything!!! — than there is about fucking football in this stupid fucking book!

Oh, and the rivalry? There’s infinitely more spent on the “true” rivalry between the Steelers and the Raiders than there is on the Steelers and the Cowboys.That’s obviously the true rivalry. There’s a little bit about the first Super Bowl the Steelers win and then the book ends abruptly with the second Steeler Super Bowl win over the Cowboys. That’s it. There’s been this huge steel industry self destruction buildup and the battle of labor union bosses and the war of words between the two teams and then the game is over and there’s a paragraph or two following the game and that’s fucking it. No conclusions, no epilogue, nothing. It’s a stupid waste of a book, a stupid waste of time and money. I can’t believe these idiots wrote something like this. I hope they took a huge loss on this. I hope they didn’t make a dime on this. I hope I make something decent when I sell it to the used bookstore. This is easily the worst Steelers book I’ve ever read. The worst. Even though there’s interesting stuff about the history of the city and the ethnicities making up the city, that’s not why I bought the book. If you’re a Steelers fan and want to learn about the team and its rivalries, just skip this book, because you won’t learn a damn thing and you’ll feel screwed after reading it. Most definitely NOT recommended. Poor excuse to talk about steel labor unions using the Pittsburgh Steelers as cover. Bullshit. Biggest piece of shit ever!

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A Review of Andy Russell: A Steeler Odyssey

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 17, 2015

Andy Russell: A Steeler OdysseyAndy Russell: A Steeler Odyssey by Andy Russell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This much wanted book was a HUGE disappointment! I feel really upset about it. I’ve been wanting to get this book for two years, but it’s been out of print. I saw I could get a used copy via Amazon and put in on my Wish List some time ago, but recently decided to just go ahead and buy it for myself. It was only a penny, plus shipping. I waited eagerly.

For those of you who don’t know, Andy Russell, two-time Super Bowl Champion and seven-time Pro Bowler, was one of the all time great Steeler linebackers. Maybe the first in a long line of great Steeler linebackers. Drafted in 1963 out of Missouri, he played his rookie year, served in the army for two years, came back and was able to rejoin the team, played on some terrible teams in the 1960s and then on some incredible 1970s teams before retiring midway through the decade. He was a ten time team captain. He was a great player, a great leader, and a great person. And it just so happens that as I moved to the Pittsburgh area as a very young child in 1971, I grew up loving the Steelers and I remember hearing about him, but I really don’t remember seeing him play that much. I don’t remember many of those great early ’70s teams. I guess I didn’t really start watching until the mid-70s. So I pretty much missed out on his career, even though I had heard so much about him. And therefore I’ve always wanted to learn something about him. Thus, when I found he had written a book (actually two books), I had to get it. And here it is and I just finished it.

Let me tell you what I was expecting. I was expecting to hear about his great college career at Missouri, his rookie year with the Steelers, the army years, trying to make the team again when he returned from the military, becoming a starter, playing on all those losing teams and then playing on all of those amazing winning teams and the differences between them, stuff about the players from both decades, the coaches, opposing players, maybe the fans, the city of Pittsburgh, the media, what it was like to be selected for playing in the Pro Bowl, and even year by year details on important games. That’s what I expected. That’s not what I got.

What I got was a chapter about him that touched on his college career, where he got a lot of interceptions for a very successful coach and team, where he was drafted low but made the team, went to Germany, came back and made the team again, negotiated his own contracts, terribly, suddenly fast forwarded to winning a Super Bowl and then retirement. That was pretty much his life. He kind of left a shitload of stuff out. I have no idea why.

The next chapter came as a shock. It was about a 1968 USO tour to Vietnam with four other NFL players where they arrived in Saigon on the eve of Tet and everything got blown to hell and they got shot at and they got flown around to bases surrounded by Viet Cong and had to run from helicopters into the bases, where they got mortared, where they were driven around by maniacs intent upon not being killed by VC snipers, etc. When he went, he was a conservative hawk. When he left, after seeing all the senseless carnage and deaths, he was a dove and thought maybe all of those disgusting long haired hippies were right after all. It was an interesting chapter. It would have made an excellent chapter in another book. But not this one.

The next chapter began a series of player profile chapters with his best friend, center Ray Mansfield. It was interesting and I enjoyed it, like I enjoyed all of the player profile chapters. Those were the best chapters in the book. The players profiled in the book included Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Jack Ham, Rocky Bleier, Jack Lambert, Franco Harris, and coach Chuck Noll. The best one may have been on Noll, whom he respected more than just about anyone else he ever met.

After the Mansfield chapter comes another USO chapter, from the same tour, this time in Thailand with a group of American pilots. One night. A whole chapter about one night. He gets really introspective and thinks that instead of these men worshiping him and his NFL colleagues, they should be bowing down to the pilots and their colleagues, who are giving their lives daily. An interesting chapter, again, but for another book.

And then begins the most disappointing aspect to the book. Aside from the few player profile chapters, each chapter is basically about Russell and his post-retirement business partner traveling to mostly Asian and third world countries looking for investment opportunities. They hit the Middle East, where they’re basically laughed out of town by the super rich Arabs, and they finally strike it rich in Germany at the end of the book, but each chapter is about trying to do business in Japan, Singapore, Calcutta, and so on and so on. Like I give a holy shit about that! Honestly, does anyone buying this book, virtually all of whom are undoubtedly Steeler fans, give a shit about Russell’s post-retirement investment business opportunities?

There’s NOTHING about the teams and players from the 1960s, almost nothing about the teams and players from the 1970s, a little bit — just a little — about the first Super Bowl, nothing about his second Super Bowl, nothing about the fans or media, nothing about the city of Pittsburgh, virtually nothing at all about the Pro Bowls, practically nothing about opposing players, virtually nothing at all about specific seasons or even big games in his career!!! I mean, WHAT THE HELL???!!! What kind of football biography is this? What the hell does he think he is writing? How dare he? Why does he think people are even buying this damn book? What an asshole.

The only thing that saves this book from getting a one star review are the last two chapters. The next to last chapter is simply a chapter detailing information about other players he played with who he didn’t profile, including Hall of Famers like Mike Webster and John Stallworth, as well as lesser known players like JT Thomas and Mike Wagner. It was interesting to read the synopsis on each of the players and that was the type of stuff I had been waiting for throughout the whole book. The last chapter was his outlook on “today’s,” game, bearing in mind that this book was published in 1998. First, Russell states that current players, with their larger size and faster speed, could undoubtedly beat the better teams of the old days. But then he goes on to say what I’ve been saying for years. Despite their talent, they’re basically glory seeking, asshole fuckups. He doesn’t use those exact words, of course, but he bemoans the players who have to celebrate like idiots every time they make a damn tackle, saying — like me — isn’t that their job? Why are they celebrating for doing what they’re paid to do? Maybe if it was a big touchdown or something, okay, but just a simply tackle or a simple first down run? Seriously? Idiots. And they don’t know how to tackle anymore. They’ve lost their technique. They go for the big time tackle and simply miss half the time, and my wife knows I’m always screaming at players on TV to “wrap up.” For the life of me, I don’t understand why players don’t realize that the easiest way to make a sure tackle is to wrap up, but instead, these dolts, going for the big shots, lead with their heads or even their shoulders and the runners or receivers evade them or bounce off of them and keep going … because the stupid defender didn’t WRAP UP! It’s called tackling technique. And today’s players don’t have it. Russell also gets annoyed with the attention seeking players who get “injured,” lying on the field for five minutes, having to be helped or carried to the sideline, only to be back in the game three plays later. Frauds. He states that Mean Joe or Lambert would have never put up with that shit. When he was a rookie, Hall of Fame defensive lineman Earnie Stautner got a fractured hand where his the bone was sticking out through the skin of his hand and he just went to the sideline, after making two more tackles, wrapped some tape around the fracture, and went back in and played. A real man. It’s different now. Russell admits that every generation says the previous generation was better and he sounds like an old fogie, but that’s just the way he feels and I can’t help but agree with virtually everything he writes in this chapter. I despise most of today’s players and I hate the way they go nutso when they make a play or taunt their opponent after a play, etc. It’s pathetic. It’s not football. The 1970s Steelers played football. And so did Andy Russell. It’s just a shame he didn’t write about it in his book. One more thing. The publisher sucks. This is the worst excuse for a professionally edited and published book I’ve ever seen. There are so many grammatical mistakes and typos, it’s unbelievable. I can’t believe they apparently decided not to hire an editor. One example from a late chapter. Something should have “seemed” apparent, but in the book, it “seamed” apparent. Stupid mistakes like that are all over this book. And the few photos in this book are a joke! All black and white, the photos and text accompanying them bleed over each other on back to back pages, so when you’re looking at a page of two photos, you’re actually seeing four from two pages, with four paragraphs sitting on top of each other. It’s beyond unprofessional. It’s an embarrassment. As a former editing and publishing professional, I’m appalled. I’ve deleted his other book from my Amazon Wish List. If you’re a Steeler fan, don’t waste your time and money on this book. It’ll be a major disappointment. Definitely, definitely not recommended.

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A Review of Lost Sundays

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 3, 2015

Lost Sundays: A Season in the Life of Pittsburgh and the SteelersLost Sundays: A Season in the Life of Pittsburgh and the Steelers by Sam Toperoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting experiment of a book about the 1988 season of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a disaster of a season if there ever was one. The author, a New Yorker who is a former professor and now a free lance writer, set out to write a book about an NFL team starting out from the bottom and working its way to the top and he both liked the city and people of Pittsburgh and the team had been pretty mediocre the past three or four years, and by all accounts, they were poised for a resurrection in 1988, so he landed with the Steelers. And that’s where it begins.

First, he introduces some interesting local Pittsburghers, including a Japanese immigrant who stands out in the city and an ethnic blue collar worker, the exact type of man the city is known for. He becomes friends with the latter, enjoying his company over that of his grown son’s because the older man loves football while the younger man simply loves watching “winning” football. Right there, you know Toperoff isn’t a football fan, never has been. He’s a journalist, plain and simple. He likes the game but could care less about the outcome.

He then goes to the Steelers’ headquarters and admires the beautiful and intimidating presentation of four Super Bowl trophies, evidence of ghosts of the recent past, of Hall of Famers, of having to live up to that tradition. It’s imposing.

He meets the coaches, Chuck Noll, who came to Pittsburgh in 1969 and led the team to four Super Bowl wins, now in a down cycle. He meets Mean Joe Greene, a defensive line coach now, and defensive coordinator Tony Dungy, future Colts head coach. They have big plans for the season.

He then starts writing about the players, about how they’re the youngest team in the league, have a lot of unproven players, no real leaders, hope people will step up. How Pro Bowl linebacker Mike Merriweather is doing the unthinkable and holding out for a new, better contract and how that’s impacting the team. How Merriweather held out the whole season and was traded the next year to the Vikings. How Pittsburgh’s top defensive lineman got injured in the first preseason practice, out for the year. How last year’s top rookie and a hot shot defensive back broke his wrist, but has to play the season anyway due to lack of players and is totally ineffective. How one of the better offensive linemen is sidelined by bad ulcers. How their top draft pick is inexplicably some no name defensive end from some small school in Kentucky who predicts he’ll get 18-20 sacks that year — and gets one and a half. How their starting quarterback is a loudmouth, splashy, overconfident braggart with a big arm from Louisiana, reminding everyone of Terry Bradshaw of course, but he’s had only two NFL starts and has a lot to prove. And on and on it goes.

Toperoff also introduces us to the local media, the local TV analysts, who he doesn’t spend much time with, and the two dozen or so newspaper reporters who go to each game, travel with the team, yet remain objective and, when necessary, quite critical. He spends a lot of time with them and writing about them in this book. Sometimes a bit too much.

The Steelers go 3-1 in the preseason and everybody feels pretty good, even with all of the injuries. Then they play their first game of the season and win it, so things remain good. Their second game is with defending Super Bowl champion Washington, whom they beat in the preseason, but this time, they make all sorts of mistakes and essentially give the game away, losing just barely. It’s a hard pill to swallow. They do the same thing in the third game, getting something like seven offsides penalties and two blocked punts. In fact, they set an NFL record in blocked punts that year. It was unbelievable how many of their punts got blocked, how their players couldn’t block the opposing players at all, how many blocked punts got turning into winning touchdowns. And then things really fell apart. They started getting their asses kicked. It was brutal. All sorts of stupid penalties, turnovers, mistakes, special teams screw ups, missed tackles. You name it, they did it. They got killed. They started their season 1-6, something not seen in Pittsburgh since the 1960s and it was shocking. People were shell shocked and were trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Were the players that bad? Was it the injuries? Had the “game passed by” Coach Noll? A lot of people thought it had and as a life time Steeler fan who remembers those awful years, I recall thinking exactly that as Noll led his last few teams to awful records by not changing with the times, by not adapting, by rigidly sticking with his 70s-era football that no longer worked in the new pass-happy NFL. He was the only coach in the NFL who didn’t use the shotgun with his quarterback. He refused to. Absolutely refused to. And he ran the ball. That’s all he did. With poor runners and a poor offensive line, that’s hard to do. When your quarterback is getting beat up because he can’t play out of the shotgun, it’s time to make some changes. So, for the eighth game, Noll shook some things up, threw in some trick plays, loosened the reigns, if you will, and they won. So, in the first half of their season, they went 2-6. Pretty bad.

After getting that second win, they went back to losing. The mistakes reappeared. The penalties mounted. The turnovers occurred, the punts were blocked, the stupid fights occurred, resulting in unsportsmanlike penalties, etc. And it became apparent to most that these football players had no leadership and were uncoachable. They didn’t learn what their coaches taught them, or tried to teach them. They kept making the same stupid mistakes. It was unreal. Speaking of uncoachable, the author got some things wrong and some things right. This book was published right after that season, so hind sight is 20/20, but he wrote repeatedly about how recent first round draft pick, Rod Woodson, a super fast and mega-talented defensive back from Purdue was talented, yes, but made mistake after mistake and couldn’t adapt to the NFL-caliber competition, how he was most likely going to wind up a bust. Of course, Woodson went on to snag a Super Bowl ring and is in the NFL Hall of Fame. So too, he raved about then-guard, soon to be center, Dermonti Dawson, a recent draft pick from Kentucky who started the season injured, but then came on and learned a lot as the season progressed and showed a lot of promise. He predicted a long NFL future for him. Like Woodson, Dawson has a Super Bowl ring and is in the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Steelers went on to lose four straight games, so that their record stood at 2-10. People started whispering that they should throw their remaining four games so they could get the number one draft pick, rumored to be UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman. Chuck Noll would have none of it. The Steelers came back and won three of their last four to finish with a 5-11 record. The season nearly broke Noll’s spirit. Three of his assistant coaches were fired, two defensive coaches and the special teams coach. The new owner, Dan Rooney, was most unpleased.

The book ends with the next NFL draft. The Steelers were drafting seventh. They were guaranteed to get a good pick. The Steelers chose Georgia running back Tim Worley, a super college running back with size and speed, sure to be their featured back for the next decade. That was a long time ago, but as I recall, he was largely a bust and lasted just a few short years, accomplishing next to nothing. Like most of the other draft picks of that era. If I remember right, Noll went on to coach three more unmemorable years before retiring with most Pittsburgh fans breathing a sigh of relief. Bill Cowher took over as coach and had the team back in the Super Bowl within a few years, barely losing to Dallas, before several years later, winning the team’s fifth of six Super Bowl titles.

The book is interesting, but it’s kind of unfocused and all over the place. It’s obviously a “human interest” piece and somewhat scattered, neither a true football book, nor a coaching book, nor a journalism book, nor a real social studies book, perhaps a study on the people and mindset of Pittsburgh football fans, but it rambles and doesn’t spend much time on the actual games themselves. Which I found a bit disappointing. A lot of time is spent shooting the breeze with the other reporters. I guess that’s where the info is, certainly not with the players, right? It’s not a bad book, but it’s not a great book at all. It’s written with an interesting premise, but I’m not sure what it actually accomplishes. What did it set out to do? Did it succeed? Did it even deserve to be written and published? I’m not sure. If you’re a longtime Steelers fan, you might find this interesting. If not, then simply don’t read it. Not recommended.

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10 Greatest Steelers

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 24, 2013

This weekend I watched a program on the NFL Network on the 10 greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of all time. It was apparently a rerun from 2010, but it was still good. But I have a beef with their list. I couldn’t believe some of the players on the list and not on the list! First let me say that coming up with such a list is virtually impossible, because there are so many Steelers in the NFL Hall of Fame. Whittling it down to 10 just doesn’t seem fair. You’re going to leave some deserving players off the list. And what about the great Steelers who aren’t yet in the Hall of Fame, like Jerome Bettis? Don’t some of them deserve to be on the list? Anyway, here’s the NFL Network’s list of the top 10 Steelers of all time:

  1. Joe Greene
  2. Terry Bradshaw
  3. Franco Harris
  4. Rod Woodson
  5. Jack Lambert
  6. Mel Blount
  7. Troy Polamalu
  8. Hines Ward
  9. Lynn Swann
  10. Jerome Bettis

OK, wow. Talk about the immortal Hall of Famers left off the list ! What about the greatest center to ever play the game, Mike Webster? What about possibly the greatest outside linebacker ever, Jack Ham? Both Hall of Famers? What about the second greatest center ever, Dermonti Dawson? Hall of Famer. What about Hall of Fame wide receiver John Stallworth? It almost seems a crime to separate him from Lynn Swann. I mean, they were a matched pair. They complemented each other so well. Stallworth actually had the better season and career stats. What about some of the old timers like John Henry Johnson and Ernie Stautner, both Hall of Famers? And what about Ben Roethlisberger, who has won two Super Bowls and is breaking Terry Bradshaw’s records? Wouldn’t you think he belongs on the list over Troy Polamalu, who’s been injury prone?

I have two major complaints about players on the NFL Network’s list. First, I don’t think Troy belongs on it at all. Maybe top 20 Steelers, but not top 10. He’s still playing and while he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year one year, he’s not yet a Hall of Famer. You can’t leave Jack Ham off the list for Troy. Second, I can’t believe you would list Rod Woodson at #4!!! Over Mel Blount, the best cornerback of all time??? The player the NFL forever changed the game because of? Until 1978, defensive backs were allowed to hit wide receivers anywhere on the field at any time. Mel Blount beat up so many wideouts, they changed the rule to just the first five yards, which is where it’s been ever since. They called it the Blount Rule. And he still went to Pro Bowls after the rule change. He finished with 57 career interceptions too, in addition to being a fierce hitter. Even Rod Woodson said on the program he doesn’t deserve to be placed over Mel Blount. That should say something. And besides, Woodson never won a Super Bowl with the Steelers! He won as a Raven in 2000, and took the Steelers to one Super Bowl which they lost to Dallas. I’m not sure I would even have him on the list of the top 10 Steelers, especially over Webster or Ham.

Here’s my list:

  1. Joe Greene
  2. Jack Lambert
  3. Terry Bradshaw
  4. Mel Blount
  5. Franco Harris
  6. Jack Ham
  7. Lynn Swann
  8. Hines Ward
  9. Mike Webster
  10. Jerome Bettis

See? Mine’s much better. LOL! Mean Joe Greene comes first because he changed the face of the team, from a losing team to a Super Bowl winning defense, anchoring the line and changing the game with his unusual stance from which he decimated opponents. Lambert comes next, closely, because he’s the best middle linebacker in history. He was the fiercest, meanest, nastiest, biggest hitting linebacker in history. Pittsburgh wouldn’t have won four Super Bowls without him in the middle. Terry comes next because he’s the only quarterback to win four Super Bowls, he won two Super Bowl MVPs, and he’s possibly one of the biggest “money” quarterbacks of all time. I mean, he could really win the big games. Great quarterback who didn’t put up the big stats because the game was different when he played. Blount comes next because he’s the greatest cornerback in the history of the game. Franco comes next because when he retired, he was the second leading rusher in NFL history, only behind Jim Brown. He’s still high on the list with over 12,000 career yards. That’s certainly worth something. Ham comes next because he’s possibly the best outside linebacker to ever play the game. Swann comes next, although I have mixed feelings about it. He never put up great stats. I’m not even sure he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. But he was a major big game player and won huge games for the Steelers and will always be one of the best loved players in Pittsburgh history. Hines Ward comes next because he’s a sure Hall of Famer down the road. He finished as easily the all time leading wide receiver in Pittsburgh history with 1,000 career receptions, which is 8th best in NFL history, and 86 touchdowns. He’s also a Super Bowl MVP. Definitely deserves to be on the list. Webster deserves to be higher than 9th, but as an offensive lineman, he couldn’t put up the big stats like the others, so it’s hard to measure him against the others. He’s the best center to ever play the game, went to I believe nine Pro Bowls, and is sorely missed with his death of a few years ago. Hall of Famer. Bettis comes in at 10 because he finished his career as the leading Steeler rusher in Pittsburgh history, breaking Franco Harris’s record. He’s got the single season record for rushing too, I believe. When Jerome retired after winning a Super Bowl, he was the 5th leading running back of all time, I think. It’s an absolute crime that he hasn’t made it into the Hall of Fame yet. I’m pretty sure he will, but he should have by now.

So that’s my list. It hurts to leave players like LC Greenwood and Donnie Shell off the list, Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, definitely Stallworth, Andy Russell, Big Ben, and so many others. They’re all deserving, but if it’s the top 10, you have my list. What would your list look like?

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Steelers won’t replace Harrison’s toughness

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 9, 2013

Steelers won’t replace Harrison’s toughness – AFC North Blog – ESPN.

This is a real tragedy. James Harrison is a great linebacker. I’m really annoyed by this, but I’m not surprised. The Steelers have always been ruthless when dealing with aging, costly veteran players. Remember Franco Harris didn’t retire as a Steeler? He spent his last year with the Seattle Seahawks. That was treason on the part of Steeler management. This is just the latest. Look at what they did to Hines Ward last year, the team’s all time leading wide receiver. Tragic. Sorry to see you go, James….

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The Super Bowl and More…

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 3, 2013

Finally, it’s Super Bowl time! It’s very exciting, especially since my fiance’s team, the Baltimore Ravens, are playing in their first Super Bowl since 2000 and second all time. San Francisco’s a very good team, perhaps better than the Ravens, but we’re cheering for Baltimore and I think the retirement of Ray Lewis will be the X factor in leading the Ravens to a big win tonight.

We’re going to a Super Bowl party to watch it. I normally don’t enjoy these because I want to watch the damn game and everyone’s always talking, but hopefully this one will be good. There should be about 10 or 12 people there, which might be the right size group to watch. We just don’t know what to bring with us, though. Dilemma.

Speaking of the NFL, I’m really ticked about the announcement of the new NFL Hall of Fame members. I don’t begrudge most of them for making it, but I’m livid about Pittsburgh’s Jerome Bettis not making it for the third straight year! He’s got the 6th most yards rushing in NFL history and he can’t make the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile Chris Carter does? Did he ever win a Super Bowl? Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden I can kind of see making it. Warren Sapp I’m not convinced of though. Over Bettis? Why the hell isn’t Bettis in the Hall of Fame? He got cheated by Curtis Martin last year, and now this. I’m really upset.

I’m also upset that Peyton Manning won the Comeback Player of the Year award while Adrian Peterson won MVP. I think it should have been reversed. Peterson had an outstanding year, but so did Peyton and he got his team the best record in the NFL. I’m not going to say he got cheated, because Peterson clearly deserved some attention for his outstanding effort, but I do think Manning should have been MVP.

So back to the Super Bowl. My fiance and I have prepped by watching Super Bowl DVDs. SIX Steeler Super Bowl DVDs and one Ravens Super Bowl DVD. And she was a good sport the whole time, I’ve got to say. Well, we’re ready for a second Ravens Super Bowl DVD to be made, now, tonight, and I’m predicting a 27-24 Ravens win.

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