Sunday, January 3, 2010

There is Always Next Year

I have been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan for the past 34 years. It is hard to think of a time where I was more proud of my boys than today. Yes, our playoff hopes are all but dashed at the time that I write this, but the courage, compassion and heart my team showed today could not have left me more proud of my boys and the Steelers organization.

Ike Taylor delivered a most unfortunate hit on off balance Miami 3rd string QB Pat White that left him with yet unidentified injuries. Ike Taylor was there at his side as the cart carried him off the field. His remorse still evident on the sideline plays later. What a contrast to the dark days of Jack Tatum who delivered a paralyzing blow to Daryl Stingley without a word of regret or concern to Stingley or his family at the time of the injury or years later.

Always first to defend my team when they call the Steelers “dirty”, I will concede hard hitting but never dirty. One of the reasons I have been a Steeler fan as long as I have is the organization itself and the Rooney family and their unwillingness to put up with less than class players for the sake of wins like so many other teams in the league.

Even Joe Greene did not like the term “Mean Joe Greene” in his playing days. And you would be hard pressed to find a man with more compassion than him. Play the game? Yes. Mean? No.

Now, to look at the courage of the day. Ben Rothlisberger was hit by former teammate Joey Porter in what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder. In obvious pain, Rothlisberger still returned to the game to throw accurate strikes that eventually led to the Steelers defeating the battered Dolphins. I haven’t seen this in a Pittsburgh QB since Terry Bradshaw led his team in the playoffs with a cast on his wrist. You did not see Ben complain and it was obvious the amount of pain he was playing with. Since the success of Ben Rothlisberger, it has been my belief that as Ben goes, so goes this Steeler team.

Are we in the playoffs? Miracles are needed. Most likely not. It was tough year riddled with injuries and a less than strong offensive line. But can the Steelers hold their heads high? In my opinion, absolutely. Looking forward to next season. Steeler fans never die. We just grow older.

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