Monday, July 25, 2011

NFL lockout ends

By Mike Batista

It's been almost exactly six months since we as Steelers fans played this in victory. The Packers stifled it on Feb. 2. Now, (via scifiradioguy) we have reason to break it out again.

The NFL lockout is over.

The season is saved.

If you're one of those people who has had nothing to read at the beach this summer because the Athlon NFL Preview you bought in June was useless, or if your friends thought you were the coolest dude ever because of your kickass Hall of Fame Game parties, you're shit out of luck.

For everyone else, it's time to dance in the streets.

Those Athlon guys are going to have to work around the clock to put this year's magazine together. Free agency starts at 10 a.m., Tuesday. That's when teams can sign rookies and negotiate with their own free agents and free agents on other teams. At 6 p.m., Friday, teams can sign free agents from other teams.

In my best Forrest Gump, here's all I have to say about that: The Steelers should re-sign Ike Taylor.

I know Taylor is 31, and the Steelers tend to let guys walk when they're on the north side of 30. But the Steelers are never going to have a championship window like they have now. As long as Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu are healthy, they have a chance to win the Super Bowl every year. But without Taylor, those chances aren't as good.

Not only is Taylor an elite NFL cornerback, he's the only decent one the Steelers got. Bryant McFadden hasn't been the same since his exile in Arizona. William Gay is a nickelback, nothing more. Supposedly Crezdon Butler, who was drafted in the fifth round last year, has potential, but who knows? I figure Keenan Lewis, drafted in the third round in 2009, will be handing in his playbook this summer.

The Steelers drafted Curtis Brown in the third round of this year's draft and Cortez Allen in the fourth round. It would be nice if one of these mid-round picks had a surprising Mike Wallace-like impact as a rookie, but with the lockout scuttling rookie camps, these guys already are behind.

This generation of Steelers already has won two Super Bowls, but they can win more, even if Taylor only has a couple of good years left.

Taylor or no Taylor, this much we know: There will be a 2011 season.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

James Harrison Speaks and Leaks

By Mike Batista

I would like to thank James Harrison.

Now, instead of a five-day-old post about Hines Ward's DUI, I can write a one-day-old post about Harrison's comments regarding NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

I don't blame Harrison for not wanting to piss on Goodell if he were on fire. I really don't think a normal urination would be adequate to extinguish flames covering an entire adult male body. It just wouldn't be a practical use of bodily fluids.

I can see why Harrison doesn't like Commissioner Goody. Let's do a little math here. Goodell fined Harrison $100,000 last season. It's easy for us to say that $100,000 is pocket change for a pro athlete. So I looked up Harrison's salary. The latest I could find was USA Today's 2009 figures. According to that, Harrison made $13,357,280 in 2009. Let's assume he had a similar salary in 2010. That $100,000 would have been seven-tenths of 1 percent of Harrison's salary.

If you're making $50,000 a year, .7 percent of your salary is $350. If one person fined you a total of $350 from September through the end of the year, and you had Christmas shopping to worry about, you might not be willing to aid that person with your tinkle, either.

So if Goodell isn't Harrison's favorite person in the world, that's fine. However, calling him "stupid," the "devil" and a "faggot" seems rather childish. Why doesn't he just call Goodell "Commissioner Poopy Pants?"

Harrison also sounded off about the performance of Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall in Super Bowl XLV. He shouldn't talk. He had only one tackle in the game. None of the Steelers should point fingers for losing the Super Bowl. Keyaron Fox shouldn't have committed a penalty on the kickoff. Mike Wallace should have studied his playbook and been prepared to run Emmanuel Sanders' routes when Sanders got hurt. Troy Polamalu should have been in better position the entire game.

Harrison needs to shut up about the Super Bowl and put all his efforts into getting back there.

Speaking of Polamalu, he is now the sole caretaker of the Steelers' character. If he gets into any off-the-field trouble, the Steelers will lose any last shred of class that they have as an organization.

Hines Ward lost his status as a standard bearer with his DUI arrest last week. Everyone's innocent until proven guilty, but this doesn't look good.

Drinking and driving is a mistake that a lot of people have made. If Ward did do this, he'd be better off turning it into a teaching opportunity rather than denying it.

What a strange offseason. First Rashard Mendenhall's comments. Then Hines Ward's arrest. Now James Harrison mouths off. More negative headlines for the Steelers ... and Ben Roethlisberger has had nothing to do with it.