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Commentary Uncategorized Yinzerism/Pittsburgh Advocacy

Heath Miller, We’ll Miss You

heath-miller

A little late, but this is a post that I can’t not make.  After eleven seasons, tight end Heath Miller, the quintessential Steeler, has called it quits–here’s hoping he’s making it out with both his body and his brain intact, even though I’d have loved to see him stick around for another Lombardi trophy next February. A humble player in a world of egotists, Miller miller.pngnever complained about being employed as a blocking tight end, at which he excelled, while less talented players grabbed more attention as glorified wide receivers. For most of his career, he was far and away the most complete, most complete tight end in the league, a brutal blocker and sure-handed receiver. Just as importantly, he was a man whose life outside the stadiums rarely made the news, unless he was being feted as a superior citizen.

My only complaint is that it’s possible my wife liked him just a little bit more than I would have liked.  Good luck to him, though, despite that–he deserves his healthy retirement.

Categories
Commentary

Michael Vick Furor + I H8 Change.org

So, my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers went out and signed pariah quarterback Michael Vick as what is likely to be a short term fill-in as a backup.  Predictably, a few dim, narrow corridors in the social media maze have gone ablaze with fury fired so hot that it quickly consumed all available oxygen, which resulted in secondary hypoxia for all therein.  That anti-Vick crowd, now gasping for breath, still writhes angrily on the floor, contorted in bitter and frustrated resentment.

vickAfter almost no thought at all I offered my own opinion elsewhere…

“Vick screwed up–but I think it’s safe, if not particularly correct or popular–to say that the business with dog fighting has a certain cultural element to it–and by culture I mean, yes: poverty, latitude, and race.  That isn’t an indictment of any group–different communities have their vices–poor people, and black people are inordinately represented among the poor, are more apt to be involved in dog fighting than wealthier folks–and it doesn’t hurt that the latter know better how to keep their hands appearing clean.

Dog fighting, and its associated abuses, was not taboo in Vick’s microcosm.  He grew up around it, like a lot of poor city kids, and while he probably knew in the abstract that it was wrong, it didn’t really sink in until he was hip deep in trouble. (and for the love of the gods why doesn’t the NFL hire a team of “cleaners” who would find these kids and see what they hell they’re into that won’t wash now that they’re famous, then make them stop?) Ignorance–or even the fact that in much of the word dogs = calories–doesn’t exonerate him, but it does explain what he did and why, and it’s long past time to move forward from what happened because, as those before me said, he’s paid what society demanded of him. And more. He went to prison and lost millions upon millions of dollars as well as the prime years of his athletic career. We forgive a lot worse people for a lot more terrible things.

He also worked his way back and, as far as we know, has been an exemplary citizen (and yeh, I’m knocking on wood as I say it) and an admirably professional athlete. The free agent cupboard is pretty bare, especialy at quarterback, and I can’t think of a better available free agent, between his maturity and his skills. I’m glad that the Steelers are going out and taking care of business pro-actively. If Gradkowski wasn’t hurt, I’d think differently. At this point, I don’t sign Vick over Bruce–but with no viable backup (Jones is still a project and then some)–there simply isn’t anyone else out there right now, and from a purely football standpoint this is a good signing.”

Within a few minutes of posting this, one of my “real name” friends stuck up an angry change.org petition on her facebook page, that bleated “Michael Vick is a convicted felon and no-class piece of crap. He is also a terrible QB which is why he has no team.  Let’s united as Steeler fans – as NFL fans – and stop him from playing on our team! Steelers fans united! Sign to keep Vick from ever wearing the coveted Steelers uniform!!”

Ugh.  If there is one thing that makes me want to invite Michael Vick over to the house for a nice, “Welcome To Western Pennsylvania” meal, it is a Change.org petition.

Change.org petitions are one of several reasons that I have stopped identifying myself as a liberal, which strictly speaking I never was, at least not by definition. Libertine, but not liberal.  As I’ve said before, my politics skew to the old school Bull Moose progressivism–populist, anti-corporate, strong domestic policy, etc–and the namby pamby sensitivity that accompanies “liberalism” as it is colloquially regarded, respulses me. These petitions are little more than vehicles for us to feel good about ourselves with the least possible effort–look, ma, I clicked against that guy who did that thing! I clicked hard, too!  I was really ticked off! I made a difference! Yay me!

We’ve become too weak, too fragile in our sensitivities, and it the case of Mr. Vick, we’re grossly hypocritical. He killed dogs. It’s a terrible thing. I love dogs. I love my 40 pound dog who sits on my lap and lets me hold her like she’s an infant. I prefer her company to that of all but a very few humans. Vick’s actions disgusted me, but how much do we ask of one man–at what point do we forgive? We work tirelessly to rehabilitate other criminals–we cheer them when they transcend their missteps, however vile, but because Mike Vick is famous he must be forever marked. If he was a stringy haired punk from the corner who’d done his time, cleared his parole, and got himself a new job, we’d point to him as gleaming beacon of hope for the success of justice system. But he’s a black dude who runs fast, and gets to be on TV, so he’ll never pay enough. Would we resent him if he got a job at Dairy Queen? No, because the schadenfreude would be washing over us so thick and warm we’d tremble in orgiastic delight.

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Photo I Like summer photos

2015 Summer Wonders #44: Biggest Meets Smallest

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Commentary

Jerome Bettis: About Damn Time

Jerome-Bettis
http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2015/01/30/Canton-calling-Will-the-Bus-pass/stories/201501300235

This is a good morning here in western Pennsylvania, despite facing the prospect of watching two of the most loathed and venal football coaches lead their teams on to the world’s largest stage tonight.  I’ll be watching, in hopes its an exciting and well-played game, but my heart isn’t in it and I expect the camaraderie and food will be the main attraction at the party we’re attending.

jerome-bettis-jerseyThere will also, undoubtedly, be some happy discussion about Jerome Bettis who, after several years on the ballot, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday.  I won’t expound on the  accomplishments of the man we know as “The Bus,” because it’s been done elsewhere, beyond explaining that not only was he one of the best running backs of all time statistically, he was the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a decade, a selfless and dedicated member of the community, and a beloved iconic figure in a region that’s filled with them.  Lots of people collect football jerseys of their favorite players.  I have one.  I’m just not a jersey guy, but I am a Bettis guy–and this is a distinction that has been too damn long in coming.   But hey, he’s in now–and it is sort of fitting that even on this day of great personal recognition for Bettis, he’s provided one more victory for us to savor on an otherwise depressing Super Bowl Sunday.  We celebrate with you, Bus, and we celebrate for you.

To put this in perspective, a little about background:

I’m from western Pennsylvania, so I like football.  We’re born that way; it is in our genes.  Those who don’t are aberrations we don’t really talk about outside the home, and even then only in hushed and somewhat superstitious tones.  The term “birth defect” comes to mind–hideous, elephant man-scale birth defect.

We go to high school football games on Friday nights the way some people go out for drinks–which is not to say that we don’t go out for drinks, too.  We just go after the game, and the bands we go to see don’t hit the stage until 10pm.

We follow college football, whether we are perennially frustrated Pitt Panthers fans, couch-burning WVU fans, or glazed-eyed drooling JoePA cultists shuffling around State College, PA (yes, that’s the name of the town) mumbling about restoring wins and Nittany this, Nittany that.  We’ve got our religious zealots (Notre Dame), and–um, I don’t even know what to say about Ohio State except that it’s in Ohio. WTF? 

flcikr-image-no-known-copyright-dryers-and-women_thumbOur children are born with an innate knowledge of 0-technique and some strong opinions on how to employ it’s various permutations, and our women don’t gossip about celebrities or whose cars are parked behind the Holiday Inn at lunchtime on a Tuesday afternoon–they’re too busy arguing over the merits of zone blitz versus cover-2.

Primarily, however, we love the Steelers.  Our hearts race, or our blood pressure stablizes, depending upon the context, when we see the colors black and gold, and we’re never listening to a polka song when a little voice in the back of our head isn’t singing The Pittsburgh Steelers Polka.

It is how we are.

 

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Uncategorized

Pizza Night! Post Your Pizza Pictures Here

Let’s see what you’ve got.  Post a link to your pizza pictures in the comments section.  Ours were perfect, even if the toppings were not particularly inspired–two pies with pepperoni on half and just cheese on half.  One of the better crusts I’ve made in a while.  Sorry the post is late–couldn’t take my eyes off of that Steelers game, and then it took me twenty minutes to find the damned cord to connect the camera to the computer.

Here’s mine:

011 015 017

 

Categories
Commentary Yinzerism/Pittsburgh Advocacy

I Love The Steelers Throwback Unis (Am I Alone?)

bumbles 1As you probably know by now, I’m a big, big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, raised during the glory years of the 1970s, when I would watch the greatest team in the history of football with my grandmother, tall glasses of ginger ale (mine was just ginger ale, at least), and a bag of Ruffles potato chips (no pierogies for me: Mum-Mum didn’t cook much, and she certainly wouldn’t have cooked immigrant food). There are a million stories like mine in Westsylvania, kids who were, if not wired at conception for Steelers fanaticism, cetainly programmed in vitro to respond to all things black and gold with an elevated pulse, heightened respiration, and occasional bouts of Tourettes-like Suishamresponses to underwhelming performances, unreasonable suspicion of head coaches’ mental acuity, and inexplicable affection for back-up quarterbacks.

bumblebeeunis
This isn’t funny at all.

I talk about the Steelers as “we,” not “they.” I cried in front of my friends when the Steelers outplayed the Chargers in the 1994 AFC Championship only to lose on the last play of the game. I own about six Terrible Towels.  I have even been known, on occasion, to drink Iron City Beer.  On purpose–though this isn’t as impressive as it sounds, as cheap beer goes it beats the hell out of trendy PBR.

But I digress–It never fails to surprise me, each time the team dusts off it’s “throwback” uniforms, how much antipathy rises from the faithful.  Steelers fans are deeply sentimental, until they aren’t–and it’s tough to guess when or over what–or whom–they will turn cold.  They are Lloydknowledgeable–a Pittsburgh Nana is apt to know more about the virtues of zone blitzes and mixed coverages than most high school coaches in weird places like Iowa,  New England, or Richmond, Virginia.  They are passionate, opinionated, and stubborn, but the distaste for these uniforms is overwhelming.  I understand that the regular uniforms are among the most iconic in professional sports, but there’s no call for all the “bumblebee” and “jailbreak” cracks.

Anyone out there agree with me?  Anyone besides me like the stripes?

1934-pittsburgh-pirates-steelers-team-photo-striped-jerseys

Categories
Commentary Journal Photo I Like

Sunday Morning Rumblings

I don’t have a particular topic in mind, and while it occurs to me that I could open up my links to news pages and scour the daily dose of mayhem, gloom, and marketing for the latest tragedy/outrage/scourge/feel-good moment of the day, so that I might feed my hungry inner commentator, I sometimes feel that the media–like well-intentioned advice–is best left ignored.  There’s something to the old “ignorance is bliss” chestnut.

Dedicated readers, after waiting all weekend, crowd around screen to drink from my cup of wisdom.
Dedicated readers, after waiting all weekend, crowd around screen to drink from my cup of wisdom.

Before I go further, here’s a picture I’m including because, let’s face it, people don’t click on, let alone read, blog posts that don’t have any pictures.  (Ignorance tempered by cynicism should be mistaken for wit.)

The real reason I haven’t posted this weekend is that Peter Freuchen, the subject of my previous post, is so awesome a figure, and the photo of him and his wife so magnificently iconic, that I have been reluctant to create a new piece that would–that does–push him down the feed.  That’s the kind of photo that might actually justify closing a blog with a sigh and a “I can’t do any better than this.  It’s over.”  But not to worry, I’ll trudge on.

Has that ever happened to any of you–you like a post so much you don’t want to post “on top” of it and make it slide down from the top of the blog.

It’s been a mixed bag weekend.  The Steelers got hammered by the Ravens (which, admittedly, is better than getting hammered by teams I don’t respect, but still)–yet I missed most of the game in favor of dinner with friends.  The local high school won in dramatic, overwhelming fashion, and my Alma mater got pummeled despite being nationally ranked before than game.  Pitt won, tipping scales towards the positive.

ForSalePics1035My 3-year old lawnmower broke and requires a real pain in the ass repair–I can do it, but I have to remove the mowing deck and drill a hole–and while that sounds straight forward enough, it’s hours of fun.  Sigh.  The good news: my wife bought me a really sweet vintage cub cadet from a guy up the street, for a great price.  It’s built like a tank and the engine purrs like new.  I started it three times.  Fourth time: nothing. There’s a minor electrical hitch somewhere, or maybe the starter died.  Talk about “Are you kidding me” moments!  Even needing a repair, it’s a great deal on a great machine, but enough is enough.

warlockOn the plus side, my neighbor gave me a big, beautiful  beer for no other reason than he’s a good guy, and my daughter went out for Chinese food with her boyfriend.  The latter might not sound like a big deal, but you want to know what I found in the refrigerator at midnight last night.  Opps!–I stumbled and that General Tso’s accidentally fell in my stomach.  I hate when that happens.

the general

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Uncategorized

Football = Stromboli

So, the Steelers start the season against the longtime rival Cleveland Browns.  We’re all worked up in a lather of optimistic expectation, with an undercurrent of wariness than comes in a “rebuilding” year.  Only one thing is certain: a man’s gotta eat.  And what does a man gotta eat?

Stromboli.

Since we had company for the game today, I made a bunch of ’em.  A delight of stromboli.  That’s what multiple stromboli are called, the same way we have a “murder of crows,” a “prickle of porcupines,” and a “shrewdness of lemurs.”  A lot of people don’t know this, but I do, because I’m wise.  And well read.  And, thanks to my “delight” of stromboli, I’m also well fed.

If you want to make some stromboli for yourself, I’ll tell you how.  You’ll need:

Flour, yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil, water, and a bunch of stuff for filling–pretty much anything you’d put on a pizza that isn’t too watery is fair game.  Things like tomatoes and pineapple aren’t that great, because they can make the dough soppy.  Likewise fresh buffalo mozzarella–on a pizza there is plenty of exposure for that moisture to steam off. We use provolone and bagged, shredded mozzarella.

Put some hot water in a bowl to start–this is to warm the bowl, nothing else.  After a few minutes reserve a cup of the water and dump the rest–you want the water around 100 degrees F, like a baby bottle–it should feel just warm against your skin.  If the water is above 114 there’s a good chance you’ll cook your yeast, better to have it too cool–all that happens is your dough will rise slightly more slowly.  Put a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of sugar in the warm water, stir it a little, then add 2.5 teaspoons of yeast.
stromboli 001

Let it sit at least five minutes until the yeast gets a little foamy–I could have let mine go a little longer, but I hadn’t eaten breakfast and kick off was looming.  I was in a hurry.
stromboli 003

Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a larger bowl, then dump in the yeast-water, mix a little, and add a cup of flour.  Put a teaspoon of salt on top of the flour, then start mixing.  When you’ve got a nice sticky ball, turn the dough out on a floured surface and begin kneading.  Keep adding flour incrementally, about 1/4 cup at a time, while you knead, until the dough is “silky.”
stromboli 004

At this point, you’re wondering what the hell I mean by “silky,” as I was when I started teaching myself to bake.  The best answer I can come up with is that it’s no longer sticky but not dry.  It’s smooth, like a woman’s skin. Trust that you’ll know.  As the dough gets closer to how you want it, reduce the increments–the kneading is what makes or breaks your masterpiece, and it’s the last place you want to skimp on effort.
stromboli 008
Once it’s done, put it back in the large bowl, drizzle some olive oil over it, and swirl the bowl around to evenly coat the dough.  Then cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit about 90-120 minutes, until it’s doubled in size.  (Why the damp towel?  Because it seals out most of air and prevents the dough from drying out and getting a hard “skin”.
stromboli 009

While the dough is rising, crack a beer and prep your toppings.  We used green peppers and onions from the garden, cleaned and diced, then stir fried about 5 minutes on medium high in a tablespoon of olive oil–just enough to steam off some of the water and partially cook the vegetables.  Stir constantly–when the onions start to turn translucent you’re done.
stromboli 011

Preheat your oven to 450 F.

Once the dough has risen, turn it back out on your floured surface. It will have the best texture if you can stretch it like the guys in a pizza shop, but I always tear the dough or throw it on the floor, so I embrace sin and roll my dough out with a rolling pin.  I can get away with this because I’m not Italian, but I’ve been told that rolling out dough is unforgivable, and I apologize to  all who are offended.
stromboli 012

Pile on the toppings–meat, then vegetables, then cheese–over half the dough.  The cheese melts over the veggies and holds things  together.
stromboli 014
Make sure to leave about .75 inch of dough around the edge clear of toppings.  Once you’re good to go, fold the empty half of dough over the toppings and pinch together.  It works best to tug the lower part over the top–this keeps the meat juices from dripping out and making a horrible burnt fat stench that roils from your oven when you open the door to peek.  Sometimes, I take a pair of forks and perforate the top of the stromboli to let the steam escape. Today I was too lazy.  Finally, use a spritzer or pastry brush to lightly coat the top of the stromboli with olive oil, then add your favorite herbs–oregano, basil, etc.  stromboli 017We have a shaker jar of  dried “Italian seasonings” that we bought for some reason years ago–mostly we use fresh herbs from the garden, but I’ve kept that it around for things like garlic toast and stromboli. The top of your stromboli is also an excellent place to sprinkle some of that mostly flavorless dried Parmesan from the back of the fridge–the stuff in the green cardboard box–baking it brings out a nice, salty, unique taste.

41f6MHDwfJLThrow that bad boy in the oven–on a tray if you must, on a baking stone if you have one–and cook it about 12 minutes.  While you’re baking, warm up some cheap pizza or pasta sauce–I like something smooth, rather than chunky, of good quality but not too distinctive–we don’t want the sauce to distract from the stromboli.  I like to use a local company’s “meatless sauce”–Del Grosso’s.  It’s usually less than $2 and it beats the crap out of corporate stuff like Ragu or Prego.

When it turns heavenly brown, its good to go. Cut it with a pizza cutter or a sharp serrated knife.
stromboli 018
Reserve some for yourself, and throw the rest at hungry teenagers–we had four of these strange creatures at our house today, two that live here and two that are loaners–none dared eat on the furniture.  Epilogue: it was delicious and the Steelers won, though not without flirting with an epic defensive collapse in the second half.  Whew.  Things are good in Mudville for another week.
stromboli 019

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Journal

I’m Ready For Some Blogging; Yes, And Some Football

It’s been a beautiful week, in terms of weather. We’re at the tail end of a five days of lovely, warm weather–Summer’s last gasp, I suspect-=-a little warm, but blue skies and puffy clouds, regular but not incessant rains that have kept everything green and vital, and cool nights.  I’ve been keeping busy in both my job (mindless labor) and my work (the novel), while ignoring this blog for several days because I haven’t had much to say that interests me.  Sorry, but it’s not as if you missed me, right.

It’s not an excuse. I have 89 pieces in my “drafts” file, another file with close to 200 “found” internet photos and other questionably acquired tidbits waiting for their shot at greatness, but every time I sat down to do some writing this week I’ve either drifted off to sleep* or wasted all my time reading other blogs–your blogs.

The week didn’t start out great.  We have a corner of the garden that is largely unkept, owing to the presence of a clump of what I’ll generously call “vintage’ raspberry brambles–spindly things that never produce fruit, but which my wife in her eternal garden optimism thinks may surprise us “this year.”  On Monday (Labor Day!) I announced, string trimmer in hand, (“announced,” mind you, not “asked”) that the berries–and the entire corner of the garden, would be giving way to the future.  I pulled the cord and bravely slashed into the brambles….

evil incarnateFive hundred really pissed off yellow jackets later, I was doing the “hornet dance’ down the garden path, slapping at my ankles and thighs and…that’s right–inside my shorts.  I was lucky, getting only 7 stings and another dozen or so glancing shots.  The little bastards.  No, it was my fault.  I’d remarked to someone just last week that I’d gone through the entire summer without a bee, wasp, or hornet sting and very nearly wrote a blog entry of all the various indignities I’ve suffered at the tiny winged terrorists–not to mention all my juvenile acts of vengeance.  Not to gloat, but I survived to weed whack another day, and the pain was somewhat

They didn’t.

There is plenty of stuff I could be writing–it’s football season and I love football, for example. Two of “my teams” that began play last weekend–Pitt, and the local high school–did well.  Pitt clobbered Delaware, which I despise for no other reason than because it is the alma mater or Baltimore Ravens Frankenstein Creature, er, Quarterback Joe Flacco**.

Think that’s cruel?  I just did a google and–it isn’t just me.  It’s a freaking meme; how good to know I’m not alone.
Flacco-Frank 2 Flacco-Frank 1

 

But I digress.***

When “my” sports teams win, it’s satisfying.  I’m not one of those chumps who follow whatever team happens to be winning (just look at all the Seahawks gear out there–until last season NOBODY outside of the pacific northwest) so I endure plenty of suffering and disappointment.  I’ve often thought about how pleasant it must be to simply switch loyalties when the chips are down, but I’ve bragged up my loyalty for so long that were I to do so the ignominy would be unendurable.

IHS vs Mars
Excited players after a big score. More importantly, my daughter is one of the kids in the background.

The local high school took out a highly ranked adversary, against all odds and prognostications, with the two young men who spend time with my daughters making significant contributions to the effort.  It was exhilarating, inspiring, archetypical  small town Friday night stuff.

iupNow we need to get my college alma mater, IUP,  and the Steelers on the bandwagon this weekend–and the high school needs to lock down a team that won 55-0 last week.  We’re a little stoked for the both games–we’ll likely listen to IUP on the radio while working in the garden on Saturday, but we plan on making the Steelers thing into an event.  We’ve already got some Victory IPA in the fridge, and I’ll be making stromboli, from scratch.  We’re playing the Browns, and even though the Browns have been terrible for years we love to hate them as much as the dreaded Ravens (who used to be the Browns, you know).

*Have you ever fallen asleep sitting and dreamed that you couldn’t stand up–your balance askew, you stumble, your knees go weak like you’re the Scarecrow from Oz?

**Flacco actually signed with Pitt, but he ran away like a coward little child rather than compete with Tyler Palko for the starting role. The baby–he’s playing for the wrong Harbaugh .

***I’ve been very intentionally trying not to use this phrase, but the heart wants what the heart wants, I suppose.

 

Categories
Commentary Uncategorized Yinzerism/Pittsburgh Advocacy

Finally! Ready For Some Football & Sean Spence

I used to call the months between the end of the college basketball season and the opening of NFL training camps as “The Sports Void” because I’m not a tremendous hockey or baseball fan.  It hasn’t been that bad of late, with both the Penguins and Pirates fielding competitive teams over the past two years, but the pleasure in the home team winning more than they lose is not the same as the passionate fanaticism I feel for my favorites.
spence 1

The local catchphrase is: It’s a ‘burgh thing, you wouldn’t understand, and a lot of people don’t.  I caught it from my grandmother, who had a chronic case, through my mother, who seems to have a limited immunity.  I was pleased, when I met my wife, to find she also was a carrier–no guilt from infecting her.  The jury is still out on my children who, with a rigorous academic load and their own athletic endeavors to take up their time, often find Sundays to be their only hope of free time during the fall and winter. But it’s in them. They were toddlers when the Steelers cut Kordell Stewart and I had to break the news.  Their tears broke my heart…but a few years later, when a new quarterback, and a new roster won the Super Bowl, they joined us driving through the streets after the game, honking the horn, high-fiving drunken college students in the street, and having our “Steel Nation” flag from the back seat of the car.

In many ways it’s a new team–only a hand full of players who were on the team two years ago are returning, the natural result of players aging combined with a pair of consecutive mediocre seasons.  The young guys are the old guys now, and the new young guys are a mystery.  At this point in the pre-season, hopes are high, every team a contender, and as much as we look towards wins and losses a lot of us are hooked by compelling “small” individual stories.

spence 2
http://deadspin.com/5939645/steelers-rookie-sean-spence-suffered-a-grotesque-knee-injury-in-last-nights-pre-season-game

I’m cheering for 3rd year middle linebacker Sean Spence.  When Spence arrived 2 seasons ago, a slightly undersized player whose quickness and intelligence was reputed to be more than enough to compensate for his size.  He quickly distinguished himself on defense and had an excellent shot to replace the venerated James Farrior, one of the bulwarks of the team.  It never happened.  Early in his first pre-season game, Spence hyper-extended his knee, tearing all major ligaments, dislocating his kneecap, and sustaining nerve damage.  The question was not “will he play football again,” but “will he walk without a serious limp?”

Two hard years of rehabilitation later and Spence is not just walking, he is back in camp and looking to carve a place for himself in the “new” Steelers defense and create some interesting dilemma for the coaches.  The Steelers have used high picks on heralded linebackers in the past two drafts, looking to replace aged long-time starters Larry Foote and David Woodley, who could no longer keep the pace.  Spence will be competing with this year’s first round draft pick, Ryan Shazier, for the spot beside Lawrence Timmons, one of the best in the game.  If he succeeds in regaining the ground he lost, and the other young players establish themselves, the Steelers will have one the of the best young linebacking corps in the league.  It’s exciting.

spence 3

Of course, as far as I’m concerned, Spence has already won.  The effort and determination it has taken for him to overcome an injury that has left other people crippled for life boggles the mind–forget about reaching the level where he can actually compete at an NFL level practice.  This also speaks well of the Steelers, who had Spence’s back and kept him on the roster for two years when most teams would have cut their losses, arranged for an injury settlement, and moved on.  That wasn’t cheap, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from the team, and why many of us who grew up in the region feel so strongly about the Black and Gold.  In an age of sports owners like Dan Snyder of the Redskins, or the Clippers’ Donald Sterling, it is refreshing to see “the Steelers way” in effect–a professional sports team run like it’s part family business, part community asset.

Finally, I lifted these from another page, to give an indication of how most Steelers fans are thinking:
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