Any NFL player or coach with any class at all is never going to call out his old team, no matter how bad things were when they left. Circumstances change from year to year and sometimes things just don’t work out; sometimes you leave on a good note and other times it’s a sour one.
Jerome Bettis and Todd Haley are hardly the only two members of the Steelers to start with one team and end on another but they are most definitely two of the more high profile names you’ll see in Pittsburgh history. Bettis for obvious reasons will always be a fan favorite, but being an OC in Pittsburgh isn’t exactly back page material either. All the hoopla surrounding the Bruce Arians departure and the questions about Haley when he was hired combined now with his success in Pittsburgh all serve to keep him in the spot light.
We all remember that infamous Jerome Bettis vs the St. Louis Rams game at Three Rivers Stadium in 1996 when The Bus’ former team game into Pittsburgh. Bettis promptly showed the Rams that letting him go in that draft day trade was one the biggest mistakes of their lives; by rushing 19 times for 129 yds and 2 TD’s (a long of 50 yds). The Steelers played inspired football for their teammate that day and ultimately crushed St. Louis 42-6. If you’re interested in a box score of that game, click here.
Fast forward to present day and the Steelers next game is against Todd Haley’s former employer the Kansas City Chiefs. When Haley left he was made the scapegoat by many for all of the Chiefs deficiencies. As FOX columnist Sean Keeler points out, those same Chiefs now owe Todd Haley an apology: This fall was supposed to be about sunshine. Remember? Sunshine, rainbows, unicorns, and Romeo Crennel. Blood pressures were down, expectations were up. That was the mantra of the spring, echoed again in the summer: A new day was dawning on Arrowhead Drive, now that Tyrannosaurus Todd had left the building once and for all.
Oh, what fools we were. What absolute fools.
By the way, Keeler’s article is a good read so if you’re interested by all means check it out.
Anyway, we all know that Haley wasn’t the only thing wrong in KC. You can cite everything from injuries to Jamaal Charles and Toney Moeacki to the inept play of QB Matt Cassel and just about anything else, but Haley’s high profile rants and the Chiefs poor record ultimately got him fired in favor of now HC Romeo Crennel.
Steelers players like Ben Roethlisberger, talked this week about playing hard for their coach and realizing it’s a big game for him even if he’ll never admit it.
“Anytime you’ve got a guy on your team who used to play for another team, there’s always a little incentive that you want to win for that guy,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters on Wednesday. “We haven’t practiced yet, but throughout meetings and stuff, you can kind of see it a little bit. I don’t think he’s admitted it yet.”
We as fans of the Steelers have not yet seen, and who knows if we ever will, this Todd Haley that KC thought they knew so well. Both franchises are class organizations, having been around before the AFL/NFL merger and both have a long standing reputation for being well run from the top down. Haley appears, so far at least, to be the type of coach that is better suited in a coordinator role exclusively.
The Steelers clearly have the edge in talent at virtually every position, and the upper hand in coaching as well. Both teams are going in different directions this year, with the Steelers now on a 3 game winning streak and Haley’s offense beginning to click a bit more each week.
I have respect for Kansas City and their heritage but like every other Steeler fan I would love nothing more than to see Haley get some just dessert by sticking it to the Chiefs this Monday night. Ultimately a win is a win any way you can get it these days but if the Steelers can inflict a little extra humiliation at the expense of Matt Cassel and the Chiefs, and win this game running away you can be sure Todd Haley will sleep a bit better Monday night.
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