Fourth of July weekend is over, Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
With the holiday falling on a Thursday, many of you probably took a four-day weekend. You watched fireworks. You grilled burgers. You went to the beach.
Now it’s Monday. Back to work. Ugh.
Not so fast.
After celebrating the nation’s birthday, Steelers fans have another historic event to celebrate today.
80 years ago today, on July 8, 1933, Art Rooney Sr. became the founding father of the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Steelers.com. Rooney plunked down $2,500 (about $44,000 today) to establish a new franchise in the National Football League.
According to Forbes via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Steelers’ value surpassed $1 billion in 2008.
So, Steelers fans, take another day off. Grill a few more Roethlis-Burgers. It’s the Eighth of July, so check out these eight mini-columns for the price of one.
- I’m beginning to think that even if the Steelers offensive line consisted of the five best pass protectors in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger still would be sacked at least 30 times a season. The way he extends plays, offensive linemen can’t be expected to hold their blocks. It’s a high-risk, high-reward style of play. Roethlisberger exposes himself to injury, but also creates opportunities for his receivers to break free downfield. Instead of asking Roethlisberger to change the way he plays the position, the Steelers should focus on run-blocking when scouting offensive linemen. The way he plays, a potent running game is the best protection Roethlisberger is going to get.
- Roethlisberger’s options for getting rid of the ball quickly will be limited early in the season if Heath Miller isn’t ready to go in Week 1. The Steelers’ Pro Bowl tight end tore three ligaments in his knee in the second-to-last game of the 2012 season and has been rehabbing during the offseason. If Miller is still on the sidelines when the season begins, it would be nice to see Jerricho Cotchery get more balls thrown his way. He caught 98 passes in his last two seasons with the Jets. He scored a touchdown against the Steelers in the 2010 AFC championship game. Had the Jets completed their comeback from a 24-0 deficit in that game, Cotchery would have been a villain in Pittsburgh sports lore, so it sure was nice to see him in a Steelers uniform the following year. However, he’s been lost in the shuffle in Pittsburgh. He caught 16 passes in 2011 and 17 last season. Cotchery is a possession receiver who temporarily could replicate Miller’s role in the Steelers offense.
- Assuming he doesn’t miss more than two games in 2013, and that’s a big assumption, I predict at least five interceptions for Troy Polamalu. He’s 32, but if he can stay healthy, Polamalu can still have an impact. He returned from a torn calf muscle to play the final five games in 2012. He improved in every game, culminating in a sack in Week 16 against the Bengals and an interception in the season finale against the Browns. The Steelers need him to carry that momentum into 2013.
- Speaking of the safety position, the Steelers are one injury away from having to start Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden or Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith. That means Thomas has to learn quickly in his rookie season or one of the other two guys needs to make a big leap in his second season.
- Speaking of one injury away, I think we can assume Charlie Batch is staying in shape. We can only hope Casey Hampton is staying in shape.
- If the Steelers again miss the playoffs in 2013, hopefully we at least see a blowup between Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley. I’ll admit it, when Haley was hired I couldn’t wait to see his first temper tantrum on the sidelines. But Haley kept his cool in 2012 and the Steelers were a .500 team. Booooring. If the Steelers are going to stink, they should at least be entertaining.
- Speaking of Steelers offensive coordinators, you might be wondering when new Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians visits Pittsburgh. Arians’ tenure as Steelers offensive coordinator came to an unceremonious end after the 2011 season. Since then, he’s been named Coach of the Year even though he was just the interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Then the Cardinals hired him as permanent head coach. If Arians wants to coach against his old boss at Heinz Field, he’ll have to keep his job until 2015. That’s the next time the AFC North meets the NFC West. It will be the first time the Cardinals visit Pittsburgh since 2003. The Steelers played at Arizona in 2007 and would have hosted the Cardinals in 2011. But the NFL changed the schedule rotation to better manage West Coast trips.
- Speaking of vanquished Steelers Super Bowl opponents, the only city the Steelers haven’t visited since defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL is Seattle. Very interesting considering the controversy over officiating in that game. The switch in the schedule rotation in 2011 meant that the Seahawks again played at Pittsburgh after playing there in 2007. The Steelers most likely will play at Seattle in 2015. That will be 10 years after Super Bowl XL. Think that will be enough time for Seahawks fans to forget?