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Thread: Faneca, Ward, & Townsend have endured the good and bad

          
   
   
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  1. #1
    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Faneca, Ward, & Townsend have endured the good and bad

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06240/716934-66.stm

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Receiver Hines Ward is one of three players on the Steelers remaining from the draft class of 1998.

    They are defending Super Bowl champs now. One, a Super Bowl MVP. Another, one of the most-decorated offensive guards in football. A third, the late bloomer, a starting cornerback who played well enough to hold off two young second-round picks.

    Hines Ward, Alan Faneca and Deshea Townsend are at the top of the NFL world as they prepare to help the Steelers defend their championship. Yet, they remember when things weren't going so well in Pittsburgh, when they were so far near the bottom they could not see the top.

    They are the '98ers, a trio of players remaining from the draft eight years ago. Two are 30 years old, one is closing in on it. They joined the team when it was on a roll, having barely missed a Super Bowl visit three months before they were drafted. Bill Cowher had coached each of his first six Steelers teams into the playoffs, tying a coaching record held by Hall of Famer Paul Brown. Three of those teams reached an AFC championship game, and one a Super Bowl.

    There was no reason to believe it would ever stop.

    "You had to think, 'Hey, we're coming to a good situation,' " Townsend said. "You know you're going to a good organization, the championships they've won, Mr. Rooney and how they run their organization."

    But in the '98ers' rookie year, the Steelers lost their final five games and finished 7-9. Then things turned poorly. They lost seven of their final eight in 1999 and plummeted to 6-10. Tom Donahoe, the director of football operations and the man who drafted them, was fired after that season. In minicamp that June, an ugly brawl broke out in their locker room. They lost their first three games of 2000 and missed the playoffs for a third consecutive year.

    Townsend and Ward, roommates, looked at each other and wondered if they hadn't jinxed the team that drafted them.

    "Me and Hines said, 'Man, we must be the reason we're losing,' " Townsend said.

    Chuck Noll often noted that steel must go through fire to be strengthened, and the heat was relentless on the Steelers, particularly for the '98ers, who celebrated going to such a successful organization only to wonder what had happened after their first three years.

    Looking back now, from atop the perch that includes a 15-1 2004 season and the franchise's first Super Bowl victory in 26 years, one thing the '98ers learned early in their NFL careers is that nothing can be taken for granted.

    "I think you appreciate it more when you've been there in the bad times," Faneca said.

    That 98 draft class was definately something special. When you think about all the players that have come and gone and the fact that these 3 are still a HUGE part of the teams success...Im glad they're on our side.

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    Living Legend Steelersfan's Avatar
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    They sure are a huge part! I blame that whole 3 year collapse on Kordell!!

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    AZ_Steeler's Avatar
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    I hadn't heard this before
    Chuck Noll often noted that steel must go through fire to be strengthened
    I like it and it really relates to the organization!

    These 3 guys though have been a strong foundation for where the Steelers are today.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steelersfan
    They sure are a huge part! I blame that whole 3 year collapse on Kordell!!
    That still just irritates me to no end..the guy wasn't a team player, all he wanted to do was play QB no matter what. Just think of how good of a WR he could have been in this league!

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    AZ_Steeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlitzburghRockCity
    That still just irritates me to no end..the guy wasn't a team player, all he wanted to do was play QB no matter what. Just think of how good of a WR he could have been in this league!
    Kordell could have been the Steelers early version of a Randle El... but No he didn't want ot be referred to as "slash" he wanted to be in control and act like a QB. It got to the point where I held my breath everytime he dropped back to pass.

    The one shining moment for Kordells career was when he re-entered the Raider game and virtually won the game for the Steelers by himself... other than that he should have been "Slash"!

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