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Le’Veon Bell reportedly rejected deal worth $70M over 5-years

Behind the Steel Curtain - 2 hours 4 min ago

If a report from Ian Rapoport is to be believed, the Steelers significantly increased their offer to Le’Veon Bell this year compared to the contract they presented him in 2017

There will be no official word from the Pittsburgh Steelers about the numbers behind the contract offer they made to Le’Veon Bell on Monday, but that won’t stop those figures from becoming public knowledge. These details often have a mysterious habit of finding their way to an NFL reporter, someone who will happily share the information citing an unnamed league source to cover the individual or organization spilling the beans.

First this time with the rumored contract numbers is Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, a regular face when it comes to breaking these kinds of stories. If his figures are to be believed, it would appear that Bell has rejected another substantial offer.

From what I understand, the #Steelers’ final offer to RB Le’Veon Bell was 5 years, $70M with more than $30M over 2 years. Last year, the offer was 5 years, $60M. ... Instead, he’ll earn $14.5M on another franchise tag.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 16, 2018

$70 million over 5-years equates to an average of $14 million a year, part of a deal that also included $33 million in guarantees according to another report Rapoport shared later in the day. At this same time last year, the Steelers offered Bell $60 million over 5-years, but it would seem the proposed increase of $10 million over the length of the contract was not enough to get the deal done this time around.

From @NFLTotalAccess: A look at what contract offer #Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell turned down and how close they actually came to a deal. pic.twitter.com/Tnt7EMfvTc

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 16, 2018

With no word about the signing-bonus portion of the contract and how the deal was structured annually, it’s impossible to make a definitive judgment about the Steelers’ offer. However, it should be expected that the signing bonus would have been in the neighborhood of $19 million, considering Antonio Brown earned that same amount when he signed a 4-year extension worth $68 million in 2017.

It has been widely reported this offseason that Bell was unwilling to settle for a contract that paid him less than the franchise tag amount he was already due to earn, and there can be no dispute that Pittsburgh’s offer came in short of his $14.544 million minimum. Thus, it would be ridiculous to believe that Bell rejected the contract because it was off by $2.5 million over the length of the deal. Much more likely is that Bell was looking to earn closer to the $17 million per season that some in the media had suggested he was seeking, a number which even Bell had referenced at times, and also on a par with what Brown earns.

While many fans will blame Bell for the two sides’ inability to come to an agreement, it would be fair to say that neither is really at fault in this instance. The front office has a salary cap to balance and an entire roster to consider when signing extensions, and sometimes it can be difficult to accommodate so many superstars at one time. The mere existence of names like Ben Roethlisberger, Brown, Joe Haden, Cameron Heyward plus an expensive offensive line always meant that someone would lose out when their time came to get paid.

Understandably, Bell considers himself a once-in-a-generation talent at running back, a dual threat unlike any other given his talents as a pass catcher. In view of the contracts signed by underperforming names like wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a player who recently inked a deal worth an average of $16 million over three years with $30 million guaranteed, there can be no question that Bell has a point about his relative value.

Bell will find someone willing to pay him the money he’s looking for on the free-agent market in 2019, and it shouldn’t take him very long to find a new home. Steelers Nation can now only hope his expected holdout doesn’t drag on into the regular season.

Ron Cook: It's not surprising but disappointing that Le'Veon Bell and Steelers failed to reach a deal

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - 3 hours 25 min ago

Count Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis among those disappointed that Le’Veon Bell failed to reach a long-term deal with the Steelers before the 4 p.m. deadline Monday.

Is Le'Veon Bell's replacement on the roster? Time to find out.

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 3:36pm

Now that the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell have failed to agree on a long-term contract, the short-term focus shifts to the players that will be at training camp next week.

Le’Veon Bell and teammates take to Twitter to respond to failed contract extension news

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 3:34pm

Social media was busy after the news of the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell not able to come to terms on a new contract.

By now you have heard the news of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell’s failure to come to terms on a new contract. While the Steelers released a statement of their inability to find common ground in negotiations, Bell took to his verified Twitter account to tell fans his thoughts heading into the 2018 season.

Check out what he said:

to all my Steeler fans, my desire always has been to retire a Steeler...both sides worked extremely hard today to make that happen, but the NFL is a hard business at times...to the fans that had hope, I’m sorry we let youu down but trust me, 2018 will be my best season to date...

— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 16, 2018

Steelers fans should hope 2018 is his best season to date, and if you are an optimist, maybe Bell is hinting at reporting to the team sooner than he did last year to avoid the early season slump he faced when arriving just prior to Week 1 in 2017.

Either way, with the reality being this is likely Bell’s last season in the black-and-gold, you have to know his teammates were going to respond in some fashion. And the winner of the most creative response contest has to be none other than Ramon Foster.

His image of the offensive line after the news broke is nothing short of priceless:

CURRENT MOOD. . Gotta smile folks pic.twitter.com/cDcGivc8Sq

— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) July 16, 2018

These are strange times in Pittsburgh, and the “Super Bowl or Bust” mantra will be heard loud and strong not just during Bell’s likely holdout, but also throughout the season. As the games get larger, and Bell’s time shorter, the organization will be faced with several decisions which could impact the offense’s, and the team’s, success in the future.

Stay tuned to see any other teammates who might get on social media to share their thoughts on Bell playing the 2018 season under the Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag.

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert releases statement on inability to come to terms with Le’Veon Bell

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 3:20pm

It certainly sounds as if the Steelers are preparing for life without Bell in 2019.

The deadline for the Pittsburgh Steelers and All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell to come to terms on a long-term contract has come and gone.

No deal.

While this isn’t breaking news anymore, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert released the following statement regarding the team’s inability to find middle ground with Bell and his team.

Statement from GM Kevin Colbert on Le’Veon Bell: pic.twitter.com/APTMajqdbF

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 16, 2018

The statement reads:

“Even though we could not reach a long-term contract agreement with Le’Veon Bell, we are excited he will be with the team in 2018.

We worked very hard to find common ground, but we were unable to accomplish that prior to the deadline. Le’Veon will play this season under the Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag.

After the 2018 season is completed, we again will attempt to work out a long-term contract with Le’Veon in the hope he will continue his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Nothing like that little caveat at the end. Sure, there is always a chance the Steelers can extend Bell after the season, but the only real chance this would ever happen is if Bell suffers a setback of some kind this season. Whether it is an injury, or suspension, Bell is going to be looking to hit the market for the highest bidder in free agency next season.

Either way, the next step is to see just what Bell does regarding training camp and the preseason. Will he follow his plan from 2017 and not show up until the lead up to Week 1? Or will he show up and hope to start the season off on the right foot?

This story is far from over, so stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news.

Steelers unable to agree an extension with Le’Veon Bell before deadline

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 2:57pm

For the second year in a row, Le’Veon Bell will play the season under the franchise tag after failing to agree to a long-term deal with the Steelers before the NFL’s 4 p.m. ET deadline on Monday

The league-imposed deadline for the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign Le’Veon Bell to long-term contract passed on Monday at 4 p.m ET without any fanfare after both sides were once again unable to come to an agreement on a new deal. Adam Schefter of ESPN was one of the first to confirm the news when he posted comments from Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari via Twitter.

From Le'Veon Bell's agent Adisa Bakari: "His intention was to retire as a Steeler. But now that there's no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will Le'Veon's last season as a Steeler."

More: "It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player."

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2018

As per NFL rules, negotiations towards an extension cannot now resume until after the end of the regular season, assuming they ever do.

Bell will play under the franchise tag in 2018 and will earn a salary of $14.544 million this year. Lacking a new deal, Bell is unlikely to attend training camp, just as he did in 2017 when the two side failed to agree to an extension. Ultimately, Bell arrived at team facilities on September 1 having missed all four preseason games and every day of training camp.

With the cost of a third franchise tag for Bell likely to cost in the region of $30 million in 2019, Pittsburgh will not tag him again and it seems almost certain that Bell will hit the open market next year, as fact also noted by Bakari.

While Bell has made several statements recently regarding his plans for the offseason if an extension was not forthcoming, he has generally suggested he would be back with the team before the regular season began. However, once it is obvious to him that he will be playing elsewhere in 2019, Bell may yet have a change of heart about his holdout.

Needing to only report to team facilities before Week 10 of the 2018 season to be eligible for free agency next year, Bell could decide to extend his holdout into the regular season. An option Schefter suggested was a possibility earlier in the day.

Whoa.

"I think it's possible Le'Veon Bell sits out first half of the year if he doesn't get a long term deal done." -@AdamSchefter on @SiriusXMNFL.

"The goal at that point would be to hit 2019 free agency healthy, not rack up another 400 touches."

— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) July 16, 2018

It should be noted that while Bell’s absence from training camp will be characterized as a holdout by the media, until he signs the franchise tag, Bell is not technically under contract and cannot be fined for missing practice and preseason games.

Le'Veon Bell and the Steelers failed to agree yet again, setting up his exit after 2018

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 2:52pm

Another midsummer deadline has come and gone, and Le’Veon Bell did not sign a long-term contract with the Steelers.

Mike Tomlin adds to the excitement about the growth and development of Justin Hunter

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 12:38pm

While Justin Hunter’s first six years in the NFL have been rather disappointing, Mike Tomlin is hopeful of a big season from the former University of Tennessee product in 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was back in his hometown over the weekend, but he isn’t the only person on the team that calls the area known as “Seven Cities” his home. Wide receiver Justin Hunter was born in Virginia Beach, just a few miles from where Tomlin grew up in Hampton, Virginia.

Returning home to host the Hampton Roads Youth Foundation Football Camp, Tomlin also spent some time talking to reporters about the upcoming season, but he wasn’t the only hometown hero the local media wanted to hear about. Mitch Brown of News 3 wanted to know how Hunter was looking heading into his second season with the Steelers and Tomlin had nothing but good things to say about him. As he told Brown.

“Justin and I have a great time talking about home quite a bit. I’ve been really excited about his growth and development. Last year he was about getting his feet wet and fitting in and understanding how he could help us and how his skill set might be an asset to us. I really think he sees the clear path for productivity for us this year in terms of how he could help us. I know that we are depending on him and expecting him to deliver in a big way.”

Many observers who have followed Hunter’s career since he entered the NFL in 2013 might suggest he’s been getting his feet wet for the last six years and is long overdue to deliver. Drafted in the second round by the Tennessee Titans, Hunter has never recorded more than 28 receptions or 500 yards receiving in a single season.

Regularly described as one of the standout receivers in training, regardless of the team he’s been with, Hunter has never been able to translate his practice performance into a productive gameday showing. His debut season in Pittsburgh saw Hunter record only four receptions for 23 yards and dress for only seven games.

With former deep-threat option Martavis Bryant now playing in Oakland, there’s clearly an opportunity for Hunter to get more involved in the offense. But the former University of Tennessee product has been given chances to shine before and he’s been found lacking. Hunter left college with question marks about his hands, and those same concerns remain heading into his seven year in the league.

Ultimately, Hunter might not even make the Steelers final 53-man roster in 2018 if the team doesn’t carry more than five players at the position. Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington will be locks for the opening-day roster and Hunter will be in a battle with names like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Marcus Tucker for one of the last available spots.

Former teammate cites Antonio Brown’s improved speed as the 2018 season nears

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 11:11am

Antonio Brown is constantly on a quest to improve his game, and the most recent area of improvement is his speed.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown does almost everything to perfection. But if there's one cut on Brown which is repeated often, it's about his speed.

You hear commentators and media state how he doesn’t have “breakaway speed”, and how he “can’t run by anyone.” While Brown certainly has made up for this lack of speed throughout his career with incredible elusiveness and agility, it doesn’t mean he's ignoring speed as an area for improvement.

In fact, this has been a focus of Brown’s for the past few seasons, and a former teammate took to his verified Twitter account to mention just how his speed has improved. Former running back, and track star, Josh Harris, stated how he and Brown met up when Brown was in Texas for his “Defeat Doubt Tour” to run 40-yard sprints.

If you follow Harris on Twitter, not only does he know what he's talking about when it comes to fitness and football, but he doesn’t sugar-coat things either.

See what he had to say:

Me and AB ran 40s today. My boy going for 2,000 yard this year. Trust me. #HesGottenFaster

— The Bishop (@JoshHarris25) July 16, 2018

Could Brown achieve what Harris suggests -- a 2,000 yard season?

It's never been done before in the history of the NFL, and while Brown has been on a similar pace in previous years, there's a reason why the greatest ever to play the position haven’t achieved it.

Nonetheless, maybe improved straight-line speed is what will make Brown even more of a complete package at the wide receiver position. We already know he has the lateral and short-area quickness to succeed...maybe the straight-line speed is the missing piece for Brown and, hopefully, in the Steelers’ puzzle this season.

The best Pittsburgh Steelers to not to start their career in the Steel City: The Defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 9:11am

In Part Two of our look at the best players to start their careers in other cities, BTSC tackles the defense.

BTSC continues to profile the best Steelers players to begin their careers with other teams since 1969 by chronicling the starting defense. While there are some blockbuster names at certain positions, other slots are filled with lesser-known names that may be deemed questionable. But know this, there were some spots that the Steelers continually drafted well. So very well, in fact, that reserves are occupying that position on this list.

Take note that James Harrison is NOT on this list. He originally came to the Steelers as an undrafted free agent and wore the No. 93. He was let go twice and the Ravens picked him up. Harrison played in the World League for the Rhein Fire and eventually returned to the Steelers when Clark Haggans was injured in 2004. Trust me, Deebo would be on this list if the Steelers weren’t his first team out of Kent State.

Let’s take a look at the best defensive imports.

DE Donald Evans

Evans’ first few years in the league didn’t yield too much production after being a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 1987. After a stop in Philadelphia and a year of not playing at all, the third time was a charm for the defensive end from Winston-Salem State. No. 66 started all but two of 64 games after he caught on with Chuck Noll’s Steelers. After the 1993 season in which he had 6.5 of his 14.5 sacks as a Steeler, Evans left for a free-agent deal with the New York Jets.

DE Ray Seals

Seals never played college ball, but his success with the minor league Syracuse Express of the Empire Football League led him to an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five seasons in 1989. Seals was responsible for Bret Favre’s first-ever completion when he batted his throw into the air and Favre caught his own pass. As a free-agent signing in Pittsburgh, Seals was a hard charger and a force on the defensive line for the Steelers. He also was part of the Super Bowl XXX club. No. 97 was most infamous for organizing “the 60-Minute Men” music video the week of the AFCCG loss to San Diego following the 1994 season. But his 15.5 sacks made his two seasons in Pittsburgh a success. Seals didn’t play in 1996 due to injury and spent 1997, his final year in the NFL, in Carolina.

DT Kimo von Oelhoffen

Kimo originally burst onto the scene as a sixth-rounder with the Bengals in Cincinnati where he played his first six professional seasons. In 2000, the Steelers came calling and No. 67 spent six years with the Steelers organization and tallied 20.5 of his career 26.5 sacks wearing the black-and-gold. The Hawaiian won a Super Bowl with the Steelers and his play up front helped them achieve that.

OLB Arthur Moats

Moats joined the team in 2014 and has now spent the same amount of time with the Steelers that he has with the team that drafted him in 2010, the Buffalo Bills. The sixth-rounder out of James Madison was a valuable reserve for the Steelers and has filled in ably to start when needed. Moats, a big community guy as well, recorded 11.5 of his 16.5 career sacks as a Steeler. Moats isn’t currently on the team’s roster for 2018.

OLB Kevin Greene

The first of the great free-agent pickups in team history, No. 91 was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in Round 5 of the 1985 NFL Draft. After eight seasons in Anaheim, Greene sought out 3-4 defenses and decided on the Steelers. In only three seasons in the Steel City, Greene logged 35.5 sacks and led the NFL with 14 in 1994. A member of the esteemed “Quiver and Quake” duo with Greg Lloyd, Greene played the run well and was a devestating pass rusher. Despite spending only three years in the Burgh, the NFL’s third all-time sacker elected to receive his HOF ring from the Steelers franchise.

ILB James Farrior

In 2002, Steelers Nation was reeling from the loss of LB Earl Holmes to the Cleveland Browns in free agency. But then James Farrior arrived and became a mainstay on the inside for a decade until after the 2011 season. The 15-year vet was drafted eighth overall by the Jets out of Virginia in 1997, but initially was merely pedestrian. As a Steeler, however, he was a driving force on two Lombardi winners, twice an All Pro and the team’s MVP in 2004. Because of his 10-year tenure in Pittsburgh, “Potsie” may be the greatest free-agent pickup in team history.

ILB Clint Kriewaldt

Another valuable reserve, but even more a solid special-teamer, Clint was drafted in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions in 1999. A Super Bowl champion in the Burgh, Kriewaldt finished his five-year career as a Steeler in 2007.

CB Dewayne Washington

The Vikings chose Washington in 1994’s first round and the CB joined The Steelers after his rookie contract ran out. Of his 31 career interceptions, 19 came while playing for the Steelers for six seasons from 1998 to 2003. No. 20 did solid work in the Steeler secondary and retired after 12 seasons in 2005 as a Kansas City Chief.

CB Joe Haden Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Haden was a surprise that fell in the Steelers lap right before the start of the 2017 campaign, when the Browns played “Moneyball” with him and released the two-time Pro Bowler. Haden would have made more money from other offers he received, but chose the Steelers for a shot at the title and (allegedly) a shot at the Browns twice per year. Last season, Haden had only one of his 20 career interceptions, but he helped strengthen a young secondary when he wasn’t out of the lineup due to injury.

S Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Giants in 2002, but stayed in the league for 13 seasons. After a stint with Washington, Clark joined Bill Cowher’s Steelers in 2006 as a free agent. The explosive hitter won a ring in a Pittsburgh uniform in 2008 and was an integral part of a dominating defense during that period. A Pro-Bowl selection in 2011, No. 25 spent eight seasons wearing black-and-gold.

SS Tyrone Carter

The hard-hitting Carter played college ball at Minnesota and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2000. After three years there and another season with the Jets, the 5’8” Carter enjoyed six of his finest seasons in the Steel City, where he had six picks and won two Super Bowl rings.

P Chris Gardocki

Gardocki was a third-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1991 and enjoyed a 16-year career in the NFL, his final three as a Steeler. Gardocki, a Pro Bowl punter in 1996 with Indianapolis, averaged 42.1 yards per punt with the Steelers and helped win a Super Bowl in 2005.

...

So there you have the best players that the Steelers brought in after playing for another franchise. As always, there will be omissions. But please state your case in the comments for why your choices are better than the ones selected.

Enjoy!

Hollywood calling: Steelers' Antonio Brown will be a guest on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' Thursday

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 8:57am

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will be a guest on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Thursday night. The one-time “Dancing With the Stars” contestant is no stranger to the network, or Hollywood.

Report: Steelers and Le’Veon Bell long-term contract will be a “challenge”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 7:04am

Contrary to what Mike Tomlin said over the weekend, Adam Schefter of ESPN is suggesting this deal is far from close.

Over the weekend, there was a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggesting some headway had been made between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell to reach common ground on a long-term contract.

Then Mike Tomlin, who spoke at his annual football camp in Virginia, also said there was reason for optimism, but he added the negotiators would have to get into a room and start hashing out details.

This likely will occur during the majority of the day on Monday, July 16th, when the two parties have until 4:00 p.m. ET to get a deal done. If not, Bell will be forced to play the 2018 season for $14.5 million dollars under the Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag, and likely become a free agent at season’s end.

Sunday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter threw a good bit of water on the burning hopes of fans who think a deal can still be struck between these two parties.

Despite Mike Tomlin’s confidence that a deal can be struck by 4 p.m. Monday, it will be challenging for Pittsburgh and Steelers’ franchised RB Le’Veon Bell to reach a long-term contract agreement, per league sources. The two sides came close last year and will keep trying Monday.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2018

This was then followed by this tweet from ESPN’s Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler:

Yep. Not much optimism in recent weeks/months but let's see whether deadline moves either side. https://t.co/p5rw1lhyDw

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 16, 2018

For those who followed this situation closely a year ago, the same thing happened leading up to the deadline.

Some reports said they were close, while others said a gaping divide remained in negotiations. Fans will believe what they want to believe, but one thing is certain — by 4:00 p.m. ET Le’Veon Bell will either be reporting to training camp on July 25th with the rest of his teammates, or he won’t be present until the week prior to Week 1, September 9th.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news on this story as it develops throughout the day.

Gene Collier: Jim Kelly handles a life’s suffering with grace

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 6:45am

On Wednesday night, during the annual ESPYs telecast from Los Angeles, Jim Kelly will accept the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance and offer a short speech, the only kind possible when your face and jaw form a virtual cauldron of unrelenting pain.

The definition of a Steelers legend certainly has changed since Ernie Stautner played

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/16/2018 - 5:55am

Championships have become important currency for cementing a player's legacy in the world of modern sports. Would Ernie Stautner be an immortal Pittsburgh Steeler had he played more recently? What happens if Antonio Brown never wins a Super Bowl?

Ernie Stautner, the 10-time All-Pro defensive tackle who played for the Steelers from 1950-1963, had it lucky because he came along way before championships had become a calling card for the organization.

You might say that’s crazy. Why would a professional football player not want to play in an era where trophies aren’t just expected, they’re demanded? For starters, you see that picture on old Ernie’s Wikipedia page, the one of him standing with his Hall of Fame bust after being inducted in 1969? Let’s just say that, had he played from maybe 1988 to 2001, this picture might have been taken after his third or fourth time on the ballot.

Take Steelers’ Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson, who finally punched his ticket to football immortality in 2012, some 12 years after retiring from the NFL. According to his Wikipedia page, Dirt was a six-time, first-team All-Pro. He was named to the 1990’s All-Decade Team and was considered the best center of his era by many people who know a thing or two about that. But the voters still rejected him multiple times before he finally made it.

Why?

The Steelers didn’t win a fifth Super Bowl when Dawson was in Pittsburgh, so that might have had something to do with it.

That’s the thing about an organization which has established championship success — once it does, a player’s career is often defined by it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s like that pretty much everywhere. But I live in Pittsburgh, I’m a Steelers fan, and I know you kind of have your doubts about Antonio Brown, the receiver who’s on one of the greatest statistical runs in NFL history, complete with 582 receptions for 7,848 yards since 2013.

At age 30, Brown’s career numbers rival those of Jerry Rice at a similar stage of his career. No. 84 is unquestionably the NFL’s most dominant receiver since Terrell Owens. Brown may in fact be the most dominant player, regardless of position, in the NFL right now.

Yet, some people are like, “Yeah, I don’t know. He may need to win a Super Bowl or even two. If not, he may have to wait his turn before he can put on that gold jacket.”

And those people are likely right.

Owens had to wait his turn before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. In fact, he had to wait multiple times, something so infuriating to the poster child for diva receivers, that he decided not to show up for the event (as of now, anyway).

Think about that for a second. Owens caught over 1,000 passes for close to 16,000 yards during his career, and he was passed over for induction more than once.

Owens was no Rice, but in baseball terms, if Rice was Hank Aaron, then Owens was Willie Mays.

So why’d Owens have to wait?

He was a big jerk for one thing. But it also didn’t help that he never won a Super Bowl title.

Championships mean more to a player’s legacy in the modern era of sports than they did in Stautner’s time. Sure, they meant something back then, but the truly great players could pass on into immortality a lot easier without them.

Even the unquestionable greats such as Rod Woodson, a cornerback who played 10 seasons with the Steelers and was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 2009, doesn’t get celebrated in Pittsburgh as much as he probably should for such a decorated career.

Woodson was so good, he was voted to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team as an active player. Yet people are like, “Yeah, but I kind of have a problem with the fact that he never won a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh. Also, he left as a free agent and won a Lombardi with the Ravens. Sorry, Rod.”

Yeah, it’s like that now.

Character is a big thing, too.

Fans often celebrate Stautner’s legacy online by using his name or number when they visit various football sites.

”He was a great and classy man,” they say.

I’m sure Ernie was a classy dude, but that doesn’t mean he was a saint.

I mean, the guy would go out drinking with quarterback Bobby Layne and act as his bodyguard in-case, you know, they drank too much and trouble started. Heck, Myron Cope usually joined them on these little adventures, adventures that didn’t always end without police intervention.

Could you imagine if news broke that Ben Roethlisberger went out drinking with Cam Heyward, and Heyward often had to intervene when trouble started? Could you imagine if Tunch Ilkin was seen drinking with them?

Fans would lose their minds.

Actually, stuff like that does happen today (it used to happen with Roethlisberger a lot), and these days, people consider it wrong.

Forget drinking and fights, if a player is a bit too vocal on social media, it rubs people the wrong way (just ask JuJu Smith-Schuster in like five minutes).

In the modern era, championships are probably the greatest passport to immortality, and those legendary Steelers teams of the 1970’s changed the way we view legacies.

Anyway, you might think you’d still honor a legend like Stautner, had he played in this era and didn’t win a ring, but don’t be so sure.

If there’s one thing that’s changed since Ernie Stautner’s time, it’s that legacies aren’t cheap, and if you want one as member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you’re damned-well going to have to earn it.

Mike Tomlin notes similarities between raising teenagers and managing players

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 12:45pm

A father of two teenage son, Mike Tomlin notes the parallels between parenting children and coaching a team

Each summer for the last 10 years, Mike Tomlin has hosted a youth football camp in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia for the Hampton Road Youth Foundation. When not working with the kids, Tomlin has traditionally always made time to talk with Bruce Rader of WAVY TV 10 to answer a few questions ahead of the upcoming season and this year was no exception.

While the interview is always rather gentle and the line of questioning somewhat soft, Tomlin seems to appreciate the change of pace from the grilling he gets in Pittsburgh and there are often one of two insights worth sharing.

Talking on topics ranging from how he focuses his team for a new season to his hopes that there would be news of a new extension for Le’Veon Bell before the deadline on Monday at 4 p.m ET, it was his response to a question about the similarities between parenting and being a head coach that was perhaps the most revealing about Tomlin. As he told Rader.

“Hey I’ll tell you, my sons are 16 and 17 now, man I really see the parallels, you know. It is [similar] in a lot of way because if you want to truly be successful leading the men, it goes beyond the X’s and O’s in football, you’ve got to be willing to help them in growth and development in every aspect of their life, and that’s a part of the job that I embrace.”

As much as Tomlin’s main goal is to win a championship each year, his desire to impact the lives of his players beyond the world of football has always been one of his more admirable qualities to my mind.

Some may question how successful he has been in this endeavor given the off-field antics of some of his players, but there are few parents who can honestly say they are proud of everything their children have every done. Ultimately, the respect and admiration his retired former players seem to have for him speaks volumes about the impact Tomlin has had on their lives. It will be interesting to note if and how this approach changes as he gets older.

Which current Steelers player would have been a perfect fit on the 70s teams?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 10:46am

If you could put anybody on the current roster on the “Team of the 70s”, who would it be?

A few weeks ago, BTSC ran a fantasy piece I wrote which asked fans what Steelers player from the past would best help the current roster. Guys like Jack Lambert, Rod Woodson and Troy Polamalu (just to name a few) were frequent inclusions in the comments section. Looking back on this contribution to the site, I was thinking “outside the bun” again and started to wonder about the players of today and how they would fit in 1970’s Pittsburgh. Even though he is retired now, I always thought Hines Ward would have been a perfect throwback to play on Chuck Noll’s 45-man roster. But what about today’s guys?

Could the Steelers have won more Super Bowls in that era if David DeCastro was blocking for “the Blonde Bomber”? Where would Antonio Brown be listed on the WR depth chart? How would Chuck Noll handle Le’Veon Bell’s second career as a Disco singer? Would Cameron Heyward start on the defensive line? Would JuJu Smith-Schuster get his ten-speed stolen?

These are fun offseason, weekend questions to ponder when the spouse has a headache and the Ambien hasn’t kicked in yet. State your case and scenarios in the comments section. Keep in mind that body types in the 70s were on average smaller, so let’s try to keep out of the weeds with the fact that you could replace the entire O-Line with today’s guys because they are bigger. This is pure fantasy, so we will focus more on the quality of a player’s performance.

Now...let’s “Marty McFly” somebody and see if there’s enough room in the trophy case.

Enjoy!

Report: As expected, contract negotiations between Steelers and Le’Veon Bell to go to the wire

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 9:06am

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ All-Pro running back isn’t going to be signing on the dotted line until he has absolutely seen the team’s best offer.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell have until Monday, July 16th at 4:00 p.m. ET to come to terms on a new long-term deal.

As if you didn’t already know this. But as fans wait to see the fate of the team’s All-Pro running back’s long term prognosis with the black-and-gold, reports have already started to swirl regarding the negotiations.

This from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport:

Much of the focus for Monday will be on #Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell once again. There has been some progress, but it sounds like this one may come down to the wire — just like last year. It got close. Time will tell if they can push it over the line.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 14, 2018

While Rapoport’s report doesn’t shed a ton of light on just how negotiatons are going, it does bring light to the fact these negotiations will likely go down to the wire.

Fans should recall it was last year when reports stated the Steelers and Bell’s agents had come to terms on a verbal deal, only to have Bell say ‘No’ at the last minute.

While it isn’t clear whether the two sides are even close to a deal, as they reportedly were last year, it will certainly take the Steelers best, and likely final, offer, combined with Bell giving a litte on his end too to actually come to terms on a new contract keeping him in Pittsburgh for more than the 2018 season.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and rumors surrounding this situation as it develops.

Believe it or not, the AFC North is a division on the rise

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 7:21am

With the Cleveland Browns apparently ready to field a professional football team, the AFC North might actually become a four-team division again.

I was speaking with a family friend from Chicago at a birthday party recently when the discussion inevitably switched to professional football.

Naturally, he proclaimed to be a lifelong Chicago Bears fan. He lamented about the team’s recent struggles and how long it had been since the team felt like a real contender in the NFC North. I countered with what a great player Walter Payton had been and said the fans would always have memories of that dominant 1985 Bears Super Bowl Championship team.

I reminded him that this year’s team might be much improved with impressive young quarterback Mitch Trubisky, the two-headed monster tandem in the backfield that the Steelers witnessed up close and personal last season, plus an improved receiving corps.

He thanked me for the encouragement and then he made a hilarious statement that really stuck with me. “At least we aren’t the Cleveland Browns!” he said with a chuckle.

His wife, who happened to be standing nearby and overheard our conversation, chimed in with “Ain’t that the truth. They are the worst team in the league. What a joke. They didn’t even win a game last year.”

When they asked me where my allegiance resides, I proudly professed that I bleed black-and-gold. He immediately acknowledged what an outstanding team and organization the Steelers are and then mentioned the AFC North is the most vicious division in the NFL.

That got me thinking — he’s absolutely correct about the division. Of course, we already knew that, but I have a feeling it’s about to get much worse.

Nothing builds contempt for an opponent like familiarity. Especially that familiar feeling of getting your rear end handed to you on a regular basis. That’s why I feel there are three distinct levels of contempt for each divisional rival here in Steelers Nation.

First you have the Baltimore Ravens. Ever since the original Cleveland Browns escaped to Baltimore in hopes of starting over in 1996, they’ve been a thorn in the Steelers’ side. Like the Oakland Raiders in the 70’s during the Steel Curtain era, the Steelers and the Ravens go to war each and every time they line up across from each other. You can be sure that even the winning team from one of these epic confrontations will head into the following week’s game shorthanded, battered, and bruised.

The players and fans truly despise one another. In the modern age of free agency this isn’t always the case but, if you ever doubt the legitimacy of this contempt, just Google Terrell Suggs or Ed Reed discussing their feelings towards our very own Hines Ward.

Despite the loathing that exists between the teams, there’s also a profound mutual respect between the franchises. A respect and admiration that can only be achieved by lining up and testing your mettle against an opponent at the highest level for 60 minutes. Modern-day gladiators leaving blood, sweat and tears on the field of battle. True respect has to be earned.

Which brings us to the Cincinnati Bengals. They want to join this mythical fraternity but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary for membership. To earn respect, you must first be willing to compete with honor, both on and off the field. This is where the Bengals as an organization and as a fan base have been so woefully lacking.

On the field, look no further than the cheap-shot artist Vontaze ‘karma knocked me out’ Burfict and Pacman Jones. Their disrespectful and childish attitude permeates the entire team and has hindered the Bengals organization’s attempt to climb back to respectability during the past decade. It wasn’t too long ago when the Bengals were like the present-day Browns, a perennial favorite in preseason to be the worst team in the league.

Off of the field, multiple legal issues and player arrests have continued to plague the franchise. Also, I feel the conduct of some the Bengals fans has been particularly disturbing. For example, I remember that the comment boards lit up with prayers and well wishes for Ben Roethlisberger right after his motorcycle accident in 2006. There were “get well” messages by fans from every NFL team in the league, including the Ravens and Browns. Sadly, I recall several messages from Bengals fans that said stuff like “I hope he dies” or “Serves him right.” I was shocked to say the least.

I might add, I’ve got friends who are Bengals fans who would never think about doing something so heartless, but that memory has always stuck with me.

What would cause such hatred between the franchises? I believe the answer is twofold.

First, the fact that the Steelers have owned the Bengals pretty much since Ben came into the league in 2004. And because Ben is an Ohio native, you begin to fill in the blanks.

Secondly, some Bengals fans still believe that Kimo Von Oelhoffen's hit to Carson Palmer's knee was intentional. You could understand their disdain if true, but I still believe it was accidental.

That leaves us with the Cleveland Browns — the worst team in the league for more than a decade. Ben is basically the hometown boy who torments the Browns’ faithful after they passed on him in the draft. That’s akin to having a big bag of flaming dog poop on your doorstep — a constant reminder twice per season of your own personal ineptitude as an organization.

But it appears things might finally be a changing in Cleveland. This off-season, the team realized they’d never lure the impactful free agents required to turn their franchise around, no matter how far under the cap they were. So they went out and traded for an impressive stable of offensive talent to add to their talented, young defense.

These off-season additions may very well prove to be the foundation for a football revival in Cleveland. They already have a faithful and rabid fan base. Suddenly, the Browns appear determined to bring professional football back to the Dawg Pound.

If so, those two additional bye-weeks the Steelers enjoyed each season may be coming to an end and the AFC North will once again become survival of the fittest.

Check out the BTSC Want Ads for the upcoming 2018 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 6:18am

We are looking for a few qualified individuals to help us fill out our roster for the upcoming season.

Hello folks, just your friendly BTSC editor here writing to let you know there are few openings on the website for the upcoming season. Please check below for the want ads, and PLEASE read carefully before contact anyone for an available position.

Writer (Paid)

As you see above, this is a paid writing position. No, it isn’t enough for you to retire and/or quit your current job, but it could be an avenue for you to make some side cash while writing about the team you love.

PLEASE, do not inquire about this position if you don’t have writing experience. I know we are all fans, and even though you’ve been a fan of the black-and-gold for the past 40 years doesn’t necessarily qualify you for the position. If you email me with zero writing experience, don’t expect a response.

If you DO have writing experience (I’m talking about college newspaper and above...no High School yearbook writing), you will need to email me (bngblitz@gmail.com) telling me about yourself, as well as a sample of your work. Pick a current angle about the team, and write it up.

Just to be clear, this person will be expected to contribute 2-3 articles per week, so you will need to have the time to be consistent with this work load. I don’t want to have to track down writers to meet their quota.

Lastly, I am looking for someone with a unique voice for commentary. We have the news and different tidbits of information surrounding the black-and-gold pretty much covered. What I want is someone who isn’t afraid to write what they believe, have the tact to do it gracefully and the consistency to do it.

Think you meet those qualifications? Send me a note.

Moderator (Not Paid)

As I mentioned in a previous article, we have a new Community Manager in the user named PittBlitz56. He is responsible for bringing on new moderators, training them, and keeping things in order in the comment section.

This isn’t an easy job, and he could use all the help he could get, but there will be a process. If you are new to BTSC, you might want to get your feet wet with the characters who call this site home before you jump on board. If you are someone who visits the site regularly (talking 5 or more times a week), you might be a great addition to the team.

If you are interested, you can email him here: ralphiddings@gmail.com

Podcaster (Not Paid)

Similar to the writing, if you have ZERO podcasting experience, please don’t apply. I simply don’t have time to train someone on the tools used, as well as the expectations for how a good podcast should sound.

If you have experience, email me (see above) with some information about you, as well as a copy of some of your work. If you don’t have that, please don’t apply.

...

Thanks! Hopefully some of you can become a part of the BTSC team as the Steelers press on to Super Bowl glory!

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