On the Steelers: Team's greats should have their own place of honor
Few NFL teams have the kind of history combined with a large fan base as do the Steelers.
One comes close: the Green Bay Packers. Their history goes deeper than the Steelers, but not their fan base. The Packers have one thing the Steelers do not have, however: a Hall of Fame.
It's time the Steelers look into changing that.
No team is more positioned to either build a Hall of Fame or incorporate one into Heinz Field than the Steelers. They have the Coca-Cola Great Hall but that's nothing compared to the kind of Hall the Steelers could create.
It might attract more visitors than the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, 100 miles to the west. The Packers Hall of Fame, located in Lambeau Field, attracts 100,000 visitors annually. They charge $10 a pop, scaled down for students, senior citizens, etc. The Packers Hall is 25,000 square feet and contains 80 exhibits, all three Super Bowl trophies and a re-creation of Vince Lombardi's office. They show videos and have artifacts.
The Steelers could re-create Art Rooney Sr.'s office and that would be worth the price of admission in itself. By the way, the play, "The Chief," finally has been videotaped and will be available for purchase on DVD at some point. Actor Tom Atkins played Art Rooney Sr. again in the one-man play co-written by Post-Gazette columnist Gene Collier and Rob Zellers. It was first produced in 2003 and will hold its last showings in January. The movie was filmed at Shadyside Academy in Fox Chapel a week and a half ago.
Here's another reason to hate instant replay: The cameras do not always show a good angle on the play, or they do not show the correct shot in a timely fashion.
That is why coach Mike Tomlin did not challenge the early reception by Laveranues Coles along the Bengals' sideline Sunday.
The play occurred in the first series on third-and-9 at the Steelers' 41. Coles caught the pass along the Cincinnati sideline and officials ruled he had both feet in bounds for a 12-yard gain.
Television showed some replays as the Bengals hurried to the line of scrimmage. None was conclusive, mainly because they did not show Coles' feet. The stadium scoreboard, run by Steelers employees, showed the play but Coles' feet were not on the screen.
The Bengals snapped the ball and Tomlin never dropped his red flag. Shortly thereafter, television came up with a replay that clearly showed Coles had only one foot in bounds. It should have been an incomplete pass with the Bengals punting away.
They wound up missing a 51-yard field goal and, through some higher justice, the Steelers got the ball at their 41, where the ball was spotted for the missed field-goal attempt.
Willie Parker seems like the forgotten man with just two carries in the past three games. Bruce Arians says that is not so. He planned to use Parker every third series in the past two games, but things did not go as planned and Rashard Mendenhall was kept in the game.
"It ended up being a no-huddle series,'' Arians said. "That's happened to Willie twice. We were all set up and ready to go, the game dictated we're going no-huddle and for whatever reason Rashard hasn't had enough yet to get taken out.
"It's nothing against Willie. He's more than ready to go and I don't mind handing the ball to Willie, that's for doggone sure."
Parker began the season as the team's starter but missed two games with turf toe and since his return has only nine carries in four games.
Parker, who is in the final year of his contract, continues to play the good soldier as he has watched Mendenhall not only take his starting job but thrive in it. Mendenhall has 609 yards rushing and a 5.3-yard per carry average with 564 of those yards coming in the past six games.
Maybe the Steelers are merely catching up to the rest of the league in passing the ball. They have run it only 41.3 percent of the time through their nine games, which compares to the league average of 43.3. But the rest of the league was running it nearly at the same clip more than 20 years ago.
Back in 1988, the league average was 47.2 percent runs. That compares to 1976 when, two years before new rules helped liberalize the pass, teams ran on average 56.2 percent of the time.
As recently as 2005, the Steelers ran 57.2 percent of the time and wound up winning a Super Bowl that season. They ran only 45.3 percent last season and won their sixth Super Bowl.
Perhaps no offenses morphed from a running team as the Steelers were in 2005 to one that passed so often just three years later and earned two Lombardi Trophies in that time.
First Published November 22, 2009 12:00 am