July 15, 2011
When you think about the Pittsburgh Steelers, you think about an organization with a large pile of Lombardi trophies, and you think about a solid, family-owned, homespun organization that's fully interwoven into the larger Pittsburgh community.
Depending on which NFL team is your favorite, you might also think some other things, but historically, championships and community have always been the bedrock of what the Steelers are about. They've been an exemplary franchise. Perhaps even the seventh-best in all of sports.
Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonders if that's all gone out the window. The winning is still there, sure, but any kind of moral high ground? Perhaps not. Maybe the Steelers have moved into a seedier neighborhood.
Here's a snippet from Starkey:
Truth is, this franchise has become the modern-day version of the 1970s Oakland Raiders. Outlaws of the NFL. Some might view that as an insult (especially if they grew up in these parts hating those Raiders), others as a compliment.
It is undeniably true.
Now, the Steelers clearly remain the NFL's model team in the most important category: winning. They do that better than anyone. But those still pointing to this franchise as some kind of moral beacon? They're flat-out delusional.
This stems, of course, from pistol-wielding linebacker James Harrison(notes) unleashing his big bag of crazy in Men's Journal. But there are other incidents cited by Starkey, too, including Ben Roethlisberger's(notes) history, Hines Ward's(notes) DUI, Rashard Mendenhall's bin Laden tweets, some of Santonio Holmes'(notes) behavior as a Steeler, and numerous Steelers blasting Roger Goodell and the league.
I wouldn't lump all of them into the category of bad guys -- Troy Polamalu(notes), in particular, seems to be an absolute prince of a man -- but when you list everything together like that, it does look bad. And it seems like the Steelers definitely see themselves as the league's outlaws, and they feel like the league is out to get them. That's all pretty Raider-y.
What do you think? Are the Steelers indeed the NFL's new batch of bad guys? Do they still retain their wholesome image? Or are they just like any other team in the league?
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