It’s the offseason, and since we’re a good three months away from still being four months away from the start of the 2014 NFL season, it never hurts to do a little housekeeping.
The housekeeping, in this case, has to do with Steelers fans and their continuous claim that commissioner Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL Powers that Be hate their favorite team.
Why on Earth would Goodell and Co. hate Pittsburgh? The Steelers are one of the NFL’s marquee franchises, complete with a national and even world following—including countless Steelers bars all over this great planet of ours (maybe even the moon).
And let’s not forget ratings (speaking of cash cows).
Here’s a link to the 25 most watched NFL games of 2013, and you’ll see that the Steelers, the team that finished 8-8 in 2012 and started last year 0-4 and 2-6, were a participant in three of those contests.
In fact, despite that .500 record from a season before and preseason predictions by many experts that Pittsburgh would finish 2013 with the same record or worse, that didn’t stop the big networks from scheduling four prime-time games involving the Black and Gold—including the third turkey leg of the Thanksgiving triple-header.
A lot of the recent angst by Steelers fans has to do with Goodell, and his new emphasis on player safety starting in 2010, which resulted in multiple fines to James Harrison, Pittsburgh’s former menacing linebacker, that totaled $100,000. Harrison was fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit to Browns’ receiver Mohamed Massaquoi which resulted in a concussion and also for a late hit on the Saints Drew Brees later in the year.
In 2011, Harrison was suspended for a game, following a helmet to face hit on Cleveland quarterback in Week 14 that also resulted in a concussion.
The move was unprecedented, and many fans saw this as yet more proof that Goodell wanted to stick it to the Black and Gold.
Of course, what few fans really wanted to admit was that, maybe, just maybe, Harrison shouldn’t have been leading with his helmet so much? I’ll give you that some of the penalties and fines on Harrison were a bit of piling on during those two seasons, but I believe No. 92 was just a victim of circumstance (a new public awareness about the dangers of concussions and the league trying to lessen any PR damage) and not a pawn in some NFL conspiracy to do-in the Steelers.
If any single high-ranking NFL figure would be appreciative of the Steelers, it would be Goodell.
Here’s a link to Dan Rooney’s autobiography. Goodell writes the preface and talks about the Steelers owner glowingly and respectfully. He describes Mr. Rooney as a ‘mentor’ and ‘father-figure,’ and talks about the day he found out he would be commissioner, when Rooney, the co-chairman of the selection committee, knocked on his hotel room door and said, “Commissioner.”
Yeah, seems like Roger Goodell would have all sorts of reasons to have it in for the Steelers.
I hope this little piece convinced at least some of you fans out there that the NFL is probably, I say, probably not out to get the Black and Gold.
Of course, for fans of the Cowboys, Seahawks and Cardinals, three of Pittsburgh’s vanquished Super Bowl opponents over the years, they were convinced of that all along.
As far as they’re concerned, the NFL has always wanted the Steelers to win.