Are the Pirates worse than the Steelers?
Pretty simple question, I know, but I’m not talking about 2012.
I’m talking about ever. As is in worse than the Steelers ever were. And that’s saying something. The Pirates are working on putting together their 20th losing season in a row. If they pull that off, will it be worse than the Steelers’ 40 years without a division championship?
That question came up on my talk show this week and my first response was to vote for the Steelers simply because 40 is twice as bad as 20. But the Steelers had a few winning seasons mixed in with all that futility.
I changed my vote to the Pirates.
We’ve seen converging legacies here this week.
It was 40 years ago, September 17th 1972, when the Steelers opened their season at Three Rivers Stadium with a win over the Oakland Raiders. Nobody knew then that it was not only the end of the Steelers’ futility, but also the beginning of what may be the best major, professional sports franchise in North America over the last 40 years.
The 1972 Steelers went on to win their first division championship and their first playoff game (thanks to the Immaculate Reception) and become the best NFL team ever.
I turned 24 during that season.
The Steelers, to me and all of my friends, were a laughing stock. They were something to do between Pirates seasons. I don’t really remember much about that win over the Raiders on opening day. Probably because I had seen the Steelers open so many seasons with impressive wins before they woke up and realized who they were and went back to becoming a national joke.
It wasn’t until they beat the Chiefs and the Vikings two weeks apart in the middle of the season that my friends and I felt like we could actually take them seriously. That’s when we started driving to motels in Ohio to watch the blacked out home games on TV.
I’m guessing that there were quite a few 20-something guys who were feeling the same way about the Pirates in July when they were 16 games over .500 and flirting with first place. For them to feel what we felt all those years ago, the Pirates would have needed to keep up the same pace, win the National League Central and go deep into the NLCS.
Instead, they got what looks like another losing season and a bizarre story about how the Pirates minor leaguers are being subjected to Navy Seals training and told to act like Hell’s Angels.
Maybe the Pirates will somehow avoid finishing below .500. But even if they do, because of the back-to-back epic collapses, I’m going to have to vote for the Pirates from1992-2012 as the worst era in Pittsburgh sports history. And if you’re old enough to remember the SOS (Same Old Steelers) days, you know how pathetic that makes them.
- Being exposed to so many obnoxious team owners has given me an appreciation for the Rooney family and there’s no better example of that than Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. Nobody makes you appreciate The Chief, Dan or Art II more, but Jerry may have won me over this week. He told the world that he had tried to get rid of the obnoxious, game-ending kneel down a long time ago, but couldn’t get the other owners to go along with it. He brought it up this week because of the controversy created when Tampa Bay Bucs coach Greg Schianno had his defense, you know, play football on the last play and put a hit on Giants quarterback Eli Manning while he was genuflecting to close out last Sunday’s game.
The only thing I hate more than the kneel-down, is the timeout that some losing coaches call so that they can do multiple knee-downs.
If both teams agree that it’s time to stop playing football, then stop playing football. Let’s have the losing coach signal his defensive captain to pick up the ball and hand it to the referee as a sign that he has conceded the game.
The best part of what Jones said was about the fans. He said they are not getting the most from their entertainment dollar when they are expected to watch really large men pretend that they’re still playing football.
A long time ago, Jones proposed a rule to require offenses to attempt to move the ball forward or face a penalty and a stopped clock.
Works for me.
And if the game is totally out of reach and the trailing team wants to pack it in, the coach can avoid insulting everybody’s intelligence and concede

If that seems radical to you, remember, this is a league that, several years ago, in an effort to shorten games, began starting the clock sooner after out of bounds plays and penalties, except in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. The NFL bragged about giving its fans less football for their money.
The Canadian Football League has fewer kneel downs because it stops the clock after every play in the last three minutes of each half.
Know anybody who would prefer genuflecting to that?

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