Current and former members of the Steelers start chiming in supporting Ben Roethlisberger

With the Pittsburgh Steelers gearing up for the 2019 season, teammates have started to finally stick up for the team’s quarterback.

I’m not sure what it was which sparked change, but maybe it was just one of those ‘enough is enough’ situations where teammates of Ben Roethlisberer had reached their tipping point of the Ben bashing.

Fans wondered where the current, and former, players were in supporting Ben Roethlisberger, while so many spoke out openly against him. Wait no longer…as several members of the Steelers took to social media in support of No. 7.

Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Ryan Clark and even Emmanuel Sanders have all had their chance to speak their minds. A chance to show how bad a teammate, and leader, they feel/felt Roethlisberger was/is for the black-and-gold.

Now you get to see the other side of the proverbial coin…

Take a look at some of what was said via social media:

Mike Tomlin admits he is disappointed with Artie Burns

The Steelers head coach touched on a number of subjects when he spoke to the media on Monday, discussing the notable departures and additions this offseason.

Following on the heels of Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert on Sunday, it was the turn of Mike Tomlin to talk with the media at the owners meeting on Monday, discussing a wide range of topics ranging from notable player departures to recent free agent additions.

But while the Steelers head coach appeared reluctant to talk too negatively about names like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, he was far from encouraging when the subject turned to Artie Burns. As per Teresa Varley of, when asked if it was a little disappointing that the young cornerback seems to perform well in practice but struggles during a game, Tomlin left no doubt that that he was unhappy with the level of production he was getting from Burns on game day.

“Not a little bit disappointed. Disappointed. Certainly. Having the ability to carry those talents into a stadium kind of defines us, or inability to do so, so certainly.”

And if Burns is to get another opportunity to prove his worth in the NFL with Pittsburgh, it appears that he might need to be more concerned about keeping his roster spot right now, rather than worrying about who will be the starter opposite Joe Haden in 2019.

“You know, that’s what this process is about. It’s not about giving him another chance. It’s about putting together the very best group that we can put out there, and if that includes giving him another chance, then certainly, but it’s not per se specifically about giving him quote-unquote another chance.”

Rather than be drawn into the ongoing saga about Ben Roethlisberger and his leadership abilities, Tomlin put the onus on everyone to improve this season, including himself.

“I don’t think he was void of leadership skills or talents. I think he’s more than capable as a quarterback. I think he’s more than capable as a leader. But do I expect growth and development? Certainly. I expect growth and development from all of us based on the experiences that we’re a part of. And I expect growth and development from myself from a leadership standpoint based on the experiences that we have, so that’s not unreasonable.”

And although the Steelers coach would not go into the details surrounding the breakdown in the relationship with Brown, he did reiterate a point he has made in the past when discussing team personnel – a desire for players who want to be in Pittsburgh.

“I don’t have a lot of the intimate details about his [AB] wants and desires. Probably not fair for me to express that. I know he has expressed that. I have just taken the position that we have from an organizational standpoint. I have been really consistent with it. I was consistent with it addressing it at the end of the year. We can’t do this with hostages. We need volunteers. And we need players, good guys who want to be here. If guys can’t check those boxes, it’s probably best for all parties involved that we go our separate ways.

“That is the only thing appropriate to be said about that circumstance and Le’Veon Bell’s circumstances. I think it’s been highly chronicled and too chronicled. I think some things have been said that may or may not be true. All I know is neither one of those guys are members of our team anymore, so I understand that. I understand what that means. We focus our energy on those who are and their readiness and preparation.

“I think that relationships run their course and the fact that neither one of them are here speaks to that. But I’ll also say we’ve got good players on our team, and no disrespect to those guys or what they’ve been able to do over the course of their careers, particularly in Pittsburgh, but we had a Pro Bowl wideout on our team who’s still on our team from last year. We had a Pro Bowl running back last year who was on our team who’s still on our team. So we’ve got good players, we’ve got good quality players specifically at those positions. Will we need additional plays from other people, certainly, but you have that discussion and make those statements year-in and year-out, and we do.”

Tomlin would go on to speak at length about his hopes for JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington in 2019, as well as the team’s plans for the vacant spot at right tackle. A job that will seemingly go to the winner of an open battle between Matt Filer, Chukwuma Okorafor and Jerald Hawkins, judging from his remarks.

A transcript of his interview can be found here, with some additional remarks about the changes to the coaching staff and the recent free agent signings broadcast in a sit down interview with Missi Matthews that can be viewed here.

Podcast: Are the Pittsburgh Steelers finally drama free?

Discuss all things Steelers and beyond as BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo comment on the latest news of the Steeler Nation,

The Steelers have been infested with tedious drama for so long, it is hard to imagine following them without it. However the star Wide Receiver and Running Back are gone and their losses will be known, but will the lack of drama stabilize the team or do problems still exist. Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC for the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”. They will discuss this burning question and much more. As always, Tony and Bryan have plenty to discuss with help from Steeler Nation.

Check out a rundown of the show:

  • Fact or Fiction
  • Is the drama over or do problems still exist?
  • Latest Steeler Drama
  • Looking ahead
  • and MUCH MORE!

You can get all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

Black and Gold Links: GM Kevin Colbert breaks the Steelers’ silence on Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Kevin Colbert finally broke his silence regarding everything from the Antonio Brown trade to Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership skills.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Many fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers wanted someone from the organization to break their silence. Wanted someone to come out and stand up for Ben Roethlisberger while he was being bashed by everyone with a microphone. That person was Kevin Colbert, and here is his interview below:

  • Speaking of bashing the Steelers, the latest person, who is currently employed by an NFL team, to bash the organization who drafted them was none other than Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders. This caught the attention of some local writers.

Tim Benz: Emmanuel Sanders joins party of bashing Kevin Colbert, Steelers

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The latest ex-Steeler to pile on the franchise is current Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Last week, Sanders told 104.3 “The Fan” in Denver about how he left the Steelers.

“The Steelers offered me a crappy deal,” Sanders told the radio station. “They offered me three years, $9 million, $1 million guaranteed.

“I went into Kevin Colbert’s office and said, ‘I don’t want to take the deal.’ He looks at me and he goes, ‘Who do you think you are, Antonio Brown?’ I wanted to say, ‘F-you.’ I’ll never forget that.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers are going to give Ben Roethlisberger a new contract, but now the question is for how much, and how long will the new contract be?

Steelers not rushing Roethlisberger extension

By: Jeremy Fowler

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t rushing the contract extension for Ben Roethlisberger.

General manager Kevin Colbert said from the NFL owners meetings that talks with Roethlisberger are “still ongoing.” Roethlisberger turned 37 on March 2 and has one year left on his current contract.

“It’s probably his last contract as an NFL player, so it’s significant. It’s significant for us,” said Colbert about the status of a new deal. “We’re in a different dynamic from a financial standpoint as far as the cap because we don’t have a couple of players with us before. So we have to make sure it all makes sense. It has to make sense for both sides, and we’re comfortable at some point we hope it does.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Pre-Draft visit Tracker – Updated 3/25

Keep tabs on who the Steelers have met with at each stage of the offseason leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, along with almost every other NFL team, are preparing for the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft, and all are doing their diligence interviewing prospects. There are several stages where teams interview prospects, and it can actually start at All-Star games. Teams will take a look at prospects at the Senior Bowl and the Shriner game, but the biggest event is the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.

With All-Star games underway, and the Scouting Combine just around the corner, reports of teams meeting with prospects are raging. We here at BTSC will keep you updated with the prospects who have met with Pittsburgh at every step along the way. The Combine, Pro Days and of course the ever-important Official Pre-Draft Visits.

Check out the latest list below:

Updated 3/25

East/West Shrine Game

Kendall Blanton, TE, Missouri
Justin Hollins, LB, Oregon
Olisaemeka Udoh, OL, Elon University
B.J. Blunt, LB, McNeese State

Senior Bowl Game

Foster Moreau, TE, LSU
Isaiah Buggs, DT/NT, Alabama
John Cominsky, DE, University of Charleston
Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State

NFL Scouting Combine

Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
Alec Ingold, FB, Wisconsin
DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Devin White, ILB, LSU
Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama
Florida, DE, Jachai Polite
Washington, CB, Byron Murphy
LSU, CB, Greedy Williams
Florida, CB, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
Washington, CB, Taylor Rapp
Temple, CB, Rock Ya-Sin
Michigan, LB, Chase Winovich

Pro Days

Steelers scouts on-hand at Ohio State Pro Day
Scouts present at Notre Dame Pro Day
Georgia Pro Day brings in Steelers Scouts
Steelers brass in attendance at WVU Pro Day
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert at LSU Pro Day
Kevin Colbert at Alabama Pro Day
Steelers reps at Temple Pro Day

Official Pre-Draft Visit Rumors

Steelers to hose UMass WR Andy Isabella
Notre Dame WR Miles Boykin set to visit Pittsburgh
Kentucky DB Mike Edwards rumored to visit Steelers pre-draft
Maryland S Darnell Savage reportedly coming to Pittsburgh for pre-draft visist

Official Pre-Draft Visits

Will take place after the Combine

Pre-Draft Visits, By Position

None yet

Steelers March Madness: The Best of the Rest featuring 2010 vs. 1997

Bracketing the best teams in the past 50 years of Pittsburgh Steelers history never to win a title. Who do you consider “Best of the Rest”?

BTSC looks back at the teams that Steeler Nation counts as the best and most memorable in franchise lore that failed to hoist the Lombardi. As we enter into March Madness, BTSC presents a “Not Sweet Enough 16” over the next month to crown the “Best of the Rest”. The last time around the immaculate, No. 4-seeded team from 1972 battled Bill Cowher’s first team, the 1992 Steelers. Here are the final tallies…

1972 – Immaculately Sewing the Seeds of a Dynasty (11-3) – 77%

1992 – Cowher Power is Born (11-5) – 23%

This time around, the fifth-seeded 2010 team (12-4) that slipped on the stairway to seven does battle with the twelth-seeded 1997 team (11-5) that John Elway vanquished for his shot at glory. Be sure to vote for the best or most memorable team (your choice) below in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments section. Check back to BTSC Wednesday for the results.

No. 5 Seed: 2010 (12-4)

Pittsburgh’s dynastic chances took a hit in 2009 after the Super Bowl victory in the 2008 campaign, but 2010 was supposed to be the chance to rectify that. It started off very unlikely in the offseason when Santonio Holmes, who was suspended for the first four weeks of the season because of substance abuse, freaked out on a plane and was subsequently traded to the New York Jets for a fifth rounder. Ben Roethlisberger received a six-game ban (later reduced to four) for an alleged sexual assault in Milledgeville, GA in which he was not charged. 2010 also saw the departures of RB Willie Parker, CB Deshea Townsend and S Tyrone Carter and the return of LB Larry Foote, CB Bryant McFadden and WR Antwaan Randle-El. The team’s biggest performances came courtesy of Ben, Mike Wallace (1,257 receiving yards/10 TDs), Rashard Mendenhall (1,273 rushing yards/13 TDs), James Harrison (NFL Defensive Player of the Year), LaMarr Woodley (10 sacks) and Troy Polamalu (7 INTs). The season began with Dennis Dixon behind center in a victory vs. Atlanta. It was won when Mendenhall galloped 50 yards in OT for a score. The next week saw Charlie Batch take over for Dixon in a win that saw Antonio Brown take the opening kick 89 yards for a score. After a 3-1 start, Ben returned in Week 5 and went 9-3 in the final three quarter of the campaign. The signature win came in Week 13 against the team that they battled neck-and-neck for the division all year, the Baltimore Ravens. No. 7, booted-up with a broken foot, suffered a gruesome nose break in the game. Trailing 10-6 late in the fourth, LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu teamed up with a sack and recovery of Flacco. Roethlisberger found Isaac Redman for a nine-yard score and the win. In the playoffs, they came from behind 14 points vs. Baltimore to win 31-24. In the AFCCG, the Steelers bested Santonio Holmes and the Jets to reach the Super Bowl. In their eighth SB, Ben threw an ugly pick-six and Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson were one step ahead of the secondary and shot the Pack out to an 18-point lead in Q2. But the Steelers mounted a furious comeback and were driving for the lead late in the fourth. However, Rashard Mendenhall fumbled and (after a GB FG) a last minute comeback was suffocated by the Green Bay defense and the Steelers fell in their most-recent SB.

Pro Bowlers: James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu and Maurkice Pouncey

First-Team All Pros: James Harrison and Troy Polamalu

Second-Team All Pros: Maurkice Pouncey

Team MVP: Troy Polamalu

No. 1 Draft Pick: Maurkice Pouncey

Rookie of the Year: Maurkice Pouncey

No. 12 Seed: 1997 (11-5)

1997 saw Kordell Stewart finally seize the starting QB job for the Steelers and many viewed this season an uncertainty due to the loss in Free Agency of LB Chad Brown, CBs Rod Woodson and Deon Figures, WRs Ernie Mills and Andre Hastings and DL Brentson Buckner. This was also the season that the team changed their block-style numbers to the rounded digits to match the ones on the helmets. The team also re-established themselves as a running team with the NFL’s most attempts of the decade (572) and the third-most yards (2,479) of the 90s. Leading the team were Stewart, Jerome Bettis (1,665 yards and 9 TDs total), Yancey Thigpen (1,398 yards and 7 TDs), Levon Kirkland (5 sacks), Carnell Lake (3 INTs and 6 sacks), Darren Perry (4 INTs), Donell Wolford (4 INTs) and Norm Johnson (106 points). The season started off with an ugly 37-7 loss to Dallas at home and by Week 3…the team was 1-2. But they won 10 of 12 with multiple come-from-behind wins, including a deficit of 21 against the Ravens in Week 6. The big wins of the season came against Denver (35-24) in Week 15 and an OT thriller in the snow against New England in Week 16. They would face both those teams at home in the playoffs. The Steelers beat NE 7-6 in the Divisional Round only to see Kordell throw three picks in a 24-21 loss to Denver in the AFCCG. Despite falling short with a Super Bowl ticket on the line, 1997 was a very entertaining year.

Pro Bowlers: Jerome Bettis, Dermontti Dawson, Levon Kirkland, Carnell Lake, Joel Steed and Yancey Thigpen

First-Team All Pros: Dermontti Dawson, Levon Kirkland and Carnell Lake

Second-Team All Pros: Jerome Bettis and Yancey Thigpen

Team MVP: Jerome Bettis

No. 1 Draft Pick: Chad Scott

Rookie of the Year: Chad Scott

AAF Week 7 Review: Shaquille Richardson and Steven Johnson among standout performers for Arizona

We take a look back at the seventh week of action from the Alliance of American Football and check in with some former members of the Black and Gold.

While the Orlando Apollos became the first AAF team to earn a playoff berth this season on Saturday, recording their sixth win of the year with a 36-6 victory over the Atlanta Legends, it was the limited snaps that Johnny Manziel saw at quarterback for the Memphis Express on Sunday night that drew most of the media’s attention.

But the real hero on the day for Memphis under center was Brandon Silvers, finishing the day with 24 completions for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two 2-point conversation in an overtime win at home against the Birmingham Iron.

Week 7 results:

Orlando Apollos 36 @ Atlanta Legends 6

Salt Lake Stallions 15 @ San Antonio Commanders 19

San Diego Fleet 15 @ Arizona Hotshots 32

Birmingham Iron 25 @ Memphis Express 31 (OT)

Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Terrence Garvin was once again one of the standout performers for the playoff bound Apollos, recording five solo tackles and a forced fumble, while tight end Scott Orndoff was held to just one reception in the game.

The Iron lost their third game of the season in heartbreaking fashion to Memphis, and it was a quiet day from many of the former Steelers on Birmingham’s roster. L’Damian Washington was targeted just once all game long, after recording 158 yards from 10 receptions and score two touchdowns the week before, and Casey Sayles would finish the game with only one tackle.

Former Pittsburgh running backs Terrell Watson of the San Diego Fleet and Trey Williams of the San Antonio Commanders had varying levels of success over the weekend. Watson would manage 44 yards from his 10 attempts and also score a touchdown, but Williams would end the game with just 19 yards from his six carries.

Shaquille Richardson and Steven Johnson of the Arizona Hotshots were arguably the most impressive former members of the Black and Gold in Week 7. Richardson lead his team in tackles with eight and also recorded an interception and a forced fumble, while Johnson added seven tackles of his own and also had an interception.

Week 7 Highlights:

Orlando Apollos 36 @ Atlanta Legends 6

Salt Lake Stallions 15 @ San Antonio Commanders 19

San Diego Fleet 15 @ Arizona Hotshots 32

Birmingham Iron 25 @ Memphis Express 31 (OT)

Report: Steelers expected to host Maryland safety Darnell Savage Jr. on pre-draft visit

The Steelers also reportedly met with Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert at his pro day last week.

While there are still several notable school who have yet to host their pro day events this offseason, reports of players the Pittsburgh Steelers intend hosting on pre-draft vists over the coming weeks are already starting to emerge.

As per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Maryland safety Darnell Savage Jr. is the latest prospect the Steelers are rumored to be meeting with this year, a former cornerback with impressive speed who appears on the rise with the mock draft experts as of late.

Projecting as more of a traditional free safety rather than someone who would play closer to the line scrimmage, perhaps the biggest criticism of Savage from the scouting reports is his inconsistent tackling. However, his speed on tape is clear for all to see and his 40-time at the NFL Scouting Combine merely confirmed what many already knew.

As a former corner, his coverage skills are considered to be a notch above many of the other players available at his position in the draft this year, and his production at Maryland would seem to suggest he might be more of a playmaker than many of the other options Pittsburgh currently has on the roster.

At just 5-foot-10 and 198-pounds, some will consider him slight undersized for safety in the NFL, but career stats of 182 tackles, 8 interceptions and 13 pass defended in four years at Maryland are hard to overlook.

With his pro day due to be held on Wednesday March 27, it will be interesting to note who attends on behalf of the Steelers to get a closer look at him.

Expected to be a Day 2 selection who could slip into Round 4, Savage could be an interesting selection for Pittsburgh if he was still available to them towards the end of the third-round.

In our efforts to keep track of all the Steelers pre-draft interests, it would appear we missed a reported encounter between the team and Akron linebacker Ulysees Gilbert at his pro day last Thursday.

As per Zach Hicks of our sister publication Stampede Blue who spoke with the player last week, the young prospect met with a Pittsburgh scout after his pro day event.

According to Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst, Gilbert put up some impressive numbers in front of the scouts and has him projected as late round draft selection.

“Ulysees “Don’t call me Grant” Gilbert, graded as a street free agent entering the season, put on an athletic display during testing.”

“Measuring 6002 and 224 pounds, Grant completed 20 reps on the bench press and touched 39.5 inches in the vertical jump and 10-foot-6 in the broad jump.”

“His ran super fast in the 40, as both of his times were clocked under 4.5 seconds on most watches, including a best of 4.46 seconds. His three-cone came in at 6.94 seconds.”

“Grant, who stood out during three days of Shrine Game practice, looked fast in position drills and spent time with the Baltimore Ravens during the day.”

“I stamped him as a potential seventh-round pick last June during my preview of Akron, and I think that’s where Grant ends up in the draft.”

The pro day schedule for Monday should see the Steelers with representative at Iowa, North Carolina and Texas Tech among others.

Mock Draft Monday: Steelers try to reverse their trend of misses on 1st round CBs

The Steelers haven’t had the best success with drafting cornerbacks in the NFL Draft, and the latest mock draft has them taking another stab at the position in Round 1.

The 2019 NFL Draft is about a month away, and those who produce mock drafts almost on a weekly basis are feverishly typing away trying to give their best estimation as to what will take place in late April when the three day selection process takes place.

For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the biggest debate is what position the team will target in Round 1? Will it be inside linebacker? Will it be wide receiver? The Steelers have options early in the draft, but which player should be their top pick is a debate which turns ugly depending who you are talking to.

For this Mock Draft Monday, a space where we all understand mock drafts are nothing more than guesses, I looked at The Draft Network’s Trevor Sikkema’s latest mock draft to see who he had tabbed as going to the Steelers.

Here is the pick:


Byron Murphy

CB, Washington

Look, I don’t care that the Steelers don’t traditionally take cornerbacks of Murphy’s mold and of his smaller size. The Steelers need good, reliable cornerbacks and Murphy is the best one in the class. Pick him and build around him from there as you add to your secondary over the next few years.

They won’t regret this pick, I promise.

For the record, it should be noted both Devin White and Devin Bush were both off the board before the 11th pick. White went to the Broncos at pick 10, and Bush to the Bengals at pick 11. With those prospects gone, the Steelers snagged themselves a cornerback they hope can break their failed draft pick mold.

If you are like me, you don’t keep tabs on all of these players in college football. There just isn’t enough time in the day to watch all these prospects. While many will know plenty about Murphy as a prospect, others just want to know the basics. Here is a draft breakdown via The Draft Network:


BEST TRAIT – Zone Cover Skills

WORST TRAIT – Run Support

BEST FILM – Utah (2018)

WORST FILM – Auburn (2018)


Byron Murphy is an elite prospect who can plug into just about any system at play at a high level. Murphy has surreal mobility and polish for a younger prospect. His explosiveness, ball skills and route recognition skills make him a great fit to play in both shallow and short zones. Murphy would have little issue stepping up and filling on the boundary or contesting shallow throws in front of his face. Murphy has the upside to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL by the end of year 3.

What do you think of the pick? Would you be okay with Murphy being the Steelers’ top pick? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

The Steelers’ wide receiving corps will be just fine because of Ben Roethlisberger

Life without Antonio Brown might take some getting used to, but the Steelers WR corps will be just fine.

The loss of Antonio Brown has many in the football world, from sports networks to fantasy experts, predicting the decline of the Steelers’ passing attack as they believe the receiving corps to be a potential problem. Certainly, they all believe it to have been greatly diminished.

Since this seems to be National Dump on Ben Roethlisberger Week – or is it month? – courtesy of the national media and a few (thankfully) ex-Steelers, let me tell you the following:

The Steelers need not panic. The receiving corps will be just fine because of the man of the moment — Roethlisberger.

Yes, there is a former third-string running back who is griping about Ben. Seriously, who remembers this guy? And, yes, two fantasy football stars (the only time Antonio Brown was EVER worth a number one draft pick) have tried their best to destroy Big Ben’s rep.

But, I remember how dramatically the Steelers changed when they finally found a replacement for the Blonde Bomber, and I recall the incompetence at the QB position the Steelers endured for a few decades. In fact, as soon as Tommy Maddox got pummeled to the turf, Ben Roethlisberger gave the Steelers hope and fixed the team with the ease of Fonzie fixing the jukebox with the tap of his fist.

As soon as he was inserted as the starter, the Steelers improved and went right to the AFC championship game. Finally, there was a QB that made the “8-in-a-box defenses” stacked against the Steelers’ seemingly always powerful running games pay for that strategy. They had to respect his arm and accuracy. The team’s offense opened up and has been competitive ever since, winning multiple Super Bowls.

Great quarterbacks do that. Not because he was throwing to Hines Ward or Plaxico Burress. Tommy Maddox threw to those guys, too.

But, there is panic now, and you need only listen to sports radio and read any sports websites to find it. There is mass worry and predictions of the team’s demise due to the loss of Antonio Brown. Even the wise guys with bent noses setting lines in Las Vegas appear to be jumping ship.

Cleveland Browns or bust, they say.


First, the running back situation was already righted last season, with James Conner and Jaylen Samuels forming a nice young duo. Would you really trade those two for Le’Veon Bell now if you could?

Not me.

And, with the offensive line signed and sealed, the continuity in that elite outfit will be the bedrock that steadies the ship of the entire offense. Losing Mike Munchak wasn’t good, but this is a seasoned unit that has dominated for some time.

So, what about the wide receiver situation? Surely the Steelers are in trouble, right?

The Steelers have been down the road of losing top receivers before. When Mike Wallace signed with Miami — hitting the jackpot as the biggest offensive NFL signing in free agency that year — this was supposed to be a big blow. Oh, the complaints that were heard bemoaning the loss of such an up-and-coming deep threat. All pundits and media spin said this was a huge loss to the Steelers, and all in-the-know believed that the Dolphins were landing a stud.

You probably forget, but Mike Wallace was a big deal back then. Antonio Brown, sitting on the Steelers’ roster at the time, was not.

I remember telling people not to worry. They were going to give Brown a nice contract and replace Wallace. I also clearly remember that I was pretty alone in thinking the loss of Wallace would not be substantial. The national “experts” did not mention the loss of Mike Wallace and replacing him with Antonio Brown as any type of a positive.

Wallace was the real deal, and the signing of Brown was met with yawns or silence.

I didn’t believe that the Steelers were going to be fine because Antonio Brown was better (it turns out he was) than Mike Wallace. I said it because I knew the Steelers had Big Ben throwing to Antonio Brown.

The Steelers would be fine because it was the QB that matters the most – not the wide receivers.

That’s how it is with the great ones. Brady, Brees, Manning, Marino, Rodgers, etc. Great ones make wide receivers look better. All of them had interchangeable wide receiver parts throughout their careers. Sure, some receivers are better than others, but did the Patriots go away after losing Randy Moss?

Unfortunately, no, and it was because of Tom Brady.

Just look at the Super Bowl when Santonio Holmes undeservedly won the MVP. It should have been Big Ben as MVP. It was Ben running around like a chicken-with-his- head-cut-off (thanks, Grandma, for that saying) waiting for Holmes to come open on the game winning drive that was the difference.

Yes, Holmes got open, but Ben bought him time and then threw strikes. Ben’s game winning throw was every bit as impressive as Holmes’s catch. It was pin-point under enormous pressure. Super Bowl winning pressure. But, Roethlisberger did not win the MVP because he is perennially underappreciated.

Holmes was soon dumped for personal reasons to the Jets – and he soon flamed out with no Big Ben throwing the ball to him.

Before Mike Wallace, Big Ben made Nate Washington big money in free agency by hitting him on deep passes. He was Mike Wallace before Mike Wallace – a one-trick, deep threat pony. The Tennessee Titans signed him to a nice contract based on that, and he was never anything more than average with them.

Again, because it was Big Ben, not Nate Washington, that mattered.

So, as the media and fans again become hysterical in losing a generationally great wide receiver to his shenanigans, I’m not worried. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brown suddenly looks mortal without Big Ben squeezing balls into triple coverage to him. Larry Fitzgerald knows a thing or two about the importance of a QB, and he suggested that Brown may regret his choice.

The Steelers still have Ben Roethlisberger, and the wide receiver cabinet is far from bare.

Ju Ju Smith-Schuster has already broken out and is the team MVP. He is setting team and NFL records in his own regard and looks every bit a star.

Enough said.

When James Washington was picked in the second round last year, it seemed a bit of a luxury pick that high. Or, maybe the Steelers telepathically knew Brown would start growing a yellow mustache and throwing furniture from his windows, and planned ahead. Whatever the case, it turned out fortunate because first year wide receivers normally don’t break good; they need time to learn the nuances. In his second year, the talented wide out will be more prepared to be the target of “star maker” Big Ben.

I hear he was “inconsistent.” So? That is what rookies are, especially ones that were not being counted on heavily in the receiver rotation.

Sometimes I wonder if the drafting of James Washington helped Mr. Big Chest (isn’t that almost like saying Mr. Big Ego?) lose his head a bit. With young Ju Ju already ascended to stardom, and the Steelers investing a high second round pick on Washington – maybe, just maybe, Antonio Brown began to see the writing of his future on the wall. Was he being phased out in the next year or two?

With his ego, he surely could have thought so.

Anyway, I like the talent of Washington, and I also like the signing of Donte Moncrief. This is a supremely gifted athlete who tested out of this world and performed in college (his Player Profiler comp is Andre Johnson! Really!). He has also had success in the NFL and he’s only 25.

Last season, he was stuck in Muddsville with the QB-less Jacksonville Jaguars. Before that, he had to endure an Indianapolis team without star Andrew Luck.

That’s not lucky at all.

But, I do believe his luck is changing because now he has an extremely motivated Ben Roethlisberger throwing to him. And, if you know anything about Big Ben, he uses motivation – like being passed over for Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers – quite nicely. You think he wants to fail sans Brown? I’d guess he’s itching to go to camp to prove he can survive without him.

So, fans should not worry. The team will most likely draft a receiver or two in what is being hailed as an extremely deep and impressive wide receiver draft, plus they have a few other nice targets in Vance MacDonald and Jaylen Samuels. Ryan Switzer also has the look of a nifty slot receiver. To top it off, James Conner proved he has catching chops, too.

All is well because the Steelers will have Ben Roethlisberger hitting those targets.

Even if none of those targets have yellow mustaches.