The NFL Draft is one of, if not the most important three-day stretch of the entire NFL calendar year. And this year, the Ohio Bobcats are prepared to have the most successful draft for the program in 45 years.
Tarell Basham and Blair Brown, a former defensive end and linebacker, are locks to be drafted in next week’s draft. If both get drafted, it will be the first time since 1972 that two Bobcats were drafted in the same year. No Bobcat has ever been drafted higher than 47th overall in the modern era.
For the first episode of our podcast, I sat down with Tony Wolfe, a Senior Writer for The Post who previously covered the Ohio football team. I currently cover the team, and did last season as well. Tony and I talked about what we’ve been hearing and reading from the national media about the two Bobcats headed to the NFL. In addition, we added what we’ve seen over the years from the two and what we’ve been hearing from agents and coaches. Don’t leave at halftime for this one…
As a Pittsburgh girl, I’ve had the terrible towel waved in my face and a jersey on my back since i can remember. But who are the two that made the biggest impressions for my many years of fan-girling? Easily Big Ben and AB. Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, and Antonio Brown, wide receiver. Their chemistry on the field is something a girl who knows only the basics of football can recognize immediately.
Mike & Mike
"He's non-stop. He's like the energizer bunny. His work ethic is remarkable."
Mike & Mike, an ESPN radio show, is one of many outlets that has taken an interest in Ben and Antonio. They broadcast all things sports several times a day, so when they chose the topic of Roethlisberger’s relationship with Brown, the quarterback had nothing but positive things to say about his partner.
A post shared by Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) on
The verified Instagram of the steelers doesn’t care if it’s football season or not – they continue to show the bond of their star teammates year round. Using their hashtag as a clue, its reasonable to believe the wide receiver and quarterback embraced after what was probably another scoring pass from Roethlisberger to Brown.
The star wide receiver stays up to date with the latest trends on Twitter. On National Best Friend Day, he posted a collage of photos with his buddy Ben. The two are undeniably the best duo in the NFL and show their constant support for each other whenever the chance is given. Brown’s “Best Friend Day” tweet was something that a Steelers girl like me thrives off of.
The Dynamic Duo of Steel City is a newsletter by Emily Finton containing links to the social media accounts that refer, or are of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. These references are used to show the relationship between the players on and off the field.
The 2016 season was one filled with many ups and downs for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team started 4-1 and seemed to be firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, but went almost a full calendar month without a win, going 0-4 in its next four contests. The Steelers, however, hit their stride in late November. The team rattled off seven straight wins to close out the regular season.
The Steelers, thanks to a Christmas miracle in Antonio Brown’s now-dubbed the “Immaculate Extension”, would win the AFC North for the seventh time since division realignment (the fifth time in the Mike Tomlin era) and would finish with the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
After dispatching both the Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card round and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional round, the Steelers traveled to Foxboro for a meeting with the New England Patriots. The Steelers were handled relatively easily, as they lost 36-17, one game shy of their ninth Super Bowl appearance.
A number of storylines unfolded throughout the 2016 season, both on and off the field. All in all, it added up to the Steelers falling short of being able to compete for a league-record seventh Lombardi trophy.
As Super Bowl week is upon us, the offseason and NFL combine and draft loom ahead. Here’s a guide to the five keys for the Steelers in order to contend for their seventh ring:
#1 — Resign Le’Veon Bell … and hope he can stay on the field.
Le’Veon Bell would, without a doubt, be considered the best all-around running back in the league if it weren’t for a litany of injuries and multiple suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Bell has yet to play a full, 16 game NFL season in his four year career.
That being said, Le’Veon Bell is a hell of a football player and adds a dynamic element to an already explosive Pittsburgh offense. The Steelers 2016 MVP rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns. Bell is no one trick pony, however, as he has shown the capability to be an elite pass-catcher, both out of the backfield and spread out wide. Bell caught 75 passes for 616 yards and two scored in 2016.
The Steelers, a team which historically is faced with salary cap room issues, is expected to use their franchise tag on Bell this offseason. This essentially buys Pittsburgh another year to figure out what to do with the 24 year old halfback. If Bell can stay healthy and out of trouble with the league, expect the Steelers to sign him to a long term deal next offseason. Frankly, GM Kevin Colbert and the Rooney family ought to pay Bell whatever he wants. He’s earned it. Provided he’s available for most, if not all, of the 16 game schedule next year, look for Le’Veon Bell to be wearing black and gold for a long time.
#2 — The defense needs to continue improving
Year two with Keith Butler coordinating the Steelers’ young but talented defense was a large success and those in Pittsburgh are high on the future of the most current version of the Steel Curtain.
The biggest difference between the 2015 and 2016 seasons on defense was the improved play in the secondary. Colbert drafted cornerback Artie Burns out of Miami and safety Sean Davis of Maryland to help sure up a secondary that ranked 30 in total pass defense a year ago. Some perspective: the Steelers ranking at the end of the 2016 season? 16th. Look for third year cornerback Senquez Golson to make an impact next season as he returns from injured reserve.
Linebacker play has seen the explosion of fourth-year middle linebacker Ryan Shazier onto the scene. Shazier, who beat out everyone else on the team in sprints in the preseason, had a total of 87 combined tackles and three picks in 2016. Shazier is quickly becoming a leader on the Steelers’ defense and will be, without a doubt, an anchor around which the Steelers will build their defense.
The biggest question on the Steelers defense is the pass rush and current lack thereof. Look for Colbert to target a speedy linebacker who can impose his will on the quarterback. More on this later in point #5.
With Cameron Heyward returning from injury and James Harrison returning for a 14th NFL season, the Steelers defense has quickly turned itself around in just one season.
#3 — The receiving corps … Who else is going to step up?
This was a question the Steelers found themselves asking quite a bit this past season. With Martavis Bryant suspended for the entire season after multiple violations of the league’s drug policy and a few key injuries early in the season, Pittsburgh found itself without much in the way of receivers other than All-Pro Antonio Brown.
Injuries to Sammie Coates, Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey devastated an already shallow receiving corps. With Bryant returning next season, the Steelers are already in good shape. However, losing all of these key personnel may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Injuries paved the way for second-year receiver Eli Rogers to come off of the practice squad and jump right into the Steelers’ No. 2 receiver role. Make no mistake about it: Eli Rogers will be Pittsburgh’s X-factor next season.
With teams consistently double and triple teaming Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant elite speed and ability to stretch the field vertically, Rogers’ presence in the slot will be key. Rogers showed flashes of excellence this season. Expect him to keep it up to create a lethal offense which will wreck havoc on opposing defenses. Teams just do not have enough playmakers to be able to stop all of Pittsburgh’s elite offensive threats.
#4 — Sure up the special teams play
One word sums up Pittsburgh’s special teams play as of recent years: bad.
In 2015 the Steelers had all sorts of trouble on special teams, mainly the field goal kicking unit. A preseason injury to placekicker Shaun Suisham started a “kicker carousel” which ended up costing the team a few wins on missed field goals, before the team signed Chris Boswell who has been nothing short of impressive in his brief stint with the team. His six field goals in the Divisional playoff game against the Chiefs accounted for all of the team’s scoring and set a franchise and postseason record for most field goals in a single game.
The biggest problem the Steelers faced on special teams this season was kickoffs. The team drafted Demarcus Ayers in the seventh round of the draft with the goals of having him be the kick return guy, a role he excelled at the University of Houston. For whatever reason, Pittsburgh opted to have Sammie Coates, Fitzgerald Touissant and Justin Gilbert return kicks this year. Opposing teams would often kick the ball just short of the endzone so the Steelers returners would be forced to run it back. They barely ever made it back to the 25 yard line (the new starting line for kickoffs). Teams exploited the Steelers inability to return kicks, and it often cost Pittsburgh valuable yards in field position. I expect Ayers to make the kick return team next season, where he can use his speed to get the edge around defenders and start drives for the offense past the 25.
#5 — Draft wisely
Given Kevin Colbert’s incredible ability to scout and draft all-star caliber players consistently (Bell, Brown, Ben, Shazier, Burns, Sean Davis, etc.), this is the point Steelers fans should feel most comfortable on. The franchise is in good hands as long as Colbert, the Rooney family and Mike Tomlin continue to make smart draft selections.
The Steelers No. 1 priority in this draft should be an edge rusher. With James Harrison turning 39 in March, and his backup, Jarvis Jones likely not returning to the team next season, the Steelers are thin at outside linebacker.
Every year there is talk about whether or not Pittsburgh should draft a replacement quarterback for Ben Roethlisberger when he inevitably retires. Despite Big Ben recently saying that his career with the Steelers is “up in the air”, this draft is shallow on elite quarterbacks. I don’t expect the Steelers to draft a QB this year. It’s more likely they sign current backup and soon to be restricted free agent Landry Jones to a short-term contract to back up Roethlisberger until an adequate long-term replacement is found.
Baseball might be America’s pastime, but football has become its favorite sport in recent years. The reason for the sport’s ascension through the ranks of America’s culture is usually attributed to the unique gladiator-esque action. Although sometimes, as we saw this past weekend, football can provide us with some real stinkers just like every other sport.
The weekend of ugly football began in our own backyard with Athens High School. The Bulldogs took on Vinton County and the outcome was apparent quickly. Athens scored the first three touchdowns of the game, and it never got much better from there. The 63-14 final was mercifully expedited by a running clock in the second half. It can be fun to watch a great team hit its stride, but when the sides are as mismatched as they were Friday night, the line between impressive and ugly gets thinner the longer the game goes on.
LSU has fired Les Miles as football coach. (via Mark Schlabach & first reported by Baton Rouge Advocate) pic.twitter.com/zVceqoUUzV
Fans who watched LSU play Auburn Saturday night may have wondered if they were watching the right kind of football. Eight field goals were kicked in the game, including the six that made up the entirety of Auburn’s 18 points. There were no “act like you’ve been there before” type comments in this game because, well, these teams didn’t get “there.” This game was so ugly that the losing coach got fired the next day, and the most exciting part of the game was the play that didn’t count.
5 punts in 7 minutes in Ravens-Jaguars game. Awesome
This was the classic “neither team wants to win this one” game. The Ravens and Jaguars combined for 5 interceptions, two fumbles, a blocked kick, and three touchdowns as opposed to five field goals (and one missed field goal). Someone had to win this game, but the 3-0 Ravens didn’t look too superior to the 0-3 Jaguars.
REPORT: Despite 30-24 score, the NFL has awarded the Dolphins a loss for needing Overtime to beat the Browns at home
While this game also had a hint of “neither team wants to win this one” it was ugly for all sorts of other reasons. For one, the Browns were playing. The same Browns that inspired someone at Bleacher Report to write an article legitimately asking if they were the least talented team of all time. If that wasn’t enough, the Browns started their third-string quarterback and were missing their two best wide receivers due to suspension and injury. The worst part is, the game was still close. The Dolphins couldn’t even beat down a depleted version of one of the most depleted teams in NFL history. Oh, and the only reason they won was because the Browns new kicker shanked three field goals, including one that would have won the game as time expired in regulation.
Steelers aren't this bad, but this kind of loses raises a few questions about what's supposed to be a trendy SB pick https://t.co/aVNvuylzX9
This one is a little more personal for me. Yes, the score was lopsided. Yes, the Steelers scored three points. But it was my connection to them that hurt the most. Growing up in LA without an NFL team and a father from Pittsburgh, I adopted the Steelers as my favorite team. This year’s iteration of the team is supposed to be one of the best versions in quite some time. The defense looked improved during the first two weeks of the season and the Steelers looked like a Super Bowl contender. I don’t want to overreact, but the lack of tackling ability in the secondary and the concept of a head-scratching loss to a less talented team brought my infinite optimism back down to earth. This team is super talented but still falls back into the same mistakes that can make them so frustrating to watch sometimes.
As an upperclassman living off-campus who can’t afford over-priced cable packages, my boyfriend and I found ourselves at Buffalo Wild Wings on Union St. watching game three of the MLB World Series. Not to mention, beer and wings are always welcome while enjoying America’s favorite pastime. Now as the NFL season is in full-swing and basketball season approaches, students everywhere are getting creative when it comes to finding ways to watch their favorite teams.
Online streaming has become a very popular way for students and people everywhere to access professional sporting events. For students whose ride-or-die teams are out of the homestretch of Athens, OH, streaming services especially come in handy. Depending on the service students choose to use, some even have the option to stream on their smartphones at any location.
” I watch (the game) on my phone and scare my roommates,” said passionate Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Kelsie Malloy.
DirecTV has created a promotion package that makes it easier for college students away from home to watch their home teams play. This promotion is called NFLSundayTicket.TV U and offers a discounted subscription for students to watch a full season of games via any streaming device of their choosing. The subscription requires students to be attending a four-year university and confirms student enrollment by finding potential subscribers under student record. So, there’s no way anyone can pose for a student discount.
Although streaming is convenient, most quality services cost a fee of some sort. That doesn’t stop some students from finding the game.
“I download live stream links along with multiple computer viruses,” said Allyson Clifton, Ohio University junior and Cincinnati Bengals fan.
So it’s important to be careful when trying to (illegally) stream a game online.
The off-campus residents who actually pay for cable are few and far between. However, those who do have it for the main purpose of watching sports. These passionate fans bite the bullet of pricy cable packages out of love for their teams, although they’re still not happy about the bill that arrives in the mail box.
“I do watch them at home,” said Cleveland Browns fan Ben Rottersman, “the fact that I have to bundle to get what I want is outrageous.”
Some students say that a football game isn’t complete without a bar full of fellow fans surrounding them. Others disagree and think that groups of drunk football fans are too extreme and overwhelming.
Although Rottersman watches most football games in the comfort of his living room sofa, he still joins other Browns fans at Cat’s Eye Saloon on Court St. every Sunday. “It’s an official Browns backer bar, part of the Browns organization,” he said.
Even though she’s also a Browns fan, Allison Danielle said the bars are always too crowded. “I watch ESPN on my computer,” she said.
Most people who do go Uptown to watch football, find a bar and stick to it. Many of the bars are known for being representative of a certain NFL team. So when game day nears, be sure not to stumble into the wrong bar with the wrong name and number on your back.
If you’ve ever watched football at a sports bar, you’ve probably encountered rowdy fans that are way too into the game. If you’re with these people, you’re embarrassed. If you’re not, you’re frightened. When you’re sitting at the bar, sipping your beer while you casually watch the game, and some jersey-clad lunatic erupts into a frenzy after a sack or fumble, you can’t help but wonder what is going on inside their head. Why is this person so invested in this game?
The answer to this question is simple: fantasy football.
Fantasy football is deserving of its name. It gives regular Joes everywhere something to cling to and live out their post-high school football fantasies. This kind of delusional make-believe can be intoxicating, even dangerous. Especially when you add money to the equation.
Some fantasy leagues are among friends where no money is at stake, only bragging rights. Some leagues however, can have big buy-ins where the pot can exceed hundreds of dollars. When you consider the financial aspect, you can understand why some people are so prone to outbursts while watching football.
I witnessed them firsthand when I was uptown Sunday night.
It was late in the third quarter of the Steelers-Rams game. I was sitting at the bar when it happened. Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass, but the Rams defense brought pressure. Ben went down, sacked. Groans erupted around the bar because of the sack, but when Ben didn’t get up right away, that’s when it hit the fan.
As Roethlisberger was helped off the field, I could hear one patron in close proximity begin a meltdown. I approached him cautiously.
“That’s my f—-ng quarterback, man! That’s my f—-ng season right there! I’m f—ed, man,” the fan lamented, referring to the detrimental impact Roethlisberger’s injury would have on his fantasy season.
This triggered a flashback to a similar scenario a few weeks ago. I was at Buffalo Wild Wings when Tony Romo broke his clavicle just a week after Dez Bryant’s season came into question with a foot injury. This precipitated much of the same from unlucky fantasy players who thought they hit the jackpot at their draft when they secured either one or both of these star players for their teams.
If you’re just a casual football fan, I strongly advise caution when interacting with these crazies. Give them a wide berth if you aren’t prepared to risk life and limb when one of their players catches a concussion, a broken bone, or an MCL sprain.
If you’re a fantasy fanatic, I encourage you to rethink your life and consider making some changes for the sake of your sanity and overall health.