“They’re calling for the cart!”
Roethlisberger Has Right Arm Amputated Below the Elbow: Pronounces Himself Ready for 2012 Season.
Ben Roethlisberger, the (insert adjective for gritty here) quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, confessed to this reporter that despite the fact that he recently had his right arm amputated just below the elbow, he doesn’t plan on missing a snap this season.
“I’m good. It’s a little sore”, Roethlisberger said when pressed about his missing limb. “It got amputated below the elbow and that doesn’t heal. We just hope they don’t have to go all the way and take the whole damn arm off”, the Easter Island sized headed quarterback said, laughing.
“It’s all just part of getting older, too. If you watch walk-throughs, I used to throw all the time. Now that I don’t have a right arm, I don’t throw during the walk-through. It’s just less throwing. I think it’s smarter. Part of it is getting older. Also part of it is not having a right arm”, the Miami of Ohio grad opined.
“The thing I’m most concerned about is Von Miller and the Broncos defense in week one”, Roethlisberger said as several nearby moons got sucked into the gravitational pull emitted from his forehead, orbiting around him in stasis and nearly killing this reporter during a brief five minute Q & A session with the Steelers QB. “Well, the Broncos defense and the phantom itch of a dead and removed limb. It tingles like an sonofabitch”, he said with a wink.
The Steelers open the season September 9th in Mile High Stadium against the Denver Broncos. At press time there was no further word as to whether Roethlisberger would consider any other future elective limb removals before opening day, although he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility.
“Maybe my mobility would be improved if I pull the trigger and undergo a full below the knee amputation on my right leg? Who knows? Maybe I’ll replace it with one of those cutting edge polymers that NASA has developed to make sure the Space Shuttle doesn’t explode on re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere. Maybe I’ll just strap a midget to the stump—say someone like Peter Dinklage—and use him as a prosthetic. Anything that can help me avoid Ray Lewis on a delayed blitz, I’m all for”, the QB said, seemingly serious.
Mr. Dinklage, the famed character actor currently on location in New Zealand shooting the hit HBO nerdist nocturnal emission “Game of Thrones”, had no comment beyond saying that “it would be a thrill to replace the right tibia of the toughest SOB under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers since Bubby Brister was spreading his vertebrae like pixie dust all over the 20 yard line of the Houston Astrodome in 1989.”
This is just a partial list of the incomparable group of rocket armed future Hall of Fame quarterbacks (FULL DISCLOSURE: Most of this is not even remotely true) who have completed passes to the greatest converted option QB/Dancing With The Stars Grand Champion/Wide Receiver with 1,000 career receptions who’s missing an ACL due to a childhood bicycling accident, ever born in Seoul, South Korea.
Yep, you guessed it. This is my tribute to Hines Ward.
Hines Ward has finally reached that stage of every athletes career where the end of each season and the coming approach of every new one will feature a portly sportswriter in a boys husky sweater vest spinning multiple variations on the same slightly rhetorical question:
“Will this be Hines Ward’s last year?”
Well will it?
Should it be?
Or is the answer something greater and perhaps indefinable?
Let’s start with the empirical truth, facts so clear and easy to comprehend that even your lowest common denominator of intellectual prowess (i.e. residents of the District of Columbia and Maryland who claim allegiance to the Baltimore Ravens) can understand.
Hines Ward is the greatest wide receiver in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. You may want to read that sentence twice, because it’s important. When the roll of names is called of the greatest Steelers to ever catch a pass, long after such icons of the “Nine” route as Jefferson and Thigpen and Lipps and the immortal Misters Swann and Stallworth are read off, there will be one last name, and one final number, on that list:
Hines E. Ward, Jr, #86.
When Ward was drafted with the 92nd pick of the 1998 draft he was the exact opposite of a sure thing. Undersized and undervalued, he seemed more likely relegated to the three year career arc of the special teams ace, a gunner with unfathomable amounts of heart and drive and, perhaps, under the best of all possible scenarios, a number five receiver, someone on the hook for twenty catches a season, maybe two or three red zone touches late in mop up time during December routs in cities that rhyme with Buffalo.
No one ever mentioned this most likely of all possible scenarios to Hines Ward, however. Because homeboy most definitely had other, more grandiose plans.
His rookie numbers were nothing special, 15 catches, 246 yards, zero TDs. Four years and an infinite number of hard work later he had his first thousand-yard season. And he never looked back, somehow leveraging his limited physical gifts into a thousand catch, 12,000 yard career bookended by two Super Bowl rings, one Super Bowl MVP, 4 Pro Bowls, ownership of every Steelers receiving record worth mentioning in a pithy blog, as well as leaving Keith Rivers sprawled out on the 38 eight yard line of Paul Brown Stadium ensuring that he spends the next eight weeks of his life sipping his proteins through a straw. Long after he’s thrown his last delightfully nasty crackback block on an unsuspecting DB and Hines Ward is lounging around the house in his mustard colored/Century 21 agent Hall of Fame sports coat, he will still be remembered.
Every time a receiver blocks downfield with a particularly brutal enthusiasm, he will be remembered.
Every time a hack sports announcer cries out in joy, “He’s not a wide receiver, he’s a football player!” he will be remembered.
Every time the JumboTron at Heinz Field and every other future stadium that will ever house the Pittsburgh Steelers shows Hines Ward galloping over the goal line in Super Bowl XL, he will be remembered.
You will see an entire army of undersized Korean wide receivers with a tattoo of Mighty Mouse in the Heisman pose on their biceps crossing into the end zone riding sidesaddle on the backs of winged unicorns before you ever see another Hines Ward. So instead of asking yourself if this is his last year or if keeping him on the roster is worth the cap hit, just remember that when you watch Hines Ward perform you are seeing something you have never seen before and will never see again. Instead of wondering what WR the Steelers will draft next April or which member of the Young Money crew’s jersey you will buy to replace your old #86, focus on remembering where you were when you saw him play. Because when he fades away into the oblivion of pregame appearances and being the honorary captain at coin tosses and opening up Hines Ward Chevrolet dealerships in Sewickley, trust me, you’ll wish you’d paid more attention.
Every time a Steeler wearing a number between 10-19, between 80-89 drops a pass or misses a block, you’ll wish that for just one more time, for just one more play, you could see Hines Ward line up to the left, sprinting off the line of scrimmage with the fervor a man with something to prove to the world, and instead of seeing him catch a perfect spiral by using his hands to cradle the pigskin into his body, he doubles back and turns Keith Rivers jawbone into pieces of rubble as fine as parking lot gravel, once more, for old times sake.
And in ten seconds it was gone.
For a minute I pretended that the TiVo remote was a time machine and that, perhaps through some mysterious algorithm a wormhole could be ripped wide open in the fabric of the universe, and with a simple press of my index finger I could rewind time and bend it to my will.
Maybe in this alternate reality Shaun Suisham drills a 45-yard field goal as regulation expires, the clock reading 00:00 as the ball tumbles lifelessly through the uprights, CBS television cameras focused en masse on the deflated face of Holy Roller Tebow in glorious 1080 HD as he engages in a very testy rhetorical confab with God’s Other Son.
Perhaps, if I go back just a scant few seconds far enough, Ryan Mundy will be playing the deep middle on That Play, the one that will haunt my dreams in super slo-mo ten years from now. In this version of revisionist history, #29 will come flying across the middle of the field, a fixed bayonet of black & gold, and he will have the angle on Demaryius Thomas, holding him to an ultimately forgivable 15-yard gain.
Despite my drinking all of the rum currently available in the tri-state area and wishing it were so, TiVo apparently does not hold any sway over the space/time continuum.
Damn you, TiVo. And I thought we were friends.
Denver 29, Steelers 23.
Another season ended abrupt. And now I feel like the world’s greatest pumpkin salesman on October 32nd.
This, of course, is the way that all seasons end. Fans of thirty-one teams hurl expletives down from the cheap seats, reigning obscenities at the television until their voices grow hoarse, and winter turns into pitchers and catchers reporting in Sarasota, Winter Haven, Port St. Lucie. Only one team gets to rejoice. Only one fan base gets to build a bandwagon sturdy enough to hold all those who will come pouring out of the woodwork to celebrate the long, slow climb up the mountaintop that lasts for eternity and is commemorated with a Sports Illustrated special edition DVD and increased season ticket prices. And the rest of us, well, we just find another way to occupy the sad transmission of days from that first weekend in February until training camp opens in July and we can feel whole once again.
In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote her masterpiece, a treatise entitled “On Death and Dying”, a scholarly attempt to explain how the terminally ill and their loved ones prepare for, and cope with, a catastrophic loss. In this masterwork of modern psychoanalysis, Kubler-Ross breaks down the mourning process into five commonly shared stages. Without getting too graphic, let’s just say that I sped through all five of them in the time it takes for Casey Hampton to consume his weight in sippable side-by-sides at Steak n’ Shake.
Let’s start at the beginning:
Step One: Denial.
Okay, the game’s not really over now, is it? I mean, with all of these new, convoluted overtime rules who can really be sure? Certainly Ron Winter didn’t appear to have a firm grasp of the new OT rules as he nervously fumbled through them at midfield. He looked as if he were reading a hostage note from a heavily fortified bunker in an al-Qaeda complex just outside of downtown Damascus rather than giving a deft explanation of a rule change. Besides, isn’t it part of the new rules that the game isn’t officially in the books until the Steelers win? I could have sworn I read that somewhere. Right? Right?? Oh god, who needs a cocktail. MOVING ON.
Step Two: Anger.
Oh sweet, sweet anger. How I have missed your cool embrace so much. Now this part comes easy. It’s a chain reaction of events and people that are inter-related only in the crazy recesses of my mind. Ryan Mundy was out of position which means he was put there by Dick LeBeau who was hired by Cowher who cost us god who knows how many Super Bowls by playing Kordell Stewart who claimed he was going to the Hall of Fame by throwing hundreds of touchdown passes to Yancey Thigpen who ran the wrong route against Dallas in the Super Bowl in the godforsaken Arizona desert leading to a game ending interception thrown off the arm of Neil O’Donnell and…NEIL EFFING O’DONNELL??!! The Venn diagram of every bad Steeler memory I ever had or will ever have will always intersect with Neil O’Donnell. And now I’m officially angry. (Pause for effect while I scream four letter words in my living room both confusing and enthralling my neighbors.)
Step Three: Bargaining.
This is always the easiest part. There has yet to be played a meaningful game where the Steelers fell behind in the second half where I haven’t promised god that I wouldn’t trade five years off the end of my life in return for a victory (IMPORTANT NOTE TO GOD: By this I only mean the last, final, dementia ridden five years of my life. Those slow last five where I’m shitting in the linen closet, vomiting up diabetes and slow dancing with the vacuum cleaner, trading war stories with the China Hutch—which invariably ends in a shoving match with me accusing the dinette of being “inscrutable” and calling 75 lbs of stained oak “Charlie”.)
Step Four: Depression.
Right about the same time that Ike Taylor spontaneously combusted at INVESCO Field, a massive, soul-disheveling depression had begun to set in. Faced with seven months without Steeler football (as well as the very real possibility of a Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl parade—during which syphilis will be tossed instead of confetti), I began suffering from a malaise so dark that I felt as if my symptoms and side effects should be described by the faintly familiar voice of character actor Kevin Bacon in an overly detailed TV commercial voiceover:
Are you depressed?
Wondering why Big Ben wore a fedora to his post game press conference?
Unsure why Coach Tomlin keeps sprouting platitudes like, “The standard is the standard?”
Openly weeping at the thought of Ray Lewis hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and exclaiming, “I’m going to Disneyland”?
Have trouble getting out of bed in the morning?
Wonder why Coach LeBeau called a Cover Zero on the final play of the season?
If you suffer from any (or all of these symptoms), you may be clinically depressed, suicidal beyond all reach of modern psychiatry, a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, or perhaps you just live in Cleveland, Ohio.
STEP FIVE: Acceptance.
Ah, acceptance. Always a fashionably late guest to any party that I throw. In my case, acceptance seldom comes and when it does, it is always chased by a shot of a bitter tasting memory (i.e. Dewayne Washington running into Joe Nedney). We lost, okay, it’s time to move on. But if only Ben hadn’t rolled his ankle and Ryan Clark had not lost the genetic lottery to the sickle cell and Fumble Machine Mendenhall didn’t put the ball on the carpet in the Super Bowl and Kordell Stewart unilaterally decided to throw the ball exclusively to people in New England Patriots jerseys and…
The bottom line is the only people who will ever accept losing these sort of heartbreaking, vasectomies minus a localized anesthetic of football games are fools, idiots, non-fans, or as they are more commonly known, tax-paying residents of Cleveland, Ohio.
See you next year, Stiller Fans.
“I feel as if Tim Tebow just spent the past three hours speed bagging my ball sac.”
Ranking the Severity of the Pittsburgh Steelers Injury Report by Comparing them to Professional Wrestling Tag Teams of The 1980s (Admittedly this is a Non-Scientific Analysis)
Cortez Allen, DB, Out (Shoulder): Allen is a highly productive special teams ace, but is fairly nondescript, and hardly what you would consider a difference maker, so therefore his being ruled out is sad yet ultimately forgettable. Much like the storied career of former NWA tag team legends, The Midnight Express. (Although their manager did pioneer the use of a tennis racket as a fashion accessory.)
James Harrison, OLB, Probable (Toe): Silverback is a Sexual Robot, sent to this earth from several thousands years in the future, with his only prime directive being to concuss offensive skill players (primarily dudes from Texas named Colt.) His appearance in the starting line-up is a harbinger of doom for opposing offenses and, for startling left tackles, one of the first signs of the apocalypse (some of this may be a lie). Clearly he is best represented by the Ric Flair led Four Horseman, the most jet plane flyin’, limousine ridin’, son of a bitches who ever faux grappled in an Atlanta basic cable basement television studio.
Brett Keisel, DE, Probable (Groin): The best 1980s tag team correlation to The Diesel would be the Hart Foundation, two rube Canucks with incredibly asymmetrical facial hair who always looked like they’d rather be squatting in a duck blind in Southern Ontario than get tossed around the squared circle by a 400 lb fat guy in a unitard named “Tugboat”. THAT SAID if I ever suffered an injury to my groin, I’m pretty sure that I would not be “Probable” for anything. In fact, I’m guessing that I would be the exact opposite of probable. Come game day you’d find me continually icing my sore nether-regions whilst drinking Jim Beam Black over cracked ice and saying things to whoever was in earshot like, “Goddamnit my groin hurts, Coach. I am probably not playing today.” But I digress.
Doug Legursky, OL, Probable (Shoulder): Legursky has been a capable fixture on the Steelers O-Line, filling in at guard and center (most notably a vainglorious effort in sumo wrestling B.J. Raji to a stalemate during the Super Bowl.) With it looking increasingly like Maurkice Pouncey will miss the game with a high ankle sprain that I think he was born with, it is imperative that Teach Me How to Dougie plays, and plays at a high level. Also, he has a deceptively thinning hairline and possibly the worst flash tattoos ever to be inked outside the walls of Gen Pop in San Quentin. Therefore, Judge’s ruling is Legursky = Ax & Smash (Demolition.)
Mewelde Moore, RB, Out (Knee): When Rashard Mendenhall went down for the season with torn ligaments in his knee, it only deepened the need for the Steelers to get Moore back on the field ASAP. He’s a cagey veteran who is particularly reliable on third downs, and will sacrifice his body in pass protection. But with Ike Redman and Gumby Clay both capable of giving you roughly the same production that Mendenhall does (although with much less top end speed), Mewelde can probably elevate his ankle on his ottoman and wonder why I am comparing him to the Briscoe Brothers, two charisma-less, thoroughly boring wrestling automatons from the old 1970s NWA territory who wore plain blue tights and who looked as if their entire workout routine consisted of picking up a case of Schlitz, and emptying its contents as fast as humanly possible into their bloodstream. OH BY THE WAY, did I mention that their signature move was the Sunset Flip. Yes, I said Sunset Fucking Flip.
Troy Polamalu, SS, Probable (Calf): Polamalu is an incomparable football genius the likes of which you could live a hundred lifetimes and still never see again. If his injury in any way worsens and he cannot go on Sunday you will most likely find me in the back seat of an old Buick Skylark, breathing in exhaust fumes running from the tailpipe into the cabin through a garden hose, drinking gin from the bottle, and trying to fashion a rudimentary noose from the elastic waistline of my boxer shorts. Polamalu > then both Afa & Sika (The Wild Samoans) combined.
Maurkice Pouncey, C, Questionable (Ankle): Pouncey is the gridiron equivalent of the Von Erich family, a Texas wrasslin’ dynasty of highly gifted, uber-motivated athletes who, one by one, tragedy befell. Pouncey is a worthy successor to the legacies of Misters Webster and Dawson when healthy, but as of late his ankle seems to be as brittle as the spinal column of that poor kid with Progeria that I saw on Maury last week. These injuries are really starting to depress me, so let’s move on.
Jonathan Scott, OL, Back (Probable): Let’s just say that if at ANY point on Sunday afternoon you see #72 bounding off the sideline and into the huddle, there’s a 100% chance my father has just thrown his hat at the television, uttered a wet objection full of spittle and barely coherent expletives, called for the immediate firing of Tomlin, while all at the same time insidiously insisting that he, and not Bruce Arians, would be the best possible Offensive Coordinator for the Steelers. Let’s just say that I’d rather watch the director’s cut DVD of Money, Inc’s all-time greatest tag team matches than see JScott tangle with Elvis Dumervil for even one snap this weekend. Moving on.
LaMarr Woodley, OLB, Probable (Hamstring): Much like the combination of Butch Reed and Ron Simmons as the muscled up, Afro-centric, wrecking crew that was DOOM, Sex Robot # 2 LaMarr Woodley is a one man gang that disrupts offensive game plans through a rare combination of brute force and dizzying speed. When Woodley doesn’t play it’s a double loss for the Steelers because teams can shade protections over to Harrison’s side thereby blunting his effectiveness as well. With Tebow looking to tuck and run the minute his first read is taken away from him it is crucial for the Steelers that Woodley is in the game, holding the edge, and hopefully hitting Tim Terrific so hard that his bowels instantly release and he considers converting to Islam by the post game presser.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Ankle (Probable): Okay, let’s get this straight: without a healthy Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers would not be on a flight to Denver right now, you would not be reading this blog, and instead of writing this I’d be out shopping with my wife for clothes that I secretly despise but buy under protest because she tells me that I look good in them. THAT SAID, the minute ex-Steeler Scott “The Crippler” Paxson rolled up on Ben’s ankle during that god-awful Thursday night tilt in the Cleve, I ran through the Five Stages of Grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in the time it takes Mike Wallace to cover 40 yards. Only in my case, I never got past step three (I may have promised to forfeit my first-born son if only Ben would be able to play the next week), and I’m almost certain a small trickle of urine escaped down my leg. If Ben cannot play at close to his usual effectiveness, the Steelers simply have no chance to compete for that seventh sticky Lombardi trophy. Watching Chaz Batch trot onto the field is akin to watching an 80-year-old man working behind the counter at McDonalds. It’s sad, more than a little depressing, but most of all you just know that there doesn’t exist a universe in which he won’t remember to not smother your fillet of fish in “secret sauce”. But as long as #7 is under center, the Stillers always have that Ron Lyle puncher’s chance.
Oh, and just in case you think I forgot the central conceit of this article, that would make Ben the Pittsburgh Steelers equivalent of the greatest tag team who ever touched hands, The Road Warriors.
“Pittsburgh is said to be one big family.” Are you trying to make me cry, anonymous, anvil larnyxed, Voice Over guy?
My Irrational Take on Wildcard Weekend Or Why The Stillers will Destroy Tebowing Like the Ultimate Warrior Destroyed Hulkamania in 1990.
The first rule of The Bastard Sons of Jack Lambert Fight Club is never root with your heart. This is a very important rule that many of you miss on the first, second, and fortieth attempts so I’m going to repeat it once again.
Never. Root. With. Your. Heart.
Always use your head. As it is with the Steelers, as it is in life, logic can be your best friend. Because when you invert this simple premise and get it twisted—say, when you lay out large sums of money on the Black & Gold just because “they’re the greatest collection of talent in the storied history of things assembled in a locker room, ever’—it almost always ends up in a chain reaction of bad decision making that invariably finds you starring in a low budget “adult” straight-to-video movie filmed in some dude’s Shadyside basement/film studio just in order to pay off the vig you owe to a large, quasi-Russian dude named Igor. And all of this because Shawn Suisham got a chip shot blocked and you didn’t cover the hook against Jacksonville.
This brings us to Sunday at Mile High.
Logic dictates that the Steelers should emerge from Denver on Sunday night with a win, achieving the goal of surviving and advancing. Last I checked, there’s three phases to a professional football game and the Steelers hold the advantage in all of them. Barring Big Ben’s ankle exploding like the Challenger or Jesus Christ himself literally reaching down from the clouds and using his muscular arm of god to scoop passes up off the turf so that Eric Decker doesn’t spend 60 minutes fielding one-hoppers from Tim Tebow’s fungo bat of a left arm, there just don’t seem to be many avenues that would point to a Broncos victory.
But the reason I believe that the Steelers will win is much, much simpler.
God hates Tim Tebow.
This will not be a popular sentiment in evangelical churches that commonly screw up the actual timing of the End of Days, 88% of the state of Florida, and dorm rooms featuring SEC co-eds named Nikki, but it’s the truth and it bears repeating:
God hates Tim Tebow.
How else to explain the great practical joke that Our Saviour has played on him so far? For example:
He Hath blessed Timmy Terrific will good looks and the sort of raw, chiseled physique normally not seen this side of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” stage shows in the Castro District, but yet he has tricked him into remaining a virgin until marriage. Imagine thousands of the best and most nubile daughters that Gator Nation could ever conjure up, tossing themselves at you in all of their halter topped and jean shorted glory, only to know that by calling an audible and running a bootleg below their waistline will only sentence you to a lifetime of eternal damnation, an infinity of tossing bubble screen passes to Hitler and a surprisingly sure handed Osama Bin Laden. Clearly this is a sign that God has a serious grudge against our Timmy.
See also: God blessed Tebow with a charmed athletic life and talent seemingly without limit, allowing him to skate through high school championships, Heisman Trophies, and NCAA titles, stacking victory upon victory, only to pull the plug once he reached the ultimate level of competition. What sort of right and just King of Kings would tease someone with so much promise at such a young age, only to pull it away at the last moment just when he stood on the cusp of fulfilling his ultimate destiny, yanking the football away at the very last minute, like an omnipotent Lucy causing Charlie Brown to tear a hammy when he swings and misses at a PAT that will never split the uprights into heaven?
Football, I believe, is the ultimate separation of church and state. Tim Tebow may be the sort of devout believer that you want your daughter to bring home from college on Christmas break, a new hand you’d be unashamed to hold at the dinner table while this Son of Jor-El look-a-like leads your family in the recitation of grace. And Ben Roethlisberger may be the sort of pervy, chinless, demonic frat boy that traps that very same daughter in the bathroom of a Georgia alehouse and does god knows what as a security guard the size of Willie Colon and Larry Brown’s lovechild stands watch.
The lesson, as always, is this: God doesn’t give a damn about football.
Final prediction: Ben may be a pudgy, gimpy ankled Satan, but he’s our Satan.
Say hello to the bad guy, Timmy.
Steelers 24, Denver 6.