It’s been quite a year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately for them, they’ve become as interesting off the field as on. Here’s a short review of one of the most entertaining (for good and bad reasons) in Steelers history:
JANUARY – The new year started off great. Two straight play-off victories had the team heading back to in the AFC Championship game. Between these two victories though the team had its first major controversy of 2017. Linebackers coach Joey Porter was arrested at a bar in Pittsburgh for allegedly assaulting a doorman and public drunkenness. He was temporarily suspended by the team, and later reinstated. That wasn’t the end of the off-feild nonsense however. The now famous “Facebook live” incident occurred right after the post season victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. For those who forgot, this was when Antonio Brown decided it was good idea to live broadcast coach Mike Tomlin’s post game speech on Facebook. Tomlin was caught saying some less than complimentary things about the New England Patriots. The incident was a bad look for Brown, and for Tomlin’s control over the team as well. January culminated with the blowout loss to the Patriots, and the year was off to an ugly start.
FEBRUARY – Things didn’t get much better after the season ended. Stories began to break about Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter and his numerous run-ins with his son’s high school football team. It was reported that Porter had to be removed by police at one point from a North Catholic High School game. To make matters worse, Mike Tomlin was also reported to have had incidents at the high school. His son attended the same high school as Porter’s. February also brought the franchise tag designation to running back Le’veon Bell. On a positive note, the Steelers and Antonio Brown finally agreed on a long term contract. On February 27th, Brown signed a deal for 5 years and $73 milion.
MARCH – This is a busy time for the off-season. Draft prep and free agency are all in full swing at this time. Longtime Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons signed with the Miami Dolphins on March 10th, ending a brilliant 10 year run with the team. He was Tomlin’s first draft pick as head coach, and was a stalwart on the defense for a decade. Pittsburgh flirted with signing Patriots free agent linebacker Donta Hightower to replace Timmons. They went so far as to have him in the facility to offer a contract, but Hightower eventually decided to return to New England. The club did manage to sign three free agents during this time. Tyson Alualu, Justin Hunter, and Coty Sensabaugh all signed to wrap up an unusually busy offseason for the Steelers. It was also around this team that Ben Reothlisberger stirred up some controversy by saying in an interview that he still hadn’t decided for sure to play in 2017. Most believed at the time that he would play, but the door was left open for him to retire.
APRIL – It’s draft time, and the Steelers surprised some by drafting JuJu Smith Schuster in the second round. Most thought the team was stacked with receivers at that time. It certainly surprised soon to be reinstated wide receiver Martavis Bryant. He took to social media to claim Schuster was drafted to replace Sammie Coates, not himself. A bit of an Instagram beef ensued before between the two wide outs. Ironically while Bryant was way out of line with his comments, he turned out to be right as Coates was later traded. All in all the draft was a success. Players like TJ Watt, Schuster, Cam Sutton, and James Conner all seem to be impact players for the future. Perhaps the biggest story of the entire year was the passing of owner Dan Rooney on April 13th. He was one of the most beloved and powerful owners in the NFL.
MAY – In what is usually a quiet month for NFL news, the Steelers once again managed to make headlines. This time is was for the release of tight end Ladarius Green. Green as let go after just one year with the club. He was the perfect complement to the team’s offense, but could never get over his concussion issues.
JUNE – June is mini-camp time and surprisingly it went off without much buzz. Le’veon Bell did not attend, but that was not unexpected considering his contract situation. Finally there was a quiet month in Steelerland.