Rivalry? What A joke! - By Neal Coolong
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Substance abuse is a serious thing. So is professional football. That's why it's hard to express sympathy for the league's leading rusher, Baltimore Ravens' Jamal Lewis, who was recently indicted on federal drug charges. This isn't new ground for the man who finished second all-time this season in yards gained in a season. He's already had two charges for drug possession, and a third could cost him the 2004 season. This certainly isn't a bad thing for the Steelers. As the team's most hated rival, the Ravens have little else offensively outside of Lewis, but with him, and their defense, they managed to finish 10-6 and win the AFC North.
Along with Lewis' new-found trouble, left tackle Orlando Brown was recently sued by the NFL for the prorated portion of his settlement with the league after a referee accidentally struck him in the eye with a flag in 2000. He went ballistic after the incident, shoving the official to the ground, forcing a year-long suspension.
Should I bring up linebacker Ray Lewis' legal troubles? We're all aware of the murder trial he avoided by selling his fellow posse members out. I heard Dennis Rodman has been talking to Baltimore about becoming their PR director and discipline-less coach Dennis Green was contacted about replacing Brian Billick.
And why not? Their offseason targets include posterboy whiner Keyshawn Johnson and former drug abuser Warren Sapp. They're only going after Keyshawn because NFL badboy Randy Moss isn't available to officially make the 2004 Ravens the most unholy, disgusting team of all time.
The Ravens motto for next season: Ya gotta hate us! With nothing endearing or good of this team, it makes Steelers' fans feel some comfort that at least our younger fans aren't learning the game of football is about how you perform, not how you self-promote your latest ankle-tackle or five-yard gain you stuffed.
The Steelers were a 6-10 team. Never a good year. But the only off-the-field problem they had was Joey Porter getting shot in the butt as an innocent bystander (and Ray Lewis even taunted him for that!) Clark Haggans got a DUI after the season. And I don't think a grand jury is going to sentence him to his three days in jail, unlike Lewis, who is looking at wearing the same colors as the guy Brown pounded because of an accident.
Even in their Super Bowl run and their 2003 AFC North Championship, the Steelers have still defeated the Ravens six of the last seven meetings. And (sadly to say) more impressively, have had zero players contacted by federal authorities during that span. Imagine that!
Does Johnny-Ravens-Fan stay up at night, not pondering Peter Boulware's assignment in their nickel package, but wondering what to tell other Baltimore fans when he gets picked up for soliciting an undercover cop? Do they consider not how on paper they will be favored to win the North again, but rather, who they are going to read about in crime reports? Does the thought of injury taking a player out for the season outweigh the thought of another murder charge?
I'll take one year of 6-10 to sleep soundly knowing that the only news breaking during the offseason in Pittsburgh is rumors about who they will draft come April. And I'll definitely take six of seven over a team with more criminals than knee pads.