BENZ: Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need a quiet 2018; and that's their responsibility
- The Pittsburgh Steelers' season ended with a 45-42 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- The Steelers finished the regular season with a 13-3 record.
- The season was packed with distractions featuring many of the Steelers' most high-profile players.
Locker clean-out day is when you learn about offseason surgeries and ailments that were affecting the team.
Such was the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday.
Let's touch on a few.
I ripped a labrum throwing that Gatorade cooler in Baltimore. It's getting fixed next week. I'll be back in time for training camp.
ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler tore ligaments in his thumbs typing his post where Le'Veon Bell said he might sit out next season if he gets the franchise tag again.
Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop fractured a finger filing his story where Mike Mitchell talked about playing the Patriots “in Hell or in Haiti” before the regular season concluded.
See, in case you were unaware, the yearlong drama surrounding the 2017 Black and Gold was a media creation.
“This is the most adversity I've ever been through in a football season that had nothing to do with football,” Steelers linebacker Vince Williams said. “Some things came out in the media that were misrepresented.”
The incidents: Williams then recounted the litany of nonfootball-related incidents surrounding the team this year. He mentioned the anthem fiasco in Chicago, when he felt the team was misrepresented. He also highlighted Bell's camp absence, Martavis Bryant's social media posts about his role and Ben Roethlisberger's “maybe I don't have it anymore” line after the first Jacksonville loss.
“We just had a lot of media adversity this year. It's the most I've been a part of since I've been a Steeler,” Williams said.
Williams saying that raised my antenna. “Media adversity?” “Misrepresented?”
The anthem firestorm? Yeah, I understand Williams there. That one was “media adversity.” That was largely thrust upon them. Though the players took blame for executing it poorly, their attempt at an anthem message could be construed as “misrepresented” by some.
Trouble of their own doing: Outside of that though, what “media adversity” occurred surrounding the Steelers that wasn't of their own doing? The media didn't force a release of James Harrison.
It was Bryant who touted his own skills over JuJu Smith-Schuster's on Instagram.
No paparazzi were chasing Todd Haley outside of Tequila Cowboy when he fell and hurt his hip.
I didn't see any TV trucks blocking Bell's car from the entrance of training camp.
And, to the best of my knowledge, no one in the media was Marcus Gilbert's PED mule.
As far as quotes by Bell about his contract and Mitchell looking ahead to the Patriots? Sure, reporters opened the doors. But those two walked right through.
Avoiding “media adversity” is pretty easy. Just don't create it.
Take that Tony Dungy interview with Mike Tomlin before the Packers game. That wasn't exactly Frost/Nixon-esque. It's not like Dungy bullied or hoodwinked Tomlin into talking about playoff matchups against New England back in November.
Social media causes issues: The irony is that so much of the media maelstrom surrounding the Steelers was via their own social media accounts.
Or, in the case of Bryant, occasionally the accounts of significant others in their personal lives.
Unless I'm mistaken no media member Twitter-mentioned Bell at 11:51 pm Saturday night and asked him for his thoughts on “ a second round 2 ” against New England, just 13 hours before the Jaguars game.
“I don't have a twitter. I don't have a Facebook,” Steelers guard David DeCastro said. “I hate that stuff.
“If you want to talk, we gotta show it on the field. You know it's a different thing if we win that game (the next day). I'm probably not being asked about that. We're probably actually talking about (playing) the Patriots.”
Different view: Others in the locker room Monday had a different view.
“We had a great year despite all the adversity,” Williams said. “So to be honest with you, I actually think it helped with the continuity of this team because we had so much trouble and stuff that we had to overcome. So we had to grow together.”
Williams wasn't alone in his assessment.
“Distractions didn't hurt us this year,” Bryant said. “We still finished 13-3 in the regular season.”
I'm sure some Jaguars would use this opportunity to chirp: “13-4 after the playoffs!”
But, continued Bryant: “We don't let distractions come between us and what we've got going on.”
Distractions catch up to them: To Bryant's point, since they won so often, it is tough to state that the weekly hoopla between games damaged the Steelers.
However, I argue it caught up to them before the Jacksonville playoff game. I also argue that a more quiet 2018 would be easier on locker room.
Even if it makes life harder in the media room.
Tim Benz hosts the Steelers pregame show on WDVE and ESPN Pittsburgh. He is a regular host/contributor on KDKA-TV and 105.9 FM.