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BENZ: Even Steelers' fans would forget hatred of Tom Brady if he lands in Pittsburgh

TIM BENZ
(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tosses the football on the sideline in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

It’s the opposite of what any Steelers fan wants to envision.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is working out over the next two months. He looks down at his surgically repaired elbow and says, “This thing ain’t healing right. I’m not close. It’s getting worse. Not better. I’m not going to be ready for the season. I’m done. Fifteen years. Two rings. It was a good ride. But that’s it. I’m retiring.”

Boy, that would stink. If only there was a quarterback with a Super Bowl pedigree available on the free agent mark…

Oh. Right. That guy.

Before you go scurrying to the comments section, I know.

There is a one in a million chance of the Steelers signing Tom Brady.

And before the rest of you start subtweeting this column, I know.

He’s a cheater. He’s washed up. “Duck” would’ve beaten him in a playoff game. He never would’ve been any good without Bill Belichick’s coaching, deflated footballs, the Spygate tapes, Gronk and Randy Moss.

Also, you’d rather lose with Mason Rudolph than win with Brady.

Yeah. Got it. I hear you already.

Just like you were happier losing without Jaromir Jagr after #JagrWatch ended with him Philadelphia, right? Just like you never wanted a dirty cheap-shot artist like New York Islander Darius Kasparaitis in Pittsburgh, until he knocked out Eric Lindros while wearing a Penguins uniform.

Then you wanted a statue of him before even Mario Lemieux got his.

Yeah. Sports-fan hatred usually only extends as far as the need that has to be filled.

If Roethlisberger retires or can’t come back healthy, do you think Pittsburgh may sing a different tune about Terry Bradshaw’s old jersey number being loaned out to another guy with the same initials?

I do. I’d endorse that in a heartbeat.

The window of keeping this resurgent Steelers defense intact will be a year or two at best. It’ll be hard for general manager Kevin Colbert to keep all the key contributors for even one more year, let alone into the future.

So if quarterback play is what sabotaged that defense’s chances of making the playoffs, why let that unit twist in the wind again if Brady is available and if Roethlisberger isn’t?

A very unlikely scenario: Of course, Brady won’t be.

Brady will probably stay in New England. If he doesn’t, some other team, such as Carolina, Miami or the Los Angeles Chargers, will be a more likely landing spot.

In fact, BetOnline.ag listed odds of 21 teams that might sign Brady should he leave Foxborough. The Steelers are the second longest at +2500.

My hunch is that the club is only listed because of the Roethlisberger injury factor.

Oh, and Steelers fans love to bet. That, too.

Feel safe in assuming, though, that at some point between now and whenever Brady makes his decision as to where he will play, just about every one of the 31 teams outside of New England will somehow be linked to a Tom Brady rumor.

A lot of those rumors will be far flimsier than the idea of Roethlisberger’s elbow exploding again. And in each of those cities, rationalizations will have to occur.

Fans can swallow their resentment: Can fans in any town swallow resentment toward Brady if they know he will give their team a chance to win a Super Bowl?

My belief is yes, of course. How quickly they will forget.

Pittsburgh isn’t the only city to hate the Patriots and have great jealousy toward Brady’s success. Look at those teams I just mentioned. He beat the Panthers in a Super Bowl during the “Spygate era.” He dominated the Dolphins and three other teams in the AFC East for almost 20 years. Brady eliminated the Chargers from the AFC playoffs three times.

You’ll hear anti-New England rhetoric on radio talk shows and feel the bile toward Brady as you read the team message boards and Twitter threads.

But Indianapolis Colts fans will weigh the reality of Brady being better than Jacoby Brissett. Tennessee Titans fans will have visions of Brady reuniting with Mike Vrabel in Nashville for a title together. Denver Broncos fans will see the same shot in the arm for the franchise from Brady that it got from Peyton Manning.

In all of those cities, you’ll get the same vitriol I’ve gotten already in tweets and on phone calls on the “CW Nightly Sports Call.” Cheater this. Tainted legacy that.

Pick up the phone: It’s easy to say all that now because the notion of Brady coming to Heinz Field is incredibly far-fetched. As it would be in Tampa, Chicago or Jacksonville.

Again, though, let’s say it’s March 16, and Brady has stated he’s not going to back New England. And your favorite franchise is one of the many that doesn’t have a quarterback with the last name of Jackson, Wilson, Mahomes, Brees, Rodgers or a few others.

Are you wondering if your organization should pick up the phone and make a call to Brady’s agents?

Because they should.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly you and your friends at the tailgate will get over how often Brady has trampled your team once he is wearing the right colors.

That would go for Black and Gold, too, if “Big Ben” is no longer around.