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Dan Rooney told Steelers to stop using N-word in locker room

Dan-RooneyThe NFL is giving strong consideration to adopting a rule that would result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the use of a racial slur. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one team that would likely be in favor of the rule, as team chairman Dan Rooney has already told his players to stop using the N-word in the locker room.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark said Rooney told the team last season that he did not want to hear his players using the N-word or listening to music that featured it.

“Mr. Rooney actually talked to Ike Taylor about it this season,” Clark said on ESPN Sunday night, via Pro Football Talk. “Ike and Mr. Rooney have a very good relationship. He told Ike, ‘I don’t want you guys using that word.’

“Ike went around to specific people and said, ‘Listen, this is what Mr. Rooney told me.’ He’s the ambassador. We call him Old Man Rooney. He has a lot of respect, and because of the way he has treated us as players, as black athletes, also treated Coach Tomlin as a black coach, you know it’s coming from a place of love.”

Rooney is a former US ambassador to Ireland and is well respected among the Steelers players. Clark said the players respected Rooney’s request at first, but the word started making its way back into everyday situations shortly thereafter.

“You stopped hearing it immediately that day,” he said. “But after a while it came back because it’s the culture. After a while it comes back because this is what these guys have grown up with.”

This is another good example of how NFL culture is in need of a change. With the prospect of openly gay athletes soon being a part of NFL locker rooms, words like “fag” and “queer” should be cut out of players’ vocabularies as well. It will take a lot of time before we stop hearing them altogether.

Mike Tomlin bans Steelers from somersaulting into the end zone

There will be no fun in Pittsburgh this season as long as Mike Tomlin is in charge. Last week, a report surfaced claiming Tomlin has taken away games like pool and ping-pong from the Steelers’ locker room until they can get their season turned around. On Tuesday, Tomlin said he has banned his players from doing any flips or somersaults into the end zone.

Emmanuel-Sanders-SteelersWide receiver Emmanuel Sanders did a flip through the air after scoring a 55-yard touchdown in a win over the New York Jets on Sunday. He landed pretty hard on his back, but Sanders was fine after the play. He certainly isn’t the first player we have seen bust out that method of celebration.

While the ban on flips may make Tomlin sound like a stiff to some, I don’t blame him. How many times have we seen a player go down with an injury that was a result of celebrating? As our growing list will tell you, it happens all the time. The Steelers are 1-4 and are trying to somehow claw their way back into playoff contention. That will be a difficult enough task as is. The last thing they need is to lose a player because he was showing off.

H/T Eye on Football

Mike Tomlin takes away Steelers’ locker room games

Mike TomlinThere are no more fun and games around the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room following the team’s 0-4 start. According to a report, head coach Mike Tomlin decided to take away the team’s play toys and won’t give them back until the team gets back on track.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac reports that Tomlin removed pool cues, ping-pong paddles, and shuffleboard discs from the locker room until they turn things around.

As ridiculous as the whole thing sounds, the table games have actually been a topic of discussion throughout the season for the Steelers. Last month, a report said the team’s veterans decided that young players would not be allowed to play the games during business hours. Now Tomlin has removed them entirely.

[Related: Ben Roethlisberger: You can call us worst team in the league]

I guess this is Tomlin’s way of telling his players they’re grounded and getting their car keys and cell phones taken away until they prove they can be more responsible.

Oh, and side note: had a coach like Greg Schiano done something like this, you know everyone would be all over him for treating his players like a bunch of college kids. Tomlin gets away with a move that would otherwise be considered juvenile because he’s awesome and a proven winner.

Ryan Clark believes Pittsburgh Steelers can still make playoffs with weak schedule

ryan-clarkThe Pittsburgh Steelers are off to an 0-4 start to the 2013 season, which has already resulted in a number of fans throwing in the Terrible Towel. Defensive back Ryan Clark has not given up hope, if for no other reason than his team’s remaining difficulty of schedule.

“I just believe we can win. That’s just the bottom line,” Clark said on Tuesday, via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I think we have the people in this room, the coaches (to win). Also, looking at our schedule, we’re not playing world beaters, we’re not playing gods. We’re playing men.”

There’s some truth behind Clark’s optimism. Despite the fact that the Steelers have yet to win a game, they are only 2.5 games behind in the AFC North with 12 games left to play. The Cleveland Browns are probably not as good as their 3-2 record indicates and the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens have shown plenty of flaws.

“We’re playing football teams that have vulnerabilities and teams I think we can beat,” Clark added. “That’s five division opponents left, so it’s in our own hands. I think we can win those games, and I think we will.”

In addition to their divisional games, the Steelers have games remaining against the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins. All are certainly beatable, but Pittsburgh needs to get on the board.

“It takes one to even talk about the playoffs,” Clark said. “So we need to win (Sunday at the Jets) to get this record to 1-4. Then we come back and regroup and forget you won that game and win the next one.”

As Around the League’s Kevin Patra pointed out, the Steelers now have a 1.2% chance of making the playoffs because of their 0-4 start. Clark has no choice but to remain optimistic, although his thoughts would make more sense if Pittsburgh looked like a team that is much better than its 0-4 record indicates. It does not.

Ben Roethlisberger on Steelers: ‘There are no issues on our team’

The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled through a disappointing 8-8 season last year, which is quite uncharacteristic for one of the NFL’s most successful franchises. As if the team did not already have enough issues to work through in order to get back to the playoffs next season, the coaches and players have also had to deal with anonymous teammates ripping one another.

Last week, former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said he believes the team is in “total disarray” and lacks leadership. Ben Roethlisberger took offense to his former teammate’s assertion.

“For anybody to say there are locker room issues or leadership issues are completely off base,” Roethlisberger said Thursday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I believe that’s the frustration. I believe that it’s frustration of last year, I honestly do.”

Ward’s criticism was aimed at the fact that an anonymous Steelers player reportedly blasted linebacker LaMarr Woodley for having poor workout habits that led to his inability to stay healthy. Ward said that type of loose-lipped spouting off would have never happened when he was with the team.

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Hines Ward: Steelers are in ‘total disarray’

Last weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled a New York Jets when an anonymous player reportedly blasted linebacker LaMarr Woodley for having poor workout habits that led to a number of injuries. The comments were the type we are used to hearing from a team like the Jets, but were highly uncharacteristic of an organization like Pittsburgh’s.

In Hines Ward’s opinion, the anonymous bashing proves the Steelers have a major issue inside their locker room at the moment.

“When you lose so much leadership in the locker room, that’s when things present itself like that,” Ward told NFL Network’s NFL AM on Friday morning, via Around the League. “Guys start finger-pointing, calling out other guys. That is not the Steeler way. We’ve always had a rule: We are a band of brothers. We’ve always collectively kept everything in house. … But there was no finger-pointing and calling each other out. That’s a total disarray, a locker room in disarray.”

It’s tough to argue with Ward, who spent 14 seasons with the team and knows the organization as well as anyone. A lot of things went wrong for the Steelers last season during their 8-8 campaign, but it was not the first disappointing season the team has endured. It is, however, one of the few times we have heard reports of teammates bashing one another.

The Steelers have a younger team than they had when Ward was there, which means someone has to step up and be a leader. I’m sure Mike Tomlin would prefer that Ben Roethlisberger be at least one of the guys to do so next season.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Ben Roethlisberger questions Steelers’ playcalling in loss to Cowboys

Mike-Tomlin-Ben-RoethlisbergerAfter losing a tough game to the Dallas Cowboys, the Pittsburgh Steelers must win out in order to stand a chance at making the playoffs. Sunday’s game was a back-and-forth affair that placed the ball in Ben Roethlisberger’s hands with a chance to win in overtime. Rather than coming through in the clutch, Roethlisberger made a horrible throw that resulted in an interception, giving the Cowboys the ball in field goal range and essentially handing them the victory.

Despite the crucial mistake, Roethlisberger was not willing to fully take the blame for the loss after the game. Instead, he seemed unhappy with some of Pittsburgh’s playcalling. Tight end Heath Miller, who was effective in the first half, did not catch a single ball in the second half.

“I just don’t think we called the right plays to get (Miller) the ball,” Roethlisberger said after the game, via Pro Football Talk.

The Steelers scored 14 points in the second half compared to 10 in the first, but Big Ben expressed disappointment in the offense’s decision to get away from the no-huddle attack.

“That’s tough for me to answer right now,” he said. “The second half we didn’t do much of it, and that’s disappointing.”

Did I say not willing to fully take the blame? It turns out Roethlisberger did that, too.

“Yes, absolutely (the loss was my fault),” Roethlisberger said according to the Star-Telegram. “One hundred percent. It’s on me. I let the team, the fans, everybody down.”

If we were talking about any other team, it would be a lot easier to chalk Roethlisberger’s comments up to mere frustration after a brutal loss. However, this is not the first time he has openly criticized offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s playcalling. The relationship between Haley and Roethlisberger has appeared rocky from the start, and it would stand to reason that it could get worse if the Steelers wind up missing the postseason.