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Archive for May, 2009


May 11, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

I apologize to readers who have been stopping by regularly, only to find out that I haven’t written anything lately.

I try to use the month of May to recharge my batteries.  As many of you know, Steelers Today provides the most in-depth pre- and post-game analysis available during the NFL season.  During the off-season, we provided more detailed coverage of the Steelers’ draft than any other website.

I try to rest in May so that I can come back strong when Steelers training camp begins.  I find that May is the slowest month of the year for NFL teams, so this is a good time to take a break.

If anything important happens, I will definitely write about it.  But for the most part, I won’t be posting much this month.  See you when training camp begins.

Foote signs with Lions

May 06, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players

May 6, 2009

According to reports, former Steelers linebacker Larry Foote has signed a one year contract with his hometown Detroit Lions.  Terms of the deal have not been released.

“It’s like 90% done”, said Foote.  Apparently, Foote and the Lions have agreed on the contract value.  However, they are still working out final details of the payment schedule and the guaranteed portion of the deal.

Foote, who is from Detroit and played college football for the University of Michigan, asked the Steelers to release him so that he could sign with his hometown team.

Foote probably got a rude awakening when the Steelers got no trade offers for him.  Then, to add insult to injury, the 0-16 Detroit Lions weren’t willing to offer him more than a 1 year deal.  Ouch!

The lions are badly in need of linebacker help, and not many players are actually REQUESTING to play for the Lions like Foote did.  You’d think the Lions would be excited about adding a veteran LB and Super Bowl champ to their pathetic roster.  But I guess not.

Foote indicated that several other teams, including the Arizona Cardinals (what a surprise), Kansas City Chiefs, and Indianapolis Colts, were interested in acquiring his services.  But ultimately, he decided to go home to Detroit.

So Larry will have to settle for a one year contract, and earn a longer deal.  Kinda sucks, but that’s life in the NFL.

Good luck, Larry.  You got what you wanted.  I hope you can live with that.

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A tribute to Larry Foote

May 05, 2009 By: Admin Category: Players

May 5, 2009
By Donald Starver

Well, the Larry Foote saga finally came to an end with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Steelers released him yesterday.

This comes as no surprise to fans.  ESPN mistakenly reported that the Steelers had released him last week.  They hadn’t.  However, Foote had asked for an opportunity to play for a team that would allow him to be more than a two down linebacker.  Unspoken in his request was probably also a desire to get one final big payday before his career is over.  Nothing wrong with that.  After all, Foote is 28 years old, and NFL players can’t play forever.

The Steelers tried to honor Foote’s request.  They tried to trade him to another team.  However, they got no takers in the trade market.  Perhaps this was inevitable.  Why would a team give the Steelers a draft pick for Foote when they knew that they could get him for free when the Steelers released him?  So on Monday, the Steelers gave Foote his unconditional release.


I have read various Steelers message boards, and heard fans say some things about Foote that I found to be disturbing.  First, I saw several fans call Foote “disloyal” for requesting a trade.  I don’t understand this line of thinking.  Fans have to understand that the NFL is a business, and that there is no such thing as loyalty.  Frankly, why should a player be loyal to a team, when teams can cut players anytime they want to?  Moreover, when the players are cut, the teams owe them nothing, even if they still have years left on their contract.  So in my opinion, the disloyalty argument just doesn’t hold up.

Foote was not disloyal.  He was a victim of the realities of the salary cap in the NFL.  He was a 28 year old player with a $3 million dollar salary cap hit, and a younger, faster, 1st round draft pick playing behind him.  Foote’s fate was sealed, whether he had requested a trade or not.

Other fans have said that Foote was the weak link in the Steelers defensive lineup, and that he needed to go.  Sorry, but I can’t agree with that argument either.  Sure, Larry was the least decorated of the Steelers’ starting linebackers.  But he plays on a team with NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, Pro Bowler James Farrior, and emerging superstar LaMarr Woodley.  That’s a pretty outstanding bunch.  Somebody has to be a role player.

Foote played a role, and he played it well.  Need proof?  Larry Foote started every game for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2004.  The Steelers defense is the top rated defense in the NFL over that period.  That’s right, #1.  During that time, Joey Porter left the team, and James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley became starters, but Larry Foote was always there.  The quiet constant in the Steelers’ dominant “D”.

Perhaps the most important statistic of all is that Larry Foote was the starting linebacker on two Super Bowl championship teams.  He helped put two Lombardi trophies in the Steelers’ trophy case.  How many did Greg Lloyd win?  None.  Kevin Greene?  None.  Jason Gildon?  None.  Levon Kirkland?  None.  Mike Merriweather?  None.  Kendrell Bell?  None. See my point?

I’m not saying that Foote was a better player than the linebackers listed above.  He wasn’t.  But Larry Foote was a reliable, dedicated player on some of the greatest teams in Steelers history.  Only the Steel Curtain of the 1970′s accomplished more.  For that, Foote will always hold a position of honor.


Like former Steelers Joey Porter, Kevin Greene, Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake, Clark Haggans, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, and Levon Kirkland, Foote will not end his playing career with the Steelers.  But there is an interesting phenomenon that happens with Steelers players.  Even if they go to another team, in their hearts they always remain Steelers.  Rod Woodson won a Super Bowl with the Ravens.  But he thinks of himself as a Steeler.  Kevin Greene only played for the Steelers for 2 seasons.  But he thinks of himself as a Steeler.  The Miami Dolphins made Joey Porter a very rich man.  But in his heart, he is still a Steeler.

The Steelers organization, and Steeler Nation has a funny way of doing that to players.  It gets in their system, and they can’t get it out.  No matter where they go.  Once a Steeler, always a Steeler.  Players understand that for a brief period of time, they were a part of something special.  They know that the Steelers are not just any football team.  They know that Steelers fans are not just any fans.

Good luck, Larry.  You will always be a Steeler.  Regardless of whether you sign with your hometown Detroit Lions, or if you end up with the Arizona Cardinals (like 99% of ex-Steelers), your heart will always be in Pittsburgh, and we will always consider you to be family.

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Steelers sign 5 free agents

May 01, 2009 By: Admin Category: Draft/Free Agency

In a very un-Steelerlike move, the Steelers added five free agents today.  That’s right, five.  I can’t remember the last time the Steelers have signed that many Free agents at once.  I’m not talking about unsigned college seniors.  That’s normal this time of year.  Nope, they signed 5 veteran free agents.  It usually takes the Steelers about 7 years to sign that many veteran free agents.  Of course, not all of them are going to make the roster, but still….

The team added cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, punter Dirk Johnson, wide receivers Shaun McDonald and Jayson Foster, and kicker Piotr (peet-er) Czech.

Ratliff (5-11, 188) was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round (49th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Florida. He most recently spent a portion of the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and finished with 34 tackles and two interceptions during his time with the Colts.

Ratliff spent three full seasons with the Bengals before being released in September, 2007. He was then signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spent two weeks on their active roster before being released.

I like this move.  Although the Steelers drafted 2 rookie cornerbacks, it might be a bit much to expect either of them to contribute so soon.  Having another veteran in camp should take some pressure off the rookies and allow them to develop at a more normal pace.

Johnson (6-0, 210) enters his eighth NFL season after playing 12 games with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. He averaged 41.8 yards on 40 punts with the Cardinals, including a 35.2-yard net average. In 69 career games played, Johnson has averaged 41.7 yards on 320 punts (13,356 total yards).

Johnson, 33, originally signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted rookie out of Northern Colorado in 1998. He was released in training camp by the Seahawks (’98), New York Jets (’99) and San Diego Chargers (’01), before playing with the New Orleans Saints (‘02), Philadelphia Eagles (‘03-06), Chicago Bears (’07) and the Cardinals. Johnson was released by Arizona last December and signed with the Washington Redskins in March 2009 before being released in April.

I’m going to assume that Dan Sepulveda has healed from his injury, and that the Steelers are just bringing Johnson in to add a little competition during training camp.  However, perhaps there is something that we don’t know about the pace at which Sepulveda is healing.  Either way, I’m glad that we won’t be hearing the names Berger and Ernster this year.

McDonald (5-10, 183) was originally drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Arizona State. McDonald spent four years with the Rams before signing with the Detroit Lions during the 2007 offseason. He led the Lions with 79 catches, 943 yards and six touchdowns that season.

Foster (5-7, 185) spent time on the Steelers’ practice squad in 2008. He originally signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2008 as an undrafted rookie from Georgia Southern. He was on the Denver Broncos’ practice squad towards the end of the 2008 season, but was released by the Broncos on April 28, 2009.

Foster probably won’t be a factor this year, but McDonald is a good acquisition.  He is an experienced veteran who can compete in training camp with Limas Sweed, Dallas Baker, Martin Nance, rookie Mike Wallace,  and the 3 undrafted free agents that they recently signed, for a position on the roster.  I like the competition that is being set up, and my money is on Ward, Holmes, McDonald, Sweed, and Wallace to emerge as the Steelers wide receiver corps this year.

Frankly, I’m a tad disappointed that they didn’t sign Asley Lelie.  After both sides indicated that they’d had a good meeting earlier this week, I was hoping that he’d become a Steeler.  Oh well.

Czech (6-5, 210) spent the 2008 training camp with the Baltimore Ravens after signing as a rookie free agent out of Wagner College.

Czech is training camp fodder to be chewed up and spit out by Steelers’  super kicker Jeff Reed.  Good luck Piotr.  But I wouldn’t suggest buying a house in Pittsburgh.

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Steelers release Retkofsky

May 01, 2009 By: Admin Category: Uncategorized

May 1, 2009
By Donald Starver

The Steelers announced that they have released long snapper Jared Retkofsky.

Retkofsky was signed in the middle of the 2008 season after long snapper Greg Warren suffered a season-ending knee injury, and a short-lived experiment with James Harrison as long snapper proved to be an abysmal failure.

This comes as a bit of a surprise, but it clarifies a mystery that occurred earlier in the week.  The Steelers signed undrafted free agent long snapper Mark Estermeyer out of Pitt.  This writer questioned why the Steelers would sign a long snapper when they already had Warren and Retkofsky on the roster.  Apparently, Retkofsky was in an offseason motorcycle accident and hurt his shoulder.  What’s up with the Steelers and motorcycles?  I suggest that Coach Tomlin institute a new “no motorcycles” rule.

Now that that mystery is cleared up, I can go back to thinking about more important things like how they put that creamy filling inside a Twinkie.

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