It’s always easy to complain about something. Just look at social media. What’s difficult is recognizing that your whining and complaining isn’t going to get you anywhere. So far, this appears to be the approach the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking in light of the yo-yo string they’ve been attached to over the last six days. With three games over the next 12 days, the veteran leadership on this team must now rise to the occasion and pull the younger players up with them. But it won’t be easy.
Terrell Edmunds was clearly frustrated. So were JuJu Smith-Schuster and Eric Ebron. These are relatively young men who just want to play the game they were supposed to play on Thanksgiving night. They can’t be blamed for their emotion and passion and utter frustration. “What are they complaining about? They basically got a BYE week out of all of this!” Ahhhh, no. Wrong. That’s not what they got at all. BYE weeks allow players to actually get away from the facility much in the same way you get away from the office or I get out of the classroom.
This past week has been anything but for these guys. They are tired of walk-thru’s and virtual meetings and wondering when they might actually play their fiercest rival. Did they get some time off? Yes, they did. Mike Tomlin was quoted as saying “It was good for them to get off of their feet for a few days.” But stop treating this like it was time for them to hit the beach in Cancun or the Dominican. The younger players especially could be forgiven for their frustration with this constant rescheduling of the same game but these moments also serve as teachable moments too.
That’s where the veteran leadership has to come in here. Cam Heyward has already started laying the groundwork. He for one was glad to have the extra time off and said as much. “I needed it, so I’m not going to complain about it,” Heyward said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “We had some guys that had nicks and bruises that could use the rest. Whether it is taking care of your body, spending time with family, getting extra preparation, this is a week we can take advantage of it, so I thought we did that.” (Quote courtesy profootballtalk.com)
Maybe at one time in his career Heyward would have been one of those young pups complaining about all of this but he took advantage of it as other veterans did too. The message ultimately being sent here is that there’s nothing that they (the players) can do about the constant roller coaster. This is life in the pandemic era of 2020. To go further than that however, suggests that the vets understand what is still at stake even after this week’s game.
The team will have just Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to prepare for a Washington team that is playing well and is in the hunt for a division title of its’ own. Less than a week later will be a trip to Buffalo where a Bills’ team that beat the Steelers at Heinz Field last season awaits. They have division title aspirations of their own.
I have no doubt that Mike Tomlin will lean heavily on Heyward, Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro to get the message across. No one cares about your circumstances. No one cares whose fault the Covid outbreak was. No one cares if you’re “put out” by the NFL rescheduling your game three times. It’s a message we fans could take to heart too.
Trust me, those guys aren’t thinking about an unbeaten season or whether John Harbaugh did all of this on purpose. They’re thinking about what they can control and all of that will take place on the field.