Today, as we come here to bury our beloved 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers, it is undeniable that we are all feeling very, very emotional. I wish it didn’t have to come so early, but here we are.
This year’s Steeler team died as it lived: On the edge. Yes, ol’ 2009 certainly had a flair for the dramatic, the rapscallion. But as we must know, sometimes, drama turns to tragedy.
But enough! Let us remember the good times! Large Ben, and his marvelous ways! The way Mr. Mendenhall showed himself worthy! Hines, still doing his work — a gentleman and a scholar! Harrison and Wood, so strong, so tough! Young Mike Wallace, willing to thrill us! The trip to Denver! Good times! It was all going so well! Righteous Troy, you left us too soon!
Of course, friends, under these circumstances, it’s impossible to ignore the death. Yea verily, it was painful, and drawn out. This team did not die quickly, as if suffering a playoff loss. They endured a long, excruciating descent. We didn’t want it to happen, but what could we do? We were powerless. Please, do not blame yourselves.
That being said, we should have seen the warning signs. A few peculiarities in Chicago and Cincinnati aside, the Kansas City trip was certainly off-putting, to say the least. The team was stricken late, once again. We should have known something wasn’t right.
For the Baltimore game, we had an excuse at the ready: Dennis was in! But again, a close call. And again, these Steelers were ailing at the end.
Then, there was Oakland. Oh, Lord, must I mention Oakland? I must. Friends, you either believe in omens or you don’t. But when Young Joe Burnett dropped that ball — its path so true and direct — that’s when I knew it was over. I didn’t want to say anything, but deep down, I knew. Maybe we all did. Though Joe Burnett was young, this team was old. It was tired. It wasn’t ready to climb the summit once more.
And yet, we didn’t think they were gone! We were only fooling ourselves. In the end — Cleveland, of all places! — all the various sicknesses made their way out at once. That’s how it often happens, you know.
The leaky offensive line. The wide receivers who couldn’t get open (perhaps those routes were too long). The quarterback who wouldn’t throw the ball. The defense, that which couldn’t stop predictable running plays — where art thou, Mighty Aaron Smith? — and the secondary … oh, the secondary. The less we say about them, the better. The way Sir Ike Taylor played that 3rd-and-long … it breaks your heart to think of it.
And what of the offensive play calling? Once respectable enough, it too often recalled the behavior of a drunken apothecary … even, dare I say, of a village idiot. Did Mr. Arians care, in the end? Or did he not just know any better? What of Father LeBeau? He can’t catch interceptions or tackle, can he? All this must wear mightily on Mayor Tomlin, who must learn from these grievances. He must, and must adjust.
This would not be a team like its 2005 brethren, who came back, all the way back, from the edge of the grave, to reach immortality! No, this team was more like its cursed 2006 siblings, with its bizarre and unfortunate twists of fate.
To “unleash Hell?” One can only hope that’s where this 2009 team hasn’t gone. We will wait for hope to spring again, next autumn. It is a blessing that these Steelers will be granted another life in the future, as they are every year. Let us not forget that.
As for now? We can only say … let’s go Pens. Amen.