On the eve…

June 30, 2010 - Leave a Response

And here it is. The eve of quite possibly one of the biggest days in sports history.

July 1, 2010.

Of course, the big story is:

“Where is Lebron going?”

My prediction: that will not be decided tomorrow. I think Lebron will wait and have his own day, his own moment. He wants to be the biggest and the only story, that’s obvious.

Something else that is horribly obvious is the pathetic outpouring by Cleveland in an attempt to keep LBJ23.

Now, I actually like the Cavs, so I am for Lebron James remaining in “The Mistake by the Lake.” However I can’t lie and say that seeing Cleveland miserable doesn’t humor me in a way.

Now, in addition to James, there are several other big names out there including Wade, Nowitzki, Pierce, Bosh, Amare and many more.

A dynasty could be built tomorrow or in the coming days. A dynasty the likes of the 90’s Bulls. Maybe better. Seriously.

But enough about basketball, which will undoubtedly dominate every headline tomorrow, no matter what happens in the NHL.

July 1, 2010 is also the beginning of NHL free agency. A couple big names are going to hit the market.

In Pittsburgh, there is no question who the top player hitting the market appears to be:

Sarge.

Sergei Gonchar and the Penguins appear to be way off on contract talks. Apparently Gonch wants a 3-year deal while the Pens are only willing to give him 2 years.

If this is Sarge’s last night as a Penguin, let’s say thanks. Tomorrow, he possibly becomes the enemy.

Other Penguins hitting free agency include: Guerin, newly acquired Dan Hamhuis, Ponikarovski, Eaton, Fedotenko and others.

It is a realistic possibility that none of those guys will be Penguins after tomorrow.

If that is the case, then so be it. All of those players seem to be replaceable, with the exception of Gonchar.

Unless we see the Game 7 vs. Montreal Gonchar for the next two or three years.

I’ll be live-blogging and Tweeting all day tomorrow about everything that goes down, including any big-time NBA happenings. However this is a Pittsburgh sports blog, so that’s what the majority of the content will be. Stay tuned.

July 1, 2010. Oh boy.

Watch out internet. I’m back.

June 30, 2010 - Leave a Response

After a lengthy time off, I have returned to the Blogosphere. And I’m here to take it by storm.

I welcome you to “Ice, Grass and Steel.”

Formerly known as “The City of Champions,” “Ice, Grass and Steel” will bring you news and opinions about all things Pittsburgh sports and more.

About me:

I’m a graduate of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. I was born in the city limits and lived in the city limits my entire life. I live for Pittsburgh. I hosted a radio show on 670AM WPPJ called “After Further Review” and wrote a column in The Globe Newspaper called “Pucks, Passes and Pierogies” for the last year.

Why Hines Ward belongs in the Hall of Fame.

August 4, 2009 - Leave a Response

hinessonXL

And on the first ballot, at that.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why.

1. He has more receiving yards than anyone in Steeler history (9780) as well as more receptions (800) and receiving touchdowns (72), which is an accomplishment in an organization that prides itself on it’s ability to run the football and play defense. To give you an idea, the guy in second place in receptions, John Stallworth, had 537 receptions and is in the Hall of Fame.

2. He is in fourth place in games played as an offensive player and (without setbacks) will probably finish his career in second or even first. 

3. He is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and a Super Bowl MVP.

4. He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time All-Pro selcection, a two-time team MVP and a team captain year after year.

5. He is (not so) arguably the most physical Wide Receiver to ever play the game of football. Don’t believe me?

Ask Keith Rivers and his wired-shut jaw.

6. He is just a great human being. From everything he has been through in his life, to the man he is today, his life has been remarkable. He always enjoys playing the game, as can be seen by the smile he sports after getting rocked by some Free Safety. He always makes time to be with the fans, whether it is with his own TV show he does, or just signing autographs for an extended period after training camp. His charity, The Helping Hands Foundation, has brought children joy over the years in ways far beyond anything he could achieve on the football field.

I think the crazy thing is, of all of Hines Ward’s accomplishments, the thing I found the most to write about wasn’t what he does on the field, but about who he is as a human being. 

The stats are there.

But what makes Hines Ward a Hall of Famer is the way he has gone about playing the game of football and blended it into his personal life, something that makes him stand alone.

I have never been to Canton, Ohio… home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But the day Hines Ward in inducted, I will drop whatever job it is I have for one day and go. I will sit there and wear my Hines Ward jersey and wave my Terrible Towel, because Hines Ward is the reason I am a Steeler fan.

Controversies, Rumors and Training Camp

August 3, 2009 - Leave a Response

 

The good news: We’re eleven days away from the first preseason game.

The bad news: the start of training camp has been filled with controversy and rumors.

First, there is the Ben Roethlisberger civil case looming over camp.

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Despite this being a big distraction, it seem Roethlisberger is extremely focused on football, which is for the best.

At this point, Big Ben being overly focused on being a good quarterback is a very good thing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The other big story is the potential of former Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick joining the Black and Gold. 

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There have been rumors of Vick being spotted on the Southside and Latrobe, but nothing has been proven (A danger of Twitter).

At the start of the rumor spreading, I thought that this was ridiculous and that an organization like the Pittsburgh Steelers would never do anything like this.

But, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. 

The Rooney’s have historically got rid of anyone who was trouble, this is well documented with players such as Bam Morris and Plaxico Burress. 

But this would be a chance for a showing of compassion and a chance at redemption, as well as doing NFL Commissioner ROger Goodell a huge favor.

Vick needs to be on a team that has a proven #1 Quarterback (Check), solid team leadership by strong moral individuals (check), good team ownership, coaching and management (check) and lastly, a team that could use his talents (check).

So, while it still seems unlikely that Michael Vick will land in Pittsburgh, I would not be completely shocked, as we do provide an environment that he needs.

On a good note, Heath Miller signed a six-year extension to remain in Pittsburgh.

 

I used this picture the other day, I just love it.
I used this picture the other day, I just love it.

I love this move by the Steelers.

Miller was entering the last year of his contract. He is, in my opinion, the most underrated Tight End in the NFL.

He has become a big bailout for Roethlisberger while he is running around for his life.

It’s great to know that the Heinz Field crowd will have seven more years of yelling “Heeeeeeeath!” after every catch he makes.

Holy crap it’s football season.

 

My Top 5 NFL Teams By Conference (AFC)

July 25, 2009 - Leave a Response

Now for, what I feel, is the better of the two conferences.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers

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The Champs are the Champs until proved otherwise. The Steelers will have a much easier schedule than last year, but it will not be easy. They have strong leadership and a defense that is the best in the NFL.

Prediction: 13-3

titans logoThe Titans were the AFC’s best team last season, until the playoffs. They lost a big piece of their team in Albert Haynesworth, but are still very strong across the board. They are poised to have another strong season.

Prediction: 12-4

3. New England Patriots

patslogo2Now, I know that Tom Brady missed a whole season, but this is still a very dangerous team. I think they will probably make it to the AFC Championship. There are questions about their defense and running game, but they can outscore anyone in the league if they need to.

Prediction: 11-5

4. Indianapolis Colts

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Any team with Peyton Manning is a threat. The Colts boast a solid defense, a great quarterback and one of the best receivers in the game in Reggie Wayne. Just a solid team, as usual. They also have a very easy looking schedule.

Prediction: 11-5

5. Baltimore Ravens

ravenslogoThe Ravens surprised a lot of people last season by making it to the AFC Championship. They almost beat the Steelers three times last season, but nevertheless lost all three games. The big question is how will Joe Flacco play, especially with the retirement of Derrick Mason. Of course, their defense is always near the top.

Prediction: 10-6

The rest of the standings shake out like this:

6. San Diego Chargers

7. Miami Dolphins

8. Buffalo Bills

9. New York Jets

10. Jacksonville Jaguars

11. Denver Broncos

12. Houston Texans

13. Kansas City Chiefs

14. Cleveland Browns

15. Cincinnati Bengals

16. Oakland Raiders

My Top 5 NFL Teams By Conference (NFC)

July 24, 2009 - Leave a Response

We’ll go with NFC first… They seem to be the weaker of the Conferences, in my opinion.

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1. The New York Giants

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The Giants are a very strong team and are possibly the team to beat in the AFC. They play in possibly the toughest division in football and have a great defense. The only real problem they have is at receiver. With the Plaxico Burress situation, they have lost a lot of talent, which leaves a void for Eli Manning. 

Prediction: 12-4

2. The Philadelphia Eagles

eagleslogoThe Eagles are looking like a very good team this year. They made it to the NFC Championship and are poised to potentially go back. They have a Quarterback who still desires to prove himself and a defense that can play with anyone.

Prediction: 11-5

3. Carolina Panthers

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The Panthers were poised to make a Super Bowl run last season, but were cut short in a blowout by the Arizona Cardinals. They look to make it further this season, as they bring back a talented group, including Steve Smith, Julius Peppers and DeAngelo Williams.

Prediction: 10-6

4. Minnesota Vikings

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No matter what happens with the this years edition of As the Favre Turns, the Vikings will be a tough team to beat. They sport a phenomenal defense and a running attack that really can’t be matched. I think Favre is good for one or two additional wins.

Prediction: 9-7 (Without Favre)… 10-6 (With Favre)

5. Chicago Bears

bearslogoThe Bears got better since last season with the addition of Jay Cutler. Cutler will not be leading this team to the Super Bowl most likely, but he will play good enough to get them into the playoffs in what (besides the Lions) is a tight division.

Prediction: 10-6

The rest of the Conference plays out like this:

6. Atlanta Falcons

7. Arizona Cardinals

8. Dallas Cowboys

9. New Orleans Saints

10. Green Bay Packers

11. Washington Redskins

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

13. Seattle Seahawks

14. St. Louis Rams

15. San Francisco 49ers

16. USC Trojans

17. Detroit Lions

Too harsh?

Steelers 2009 Outlook (Day 4)

July 23, 2009 - Leave a Response

Offensive line time.

Not too much to brag about here… except that we won a Super Bowl.

Ohhhh!

Starks, Kemoeatu, Hartwig, Stapleton, Essex.

Craig Urbrik could see some time, but he’s a rookie.

Offensive line is whatev, but so crucial.

The Steelers didn’t do much to improve the line. Hopefully the group will tighten up so Big Ben can stay off his back. 

Steelers 2009 Outlook (Day 3)

July 18, 2009 - Leave a Response

Going to take a look at the Receiving Unit, as well as the Tight Ends.

While the Steelers are yet to have an elite Receiver, they may have seen what is to come during the 2008-2009 Playoffs.

Santonio Holmes emerged as a big-time threat to any defense. He proved it, scoring touchdowns in each playoff game (two receiving touchdowns, one punt return). 

Most notably was his Super Bowl performance, which he received an MVP Award for. His catch to win the Super Bowl was one of the most dramatic plays in NFL history.

In case you forgot…

(Michaels and Madden just want to puke.)

Joining Santonio will be Hines Ward. While it is clear that Ward is on the down-slope of his career, he is still able to put up big numbers. (81 Receptions, 1043 Yards, 7 Touchdowns last season). 

Hines, who is without question the Captain of the team, will now need to shift his career goals. He has accomplished a lot and we could not ask for anything more from the best Receiver in Pittsburgh history. But it is important that Hines teach younger players, such as Santonio Holmes and Limas Sweed, how to be good ball-catchers, as well as good people.

This season will be interesting to watch the emergence of Sweed, who dropped some big passes last season.

1. Hines Ward

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2. Santonio Holmes

3. Limas Sweed

4. Shaun McDonald

5.  Mike Wallace

Now, when it comes to Tight Ends, there is no question who is the number one guy.

Heath Miller has established himself as one of the premier Tight Ends in the game. His versatility is something that is a huge asset for this Steeler team, as they can utilize him for the run and the pass. 

Ben Roethisberger has grown a great comfort in Miller, who will is entering the last season of his contract. Miller has done more bailing out of Roethlisberger than Obama has for car companies.

Re-signing Miller has to be the number one priority for this season.

1. Heath Miller

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2. Matt Spaeth

3. Sean McHugh

Steelers 2009 Outlook (Day 2)

July 17, 2009 - Leave a Response

Unless the weather dictates otherwise, I’ll be attending the Pirates (MLB’s AAA affiliate) vs. San Francisco Giants game tonight. Tim Lincecum (2008 NL Cy Young Winner) will be on the hill for San Fran. 

Because of the game, I’m going to write this now.

Today, we’ll look at the Running Back position for the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Last year, to be honest… was not good when it came to keeping the ball on the ground. The Steelers were one of the worst teams in the NFL when it came to rushing, getting away from what is traditionally the team’s bread and butter. 

Now, there were some contributing factors:

1. Poor offensive line play.

2. Injuries to Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall.

3. Top-notched run defenses that we faced.

However, there shouldn’t be too many excuses this season. Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall should be completely healthy come the season opener.

Mendenhall, who was injured early in the 2008 season, will basically be going into his rookie season all over again.

Parker, the established, speedy veteran, still has to prove that he is the back that he used to be and that he is not as soft as some people perceive him to be.

Finally, Mewelde Moore did fill in nicely last season, especially on 3rd-down situations. He was the teams 2nd leading rusher behind Parker, and played a great role in some big games throughout the year.

1. Willie Parker

parkercarry

2. Rashard Mendenhall

3, Mewelde Moore

4. Frank Summers

5. Carey Davis

This season needs to be a big year for Parker, who will likely be replaced by the younger, more powerful Mendenhall if he can not perform. 

Expect Mendenhall to get a good amount of snaps, especially in the preseason.

The Steelers, who normally draft very well, still have verdicts out on their last two first-round picks. Lawrence Timmons played well at times, but was not starting material for the Steel Curtain. He will be now though, due to the departure of Larry Foote.

Mendenhall, who looked like he could play, had his shoulder broken early in the season and never really was able to show what he can do.

Mewelde Moore will most likely keep the third-down back position, as well as returning some kicks.

Finally, Frank Summers, the rookie, will most likely get in a lot in the preseason and maybe in some goal line situations. He is a tiny tank, like Maurice Jones-Drew and could be a good asset around the endzone. 

At the end of the day, people are going to want “Steeler football.” They want to pound the ball and play good defense. As much as Tomlin likes separating himself from past coaches, he will have to eventually have to give in to the cry of the Yinzer and play some ‘Burgh Ball. It’s important that this group of ‘backs be ready to follow suit.

Go Steelers 

Steelers 2009 Outlook

July 16, 2009 - Leave a Response

I’m going to go through the 2009 Steelers, position by position.

First, I’ll start at the Quarterback position.

Last season, Ben Roethlisberger was not an elite quarterback when it came to stats. He threw for a respectable 3301 yards, but threw only 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. 

But, when it comes to making the right play at the right time, Roethlisberger was an elite quarterback. The Steelers had a number of come-from-behind wins in which Roethlisberger was stellar down the stretch. Roethlisberger did more to win games than he did to lose them.

The Steelers got big performances from backup Byron Leftwich, who departed in the offseason for Tampa Bay. Charlie Batch will be back, as well as Dennis Dixon.

Quarterback

1. Ben Roethlisberger

bigbentrophy

2. Charlie Batch

3. Dennis Dixon 

This season, it’s important for Roethlisberger to stay healthy. The Steelers are just better when he is under center. He is the third best Quarterback in the league and not having him can not be allowed.

Other than health, it’s important that Roethlisberger improve his touchdown to interception ratio. 17 to 15 is not going to cut it every season.

Finally, it is crucial that the backups are ready at all times, because with the Steelers… less than average offensive line… they could be going in the game at any time.

Go Steelers.