If there's anything I hate hearing more than "Pirates Navy SEAL training" it's the phrase "the Steeler way."
The Steeler way is an unofficial code of discipline that fans and the organization have dubbed as being the model way for franchise behavior on and off the field.
Give me a break.
You know what the "Steeler way" is? It's allowing a player like Alameda Ta'amu to come back after a two game suspension for his drunk driving spree through the Southside two weeks ago. Ta'amu, a fourth round pick in last April's draft, was charged with three felonies -including assault and evading police- along with a score of other charges.
As a rookie, he's made zero impact on the field and due to the steep learning curve and his performances in practice, he's not going to see the field anytime soon. When asked about the incident, Mike Tomlin cited that Ta'amu was dealing with off the field, on the field and NFL problems; or, to sum it all up:
"Such is life."
Really, coach? That's it? How about a real response other than suspending the guy for two games that he wouldn't play in anyway? It's bad enough the Steelers are among one of the worst penalized teams in the league, but, at times, you almost get the sense that the players know nothing will come of their bad decisions.
To be fair to Mike Tomlin, in this day and age, that's the way players act. The current "Steeler way" is the NFL way as well. Players get arrested and reinstated with minimal punishment all the time. Jerome Simpson spent 15 days in jail for selling marijuana, yet here he is, back in the league donning purple and gold. Heck, Donte Stallworth KILLED A GUY.
But that doesn't excuse Tomlin's team for its antics. As entertaining as the players make the game by dancing around and interacting with the crowd, there's no reason for Antonio Brown to run the last 20 yards backwards into the end zone. Furthermore, if he does get penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct (and he was), Brown should not be on the field the following series. In that situation last Sunday, Brown was targeted on the first passing play since his penalty. Where's the accountability?
Then there's the new slogan created by the Steelers and UPMC, "Don't hit the head, don't use the head." Well, clearly that message was lost long ago on Ryan Clark who continuously gets fined for his hits and even concussed himself last weekend. In other worse, practice what you preach! Coach, if you say you're going to take players off the field for penalties, then do it.
It's up to the current Steelers to set the tone for the "Steeler way" again. Obviously, Mike Tomlin cannot prevent his players from getting in trouble off the field, nor can he prevent them from being penalized on it. However, when his players do get out of hand, he needs to be stricter with his disciplinary actions. Otherwise, the "Steeler way" will be lost to more than just a few critical followers of the franchise and the penalties will cost the team more than just a few yards.