Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stealing from the Steelers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stealing from the Steelers

Article excerpt

It started even before the first brick was laid on the new

stadium and their first player was signed. When you think about

it, the Jaguars have been methodically robbing the Pittsburgh

Steelers of free-agent talent ever since they lured media

relations man Dan Edwards from the Steel City in May 1994.

"I don't know if I was unrestricted or simply unwanted,"

Edwards cracks now. ". . . I came here because it was a

once-in-a-career opportunity."

Edwards was the first major coup the Jaguars pulled on the

reigning kings of the AFC Central, and earlier this week

cornerback Deon Figures was the most recent. The Jags seem

intent on reinforcing their roster with free agents from their

division rivals, and it's no secret the AFC Central has been the

Steelers' stomping ground since before Tony Boselli was born.

Last year, the Jaguars significantly weakened the Steelers by

enticing right tackle Leon Searcy to Jacksonville with the most

lucrative contract ever signed by an NFL offensive tackle. This

year, it was Figures, a promising young player who has the size

and talent to be a dominant cornerback in the NFL. The Jags gave

Figures nearly one-third more money than the Steelers offered.

And next year, who or what will the Jags attempt to heist from

Pittsburgh? Greg Lloyd? Kordell Stewart? Mario Lemieux?

It's a good thing the Jaguars weren't in existence during the

Pittsburgh glory years of the 1970s. The Steel Curtain would

have been the Teal Curtain. The Immaculate Reception would have

predated Morten's Miss by two decades in the Jags' book of

miracles. Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Greene would be sports

talk radio hosts in Jacksonville after distinguished careers

with the Jaguars. And Iron City Beer would be supplanted on the

regional suds hierarchy by River City Brew.

Although Jags coach Tom Coughlin says it's not one of his

primary free-agent objectives to take players from divisional

foes such as the Steelers, it does seem to be more than just

coincidence that most of the Jaguars' key acquisitions are from

the AFC Central. Last year, for instance, Searcy, Pro Bowl wide

receiver Keenan McCardell (Baltimore) and linebacker Eddie

Robinson (Houston) all came from divisional rivals. …

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