Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Sticky Situation

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Sticky Situation

Article excerpt

Quarterback Bubby Brister surveyed the turmoil around him during one particularly bad Steelers season more than two decades ago and proclaimed, "I'm about to come unglued!"

That statement might aptly fit what's going on with the Steelers today. Never has one anonymous comment by one player critiquing another prompted so much soul-searching, counterattacks and new revelations of the failed 2012 season that was the 8-8 Steelers.

* * * *

Even general manager Kevin Colbert got into the act Thursday, both defending LaMarr Woodley after his worst NFL season and saying he was bothered by the fact that his accuser's comments were anonymous. Would the GM have preferred a player say the same thing and put his name behind it?

For the two or three of you who may have missed it, here is what the anonymous player told Ron Cook in his Sunday Post-Gazette column about Woodley's 2012 season:

"He was awful. He tells us he works out, but we didn't see it. He wasn't in shape. That has to be a reason why he was always hurt."

No player has countered the point made by Mr. Anonymous, just that it was said and said anonymously. The reaction has yielded two unintended consequences: Sympathy for Woodley on the occasion of his poor season -- one, Colbert said, that even Woodley would acknowledge he had -- and revelations that the Steelers players were seemingly at war with each other during the 2012 season.

What did Ryan Clark call it? Oh, yes, a "fracture" of the previously close-knit Steelers locker room. Larry Foote believes whoever said it broke a code, and then he suggested the comment could have come from a coach -- maybe one of those who bailed out for jobs at lesser organizations, such as Duke, UTEP and the Arizona Cardinals?

But it was Antonio Brown, voted the team's MVP in 2011, who really opened the window into the disharmony that was apparently prevalent on the 2012 Steelers.

"Our team was a team last year where guys wasn't really together," Brown told ESPN Wednesday. "As we know in the NFL, you got to have a band of brothers. Everyone got to be together and it got to filter down from the leadership."

Brown even suggested that other teammates agreed with the anonymous comments.

"Then other guys supporting it ... It goes to show you that we wasn't a team in 2012. So some of the things we got to iron out and we're looking to get those things corrected."

That may not be so simple. The leadership drain that began a year ago will continue here shortly when the Steelers do not re-sign some long-standing veterans and release some others. Those kinds of moves, while perhaps necessary, will not improve the locker room kumbayah. It may make it only worse.

On ESPN's "SportsCenter," Brown said the Steelers were different in his third season than in his first two.

"Guys weren't really together," Brown said. …

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