We’re hearing from Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin about a federal judge’s decision that will allow Tom Brady to play in next Thursday’s opener against the Steelers. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman nullified a four-game suspension handed down to Brady over Deflate-gate. The NFL is appealing the ruling, but the league will not seek an emergency stay. That means, Brady will play despite the appeal. Coach Tomlin didn’t seem concerned, “I wasn’t a part of that process so I was waiting just like you guys, where I try not to worry about things I don’t have control over. If you’re preparing to play New England, you better be prepared to play against Tom Brady, and we’ve been proceeding with that mentality and thankfully we were.” So there are now three players out with suspensions for the NFL Kickoff game. For the Patriots, LeGarrette Blount will be serving the one-game suspension he received when he was with the Steelers last season. For the Steelers, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant are also suspended, Bell (two games) for DUI and Bryant (four games) for violating the NFL Substance Abuse policy.
The ruling has been handed down by Federal Judge Richard Berman. Tom Brady has won on appeal, and Brady will play against the Steelers in the NFL Kickoff game on September 10th. The league plans to appeal today’s ruling, but the NFL will not seek a stay, which means Brady can play while the appeal is being heard. Here’s a statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision. We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season.”
Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant is commenting for the first time since the NFL upheld his four-game suspension for violating the league’s Substance Abuse policy. Following the Steelers afternoon practice, Brown faced the cameras and was surrounded by a large group of reporters in front of his locker. “Honestly, I embarrassed myself. I embarrassed my family. I embarrassed the team and the program.” Bryant’s suspension leaves the Steelers without three offensive stars for the September 10th NFL Kickoff game against the New England Patriots. I asked Bryant if he feels he let his teammates down, and his answer stayed to a carefully-worded script, “I’m just going to learn from my mistake and what happened, just own up to it and get better” Bryant’s teammate and fellow receiver, Antonio Brown, was asked if he was disappointed in Bryant, “Personally, yeah, I am. He has a lot of talent and we want him to be the guy his capable of becoming. When you take steps back, it isn’t the right thing to do when you have an owner like Mr. Rooney.”
“We are disappointed in Martavis’ actions that has led to his four-game suspension. It is a disappointment to our entire organization as well as our fans, but we will continue to support Martavis during his suspension. It is very unfortunate his actions have put our team in this situation to begin the year, but we are confident he will learn from his mistake and return in excellent shape in Week 5.”
Steelers General Manager
I don’t know if the Pirates will catch the first-place Cardinals, but don’t let that question spoil what’s happening right now. Today’s loss by the Bucs was only the 4th loss in their last 18 games. The Pirates will finish the month of August with 79 wins—as many or more than they had for the entire season from 1993 until 2011. They have 33 regular-season games remaining. If they finish one game below .500, they’ll still have 95 wins—the most for the Pirates since 1992. If they finish with 21 wins in their final 33, they’ll get to 100 for only the third time in franchise history, and for the first time in more than 100 years. The fans won’t be satisfied until the Pirates win it all, but right before our eyes, the Bucs have turned into a major league powerhouse. Enjoy it while it lasts, because not once has a powerhouse ever lasted forever!
The Steelers play the Buffalo Bills later today in their fourth of five preseason games. They have an extra game this year because of their participation in the Hall of Fame game earlier this month. On Thursday at his weekly news conference, Coach Mike Tomlin was asked if he thought his players preferred a shorter preseason. The coach didn’t mince words, “I don’t care what they prefer man. I just play the schedule that is presented to us. We had five this year, man I’ll take it. I imagine we’ll have four next year. I’ll be talking about taking those, some of the things we spend a lot of time talking about, are irrelevant. They’re out of our control, and it’s a waste of time.”
The Pirates have won 12 of their last 15 games. That hasn’t done them much good in the the effort to chase the first-place Cardinals, but it has solidified their position in the National League Wild Card chase. The Bucs are still 4 1/2 games behind the Cards in the NL Central, but their cushion over the Cubs (the second NL Wild Card team) is now at four games. Meanwhile, the numbers are impressive for the Pirates. Last night’s win was their 77th of the season. With 36 games remaining in the regular season, the Pirates could finish with a .500 record and still get 95 wins. Gerrit Cole now has 15 wins and Mark Melancon has 41 saves. The Pirates enter the final month of the season with momentum, and their fans can start to prepare for what looks like a third consecutive playoff appearance for the Bucs.
Another huge hit for the Steelers offense. Martavis Bryant, a phenom as a rookie a year ago, is reportedly facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. This is the latest dose of terrible news for the offense. Remember–the Steelers will already be without Le’Veon Bell (suspension) and Maurkice Pouncey (injury) for the opening game at New England two weeks from tonight.
Shaun Suisham is now officially out for the season. On Wednesday, the Steelers announced that Suisham had been placed on Injured Reserve. His replacement, 29-year-old Garrett Hartley, arrived at camp on Tuesday, but today he talked to the Pittsburgh media for the first time. Before being signed, Hartley kicked at Heinz Field during a tryout this week. It was his first time kicking there. He says he’s heard a lot about the swirling wind, but he’s not concerned, “They just added some seats to the back to keep the wind from swirling. People always like being a dome kicker, I mean, well like I played college in Oklahoma. I think the wind blows a little bit there too, so it’s not my first rodeo. I’m just excited to have the opportunity to be here.”
Channel 11 is giving you a front row seat and exclusive behind-the-scenes access for all of the action this weekend in Canton. Watch our specials on Friday at 7:00 and Saturday, starting at 6:00. Then Sunday, tune into Channel 11 starting at 4:30 for the Hall of Fame parade. That’s followed by the Black & Gold zone pregame show at 6:30. The Steelers take on the Vikings in the first preseason game at 8pm, followed by the Black & Gold Zone post game coverage, and then the Subway Final Word.