Yesterday was the first day that NFL teams can designate the franchise and transition tags. So what about Le’Veon Bell? He was designated the franchise tag last year. He missed training camp, and earned $12.1 million for 2017. The Steelers will try again, but if they can’t, they could tag Bell again, and he’d be guaranteed at least $14.5 million.
Last week, I asked Steelers GM Kevin Colbert if he was optimistic Bell would be signed. His answer? “I believe I am,” but Colbert says they’ll never discount the use of the tag. Colbert also said, “we weren’t able to get the long-term deal done last year, but we never closed that door on that possibility for this season. Then again, as we talk about all of the different scenarios of cap, free agency, the draft, how is it all going to come together?” He added, “we won’t know until we continue to move through this. We never will discount the use of a tag.” Here’s what Art Rooney ii told me about the possibility of signing Bell, “we would like to get a long-term contract done with Le’Veon. and I think the fact that both sides want to get something done, that’s helpful. hard to say when it will happen. Sometimes these things, as we know, get dragged out but I think as long as both sides want to get something done, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll get it done.”

 

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Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is speaking publicly for the first time about his devastating injury, which left him unable to walk. Shazier appeared on teammate Roosevelt Nix’s podcast, and said he’s still reaching for the Hall of Fame. Shazier says he feels he’s best linebacker ever, and says, “I just got to be back out there.” Shazier says he’s “trusting the process” and that he knows the end goal.

 

The NHL trade deadline’s a week from today, and there’s been a lot of concern, and speculation, over filling Nick Bonino’s spot at third-line center. But maybe that problem has been resolved. Riley Sheahan scored two more goals yesterday in the win over Columbus–his 7th and 8th of the season. Sheahan’s confidence is growing as he gives the Pens exactly what they need, “it helps I think when you can put up some points, so I’m feeling good. It’s nice to make some plays and to contribute some offense and take care of the little things too.”

Of all the rough losses for the Pitt Panthers, tonight might rank as one of the worst. The Panthers led by 15 halfway through the first half, only to lose by 23. That’s a 38-point turnaround. Boston College outscored Pitt 68 to 30 in the final 33 minutes and BC wins 81-58. Pitt has now given up 112 points in its last four games, and the Panthers are now 0-14 in the ACC.  Only 4 opportunities remain to avoid a winless regular season in the conference.

 

 

 

Matt Murray was spectacular in net yesterday, stopping 33 of the 34 shots he faced.
Murray led the Penguins to 3 of possible 4 points against two tough opponents on the road trip. Head coach Mike Sullivan says the reason for Murray’s success is his ability to keep things in perspective, “that’s what allows any of us to deal with any of the challenges that life throws our way, whether it be in hockey itself or or outside of the game…Matt’s had a little bit of both this year, and we think he’s handled it extremely well, and I think that’s a credit to him as a person, not as a player but more so as an individual.”

 

I sat down with Steelers President Art Rooney II on Thursday. Interview topics included Le’Veon Bell, who’s hoping for a long-term contract. Rooney remains optimistic that could happen, “we’d like to get a long-term contract done with Le’Veon and I think the fact that both sides want to get something done is — that’s helpful. Hard to say when it will happen. Sometimes these things, as we know, can get dragged out, but I think as long as both side want to get something done, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll get it done.” Rooney also had high praise for head coach Mike Tomlin, who received a healthy dose of criticism after the Steelers playoff loss to Jacksonville. Some fans were even calling for Tomlin to be fired, “fans get disappointed, and we understand that. We were all disappointed about the last game. So, I understand how that goes. But I think when you take a step back and you look at the job mike’s done and the fact all the players love playing for him and want to play for him, we’re happy to have him and hope he’s going to be out coach for well into the future.”

Tuesday night’s game turned into a night for the ages. The Pens recognized Marc-Andre Fleury with an emotional video tribute, followed by a rousing ovation from the crowd at PPG Paints Arena. The crowd cheered Fleury for several minutes before play resumed.
Fleury told us after the game how much he was touched, “I really didn’t now what to expect, but in warmups I got goose bumps. People that gave me the cards and kind words and also, ya it’s a night I won’t forget.”

On January 21st, 1979, I watched part of Super Bowl XIII in a college dorm room with Howie Long. Tonight, 39 years later, I watched Howie on a Super Bowl commercial, and then watched his son Chris win his second consecutive Super Bowl. The younger Long and his teammates in Philadelphia rose against all odds this season, and it culminated with a well-deserved championship. Congratulations to former Steelers director of fb operations Tom Donahoe and the two Weidl brothers, Andy and Casey. All 3, along with former central catholic star Stefan Wisnewski are all Super Bowl champs.

I was talking with my buddy, and Shults Ford owner Richard Bazzy, who has long admired the talents and accomplishments of Tom Brady. Richard suggested that Brady is the greatest player in the history of any sport. Richard knows football, but as important, he appreciates athletes who are dedicated to winning, and he believes that if you combine talent, work ethic, leadership, football IQ, determination, and an almost obsession to win, then Brady ranks all time at the top of not only his sport, but of any sport. Brady is the only player to win five Super Bowls playing for one team, and he has the most championships of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era. Here’s a random list (not a complete list) of other athletes who have won a minimum of four championships with one team:

  • Bill Russell: 11 NBA titles with Celtics
  • Yogi Berra: 10 World Series titles with Yankees
  • Joe DiMaggio: 9 World Series titles with Yankees
  • Michael Jordan: 6 NBA titles with Bulls
  • Magic Johnson: 5 NBA titles with Lakers
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 5 NBA titles with Lakers (6 total)
  • Kobe Bryant: 5 NBA titles with Lakers
  • Bart Starr: 5 NFL Championships with Packers (3 NFL Championships, 2 Super Bowls)
  • Derek Jeter: 5 World Series titles with Yankees
  • Wayne Gretzky: 4 Stanley Cup titles with Oilers
  • A whole bunch of Steelers with FOUR!

On January 28, 1996, the Steelers lost to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.  You know the game details: Neil O’Donnell 3 interceptions. Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown was the MVP. The Steelers fell short in their “one-for-the-thumb” bid. Joe Montana represented all Super Bowl MVPs at the coin toss. Vanessa Williams sang the national anthem. The halftime show starred Diana Ross.  I checked, and unless I’m wrong, the high temperature was 66 degrees, but my sunglasses are proof that it was sunny and beautiful in Tempe that day. Look at the blue sky.  I sat behind George Clooney, who at the time, led the cast of the television hit ER.  Now the real question. Who had the better mustache in the postgame news conference. Bill Cowher, or me? 22 years ago today!!

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