Steigerwald: Root for best possible game….Noll > Lombardi

tom bradyTIOPS TUESDAY COLUMN

I hope Tom Brady plays against the Steelers on September 10th.

I hope Tom Brady’s four game suspension is upheld.

You might say I’m a little conflicted on the Tom Brady situation. I can explain. I hope he’s suspended because I think he got caught all but red-handed breaking an NFL rule and then did his best to cover it up.

I also believe that Roger Goodell and the NFL are refusing to cave on the issue because everybody in the league knows that the Patriots cheat and everybody believes it’s time they were nailed.

Peyton Manning wouldn’t hold offensive meetings in the visitors locker room in Foxboro because he believed it was bugged.

So, Brady and the Patriots deserve to be knocked down a peg or two, but I also would like to see what the Steelers’ new defense can do against them.

I went to Twitter over the weekend and asked fans this question: “Given a choice, would you rather see Brady, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson miss their games vs. the Steelers or see them play?”

Maybe it’s because I stopped being a fan when I became a member of the stinking media, but I always root for the best possible game.

A good number of tweeters said it was a no-brainer – that they would hope the three quarterbacks were out because it gave the Steelers a better chance to win.

If the Steelers would make it to the Super Bowl, would you be happy to hear that Wilson slipped in the bathtub and was out for the game?

I wouldn’t.

I would want to see a Ben Roethlisberger-Russell Wilson Super Bowl.

I would also want to see Tom Brady at quarterback if the Steelers played the Patriots in the AFC Championship games.

Would the Steelers’ wins in Super Bowls X and XIII have been as special and as memorable if Roger Staubach had missed both with injuries?

Would the Pirates impossible win in the 1960 World Series have been as memorable if Mickey Mantle and White Ford hadn’t played?

How about the Pirates beating the heavily favored Orioles in 1971 and 1979? What made those wins special was the fact that the Pirates were huge underdogs. What if Jim Palmer and Frank Robinson had missed the ‘71 series and Palmer and Eddie Murray had sat out in ‘79?

Would you trade the excitement of those seven game series for a four game sweep? I wouldn’t.

If the Penguins were to face the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals, would you want Alexander Ovechkin to be out with an injury?

I wouldn’t. And I always hope for a Penguins-Capitals match up in the first round. Or Penguins-Flyers.

I think if you polled the players on the Steelers’ defense, they would tell you that they would prefer to see Brady because they want to see what they can do against the best.

I also asked this question on Twitter: “If you are a Pitt fan, which would you prefer for an opening game at Heinz Field, a 24-21 loss to, say, UCLA or a 63-7 win over Youngstown State?”

More tweeters chose the 63-7 win because it’s a win and it’s all about winning. But, is it?

What about being in a jam-packed stadium and watching a classic college football game? Would you really take 30,000 empty seats and a 63-7 win over that?

I wouldn’t.

Again, maybe it’s because I’m not a fan, but I realized a long time ago that I didn’t get a winners’ share when the local teams won and they don’t put my name on the Stanley Cup.

I’m old enough to remember watching Johnny Unitas play. And I also know that, if I had tickets to a Steelers-Colts game, I would have been disappointed if I had found out he wasn’t playing.

And I’ll be disappointed if Peyton Manning’s not the quarterback when the Broncos play at Heinz Field on December 20th. Will you?


— The guys on the Steelers Radio Network had a good discussion during their pre game show on Sunday. They were asked to comparing the Steelers Hall of Famers to the Packers Hall of Famers and choosing which they thought were best.

Bart Starr or Terry Bradshaw? The voting was split. I’d take Bradshaw. Joe Green or Reggie White? You get the idea.

I’m pretty sure that, when they got to the coaches, Vince Lombardi was a unanimous choice. I disagree with that one.

I know it’s supposed to be a slam dunk that Lombardi is the best coach in NFL history, but he was no better than Noll.

Lombardi’s Packers owned the ‘60s.

Noll’s Steelers owned the ‘70s every bit as much.

Lombardi has a big edge in overall winning percentage, but he walked away after 9 years with the Packers. You think maybe he saw his team getting older and knew the run was over?

Noll stuck around and suffered through some bad years in the ‘80s when he was trying to squeeze more seasons out of aging players and trying to re-stock with players picked a lot later in the first round.

Both built dynasties but Lombardi inherited Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Ray Nitshke, Willie Davis, Willie Wood and Forrest Gregg, to name a few.

Noll inherited, Andy Russell, Rocky Bleir, and Ray Mansfield. His only established star was wide receiver Roy Jefferson, who was cut after one season for not going along with the program.

With the exception of Bleier, Noll drafted or signed every player on his last two Super Bowl teams.

He did a better job of coaching in the ‘70s than Lombardi did in the ‘60s and it’s really not that close.

About The Author

John Steigerwald

TIOPS Columnist

John Steigerwald, a life long Pittsburgher, has been covering PITTSBURGH sports since 1977 as a TV anchor/reporter, columnist radio reporter/commentator and talk show host. He is also the author of one of the best selling local books in Pittburgh history, "Just Watch The Game."

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