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Why Your Team Sucks

Why Your Team Sucks 2020: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Some people are fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This 2020 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: Pittsburgh Steelers.

Your 2019 record: 8-8. Who never beat a playoff team all season long? Who refused to deal Antonio Brown to New England, traded him to Oakland, and watched him end up in New England anyway? Who forced five takeaways against the Niners and still lost? Who had their backup QB get his ass beat with his own helmet? Who fumbled away their best chance to beat Lamar Jackson for the next decade? Who had to start a QB named Duck? What team just watched its last vestiges of relevance fucking VANISH?

Your coach: Mike Tomlin. Let’s see how Mike Tomlin is handling the pandemic.

Most years Tomlin breaks June minicamp with a talk that features one of his more popular catchphrases: “Don’t be that guy.”

“Don’t sexually assault people. Unless you’re our franchise quarterback.”

This year “don’t be that guy” has a slightly altered meaning. Players have been getting an earful from Tomlin since reporting to training camp last week about not being that guy to bring the coronavirus to the Steelers.

Leave it to Tomlin and the Steelers to act like a Big 12 team in response to a global plague. Sure yes, the people in charge of both the sport and the country as a whole could have an ironclad, coherent policy to prevent mass infection. Or, and hear me out on this: We just blame anyone who gets the rona for getting the rona. That way, no one in charge can feel bad if you do! It’s the right approach. So yeah, don’t be that guy who, like, breathes. THIS IS A BROTHERHOOD. Mike Tomlin is a meathead in highly specific ways and will never fix any of it. You are not allowed to be a member of this organization unless you’re willing to blame other people for your own fuck-ups.

Your quarterback: A tired old tramp who blew out his elbow a year ago. Thankfully, the report from camp is that Ben Roethlisberger is—say it with me now—ALL THE WAY BACK from last year’s injury and prepared to lead this team in threatening to retire once more. It’s gonna be so inspiring watching the least charming man in the world get hurt again, blame it on his line, fund more police attack dogs, and then do it all over again for the next four years. Ben is done. He’ll never win another ring, and the only people he’ll ever be able to convince he’s a decent person are former teammates and reporters who need access to him. The President is better at faking Christianity than this meatball.

I’ve been addicted to pornography, which makes me then not the best husband, not the best father, not the best Christian I can be. You have to dedicate yourself and understand that you can get out of it because of the grace of God… I’m trying to be a better Christian than I am athlete and football player. I push myself every day to do that, and it starts here. It’s not always easy.

I bet it isn’t when you’re an unapologetic sex creep. Ben Roethlisberger grabbing Stormy Daniels by force and saying out loud, “I swear I’m gonna maybe try to atone for this one day, you watch!” I hope this man gives up motorcycle helmets again.

Until that blessed morning, Pittsburgh will try to convince me that Big Ben still has something left in the tank even though he is a bazillion years old, all because the other options are an incompetent racist, that Duck guy, and John Elway’s worst draft pick.

“Paxton Lynch is a talented guy that’s moving into his fourth season, but he’s a talented former first-round pick.”

What a ringing endorsement. “This guy Paxton Lynch is a human man who has not died.” All America wants from the Steelers is a QB who is not a criminal and who also is good, and apparently they cannot figure out how to accomplish that very reasonable request. Sure, they could have “drafted” a new quarterback at some sort of “annual selection meeting,” but then Roethlisberger would have assaulted God as revenge.

What’s new that sucks: It’s always slim pickings in the newness department here, even when a change of pace is DESPERATELY required. Now that Green Bay has an actual head coach and general manager, the Steelers are the last remaining NFL team to operate like a clock repair shop from 1952. Eric Ebron is here from the Colts, but since he isn’t white and doesn’t have a one syllable name, fans will be unable to come up with a chant for him. Chase Claypool is your new rookie wideout. Anthony McFarland Jr. is your new rookie tailback. He is NOT the son of Booger McFarland, which is a relief because I felt old for a second before I double-checked that. The Steelers didn’t have a first rounder in 2020 because they shrewdly traded it to Miami for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who immediately became an all-pro. Did that move put the Steelers over the hump? No. Why? Because the offense was a floater someone left during a power outage.

What has always sucked: Terry Bradshaw!

Larry Williams is a pieceworker on the assembly line of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in Pittsburgh, and he is a Steeler fan. So he read with interest the comments by Terry Bradshaw, the Steeler quarterback, concerning the possibility of a strike by the National Football League Players Association if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached with management.

Bradshaw said he would ”lead the parade” of players across any picket line. ”With the economy the way it is,” Bradshaw said, ”people aren’t going to be sympathetic with a guy making $100,000 going on strike.”

Here I thought Pittsburgh was foolish to run that man out of town. Who knew the beer-battered populace of this city could be such astute judges of character? Alas, Bradshaw was exiled 38 years ago and Steelers fans haven’t served a useful purpose to America since. And now they’re about to watch their team get left behind by the rest of the NFL. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are gonna rule the AFC for a very long time. Meanwhile, the Steelers are gonna act as if it’s still 2008 and trot out a spoiled fat dickhead at QB and try to convince you to love a running back whose name you cannot remember because they don’t want you getting too attached to flashier talents. You can hear the title window slamming shut, can you not?

It’s over. It’s been over for a while, but now that Big Ben has been lapped by a next generation of quarterbacks that will NOT spend 10 seconds in the pocket dreaming up a really cool pump fake, the Steelers are about to endure a reboot of the Bubby Brister era. This is what they deserve. For being so fucking stale. For standing behind Roethlisberger when the rest of the free world hates his guts, and justifiably so. For Mason Rudolph TOTALLY dropping an n-bomb on Myles Garrett. For Maurkice Pouncey still remaining loyal to Aaron Hernandez. For being terminally unable to beat New England when it matters, which will remain true even though Tom Brady isn’t even there anymore. For T.J. Watt. For being catty broads who live to openly feud with one another. For having an offensive line that PRACTICES their false starts. For every last dirty hit they will deploy against Jackson in the name of performative toughness.

And for their fans. These fucking people.

Understand that Pennsylvania is a shitty state in its own right. It’s nothing but trucks and child molestation from border to border. But Pennsyltucky represents a distinctly awful subculture WITHIN that state, featuring people who are as racist as the old South but also as provincial as Boston jackasses. Take all of our worst national regions, stuff some French fries inside, and then give it a football team owned by old money dinosaurs whose idea of splurging is taking an aspirin every day. PRESTO!

America is ridden with oveprivileged mouthbreathers who do nothing useful with what they’ve been given, and Pittsburgh somehow has more of those people than any other city. When the Steelers lose, it’s never fair. When another team beats them, that team never deserves any credit for it. When it’s 3rd-and-11 from the Steelers’ own 5, it’s time to bust out the Terrible Towels and cheer wildly as Big Ben telegraphs a pick by writing his intended receiver’s name on a fucking cue card. I know the whole act by heart now. These fans and this team will never give up on it, not even as they find themselves consigned to the bottom half of the worst division in football for the rest of the century. Again, deserved.

Also, the only people who think the whole “yinzer” thing is charming are yinzers. Oh wow, you put YINZER on a mug! That’s about as adorable as Trump Junior shooting a blue whale.  

What might not suck: Have you seen Lamar Jackson play? He’s amazing. You should root for that team instead.

Ratto says: “Remember when the Steelers had Antonio Brown? That was the most dangerous this franchise has been since Chuck Noll got the gig early in the Nixon administration.

“The Steelers don’t change. They just kind of erode and accrete at an almost imperceptible rate, with four losing records in 30 years but fewer victory parades in that time than the Penguins. Ben Roethlisberger is back to retake the throne he leased to Mason Rudolph, whose one noteworthy moment was getting clocked in the head by Myles Garrett using Rudolph’s own helmet as the weapon du jour.

“With Brown gone, the Steelers get to return to anonymity (I mean, they barely crack Pro Football Talk, and PFT aggregates quite nearly everything) but not excellence. They are aging out because they don’t change; somewhere there’s a painting of Mike Tomlin that, Dorian Gray–style, reveals the coach to be a 240-year-old warlock. His personal goal continues to be the first head coach to serve one team for longer than he’s been alive.

“This is what makes the Steelers seem like they are always that relative who hides at the end of the family photo, half-obscured by another relative and half-obscured by a rhododendron. Their most daring gambit is the annual bumblebee game, in which they take throwback jerseys to their cornea-searing extreme. I am now convinced that JuJu Smith-Schuster has played for them for 20 years. They look likely to fail to reach double digits in wins for the third consecutive year, the first time that’s happened in two decades, but they’re not likely to lose in double digits either. They are a football team made almost entirely of muscle memory. They do what they do because they’ve done it before. In other words, their relentless sameness just broke me.”

HEAR IT FROM STEELERS FANS!

Christie:

All our division rivals are becoming more likable than us.

Jeff:

Anyone that willingly bought a Duck Hodges jersey last year needs to be sent to The Hague.

Josh:

Jesus Christ I can’t believe I have to watch a grey-dicked Chad Pennington 2.0 this year. And fuck everyone who is going to slobber all over that grey dick. 

Mike:

Because that fucking asshole is coming back this year. Last year, cheering for new quarterback play was the most joy I’ve had in years watching football. But this year the rapist is back for more.

Ross:

I’m a Steelers fan living in Minnesota, so I have the luxury of watching TWO teams spend, waste, and drive away Pro-Bowl talent in an Olympic sprint to set their Super Bowl windows on fire the fastest.

James:

Last season was a sneak peak at what will happen for the next 10 years after Roethlisberger retires: checkdown passes galore, boring 16-10 losses, boring 13-10 wins and nonexistent deep threats. Every game will exist to just end. IC Light sucks. 

TJ:

I’ve spent my entire sentient life watching Yinzers root for replaceable, hardscrabble dipshits while productive skill player after skill player gets pushed out by management.

Somehow they’ll make it to the AFC title game only to lose to fucking Jarred Stidham. 

Brandon:

I’m not ashamed to identify with a fanbase that gets hype for a Styx song. What embarrasses me is that it’s a Tommy Shaw Styx song. Play “Lorelei” and we go 16-0.

Mike:

Because Ben. He’s won his Super Bowls and set his records. He couldn’t care less anymore. You can see it any time he chucks one downfield. The look on his face is basically, ‘I’m a hero if the receiver catches it or who the hell cares, I made my money.’ And he knows the yinzers will call him a gunslinger and blame the “lazy” receiver for not fighting through the coverage.

He is a classic coach-killing QB, but he happens to be employed by the Rooneys. Any other team, Ben would be on at least his 6th or 7th head coach by now.

Andrew:

I have become leary of fellow Steelers fans when I see them in public. Based on the vocal part of the fan base you would think that Mike Tomlin can’t win a game and even today, any success he has is written off as an inheritance from Cowaaaaaah. It really makes no sense until you realize that he is Black.

Alaina:

Steelers fans are delusional on a good day, so of course everyone here seems to think that COVID-19 is going to magically disappear at the start of football season, allowing them the honor of sitting hip to hip with all the other pandemic-denying yutzes in Heinz field, belching out a fine mist of Iron City inches from a stranger’s face, as though the light shining off of Big Ben’s fucked up face is going to cleanse the world of all impurities.

Charlie:

This fanbase is the reason Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016.

I’m not sure at this point if 34 million is Ben’s salary this year or the number of Bud Light Limes he drank this offseason. I can’t wait for Ben to put up big fantasy stats this year, have five picks against a 3-13 team where we narrowly miss the playoffs, and get rewarded with a huge contract for two more seasons.

We haven’t made a Super Bowl since 2011 but our fans are so obnoxious you’d think we’d won three this decade.

Ryan:

Every year they make me look at my Roethlisberger jersey and think “has it been long enough that I can wear that dirtbag’s jersey again?”

When they lost in the playoffs to the Jags me and my then 8 year old son ended up yelling at each other.

Sam:

The fundamental premise of Pittsburgh sports is that the Pittsburgh Steelers and their unhinged, pampered, racist, and delusional fans are intrinsically superior to every other team and every other fanbase. This belief is treated by almost everyone in Western Pennsylvania, including local sports media, as self-evidently true and beyond debate. It permeates everything–the fetishization of the Rooneys, the hair-trigger vilification of any player who dares to talk back, the constant (and I mean fucking constant) proclamations that “there are no fans like Steeler fans!” The one person who doesn’t benefit from this deification is Mike Tomlin, because apparently the only power in the universe stronger than Yinzer Delusion Syndrome is basic racism. The phrase “he only won with Cowher’s players!” should be categorized as a hate symbol by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Chris:

Not investing any money in backup quarterbacks is really stupid either way, but when your quarterback is so beaten up that he throws his knee out when he waves the waiter over to cook his steak again, it becomes alarming. AND the Steelers got fined for knowing Ben’s elbow was pre-injured before he “really” injured it last season in week 1. The truth has to be that Ben kept it from the training staff or something because he’s a dumb idiot and the team was then forced to start an NFL season with no quarterback. In the same season they traded a first rounder to get an all-pro in Minkah Fitzpatrick, they couldn’t find ANY free-agent quarterback that was, like, middle of the road? Truly have no clue how that happens. 

In the aftermath of Mason Rudolph getting clubbed on the skull by his own hat by Myles Garrett, I debriefed with my dad and we both agreed that the principal of the thing was gross–because that’s some Happy Gilmore shit–but we were actually EXCITED to see what Duck Hodges had to offer as a result! The entire Steeler fan base was hit on the dome that night. 

Any Steeler fan that deluded themselves by getting excited for the Duck should be mashed up and put into a pierogi. We’ll eat them. We can’t help it.

Mark:

I grew up on the eastern side of Pennsylvania but I now live in Pittsburgh. I happened to arbitrarily pick the Steelers as my NFL team at an extremely young age. Super Bowl XXX happened when I was in second grade, and I was well into my Steelers fandom at that point. 

When the Steelers lost (fuck you Neil O’Donnell, fuck you forever) I screamed and cried to my parents to let me stay home Monday. Since I wasn’t too much of a pain in the ass as a child, my father understood my frustration (read: despises the Cowboys), and because I simply would not shut the fuck up, they allowed me to stay home. 

The point of this story is that my reaction to that moment was pretty extreme, even considering that it came from a single-digit-aged child. However, old-ass Steeler fans are constantly doing exactly what I did and throwing fits on every radio station, in every comment section, and on any street corner they are legally allowed to be on. The team has almost never been legitimately bad, so perfectly serviceable players get shit on because fans have this anger they don’t know how to focus.

I actually was kind of happy when we were not very good last year, because maybe it will shake off some of the most racist and awful fairweather fans in the world. 

That being said, with a healthy “former porn addict” QB (how unpredictable) and an incredible defense, I will burn my couch if we have less than 12 wins next season.

P.S. I love living in this city, but driving 10 minutes in any direction from the city limits will put you in the shittiest Trump country you’ll ever see.

Neil:

The Steelers are going ride a broken down alleged rapist like Major Kong riding the bomb in Dr. Strangelove and when it does finally explode every Yinzer will blame the black coach. The home games are basically a Trump rally with the owners burning whatever liberal cred the team had from the Dan Rooney days to light Cuban cigars. The defense can’t stop the run, the offense can’t run, and the QB will run another talented WR out of town because JuJu can’t Giant-Man himself to be 18-ft-tall when Ben sails another pass over him and directly into the hands of a cornerback. 

Sheetz is better than Wawa though. 

Hugues:

I’m stuck trying to defend that Ben Roethlisberger isn’t a washed-up gelatinous mass of duct-taped together limbs. Deep down I know he’ll play seven lackluster quarters before he breaks both arms. Then we can enjoy watching Mason Rudolph throw 100 interceptions. We’ll barely sneak into the wildcard round and somehow lose to Tom Brady even though he’s in the NFC. The coaching staff will be praised for maintaining mediocrity in the face of adversity. This will repeat until Ben’s contract expires in 2060.

Dan:

I legitimately believed Duck Hodges could quarterback the Steelers to a playoff berth. When that failed, did we go get Cam Newton? Nope! Instead, Cam gets to play for the Patriots while we rely on a geriatric version of Jameis Winston who just had Tommy John-ish surgery, and a backup who got benched for Duck and probably still has Myles Garrett’s helmet paint on his skull.

Jeff:

Any chance of success this year rides solely on the surgically-repaired arm of a 38-year old and his slow, lumbering ass. 

Some fear that years of playing the “defer all money to get under the cap” game may finally bite us in the ass. Given the fact that we dropped a $20M+ dead cap hit on Antonio Brown and *still* had to restructure deals to get cap compliant this year, I think it already has. 

The only real entertainment I got out of the Steelers last year (that wasn’t Minkah Fitzpatrick-related) was watching Pittsburgh media types get massively defensive any time someone dared suggest the Penguins, a Pittsburgh team that has accomplished far more in the past decade, could be more popular/better than a team putting its blind faith in Mason Rudolph. 

Never forget that these motherfuckers are 0-2 against MIKE GLENNON. 

Andy:

I cannot fucking believe that these people are excited for Ben Roethlisberger to return. I can’t wrap my head around it. For years I’ve had to deal with this man remaining in polite society despite being an unrepentant rapist, and I got through by telling myself that as soon as he won’t be able to play football anymore he’ll be gone, no worries.

Motherfucker is 38, takes as many hits as anyone in the league because he can’t run anymore, had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, and the Steelers didn’t even consider signing a competent back-up to replace Mason “I Probably Called Myles Garett The N-Word” Rudolph, much less take a look at Cam Newton.

And yet, because it’s a global pandemic and I need some sort of normalcy, I’ll probably be watching. So joke’s on me.

Submissions for the NFL previews are closed. Next up: Chicago Bears.