Pittsburgh Steelers Dirty or Not? Part 3 – NFL FootballFriday, February 4, 2011 22:26
Breaking down David Fleming’s assertion that the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the NFL’s dirtiest teams, Part 3, and a Super Bowl predictions teaser.
Dave Fleming, Michael Fish, ESPN.com/Page Two…
America’s Bastion of Yellow Journalism
Welcome to our final post exposing the inaccurate and biased article written by ESPN Page Two’s David Fleming, who does his best to show his kind of shoddy writing is common at ESPN.com.
Fleming concludes his hatchet job on the Steelers and steroids and opens the drain to journalistic perdition by citing yet another cynical hack job by a cohort at ESPN.com–Michael Fish. Fish writes what amount to two non-stories about Dr. Richard Rydze, a UPMC doctor contractually bound to be part of the Steelers’ medical team while employed at UPMC.
Dr. Rydze was investigated for purchasing huge amounts of HGH with his own credit card. The doctor claims he was conducting informal experiments on elderly patients with deteriorating tendons and ligaments.
The NFL and his employer conducted an investigation. No crime or rules violation was found to be committed, although Rydze believes HGH has an “off label” use, while the FDA disagrees:
Even before the controversy surfaced involving Dr. Richard Rydze and human growth hormone, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a history of associations with performance-enhancing drugs. For Mike Fish’s chronicle of that past and what former Steelers’ lineman Steve Courson called “the conspiracy of silence” concerning steroids and the NFL, click here. Fish will discuss his stories about Rydze and the Steelers on “Outside the Lines” on ESPN on Friday, Jan. 15, at 3 p.m. ET.
****Remember, Fleming in his hatchet job cites Fish as a source of information. Fish then cites his own work. Both writers repeatedly cite the same old Jim Haslett quotes about PED use in the early ’90s and, of course, Steve Courson.
You remember Courson, who played as a Steeler from 1977-1983, wrote the first PED diary in 199 1chronicling “a lingering league-wide” steroid use to prove the Steelers “started it all”–in 1972***
Not to make your head spin.
Do Your Own Research
The only way to understand what is going on here is to thoroughly read the cited ESPN.com articles and measure them against the factual record. You will find true cowardice in journalism wherein Mr. Fleming and Mr. Fish:
- Manipulate facts and outright lie to support their position.
- Via innuendo, simple association, and Orwellian logic, link people to “crimes” they either never committed, or committed when their action were neither a violation of law or NFL rules.
- Blatantly, shamelessly, willfully smear the Pittsburgh Steeler organization. (The writers and editors at DIS believe, even though their 77 year history has as many–or as few–warts as any other team in sports, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the standard bearers of all sports franchises.)
Worst For Last
Fleming and Fish repeatedly and cynically insult their readers’ intelligence by ignoring solid statistical data that puts their shallow and often circular analysis and their flaccid conclusions to shame.
The best example of that yellow technique comes when they exploit and blatantly taint the deaths of 17 men who played for the Steelers by implying those deaths were connected to steroid use. Fleming continues:
A 2009 investigation by ESPN into the Steelers history with performance-enhancing drugs found an alarming number of former players suffering from heart ailments. “Even if there is no pattern or clue linking the deaths to steroids,” wrote the article’s author Mike Fish, “since 2000, 17 former Steelers have died before they reached the age of 59.”
Again, notice the yellow–yellow for cowardly–journalistic technique of admitting there is “no pattern or clue linking the deaths to steroids,” while Fleming/Fish still cynically imply the two are linked.
Then Fleming, with the dramatic flair of a snake-oil huckster writes this incendiary line:
Seventeen men. Dead.
Followed by this condescending question:
Still think this is all sensationalist anti-Steelers crap?
“SENSATIONALIST ANTI-STEELERS CRAP…” Perhaps the only phrase in the three articles Fish and Fleming wrote that has any merit.
David Fleming and Michael Fish are liars. I’ll prove it yet again.
Fleming and Fish provide some names on that 17 name list:
That list includes former Steelers guard Terry Long, who tried to kill himself with rat poison after testing positive for steroids in 1991. He died in 2005 after drinking antifreeze. A year before Long died, Steelers offensive linemen Justin Strzelczyk was killed in a fiery head-on collision with a tanker truck after leading New York state troopers on a 40-mile chase. Hall of Fame center Mike Webster died from heart failure in 2002 at the age of 50, tormented by years of dementia, drug use and homelessness.
As usual, the authors are adept at telling us just enough of the truth to make us forget they are lying.
Learning From History
Long, Strzelcyck, and Webster, unfortunate men whose deaths Fleming via Fish accurately describes, are anecdotally or directly connected to steroids–Long attempted suicide after the league busted him in 1991.
The comprehensive historical record shows that, before 1989 and beginning in 1963 with the San Diego Chargers, limited, casual use of steroids became rampant and was widely accepted in the NFL and most pro sports by the late ’70s. However, it wasn’t until the mid to late ’80s that players’ heights and weights rose at unprecedented levels–and we know steroids weren’t the only culprit.
We do know that, in the NFL, helmet technology did not keep up with that increase in size.
Measurably heavier and more chemically aggressive men were protecting their weight-trained skulls only with hard shells of plastic covering a layer of padding.
Every practice became the equivalent of a 4-round MMA championship match; a game maybe 7-8 rounds. The playoffs? The Super Bowl? Who knows?
Football players from high school to the NFL were smashing their heads into bigger and stronger opponents with less and less protection.
Long, Strelzyk, and Webster–along with other former NFL players–had their brains examined and were all found to have:
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E…. the name for a condition that is believed to result from major collisions–or from the accumulation of subconcussions that are nowhere near as noticeable, including those incurred in practice.
Here’s the full article: http://www.evri.com:80/media/article;jsessionid=m2gdf6u3uo1e?title=The+future+of+football+and+the+wave+of+brain+injuries&page=http://smartfootball.com/grab-bag/does-football-have-a future&referring_uri=/person/terry-long-0×68696%3Bjsessionid%3Dm2gdf6u3uo1e&referring_title=Evri
The fairest solution is to show the entire list of former and now dead Steelers and count just how many of the “mysterious” former Steelers’ deaths were connected to PEDs.
After all, Fleming and Fish could be right, couldn’t they?:
|Dwight White||Post back surgery||58||NO|
|David Little||Lifting Accident||46||NO|
|Ray Mansfield||Heart attack||55||NO|
|Tyrone McGriff||Heart Attack||42||NO|
|Dave Brown||Heart Attack||52||NO|
|Ernie Holmes||Car Wreck||59||NO|
|Ray Oldham||Heart Attack||54||NO|
|Theo Bell||Kidney/Skin Disease||52||NO|
|Fred Small||Traffic Accident||39||NO|
|Joe Gilliam||Heart Attack||50||NO (Coke/alcohol)|
|David Woodley||Liver Failure||44||NO (Alcohol)|
|Strelzyk||Tanker Truck||50||MAYBE & CTE|
|Steve Furness||Heart Attack||50||YES|
|Mike Webster||Heart Attack||50||YES & CTE|
|Terry Long||Antifreeze||45||YES & CTE|
By The Numbers
I think that is everyone. (I can find no record confirming the death of TE John Rodgers, who played as a Steeler from 1982-1984.)
We will let the numbers speak for themselves–remember, a few of these guys spent only one or two years with the Steelers…
12 individuals were taken by nature or bad luck. I found no even anecdotal evidence that any of those 12 were remotely connected to steroids.
***Clarification: I do not contend that all of the 12 “non-PED connected” former Steelers never used steroids or any other drugs or PEDs. I can factually say that the considerably extensive internet record does not link them to steroids, nor blames steroids as having any role in their deaths.***
2 were drug addicts with no PED Connection.
4 players were directly involved with steroids.
Yep 17%–4 of the 19 deceased players–were connected to steroids. 2 of those deceased also suffered from severe CTE which seems to be the reason they snapped, more so than their steroid history.
17%… yeah, just barely enough truth to make people forget you are lying.
What’s Going On Here?
My unsubstantiated, pure-gut opinion?
A concerted, provable effort to discredit the Steelers. Why?
My guess? It is coming from the office of Roger Goodell–Peter King’s recent blunder is a related event.
Probably a poorly conceived scheme to deflect the mounting criticism of the NFL decrying the pounding that football players skulls endure during a single game, a full season, and ultimately, during a lifetime of organized football.
Why blame CTE on repeated skull ramming between offensive and defensive linemen when you can blame it on a secondary problem (steroids) by creating a patsy–the Steelers–that the press can sink its teeth into?
The truth would cost way more money and fundamentally change the game. The big lie vilifies a targeted enemy, stifles debate, and obscures the truth from scrutiny–and it keeps another dirty little secret.
As long as our attention is on the evil of “steroids”, the owners or NFLPA do not have to address the real culprit in the PED story: HGH. If players had to give blood instead of urine, if their HGH levels were required to be normalized, we would see immediate and substantial reductions in muscle mass and weight. Nobody wants to risk the revenue loss caused by having 275-pound linemen collide with less weighty opponents.
If parents ever wise up to the truth about brain injuries resulting from football collisions, Goodell’s built in, self-financed–meaning free to the NFL–farm system dries up.
No informed parent is going to allow their child on the training grounds for what might be home to the most dangerous sport a child can play.
Fleming, Fish, and ESPN.com try to paint the Steelers as “one of the dirtiest franchises” to narrow the focus of responsibility to one team and one mindset. Kind of explains the Commissioner’s “dirty players” spotlight on James Harrison hits, while allowing Ben Roethliberger to take flagrant shots to the face and head.
I mean, what kind of fool would come to the defense of such an immoral defiler of innocent coeds as Ben Roethlisberger? Oh, wait…
Mr. Goodell might also have something personal against Big Ben not smooching the Commish’s rump after Ben was exonerated in Georgia and for Dan Rooney spitting in Goodell’s face by exposing the 18-game season for the pure money grab it is.
But that’s just a guess, speculation, and opinion from a Steeler fanatic.
No way I could be right.
Look for the refs to play a big role in the Super Bowl, probably against the Steelers.
The question is… Can the Black & Gold beat the Packers and the refs?
I am 8-2 against the gangsters in the 2010 Playoffs; the last two weeks were perfect.
I will make my pick in a Saturday evening post.
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