Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fabz' Take on Big Ben

What Big Ben did was not act accordingly with league policy on behavioral matters. He may have committed a crime, he certainly made a bad decision and to be perfectly honest I believe he'll do it again...


I am growing increasingly annoyed at the whole "he is tarnishing the Steelers good name" talk.

The Steelers are undeniably one of the most storied franchises in sports history. From their 4 Super Bowl wins in the 70's, to their long list of Hall of Famers, to their 2 most recent championships, and so on and so on. This is fact, but what is also fact is the rampant steroid abuse by the players of the first dynasty, the close relationships The Chief had with underworld figures of his era, and the constant involvement of Coach LeBeau's hessians of head on head collisions.

Mr. Rooney, the Chief, was very close friends with William G. "Big Bill" Lias of Wheeling. Big Bill was a rather interesting character. He is the reason for the slogan "Wide Open Wheeling". He owned a piece of the action on every bookmaking joint from Charleston, WV to Youngstown, OH. He was a close associate of Detroit's infamous Purple Gang, he had connections with Al Capone's gang in Chicago, and operated every brothel in the Ohio Valley. Sure, people in this era associated with gangsters. You almost had to in order to keep the peace, but Mr. Rooney spent personal time with Mr. Lias and his wife. He loved Wheeling Downs racetrack and vacationed with Big Bill to his home in South Florida. Again, I would like to emphasize the fact that I personally am in no way condemning this sort of company (I'm Italian, from Steubenville and my Dad worked at Wheeling Downs for many years), but the simple fact of the matter is that this is viewed by society as "guilt by association". Big Bill had many people killed, that is no secret. In a botched assassination attempt of his only enemy, Paul "No Legs" Hankish's legs were blown off (I'll get to him later). This sort of thing was known. No convictions and charges are something totally different. It was just known. You didn't mess with Big Bill...The Chief's self proclaimed "best of friends".

History: In 1970, Big Bill Lias died of a heart attack, so Paul "No Legs" Hankish took over the city. Gambling, prostitution and by this time drug trafficking. Now I can't honestly say one way or the other if Hankish and Rooney were close in anyway, but at his trial in Federal Court (1990), Mr. Rooney's name came up more than once. He was described as a "good customer, one of my best".

One of the best customers of a man found guilty of racketeering, hijacking, prostitution, cocaine trafficking and long list of other convictions. Which brings me to my next point...where did the steroids come from?

In the 70's the Steelers had an outstanding team. Fast D, powerful offense, good coaching etc. But they were always bigger, faster and stronger than everybody else...except the Raiders (who are a "non-classy" franchise according to most). On numerous occasions, players of that era talked of the rampant steroid abuse occurring and it usually happens when one of them is clinging to life from long term steroid abuse side effects. It was worse than baseball. Baseball is a finesse game. You still have hit the ball. You still have to throw and catch the ball. Football is a game speed and strength. Steroids help a whole lot more. It's fact. Now I played high school football and I'll be the first to admit, that I was a bad kid. Well not bad, mischievous I guess. My coach knew everything I did. In and out of school. Noll knew. He had to know. As the vein in your head is throbbing I have to say the Coach Noll was a good coach. He was a good coach plain and simple. Even with the best of players I couldn't have done what he did, BUT he turned his head in order to gain achievement...or was he ordered to by his boss? The Rooneys knew too.

Head on head collsions.

Am I the only one who lives within an hour of Pittsburgh that has noticed every time you watch one of these hits on Sports Center it involves the Steelers? Ok, maybe not every time, but a lot. Now I understand it is not illegal, but it is frowned upon? What is that? Fine them...every time. In 5th grade you were taught to tackle head up. Put your face in the numbers. See what you hit. Not put your head down so your 185 lb body can hurt the other person (Hines Ward). But of course, until somebody of prominence (Brady, Manning) gets hurt by it nothing will be done. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is the coaches’ fault...which trickles up to the owners. The Rooneys.

So, saying that, how can you say Big Ben is tarnishing the Steelers good name? Seriously? Take your hard hat off and wake up people. In my opinion Big Ben is a jag off and a rapist. But my opinion doesn't convict anybody and neither does public opinion. Unless of course it's spread across the board.

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