Steelers and Ravens Battling More Than Each Other This Time

Sunday's national anthem fallout has changed the game.




Photo by pittsburgh steelers|Karl roser

 

In a week that normally provides the anticipation of one of the game’s better rivalries, the head coaches on both sides are instead being asked about fans burning jerseys.

Welcome to a Steelers-Ravens week unlike any other.

The events of last Friday, when the president unleashed what the NFL interpreted as an attack on its players –– “the S.O.B. statements,” Mike Tomlin emphasized for clarity’s sake –– and the subsequent national anthem fallout and demonstrations of protest that stretched as far as England, have changed the game.

Since Chicago, the Steelers have deployed a second receptionist when normally one suffices to handle the avalanche of phone calls.

Since Chicago, the Steelers’ have positioned a security guard at a secondary entrance to their practice facility where normally there is none.

Since Chicago, offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers’ combat veteran, has publicly regretted “making the organization look bad, my coach look bad and my teammates look bad” –– all because he put his hand on his heart during the national anthem.

“I don’t know why Villanueva was apologizing,” Tomlin maintained. “He has nothing to apologize for.

“I guess he just feels like he brought this upon us in some way, and that’s a shame.”

The reaction that forced Villanueva’s hand, particularly that on social media and from media outlets that blatantly followed an agenda rather than the story, is almost tragic.

The Steelers’ intent was to avoid controversy in Chicago, to avoid offending the supporters they value, the communities in which they are active participants and the military and public servants they admire by remaining out of view during the national anthem in response to comments Tomlin perceives to have been made to “seemingly goad certain athletes into demonstrating.

“They weren’t going to be goaded into a demonstration of disrespect toward the anthem,” Tomlin said of his players. “They weren’t going to be pressured into it by those who opposed those who goad.

“We just decided we were going to sit it out, that we weren’t going to play politics. We were going to play the game. The means of doing that was to stay in the tunnel.”

They’re getting it from both sides, anyway, to the extent that Steelers president Art Rooney II felt compelled since Chicago to post a letter to “members of Steelers Nation” clarifying the intent of a response that should have been obvious to anyone who was paying attention.

Sadly, that's gone out of style.

Political ideologies are adhered to no matter what.

Clarity and reality are often the casualties.

The Steelers, Tomlin insisted, “worked hard to be extremely clear, even though in these times at times it’s difficult to be perceived that way.”

It’s the same in Baltimore, where John Harbaugh and the Ravens are feeling the backlash of their actions prior to the kickoff against the Jaguars in London.

“I'm trying to say the right things about all the big issues in our country, but I guess what I’m trying to say is, what we’re for is unity,” Harbaugh said.

“We’re for standing together, and that’s what a team is all about. And really, that’s all we can do. We’re going to stand together on Sunday and try to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re going to line up on the other side and try to beat us. And in all honesty that’s our focus, that’s my focus, that’s what we’re thinking about.”

Added Tomlin: “The great ambassador Dan Rooney, man, [he] left a legacy for us to follow and we intend to follow it. We want to do things and do things right, take this platform that is the National Football League and utilize it for good, be positive members of our community and play and play to win. That’s a guiding force for us. It has been and it won’t change.”

The Steelers and Ravens are being challenged along those lines like never before.

And they’re not alone.

“It’s not just us,” Steelers guard Ramon Foster maintained in the locker room in Chicago. “If viewership is down, jobs will end, the sport will die out. I don’t know an America that wants to live with that because of what someone or some organizations say to try to divide us.

“Come together.”
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Think Globally Eat Locally

Think Globally Eat Locally

Pittsburgh slowly is moving closer to becoming a global dining destination while maintaining a culinary connection to its industrial past. PM Dining critic Hal B. Klein profiles 16 international restaurants you need to visit.
Meet Pittsburgh's 40 Under 40 Honorees for 2017

Meet Pittsburgh's 40 Under 40 Honorees for 2017

We present this year's class of 40 people under the age of 40 who are making Pittsburgh a better place.
Chasing Rabbits: Why Tuomas Sandholm Almost Always Wins

Chasing Rabbits: Why Tuomas Sandholm Almost Always Wins

The winding career path of Tuomas Sandholm has taken detours through kidney transplants, Texas Hold ’em, windsurfing and more. Next, he’d like to save the planet.
Restaurant Review: Meet the New Crew at Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Meet the New Crew at Smallman Galley

The second class of Smallman Galley chefs offer addictive Detroit-style pizza and other works-in-progress.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


See the Video Pittsburgh Hopes Will Lure Amazon's HQ2

See the Video Pittsburgh Hopes Will Lure Amazon's HQ2

The video is part of the city's effort to snag Amazon's second headquarters, which is expected to bring 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment..

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Parts & Service Adds Pizza To Superior Motors

Parts & Service Adds Pizza To Superior Motors

Executive Chef Kevin Sousa and Pastry Chef Kate Carney are cooking sourdough pizza in an outdoor brick oven.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Underrated Fountains in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Underrated Fountains in Pittsburgh

While we all know and love the grandeur of the fountain at Point State Park, there are many hidden fountain gems throughout the city. These are a few of our lesser-known favorites.

Comments


A Mysterious (But Messy) Night at the Museum with DODO

A Mysterious (But Messy) Night at the Museum with DODO

A review of "DODO," the immersive-theater production currently taking place at the Carnegie Museums by Bricolage Production Company.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
It's What Steelers Do After Kansas City That Matters

It's What Steelers Do After Kansas City That Matters

The team is more than capable of beating the Bengals Sunday, but are they willing to keep their eye on the ball long enough to begin stacking victories again for a change?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Firefighter Flick Only the Brave is a Moving Tribute

Firefighter Flick Only the Brave is a Moving Tribute

Reviews of "Only the Brave" and "The Florida Project," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

In honor of fall, we’re showcasing three couples whose proposals involved one of the best things about the season: pumpkins.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Holiday How-To: Upgrade Your Fall Decor with Advice from Local Experts

Holiday How-To: Upgrade Your Fall Decor with Advice from Local Experts

Interior designers share their tips on creating easy, elegant décor that will take you from Halloween through Thanksgiving.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments