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Oliver: Food for thought

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Jeff Oliver 724-684-2666
Local Sports Editor
Valley Independent

Jeff Oliver is the Valley Independent sports editor.

By Jeff Oliver

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

Here's a little food for thought to help get you over the hump:

•I have always been a big supporter in Mike Tomlin and a believer in the work of Kevin Colbert.

And over the past 1 1/2 seasons, as the number of people who jumped on the bandwagon to bash the Steelers coach and general manager grew steadily, I remained steadfastly in their corners.

However, I must admit that it is getting tougher to do these days.

I don't know if I'm jumping on that bandwagon, but I am walking beside it.

It is just getting increasingly more difficult to explain away the gaffes that Tomlin has been making on the sidelines on Sundays and the lack of replacing old, once-dominant talent, which is the job of Colbert.

There were so many things Tomlin did wrong Sunday, that space does not provide me an avenue to delve into all of them.

However, the fact that this proud franchise is missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season is reason enough to raise the question of how safe Tomlin and/or Colbert should be.

I mean, we're talking about the Steelers, not the Pirates.

The postseason is usually considered part of the regular season schedule for the Steelers.

•Add Steelers I: I also think it is time to put several long-time Steeler defensive stalwarts to pasture, including Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel, to name just a few.

The only problem is will Colbert do a better job replacing them than he did the offensive and defensive linemen the team has lost the last few years?

I'm not so sure.

•Add Steelers II: Now that the team is all but eliminated from playoff consideration, I would love to see Tomlin do what embattled Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is considering.

Shanahan, who may not even have a job in Washington next year, said he is seriously considering benching Robert Griffin III the rest of the year to save his health.

Maybe Tomlin should do the same with Ben Roethlisberger.

Shut Big Ben down until next season when, hopefully, he has a real offensive line made of NFL-caliber players in front of him.

•Add Steelers III: I'm torn over what reaction to have for Antonio Brown stepping out of bounds as he tried to score the winning touchdown on the final play of the game.

One part of me wants to say it was an amazing effort in a futile situation to be a hero.

Another part of me wants to know how in the hell could he step out of bounds after he managed to elude every would-be tackler along the way?

•The NFL can mask their reasoning over the increase in knee injuries and concussions by saying it is the way players are playing the game, but if they want to get to the root of the problem they should amp up their testing for steroids and HGH.

That's where the problem lies in the NFL - not in the style of the hits.

You have behemoth athletes weighing upwards of 280-300 pounds (and more) and able to run a 4.6 and strong as a bull. Sorry if I am not naive enough to believe that these players are getting so much bigger, stronger and faster just through improvements in technology for training.

I believe that players are taking banned substances in college - some even earlier - and it continues through the NFL where the testing is pretty much a joke.

Spend some of those millions in profits on better testing for banned substances and maybe the game will be safer.

•I would love to see more schools do what Charleroi did when the school kicked off the basketball season - have a girls' tip-off tournament, followed with a boys' game to cap the evening's action.

It's a shame the weather hampered the crowd and also forced the postponement of the Charleroi-Ringgold boys' game from Friday to Saturday because the tripleheader scheduled at Charleroi that included the Monessen girls against the Lady Cougars and then the Ringgold and Charleroi boys had the makings of a nice gate.

Whatever happened to Kelly Mornak?

•In closing out this column, I just want to take a moment and say I am thankful for former Charleroi basketball star Billy Wagner's assistance Friday night when I came out of the Charleroi gym in the snow and discovered the battery was dead in my SUV in the parking lot.

Wagner, who was a gentle giant during his playing days, was a class act in leaving the campus in the storm to get jumper cables and coming back to help me out.

If I had the power, I'd add a couple hundred points to his school-record total of 1,402.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or



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