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Mark Madden

Mark Madden: Steelers are about show, not results

| Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, 7:35 p.m.
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster can't catch a fourth-down pass as the Jaguars' A.J. Bouye defends during fourth quarter of their AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2017.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster can't catch a fourth-down pass as the Jaguars' A.J. Bouye defends during fourth quarter of their AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2017.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown celebrates his touchdown with Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant during the third quarter against the Packers Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown celebrates his touchdown with Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant during the third quarter against the Packers Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, at Heinz Field.

New England failed in its bid to win a sixth Super Bowl on Sunday. That would have tied the Patriots for most all-time with the Steelers. (Green Bay has 13 NFL championships. Ignore that. Nine of those weren't "super.")

But even as the Steelers gobbled down that measly morsel, they had to deal with crushing heartache.

The Steelers made the final four of NFL.com's "Celebration of the Year" bracket. Rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster choreographed the "hide and seek" routine, scored the touchdown, played the "seeker" and campaigned for votes on social media just 72 hours after the Steelers got ousted by Jacksonville.

It must have been difficult to tweet through the tears.

Sadly, hard work doesn't always pay off. Philadelphia's "electric slide" celly won, their Super Bowl triumph providing a mere exclamation point.

The Eagles didn't invoke Broadway on Sunday at Minneapolis. In fact, the Eagles and Patriots combined for 74 points and 1,151 total yards — but Super Bowl viewers didn't see one choreographed touchdown celebration.

Those teams and players just don't know what football is all about.

Nobody took a knee. The referees didn't mangle the game. Justin Timberlake didn't rip anybody's top off. Super Bowl LII took the path less traveled.

Smith-Schuster reprised his "hide and seek" act in the Steelers' postseason loss to Jacksonville. He had three catches for 5 yards. Smith-Schuster disappeared and never got found. He hid, but no one sought.

That didn't stop him going on Twitter to feud with the Bleacher Report website and to merchandise his "brand." Antonio Brown=inspiration.

It's about now that many of you are thinking, "JUJU'S JUST A KID! HE'S HAVING FUN! LEAVE HIM ALONE!" while characterizing me as an old man who yells at clouds, and fat, too.

But Philadelphia and New England made it to the Super Bowl. Minnesota and Jacksonville lost in the conference championships. All four teams have no-nonsense coaches who know when and how to reel in foolishness. Players on those teams show up for work, not super wonderful crazy fun time.

The NFL is a copycat league. Will focus and discipline be a trend?

Heads up, "Bince" Williams, and tell Le'Veon Bell the news.

Don't tell Coach Mike Tomlin, though. He'd have to stop enabling the Steelers' culture of chaos. Tomlin won't and doesn't want to.

It's never too early to prepare, though. When OTAs convene, Smith-Schuster has to rally the Steelers' creative element and create new, better celebrations. Make the "City of Champions" the "City of Choreography."

Hines Ward set a high standard in Pittsburgh. Not for receiving, because Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Louis Lipps and Brown were/are all clearly better. Elbie Nickel and Buddy Dial probably were, too, and maybe Roy Jefferson.

But in 2011, Ward won "Dancing with the Stars." He received the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy, which is inexplicably not displayed next to the Steelers' six Lombardi Trophies at the team's headquarters.

Pittsburgh staged a rally for Ward on Grant Street. Dozens attended.

The Steelers are about the show, not results. That won't change any time soon.

The Steelers' next distraction is already lined up and features a master of the craft: Bell, who has threatened to sit out the 2018 season or retire if he's again franchised, changed his Instagram handle from "steelerrb26" to "leveonbell."

Bell marked the switch by posting "new username, same juice." So happy he clarified.

Is that Bell threatening yet again to cut ties with the Steelers? Did Art Rooney II notice? Did Rooney notice that both Super Bowl teams handled the running back position via a committee of lower-priced talents and did just fine?

The Eagles' three running backs — Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement — had 155 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Their combined cap hit is 18 percent of what the Steelers would pay Bell in 2018 ($14.5 million) if he receives the franchise tag again.

That's if Bell doesn't quit to become a rapper. Once Bell isn't a football player anymore, he's just another bad rapper. He doesn't seem to get that.

For the Steelers, the answer is obvious: Sign Malcolm Butler away from the Patriots. They need new blood in the distraction game.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

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