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Kevin Gorman: Steelers need to stop with all of the apologies

Kevin Gorman
| Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, 8:58 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is pressured by the Jaguars' Calais Campbell during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is pressured by the Jaguars' Calais Campbell during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, at Heinz Field.

The Steelers are sorry, and they will be the first to tell you so.

And it's all unnecessary.

Alejandro apologized for standing alone from his teammates for the national anthem, and Antonio apologized for going all Sean Rodriguez on a water cooler.

Ben blamed himself for throwing five interceptions, and Vince apologized to the Nation for not playing better for the fans at home.

They all sounded so sincere, instead of the scripted apologies we're so used to getting from athletes “to anyone I've offended.”

No wonder Vince Williams' tweet Sunday after the Steelers' 30-9 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars drew this response from @FrankNepa: If nothing else, Steelers lead the league in apologies.

Seriously, enough with the apologies. The Steelers are coming across as hyper-sensitive to criticism. If love means never having to say you're sorry, the Steelers should stop saying so to their fans after every loss and for every mistake they make.

“At least it's being recognized, you know what I mean?” defensive end Stephon Tuitt said. “At least it's being talked about it. At least it's being said, and people are taking ownership of it.

“You want somebody taking ownership of something that we all know could be possibly be the catalyst of our situation? It's there. Take ownership of it. That's more man than anybody not doing anything about it.”

Yet when I asked Tuitt about the distractions surrounding the Steelers, his answer was equally emphatic.

“We hate it,” Tuitt said, repeatedly. “To be honest, we all have a job to do: That's try to be the best football team and organization in the NFL, to win a Super Bowl.

“Along that route, you're going to have distractions. Along that route, you're going to have things that don't lead you in the right, positive direction you're supposed to go.

“But what makes a strong team are the people that you have around you, that's able to guide you back to that road or your team in general is strong enough and open enough to be able to get back on the road and focused enough to get back on that road to success.

“As we continue to strive and push for that early in the season, that's the beauty of football: You're going to constantly have these ups and downs, but the best thing is when we find out and figure out early and correct it, we'll be great.”

This is the perfect week for the Steelers to stop saying sorry and start showing they are strong enough to get back on the road to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII.

The Steelers (3-2) visit the Kansas City Chiefs (5-0), the only undefeated team in the NFL. The Steelers beat the Chiefs twice last season, including an AFC divisional playoff win at Arrowhead Stadium.

And Tuitt isn't going to apologize for reminding everyone the Steelers are only a third of the way through the regular season.

“This is, what, the sixth game of the year?” Tuitt said. “We had a nine-game winning streak (follow) a four-game losing streak last year — and that was against some pretty good teams, and that's without some of the best players on our team, as well.”

So far, the Steelers avoided any season-ending injuries plaguing NFL stars like J.J Watt, Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Dalvin Cook.

The most significant absence last year was defensive end Cameron Heyward. A captain, he tried to lighten the mood in the locker room Monday by playing old-school R&B music but also reminded teammates not to be late for a meeting.

To a man, the Steelers dismissed the notion that the aftermath of Alejandro Villanueva's anthem salute at Soldier Field or Antonio Brown's behavior at Baltimore had any effect on Ben Roethlisberger's pickapalooza Sunday at Heinz Field.

We can only take the Steelers at their word, even if we wonder whether Big Ben contemplating retirement or Le'Veon Bell skipping training camp or any other soap opera is causing division within the ranks.

“There's a storyline for each week, and that should always be enough,” Heyward said. “I think sometimes you've got to focus and bear down. I didn't really think there was a distraction last week, but that's life. There's distractions in everything.

“It's about staying singularly focused and not worrying about the outside stuff that you can't control. All we can worry about is our play on the field. If our play on the field doesn't reflect how we practice and how we work outside of the football field, then you've got to refocus.

“That's as simple as it is.”

The solution is that simple as well. If the Steelers start to win with consistency, the drama just becomes part of their Super Bowl storyline.

The Steelers have the same record as the New England Patriots, who are one of their five remaining opponents with a winning mark.

“We've lost two games that we had chances to win — and, obviously, we didn't — but tip your hats to the other team,” Heyward said. “I'm not going to say our season is over with, but we've got a lot of football to play and I'm looking forward to that.

“We're not looking to apologize. We know what type of people we are. We need to get past that. There were mistakes made. We need to learn from that and move on.”

And we need the Steelers to stop all of the apologies. Sorry, not sorry.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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