Rooneys need to take back their team

Published Jul. 13, 2011 1:00 a.m. EDT

You know when things have officially spiraled out of control for the Pittsburgh Steelers' image and reputation? It's when the Bengals look like a team of choir boys and Cincinnati fans are hysterically laughing.

Mr. Rooney, welcome to rock bottom.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best organizations in pro football. The team is supposed to represent a different, higher and classier standard.

But after James Harrison's ill-advised, reprehensive, inappropriate and flat-out moronic commentary and photo shoot in this week's Men's Journal, the Rooney family has to take back the Steelers.


The Steelers, regardless of what the NFL can do when it comes to player discipline during a work stoppage, must suspend Harrison for conduct detrimental to the team. It's time for the Steelers and the Rooney family to get their good name back.

The Harrison fiasco isn't an isolated incident. The Steelers have developed a pattern of terrible behavior.

What Harrison did should put Pittsburgh management over the edge. Congratulations to Harrison on becoming the most clueless player in the league. With the Plaxico Burress gun fiasco still fresh in everyone's mind, how do you have the sheer stupidity to pose for a picture in a magazine holding two pistols? That has to be the dumbest and most foolish pose ever. I don't care what the origin of the photo is or what it was supposed to represent. You just can't do that. That alone could drive the Rooney family to suspend the star linebacker.

And then you get into the comments.

Harrison has to know how close the Rooney family is with Roger Goodell, right? To call him a “crook” and a “robot” and “stupid” and "the devil” and to announce to the world that he wouldn't “(urinate) on him if he was on fire” is embarrassing and pathetic.

Read those words again!

Art Rooney II must've been ashamed when he saw Goodell in New York City on Wednesday. It doesn't get much worse.

And, arguably, from a Steelers perspective, that was just the tip of the iceberg. In house, it actually got worse when Harrison bashed Ben Roethlisberger. You don't ever rip a teammate in public -- especially your star quarterback -- and you never talk about another player's money.

Regarding Roethlisberger, the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Steelers, Harrison said, "Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain't that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does."

Harrison needs to get a grip. Ben is the main reason Pittsburgh made the Super Bowl, and Harrison was totally invisible in the big game. And while Harrison is a great player, he's not more important to the Steelers than Ben Roethlisberger.

For good measure, Harrison also took the time to bash running back Rashard Mendenhall for being a “fumble machine.”

This all equals nightmare territory for coach Mike Tomlin and the Rooney family.

But maybe Harrison thought he could say and do whatever he wanted because there's been a troubling pattern of behavior in Pittsburgh. Don't get me wrong. I am not blaming the Rooneys. But they need to make an example of Harrison. They need to nip it in the bud. That's their job.

It was only last week that the iconic Hines Ward was picked up on the serious charge of DUI. Does anyone remember what happened with Donte Stallworth and Leonard Little? Both of them killed someone.

If a player gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking, does he think of himself, others, or of respecting the team? It's a serious problem.

Mendenhall decided it would be a good idea to tweet his thoughts on Osama bin Laden on the night when President Obama announced the US had finally killed the terrorist responsible for the 9/11 attacks on our country. Mendenhall wrote, “How can we celebrate the killing of someone. We never got to hear him (Bin Laden) speak, and we only know one side of the story. I find it hard to believe a plane alone could take out both of those buildings.”


Did he not remember the fatalities and devastation? Does he not understand how lives were ruined and loved ones were lost? Do you think Dan Rooney, the US ambassador to Ireland, felt a bit quesy and sheepish upon seeing those quotes?

Roethlisberger was charged with date rape for the second time in his career last year. While the case was never brought to trial, his name was ruined in the court of public opinion, and it stained the Steelers.

Santonio Holmes was arrested on drug charges and had a series of bizarre tweets. It resulted in a trade to the New York Jets.

Jeff Reed had trouble kicking, and he had trouble staying out of the police blotter. He was charged twice in 2009, including one charge of public intoxication.

Ladies and gentleman, meet your Pittsburgh Steelers.

These actions are horrendous.

The critics say Mike Tomlin needs to start getting tough. I think Tomlin bleeds football, practice, focus and discipline, but something has to change instantly. The arrests, the irresponsible behavior, it's all making Tomlin look bad, even if it isn't his fault.

There's a realistic chance the league is sadly going to throw the NFLPA a bone and pretend arrests during the lockout didn't exist. That's no excuse for the out-of-whack Steelers. The Rooneys need to show Harrison and all his teammates these choices are totally unacceptable. They need to suspend him when we get a new CBA.

If not, they'll be worse than the Bengals.

And in Pittsburgh, it doesn't get much worse than that.