THE DARKNESS OF OPTIMISM: Now isn’t the time to devalue Russ, Fields in the media

I want to present a logical scenario to you to see if it has any reasoning at its core. The definition of optimism is, “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.” The definition of pessimism is a “tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers are just a few weeks from the start of training camp. With most of the waters of preseason trades, free-agent signings, draft pick agreements, team maintenance, and upgrades having flowed under the bridges of opportunity, sooner than later, it will be time to “get to crackin.” There is a delusional and illusional sports media culture being created and maintained by many undocumented and unverified “journalistic immigrants,” hailing from ports unknown. Unfortunately, there isn’t a wall long enough, tall enough, or wide enough to keep most of them from breaching our borders of “journalistic integrity” and polluting our “streams of information.” Many of these sports analysts twist the king’s English around like a $3 hot pretzel with mustard on the side. I and many others often think that before a season begins, hope will spring forth from the well of eternity, even for the worst of teams. But hold it, not so fast, Kemosabe. Recently, Zac Wassink posted a story on Yardbarker titled: “Analyst thinks ‘toxic positivity’ could down ‘delusional’ Russell Wilson with Steelers.”

The following excerpt from the piece says: “I think when you’re delusional, you think you can point the finger at eight million different places that say, ‘This is why this happened. This is why,’ Mark Schlereth said about Wilson during a recent edition of the ‘Stinkin’ Truth’ podcast, as shared by Matthew Marczi of Steelers Depot. ‘That toxic positivity and surrounding yourself with people that basically [tell you], ‘It’s not your fault, man.’’ Much has been said and written about Wilson’s struggles with the Denver Broncos across the past two seasons, his relationships with Denver players and his polarizing personality that seemingly rubbed at least some within the organization the wrong way.”

Hold up, Mr. Schlereth. The “Stinkin’ Truth” smells like carrion in the desert, but it damn sure ain’t the truth, not one syllable of it. The motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once described such negativity as “stinking thinking.” Almost everyone with an opinion and a laptop told ex-Steelers QB Kenny Pickett game after game that his miserable and putrid performances with the Black and Gold were not his fault. Pickett underperformed because of an incompetent offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, inefficient wide receivers, a bad offensive line, an unreliable running game, a defense that couldn’t hold onto miniscule leads when, many times, the Pickett-led offense was more often than not, asleep at the wheel. How in the hell can believing in yourself after a career of accomplishments be defined as toxic when many so-called analysts were optimistic about Kenny Pickett and believed in him before he attempted to throw his first NFL pass? There seemed to be more hype about Kenny Pickett than Ben Roethlisberger in their rookie years. Alan Faneca, the Steelers NFL Hall-of-Famer, once scolded a reporter when he was asked if it was exciting to see Roethlisberger play. “No, it’s not exciting”, he said. “Do you want to go work with some little young kid who’s just out of college?” Ben Roethlisberger was forced to start in his rookie year and performed well beyond expectations.  Well as for Kenny Pickett, we shouldn’t drag a dead horse.

If Russell Wilson’s belief in himself is considered delusional and toxic, many of these writers should be rewarded with one-way tickets to Western Psych for thinking optimism is delusional. These people are the “imps of darkness” whose only purpose is to transport buckets full of negative energy to douse the fire of success for certain players who perform for the Steelers. Now that their almost-two-decades ploy to drive Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin out to the desert of unemployment hasn’t worked, there is a new and more convenient target for the “yinzer warriors” to focus on. The new bullseye is Russell Wilson.

See folks, in the minds of a few “sickos” the “war of word attacks” on Russell Wilson has begun. The first piece of red meat that was tossed into the water was that Wilson had to be washed up for his former coach to release Wilson and “eat” the remainder of his guaranteed salary. When ex-Chicago Bears Justin Fields was acquired by Pittsburgh, the foul-mouthed speculators began round two by creating and cultivating rumors to promote baseless and readership-generating storylines that Wilson was on the chopping block because the Steelers now had Justin Fields, the QB that they had wanted all along. Football writer Curt Popejoy recently posted this glob of gobbety gook online. “Steelers quarterback Justin Fields named ‘Player to Root For’ by NFL Network.”

Popejoy writes: “(Russell) Wilson is a borderline Hall of Famer and did not come to the Steelers to be the backup to anyone. This means we really don’t know if there will be a legitimate quarterback battle in training camp or not, but NFL writer Tom Blair is still rooting for Fields this year. ‘I almost made it through this entire file without naming a quarterback, but this one’s kind of unavoidable. Fields is at a career crossroads basically because he is not a clear-cut generational talent, and Chicago had an opportunity to draft someone who could be.’”

Russell Wilson has been reduced and devalued as a potential “borderline Hall of Famer.” Justin Fields is not a “clear-cut” generational talent. Ask yourself this question. Were any of the quarterbacks that were in the 2023 QB room of the Pittsburgh Steelers clear-cut generational talents or borderline future NFL Hall-of-Famers? There may not be a legitimate quarterback battle during the Steelers 2024 training camp. However, there will certainly be a battle for the credibility and legitimacy of the media pool that covers the exploits of the Black and Gold.




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