One of the great things about my job as the sideline non-combatant for the Steelers Radio Network is the ability to watch players up close, just as i did when i was one of those players.
Along the sidelines or “mudville” as i like to call the bench area, there’s always something happening.
It could br Bryant McFadden getting checked out by a team doc, or listening to Mike Tomlin questioning a referee. I cruise behind the hogs bench area and catch Sean Kugler going over stra-tee-gery. Sometimes, it’s just hanging out at one of the jet engine turbine heaters with a few of the players trying to heat up these old bones. Hanging with the boys, so to speak.
It was frigid in Cleveland yesterday. Bone chilling cold, all game long. I watched the players go from a cape-wrapped, sitting on the heated bench warmth, to mind numbing hits that hurt twice as much in the cold as they do in the heat.
But the older guys, they suffer the most. All the young bucks can jump off the bench and let’r rip, but the older guys start getting real stiff in the second half.
Late in the third quarter i believe it was, James Farrior got pulled and given a cape for the rest of the game. Ahhh, to sit on the bench or hang out at the heater on a cold day like this is a gift for the veteran.
I ended up standing next to James as the defense took the field without their fearless leader, who stood next to me enshrouded in his cape and sporting a “tuke” as the Canadians call it, otherwise known as a ski cap.
James had a smile on his face as he watched the defense huddle up, a look of contentment that says “I did my job, now its up to the young guys to finish.”
I looked out on the field again as the defense broke from the huddle and began to line up, then looked back at Potsie. The contentment he was feeling over having played a great game and whipping Cleveland after having had a great year personally for him, winning the AFC North division title and securing a #2 seed for the playoffs which would give him a week of rest was coming through like a million-watt glow all over his face. James was enjoying the moment.
“It’s good to be you right now, isn’t it?” i asked him.
He looked at me, laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s good.”