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12-05-2009, 11:28 PM
Game 12: Five Questions
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Sunday December 6, 2009 12:10 AM

How many Steelers have apologized to their teammates this year?

Hines Ward’s apology on Wednesday makes it four. Ward, the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver, said he was sorry for the controversy he caused by questioning Ben Roethlisberger last week when he missed the game in Baltimore due to his latest concussion. It was Roethlisberger who made the first apology on the first day of training camp. He told his teammates that he regretted any distractions a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him might have. In October, kicker Jeff Reed and tight end Matt Spaeth apologized for their roles in an Oct. 19 incident outside a North Shore bar. Reed apologized after he was arrested for simple assault, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Spaeth apologized because he was the reason why Reed got arrested. Reed began arguing with police after they spotted Spaeth urinating in public.

Who is Jared Staszewski and what’s his cause?

He’s the 22-year-old Raiders fan from Erie, Pa., who wants Oakland owner Al Davis to quit his duties as general manager. Staszewski is the driving force behind a group of disgruntled Raiders fans responsible for a controversial billboard located one exit before Oakland Coliseum. The billboard reads: “Mr. Davis, do the right thing. Hire a G.M.” The group claims to have collected 28,000 signatures on a petition that requests Davis to do four things: 1. Step down as general manager; 2. Hire a new GM; 3. Hire a Super Bowl-caliber coach; and 4. Keep away from personnel and football operational matters.

How is Darrius Heyward-Bey faring as a rookie?
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Considering he was the seventh overall pick of the 2009 draft and that he signed a five-year, $38.25 million contract with $23.5 million in guaranteed money, Heyward-Bey isn’t exactly living up to his billing. Granted, the Raiders are having QB problems (three week ago, Bruce Gradkowski replaced JaMarcus Russell). Still, Heyward-Bey has just nine catches for 124 yards and one touchdown despite starting all 11 games. He caught his first TD pass in a 24-7 loss to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

How have the Raiders fared lately when playing on the East Coast?

Since losing in the 2002 Super Bowl, the Raiders have suffered through seven straight losing seasons, this year included. During that span, they are 4-15 in the Eastern Time Zone. In an effort to get accustomed to the time change, the Raiders fly to an East Coast city two days before the game.

Why did Chuck Noll use the term “criminal element” in 1976?

In the 1975 AFC Championship, Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann was knocked unconscious with a severe concussion after he was hit by Raiders cornerback George Atkinson. In the 1976 regular-season opener, Atkinson hit Swann again with a vicious forearm that left Swann with another concussion. A few days later at his weekly press conference, Noll referred to Atkinson as a “criminal element.” Atkinson was fined $1,500 for his hit on Swann. Noll was fined $1,000 for criticizing an opposing player. Later, Atkinson filed a $3 million lawsuit against Noll, but Noll was eventually found not guilty.