St. Pierre returns to the team he said he should have never left
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Brian St. Pierre made what he called a bad business decision, the kind that will go down with those who passed on buying IBM stock in the 1950s and Google's initial public offering last year.
In November, with Ben Roethlisberger on the shelf and Charlie Batch struggling with a broken right pinky finger, the Steelers called St. Pierre and offered him a contract to become the backup quarterback. And the way Tommy Maddox had played against Jacksonville, then screamed at coach Bill Cowher in his office later, the chance to stick around as the No. 3 quarterback the rest of the season was a good one.
St. Pierre declined. He preferred, he said, to remain on the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad.
The rest, as they say, is Super Bowl history. The Steelers won the big one with a ring and $146,000 in total playoff winnings to go with it.
And St. Pierre? He got his wish; as promised the Ravens signed him to their real roster for the final four games of the season. They also signed Steve McNair after the season and cut St. Pierre last week.
When the Steelers came knocking this time, St. Pierre chose to go with them. He was back in the team's locker room yesterday, his old wooden nameplate reappearing above a locker. For now, he's on the practice squad, but as long as he shows he hasn't forgotten Ken Whisenhunt's offense and can still move around and throw a ball, he should be signed to the Steelers' roster by tomorrow and serve as Batch's backup for the opener Thursday night against Miami at Heinz Field.
How can one forget the Steelers' offensive philosophy anyway?
"They like to run the ball here, I think," St. Pierre said, smiling. "I think I can do that."
How long he will be here is anyone's guess. It should be at least two weeks, but he also could replace Omar Jacobs on the practice squad once Roethlisberger returns to full health. The Steelers, after all, were talking to his agent about just such a scenario before Roethlisberger's appendectomy Sunday. Practice squad players earn $4,700 weekly.
"There's a lot of what-ifs that can happen," St. Pierre said. "I'm just happy to be here. Hopefully, it's an opportunity for me to stick and be here because I'd like to."
There is no ill feeling on either side, unlike the Maddox departure. Maddox burned his bridge with Cowher, then added to it when he snubbed their Super Bowl ring ceremony in June. The Steelers also believe he just can't play anymore. The Steelers would rather sign Jeff George than ask him back.
"I wasn't sure if coming back here would be just for a couple of games with Ben coming back so I had to make the best business decision for me," St. Pierre said of his November choice. "It wasn't an easy decision by any stretch. Then to miss the Super Bowl, that's tough, but that's just the way it worked out. I'm glad to be back."
St. Pierre did not play a down last season as Baltimore's third quarterback for those final four games. This summer, he completed 7 of 16 passes for 62 yards with one interception and three sacks for the Ravens. They cut him, he said, because they decided to go with two quarterbacks.
St. Pierre has played in one real game in his career, for the Steelers in the 2004 finale in Buffalo. He ran for one first-down conversion in the fourth quarter and threw one incomplete pass. At Boston College, he was third in career passing yards with 5,837. The Steelers drafted him in the fifth round.
With everyone healthy, he can be no better than No. 3. But with the injury histories of Roethlisberger and Batch, No. 3 on the Steelers can bolt to the front faster than Jeff Gordon. Three different quarterbacks started for the Steelers last season, after all.
One of those could have been St. Pierre. Nevertheless, he said he was pulling for his old team the whole way last season.
"I was rooting like heck for them because I have a lot of friends on this team," St. Pierre said. "It was great to see Ben play as well as he did and for guys to step up through the injuries. I believe at one point they were 7-5. To be on the fringe of not making the playoffs and go on that run, that's pretty amazing."
To a smaller extent, so too would having Brian St. Pierre as their No. 2 quarterback as the Steelers open defense of their Super Bowl title Thursday night.