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Old 04-17-2011, 07:28 AM   #1
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Default Ed: Ben's Jersey Makes a Comeback

Ed: Ben's Jersey Makes a Comeback
Friday, 15 April 2011 07:21
Written by Ed Bouchette

Good morning,

Not only has Ben Roethlisberger made a comeback over the past year, so has his jersey. The headlines roared that Troy Polamaluís jersey as the top seller in the NFL over the past year, from March 31, 2010 until April 1, 2011.

Thatís a little surprising considering he is a safety, but not really because of his popularity.

But that wasnít the big news to me. Bigger was who rested at No. 16 Ė Ben Roethlisberger. This guyís jersey wasnít only NOT being purchased a year ago, many who had them were either burning them or mailing them back to the Steelers with notes of disgust. I even received two kidsí No. 7 jerseys from a parent in North Carolina with a long note why (I washed them and donated them to a charity auction).

From that to No. 16 on the NFLís jersey sales is quite a climb back. Hines Ward was right behind him at No. 17, giving the Steelers three in the top 20, tying the Cowboys with the most.

Hereís the list: Click here: NFL.com news: Polamalu, Packers top NFL jersey, merchandise sales lists

Onto some other stuff:

--- Because of the lockout, this should be the most over-analyzed draft in history. What else do the coaches and GMs have to do? They donít have to sign free agents or their own players, there are no practices, no players to supervise or even talk to.

This could get interesting because on many teams, itís scouts vs. coaches when it comes to the draft. The scouts work year-round on evaluating talent and many hate the fact that after the season the coaches jump in and start offering opinions after watching a few days of tape.

It happened for years with the Steelers. The Cincinnati Bengals rely more on their coaching staff than they do scouts to evaluate players. Now, all these coaches have all this extra time to watch more tape of college players and provide even more opinions. I would bet that is rubbing some nerves in some corners of the NFL.

--- Chuck Noll had the authority to draft whoever he wanted to draft when he became Steelers coach in 1969. That was made clear from the start. The story goes that in 1972, the scouts had to convince Noll to draft Franco Harris rather than the running back he wanted, Robert Newsome. Scouts used to joke that they had to lock Noll in a closet when that draft pick was made. Someone from the organization told me not too long ago that while that was a nice story, the reality of it was that Noll pushed Newsome because he wanted some conflict, some debate. He wanted to see why the scouts wanted Harris so much. In the end, it was Nollís pick.

--- The coaches have not had that kind of authority since Noll left. Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin have big says in who they draft, as does Kevin Colbert. The debate really occurs before the draft when they put grades on the players and rank them on a board. They also have a gazillion mock drafts to try to anticipate any situation that might occur, at least in the first round. A what if this, what if that kind of thing. But if it comes down to it and there is serious debate over which player to draft, a man named Rooney will step in and help solve it. Dan Rooney did that in 2004 when the coach and GM were seriously considering drafting a guard and Rooney steered them back on track toward Ben Roethlisberger.

--- Indeed the Pirates have made a turnaround of sorts. They are 4-2 on the road, 1-5 at home.

--- YOU: Just wanted to say Ive been a long time reader of your column. Especially since I have left Pittsburgh for the Air Force. Since you are a HOF voter do you think that Dermontti Dawson will ever get in? I believe guys like Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Ward, Bettis and Faneca should definitely have busts if they're compared to their peers during their era but I think Dawson is more deserving than the other guys I mentioned. Do you agree or no? Thanks for your time.
ME: Yes, I believe Dawson will get in. You have a long list there. Unfortunately, some players we regard as Hall of Famers never make it for whatever reasons. Some who deserve to be in and still not are Jack Butler, Andy Russell and LC Greenwood.

--- Yet another memberís seven-round mock picks for the Steelers:
As for a mock two weeks prior to the draft, here's what I came up with.

1. Derek Sherrod OT Miss. St.

2. Brandon Burton CB Utah

3. Kelvin Sheppard LB LSU

4. Sione Fua NT Stanford

5. Marcus Gilchrist CB Clemson

6. Taiwan Jones RB E.Washington

7. Charlie Gantt TE Michigan St.

--- And a quickie pick: Can't contribute all 7 rounds... But my first pick is Cameron Heyward - DE - Ohio State.
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