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Old 06-11-2006, 08:04 AM   #1
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Default Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions
By Joe Bendel
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, June 11, 2006


On a steamy afternoon on the South Side, veteran Steelers center Jeff Hartings ambled from the practice field, beads of sweat dripping from his forehead.
He could probably think of better things to do in the heat, like sitting poolside with his family or lounging in an air conditioned clubhouse or catching a few rays at a white-sand beach.

Truth is, Hartings doesn't have to be here; he wants to be here.

And, in many ways, he is a symbol of what is going right with the Steelers organization, despite several off-field issues that have cropped up and made headlines in recent months.

Hartings, who turns 34 at the outset of the regular season, took a pay cut to return to the Steelers -- despite playing in the Pro Bowl in February. And even though he is a wealthy man, Hartings could have shopped his experience and leadership skills on the open market when discussions opened to restructure a deal that was to count $8.1 million against the salary cap next season.

But Hartings thought better of it.

"To be able to play for this team, this coach, this organization, I think players would be crazy not to take a little bit less than what they could get in the open market and be able to play for a winning team, a winning organization, a great city," said Hartings, who agreed to a two-year, $5.8 million deal that included a $1.75 million signing bonus and saved the Steelers $2.1 million under the cap. "The only negative I can think of on this team is having to play in the cold weather in December. And, sometimes, that can be a positive, too."

Guard Kendall Simmons, who lines up to the right of Hartings, said the veteran center's decision to rework his deal sent a strong message around the locker room.

"It told us that he wasn't selfish, that he was loyal and wanted to be a part of this," Simmons said. "It's important to know this is where he wants to be. He wants to be out there fighting with us."

Added backup quarterback Charlie Batch, who played with Hartings in Detroit: "This was a win-win for everybody. You want guys like that around."

Hartings is about to enter his 11th season, which could potentially be his last (though rumors of his retirement have been greatly exaggerated in the past).

"I still love being out here," Hartings said, despite 90-plus degree temperatures baking the grass last week after a voluntary workout.

He still wants to win another Super Bowl.

He wants to be a Pro Bowler again.

And most important, he still wants to be a Steeler -- a message he proudly proclaims.

"I make it known to young guys, when they become free agents, that this is a great place to be," said Hartings, who spent the first five years of his career with the Detroit Lions. "I definitely let them know that."

In March, Hartings watched as wideout Antwaan Randle El, free safety Chris Hope and defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen signed lucrative deals in Washington, Tennessee and New York (Jets), respectively. And as much as it pained him to see three key elements of last year's Super Bowl winner move on, he faulted none of them for making prudent business decisions.

"Antwaan's contract was just so big, he had to take it, but I don't have any doubt he wanted to be here," Hartings said. "Even Kimo, I talked to Kimo. He would have loved to come back here. But when a team offers so much more than what the Steelers can offer, just because of the cap situation here, you have to look at those things. But I truly feel for those guys, because I don't have any doubt they wanted to stay."

With the makeup of the team changing, which includes the retirment of Jerome Bettis, Hartings believes the Steelers cannot afford to let off-the-field distractions -- such as rookie Santonio Holmes' recent disorderly conduct charge or Hines Ward's and Joey Porter's claims that the media has taken some their words out of context this offseason -- consume the locker room.

"I think anything can be a distraction; I think it can be an individual thing," he said. "If it does seep in, it would seep in to individuals, and, then, that always affects the team."

Hartings explained: "As individuals, you prepare and work hard to make yourself better," he said. "As coach (Bill) Cowher always says, if individuals do those things, then the team plays better. But if individuals on this team read too many of the press clippings, think too much about the ring, wear the ring too much and think about last year, then those individuals might get distracted and not play as well. And that, obviously, will affect how the team plays.

"I think the biggest trap you can fall into after winning the Super Bowl is going into training camp and thinking you're just going to pick up where you left off. Because you can find yourself looking at a 2-4 record, 3-4, 3-5, and then you're in a hole. And we probably wouldn't be able to dig ourselves out, because every team in our division, on paper, is better than it was a year ago."
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Nice article...that says a lot about a man when he values loyalty and his team mates for the ultimate goal more then he values a big paycheck.....
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Good article. Only part that I don't like is, the recent issues that popped up? There wasn't really that many.
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Old 06-11-2006, 01:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stlrs4Life
Good article. Only part that I don't like is, the recent issues that popped up? There wasn't really that many.
I guess for us it's considered "many"....

With other teams (Ravens, Bengals, etc.) it's routine. Eitherway, I agree....bad choice of words on Bendel's part in that specific sentence.
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Old 06-11-2006, 02:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43
I guess for us it's considered "many"....

With other teams (Ravens, Bengals, etc.) it's routine. Eitherway, I agree....bad choice of words on Bendel's part in that specific sentence.
its becomming very trendy for the media to try and find the ch!nk in the armor that is the steelers impeccable character.
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Old 06-11-2006, 03:14 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony hipchest
its becomming very trendy for the media to try and find the ch!nk in the armor that is the steelers impeccable character.
That comes with being the defending Super Bowl champs. When your the champs the media will always look for reasons to knock down the champs a peg or two. But I think we will use this to our advantage and it will be extra motivation for us to repeat.
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Old 06-11-2006, 03:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Hartings = CLASS
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

Hartings has always been one of the nice guys, just hope his knees hold up
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Old 06-11-2006, 05:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

its good to see vetran guys out there working hard preparing themselves........It sends a message to the younger guys.........
Playing for this team is not only about making money......its an honor
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Old 06-11-2006, 08:27 PM   #10
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Cool Re: Hartings: Steelers must ignore distractions

True Dat - True Dat
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