The Worst Football Article of August 2018

The distinction worst football article of August 2018 is an important one. There were hundreds of worse articles than the misbegotten dreck I’m about to review written just over the last two days, but I’m confident you’re not going to find a worse article about football.

Rarely do I read anything so bad it inspires a point by point refutation, but Mark Madden’s self-serving hit piece on JuJu Smith-Schuster encouraged me to get my Fisk on this morning.

As Ted Nugent said, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.”

I must be too old.

Or maybe it is too loud.

Oh, we are off to such a bad start.

A report from Pittsburgh Steelers training camp said receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster ran the wrong route twice in a short time span, causing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to comment, “His mind isn’t right today.”

We all have bad days, I guess. Like when your team drafts a quarterback who threw for 92 touchdowns in college, while also drafting his favorite WR. Nothing to read into that, huh, Ben?

The next day, Smith-Schuster tweeted a photo of himself dancing before a multitude of fans at Saint Vincent. In the accompanying verbiage, Smith-Schuster proclaimed himself the “Most LIT player in NFL HISTORY”. It was accompanied by two fire emojis.

Sounds like Smith-Schuster got over whatever was bugging him and was back to his old self.

Perhaps Smith-Schuster was sidestepping flames when he ran the wrong routes.



It’s early in the preseason, to be sure. The Week 1 game at Cleveland is a month away.

Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m saying to myself as I read this.

But another story quoted Smith-Schuster telling teammates that football isn’t everything. The second-year receiver is smitten with his brand, video games and himself. Maybe that makes him a typical 21-year-old.

Fucking young people, amirite?

Which is to say, less dedicated than Sidney Crosby when he was 21. Or 18. Or 12, probably.

Yes, definitely less dedicated than the white player from the overwhelmingly white sport. Four year old Sidney Crosby would have rolled his eyes at any grown man who answered to the name JuJu and entertained fans by spending time interacting with them after practice.

Smith-Schuster had a good season in 2017: 58 catches, 917 yards, seven touchdowns. He made the NFL’s all-rookie team.

That’s pretty good alright.

But Smith-Schuster was held to 5 yards on three catches in the playoff loss to Jacksonville. He’s a proper complement to mega-talent Antonio Brown but not yet a star in his own right.

It’s true. The Jags, with their All Pro at one corner and their Pro Bowler at the other, held Smith-Schuster to three catches, minimal yardage and a touchdown. And Smith-Schuster isn’t yet as good as the best wide receiver in the NFL.

There’s room for improvement. Is Smith-Schuster truly dedicated to taking the next step?

Smith-Schuster was seventh in the NFL in catch rate and fourth among wide receivers. His 73.4% mark last season is better than Antonio Brown has ever posted.

I’m not sure. Nor am I sure where being LIT figures in, or exactly what being LIT means. It means “cool,” right?

Are we really doing this?

I am old, don’t forget: 57, to be exact. (Ted Nugent is 69. Here we go, look out below…)

Two Ted Nugent references.

It seems like the idea of being professional doesn’t mean much anymore. But it should.

It seems like you’re fond of one sentence paragraphs, Mark, which generally indicates very lazy writing.

If, at 21, Smith-Schuster can’t grasp that concept, somebody should show him. In clear and direct fashion.

But, who, Mark? Who?!

In the ’70s, any number of Steelers would have volunteered that guidance. But, certainly, times were different. For example, those Steelers didn’t often lose playoff games they were supposed to win.

Because their offensive line was all juiced out of their minds on old school steroids like Dianabol, right?

BTW, whoever was counseling Ernie “Fats” Holmes during the Steel Curtain days, you were doing it wrong.

The fraction of Steelers Nation that inhabits social media largely backs Smith-Schuster, his desire to have fun and his right to be LIT. Let’s see how long that lasts once Smith-Schuster drops a few crucial passes.

Dumbasses wasting their time on social media when they could be tuning into my radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM for some good old fashioned dog whistling.

He might not. Smith-Schuster is a major talent.

It’s almost like a tiny flicker of conscience illuminated Madden’s dank soul for a moment and reminded him that trying to sabotage a young man with the home fans for selfish reasons is a sleazy way to make a living.

But the Steelers haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2009 or been to a Super Bowl since 2011. It’s fair to say that, given their ability, the Steelers have underachieved since then. Remember, too, that Roethlisberger is the only Steeler left from that 2009 team.

Forgive me for ever saying Bronco fans are spoiled.

We used to say the Steelers did things different and were more professional.

It’s true. You’re a bunch of annoying slobs who act like the Rooney family invented pro football. Certainly, no team has been more committed to dirty football over the last 40 years. From Mike Wagner to Joey Porter to Hines Ward to Cody Wallace, your penchant for employing sneaky cheap shot artists is unmatched.

If that was ever true, it isn’t anymore. That description now applies to New England. The Patriots care more about winning than they care about being LIT.

Unless the head coach is using the fucking Super Bowl to service some bizarre grudge against one of his best defensive players.

The Steelers have leaders, notably Roethlisberger, Cameron Heyward and Maurkice Pouncey.

I kind of feel bad to see Ironhead’s kid lumped in with a rapist and half of the Pouncey brother duo who counted Aaron Hernandez and Richie Incognito among their best friends in the NFL.

But there might be a shortage of followers.

True. Most adults can think for themselves.

When I opine that professionalism and winning should come before fun and “living life,” “being LIT,” etc., I get called an old man yelling at a cloud or at kids/dogs on my lawn. (I don’t have a lawn, BTW.) That’s fine, and perfectly understandable in the era of the participation trophy.

Dusting off the participation trophy “debate.” More lazy writing.

But I will not be moved on this issue. I bet Jack Lambert wouldn’t be, either.

Jack Lambert retired from the NFL and spent the last 30 years coaching teenagers in a variety of sports, not whining about them. I’ll bet he watches and approves of Smith-Schuster’s dedication to blocking and rugged running style after the catch.

On the flip side of that coin is Pittsburgh Pirates utilityman Sean Rodriguez.


Rodriguez can’t hit my IQ (166), let alone his weight (200).

I had to read this three times before I realized this inane jackass casually dropped his internet IQ test score into the middle of this paint-by-numbers crank piece. Stephen Hawking would have groaned.

But Rodriguez started 32 percent of the Pirates’ first 113 games under the guise of being a professional. No tangible qualities of much consequence, but he’s a pro. An inspiration to his teammates.

Hey, way to go, Sean!

So the story goes, anyway. The reality: His batting average is .163. Not exactly soul-stirring or example-setting. On the record, his teammates credit him. In private, they wonder why he’s still on the roster. (He might not be much longer, now that the Pirates have acquired infielder Adeiny Hechavarria.)

So you acknowledge the concept of leadership in sports is largely made up to fit a tired storyline that appeals to failed would-be jocks then? Are we now going to drop this bizarre tangent about utility infielders as quickly as it began?

Smith-Schuster has recent success on his side. But will that success multiply? (I’m talking football, not Fortnite.)

Lots of pop culture references from this self-proclaimed old timer.

Antonio Brown has many moments of self-promotion and occasionally goes too far, as with Facebook Live in the locker room. But his work ethic, precision and production are above reproach. Except for a ring, Brown has proven himself in every way.

Antonio Brown is one of the good blacks.

Brown has earned the right to be LIT.

So we tolerate him.

Social media backs Smith-Schuster, probably because it’s largely populated by likewise dopey kids.

Did I mention I’m old? It’s the entire conceit of this shit article. I better reinforce that point a little more.

Old jerks like me just want results. We think fun is mostly had by winning. (We also believe you play like you practice. Maybe Allen Iverson’s famous interview put that concept in the grave.)

Pardon me while I take one last piss on a popular black athlete from the region.

As Jerry “The King” Lawler once said, “With age comes wisdom. But sometimes you just get old.” (Lawler was paraphrasing Oscar Wilde. But Lawler is more LIT than Wilde, so I quoted him instead.)

Yes, Jerry Lawler’s popularity is definitely cresting with young people, Mark. And Oscar Wilde would have found you to be a crashing bore.