Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Sleazy people can be good at their jobs

Great read from Sam Mellinger at The Kansas City Star, who writes that just because Ben Roethlisberger is going back to the Super Bowl doesn’t mean he’s a good guy.

Mellinger writes: Roethlisberger is about to be deified by too many. He is the winner, the strutting quarterback fresh off helping the Steelers to a 24-19 win over the Jets in the AFC championship game on Sunday, and we’re about to get two weeks’ worth of redemption stories.

The narrative will be about a young man maturing, of working through mistakes and growing into an all-time great worthy of your admiration. Hopefully enough of us keep some perspective. One’s got nothing to do with the other.

Sleazy people can be good at their jobs.

Gerry Callahan from The Boston Globe came through as well:

This is, of course, is only the beginning. The two-week deification of Roethlisberger begins. It’s been less than a year since he plied a group of college girls with alcohol and allegedly had his way with one of them in the bathroom while his stooge cop friend stood guard. Now Roethlisberger kneels and prays on the field after games. Now there is hardly a reminder of the behavior that got him bounced from the league for six games (later reduced to four).

It will be interesting to see how Roethlisberger reacts when he arrives in Dallas and receives a daily dose of Milledgeville questions, but here’s a Super Bowl prediction for you: Somehow it will be easier for Roethlisberger to put his troubles behind him than it would have been for Michael Vick or even Brett Favre. By gameday, Roethlisberger’s story will be one of redemption and recovery, of a lost soul who is now found.

Mellinger and Callahan are right. After numerous stories came out in the preseason saying that Steeler fans and the Rooney family would never embrace Roethlisberger because he betrayed the “Steeler way,” that all went away as soon as he started throwing touchdown passes.

It’s going to be a long two weeks.

***

Peter King, in his Monday Morning QB column, had some soothing words for Browns fans still worried about the hiring of Pat Shurmur:

King writes: I start to seethe when I hear so many of the fans in Cleveland going crazy about the qualifications of Pat Shurmur to be the new head coach. Specifically, about how it’s agent Bob LaMonte’s hire, or that the fix was in because club president Mike Holmgren and Shurmur share the same agent, and LaMonte orchestrated the hire. Idiocy.

The Browns did what so many teams have done in the last five years: put a good franchise architect in place (or have a good franchise architect in place), then hire a coach to work with said architect.

The tote board: 12 of the 20 coaches hired into classic structures from 2006 to ’09 made the playoffs at least once; that’s 60 percent. Nine of the 20 (45 percent) won at least one playoff game. Five of the 20 (25 percent) won a conference championship game or Super Bowl.

Shurmur’s a smart, anonymous kid, on the same fame level as Mike Smith when the Falcons hired him. He might have the kind of accurate, smart kid who will make a good West Coast quarterback in Colt McCoy. I don’t know how good a GM Tom Heckert will be; we’ll see, but he has a good background in the game, the way Thomas Dimitroff had when he left the Patriots to run Atlanta. I know you’ve heard this before in Cleveland, but give the kid a chance, will you?

That’s the key part: Shurmur hasn’t run a practice, an OTA, a training camp or anything yet and some are ready to run him out of town.

And it’s not as if Mike Holmgren got rid of Paul Brown to bring in Shurmur. Eric Mangini was 10-22 with the Browns and 33-47 for his career. Shurmur deserves a chance to at least see what he can do before we start worrying about whether or not Holmgren made a mistake.

***

Speaking of the Browns and coaches, Mike Tomlin will be entering his fifth season as Pittsburgh coach this fall and will be facing his third Browns head coach in that time period.

***

Browns center Alex Mack is now on the Pro Bowl roster after Jets center Nick Mangold was injured in Sunday’s AFC Championship game. He joins left tackle Joe Thomas, who was named to the AP’s All-Pro team on Monday.

“I’m very excited to be able to go to Hawaii,” Mack said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that Nick had to get injured for me to go, but I’m looking forward to representing the Browns. It has been a lifelong dream for me and from here on, it’s working to make many more. I’m excited to be going and I can’t wait to play in this game.”

This is the first time since 1981 that the Browns will have two offensive linemen at the Pro Bowl. That year, guard Joe DeLamielleure, center Tom DeLeone and tackle Doug Dieken were all selected.

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