Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Mack: If The Circus Isn't In Town, What's That Smell?

Rooney's Disappointment Still Not On Par With Fans

Chris Mack
January 16, 2019 - 8:27 pm

If you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan hoping that the organization will take the lessons of 2018 and learn from them, you may want to watch 2019 through your fingers.

Or perhaps with a clothespin on your nose.

At the very least, I'd recommend against hiding your head in the sand - even though that seems to be the tactic of choice for Chairman Art Rooney II - as there's a good chance that sand is just a giant litter box for the loads and loads of manure you've already seen dropped by the franchise that wants to convince you, as much as they're probably trying to convince themselves, that absolutely everything is just hunky dory.

Rooney essentially mocked those who think his team was a circus this past season, insisting that a finish a half game out of the playoffs and only two wins better than the Cleveland Browns was just shy of the mark for a storied franchise with half a dozen titles to its credit.

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"We didn't achieve our goal of winning the division," said Rooney to reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "But we finished half a game out and had a lot of opportunities to get there."

Welcome to Steelers Nation, the new home of "Hey, at least we had a shot!"

Has Rooney been taking notes from the Pirates brass? Is he going to start pointing out how many wins they have in the last ten years (even though none of them are in the Super Bowl)? Maybe he'll start rattling off all the times they've made the playoffs (only to lose to New England)? Or perhaps we'll get some tired old trope about how if just one bounce had gone their way, if only perhaps, they had a kicker who could actually, ya know... kick, they'd have won one more game and been hosting the Chargers on Wild Card Weekend.

Wait.

Turns out Rooney kind of did that already.

To grant Art II some benefit of the doubt, he did say his team's flailing effort over the last six games of the season was "hard to swallow," and that "when you miss the playoffs, nobody gets absolved. I think everybody knows we need to do better, including Mike [Tomlin]."

When does Steelers' ownership start to turn some of the onus on themselves, though? When do they try to get better at managing what's become a spectacle P.T. Barnum would be proud of

Will it be after they give the aforementioned head coach a contract extension this summer? (And don't for a second let yourself be surprised if that happens - even if it shouldn't.)

Will it be following another disappointing waste of a campaign in what's left of Ben Roethlisberger's dwindling career?

Like it or not, just a "half game out" is not, and never should be, the Pittsburgh Steelers' goal. The goal, every year, should be a championship. 

When your Pro Bowl running back never shows, that's going to be hard to do.

When your superstar wide receiver quits on his squad in Week 17, that's going to be hard to do.

When no one in your building - coach, general manager, owner, anyone - can control the egos running amok in what should be a Super Bowl contending locker room, that's going to be hard to do.

When the circus comes to town, it's hard to miss the smell of the manure that the "elephant in the room" leaves behind.

And that's the stench that will linger about the Steelers until Art Rooney II and the rest of the organization decide to own up to what a mess their current state of affairs is in.

Until then, just watch where you step.