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Tag:Art Rooney
Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:38 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 8:06 pm
 

Steelers set to release WR Hines Ward

Hines Ward was Super Bowl XL MVP and the face of the Steelers  for more than a decade. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

After 14 seasons, 1,000 receptions and 85 touchdowns, Hines Ward's tenure in Pittsburgh is all but over. It was once a matter of if, now it's when, and team president Art Rooney II provided those details Wednesday.

“We had a conversation today with Hines Ward and informed him that we plan to release him of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year,” Rooney told the team’s website.

“Hines has been an integral part of our success since we drafted him in 1998 and we will forever be grateful for what he has helped us achieve. He has meant so much to this organization, both on and off the field, and we appreciate his efforts over the past 14 years. Hines’ accomplishments are numerous, and he will always be thought of as one of the all-time great Steelers. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Ward released a statement of his own (via NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano):

"This isn't how I wanted this chapter of my career to end. I did everything in my power to remain a Steeler and finish what I started here 14 years ago," he said. "I want to thank the organization, my teammates and coaches and everyone who made my run as a Steeler the best years of my life. To Mr. Rooney, thank you for allowing me to play for one of the greatest organizations in the world. To my fans and in particular, Steeler Nation, thank you for your support and all the great memories. I gave my heart and soul for you every down and I will always bleed black and gold. I do feel that I still have more football left in me and I am looking forward to playing in the NFL, again, this upcoming season."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac tweeted Wednesday that the organization felt that Ward had nothing left.

gerrydulac
Decision to release 86 was not about money. He could've offered to play for free and wouldn't matter. Coaches feel he can't play anymore.
2/29/12 7:12 PM

gerrydulac
Ward would have been Sunday inactive if Steelers kept him. They didn't want him taking a roster spot at expense of developing young player.
2/29/12 7:14 PM

The 2011 season was Ward's worst since his rookie campaign; he lost his starting job to second-year standout Antonio Brown and managed just 46 catches for 381 yards (and a career-worst 8.3 YPC average), and two touchdowns. Part of Ward's decline can be blamed on age (he's 35), but he also suffered a severely sprained ankle in Week 4's loss to the Texans.

Whatever the explanation, the Steelers are ready to move on without him, which means that the 2012 offense will feature quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing to Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace -- assuming the team extends his contract (he won't be franchised, at least to hear general manager Kevin Colbert at last week's combine). The three wideouts, none older than 25, constitute one of the league's most dynamic receiver corps, which should make new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's job a lot easier.

Ward, meanwhile, thinks he has a few years left. It just won't be in Pittsburgh -- unless the team re-signs him later this the summer, perhaps an option given that there are currently three wide receivers on the roster. More likely: the Steelers make a run at Jerricho Cotchery, who they signed to a one-year deal before the 2011 season to be the No. 5 wideout. By December, he had also surpassed Ward on the depth chart and proved to be a capable underneath target and a willing blocker.

While the Steelers continue their free agency and draft preparations, and Ward contemplates his NFL future, the conversation will inevitably turn to the latter's Hall of Fame credentials. In our minds, he's a lock. Then again, we don't have a vote.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 7:21 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Steelers hire Todd Haley as OC

Haley's taking his old boss' old job in Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Todd Haley's going to have a new gig in 2012 and it's a pretty good one: he's headed to Pittsburgh to take over as offensive coordinator after Bruce Arians recently "retired" to take the Colts job.

“I am excited about the opportunity to come back home and work for a tremendous organization,” Haley said in a statement. “It is an honor to work with the Rooney family and Coach Tomlin and continue the success that has become synonymous with the Steelers. My father has so many fond memories both from his playing days and his time in the personnel department with the team, and I look forward to helping bring more championships to Pittsburgh and to being a part of one of the storied franchises in the NFL.”

When Haley was head coach of the Chiefs, his team never finished with a passing offense ranked any higher than 25th. And Haley topped out at ranking 18th in passing attempts in his first year in KC.

But while he was with the Cardinals, under former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Haley slung the ball around like crazy. Arizona, at the time with Kurt Warner, finished second in passing attempts both seasons and was top 10 in the league in points scored both seasons.

Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders provide a much closer approximation to those Warner teams than Matt Cassell and Dwayne Bowe do.

We'd heard word that Haley was interviewing with the Cards, but also that Haley didn't want to take anything less than a coordinator job. Pittsburgh gives him a fantastically soft landing spot after a rough tenure with KC.

It also means that both Roethlisberger (unhappy with Arians departure) and Art Rooney (wanting more points) should be happy. So it's a great fit, as long as there aren't any big ego clashes and the Steelers don't bug Haley's cell phone. Allegedly.

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 7:29 pm
 

Report: Bruce Arians was set to be fired

Bruce Arians would not have been retained (Getty).

By Josh Katzowitz

Before Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians retired, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters in a postseason presser that he wanted both of his coordinators to return in 2012. Arians, in fact, told people he would be back next season. That obviously won’t happen now that Arians isn’t returning.

But the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has some interesting insight into what forced Arians to make that call. According to the paper, the organization was not going to renew Arians’ contract, and in essence, was going to fire him without officially having to fire him.

“That decision,” writes reporter Gerry Dulac, “appears to have come from team president Art Rooney II, even though coach Mike Tomlin told Arians several times since the playoff loss in Denver that he wanted him to return next season.”

Now, it appears Tomlin was overruled by his boss.

The only statement released by the Steelers on the matter was this one paragraph from Tomlin:

“Bruce Arians has informed me that he will retire from coaching. I appreciate his efforts over the past five years as the team’s offensive coordinator and for helping lead our offense to new heights during his time with the Steelers. I am grateful to Bruce for contributing to our success and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”

That’s it. No quotes from Arians. No quotes from Rooney.

On the face of it, that statement leans more toward dismissal than a happy retirement. And considering that Arians wasn’t popular with the fanbase, though he put together a more-than-solid offense this season and though Ben Roethlisberger has helped save his job in the past, the Post Gazette opines, “Apparently, the Steelers hierarchy agreed with many of his detractors.”

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 9:27 am
 

Steelers pushing for late deal with Troy Polamalu

Posted by Will Brinson

When the Steelers decided to hand 25-year-old linebacker Lawrence Timmons a six-year, $50 million extension a few weeks ago as well as give LaMarr Woodley a six-year, $51.5 million extension off his franchise-tagging, it was believed that any sort of deal for safety Troy Polamalu was probably off the table. In fact, our own Ryan Wilson first noted that the logical move would be franchising Polamalu, perhaps until he retired.

But Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Wednesday morning that the Steelers are engaging in "an 11th-hour attempt" to sign the reigning Defensive Player of the Year before the season begins.

In fact, the deal would need to be done within the next 30 (or so) hours, as the Steelers do not negotiate contract extensions during the season except in the rarest of cases. Because Polamalu and the Steelers aren't particularly close on a deal, it was just assumed that the two sides would hold off on talks until after 2011.

However, Art Rooney, according to Bouchette, had a "change of heart" last week and decided that the team should make a play for getting Polamalu locked into a deal for the remainder of his career.

It's an interesting situation because the Steelers are always careful about the long-term deals they hand out -- you'll noticed, as with the Timmons and Woodley extensions, that Polamalu's contract brought him to the age of 31. Signing the incredibly talented but oftentimes injured (just one full season since 2006) safety to an additional long-term deal at the age of 31 might seem dangerous.

Polamalu, however, embodies the Steelers organization and the difference he makes when on the field in Dick LeBeau's defense has been obvious for years.

The issue may simply be time, though, because unless the two sides are particularly close right now, it seems unlikely that they could close a deal before Week 1's action kicks off.

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Posted on: July 30, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: July 30, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Plaxico breakfasts with Steelers

BurressPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Since free agent Plaxico Burress was released from prison, there has been no shortage of rumors of where the 34-year-old ultimately could resume his career.

Would it be his old team, the Giants? Apparently, they’re interested. The Bears? Not so much. The Eagles? Michael Vick certainly wouldn’t mind that. The Jets? Sounds like they might take a shot at him.

Well, what about the Steelers? If Burress’ eating habits are any indication, it sounds like Pittsburgh is a real player to land Burress.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Ed Bouchette, Burress had breakfast with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Saturday morning. Burress also met with team president Art Rooney and GM Kevin Colbert, who drafted Burress in 2000 (in case you forgot, Burress played his first five seasons in the league with the Steelers).

Said Colbert to reporters: “Obviously he's interested. His agent is interested and we're interested, so where it goes we'll find out.”

Colbert said he didn’t know how much money Burress would command, but if his expectations aren’t too high -- and coming off his prison stint, I don’t know why they would be -- Burress could be a nice fit to build some depth at the WR position.

All of this depends on how much solid football Burress actually has left in his body. Which, of course, nobody knows at this point.

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Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:56 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Sadly, Harrison apologizes to Goodell

HarrisonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

You remember what Steelers LB James Harrison told Men’s Journal, yes? Harrison now would like you to know that he's very, very sorry about that, telling reporters that his comments might have been just a bit out of line.

You’ll recall that he called commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil” (and ahem, a gay slur, "stupid," "puppet" and "dictator"), and he said other nasty assorted things about QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Rashard Mendenhall.

But obviously this was the best line in the article regarding Goodell: "If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it. I hate him and will never respect him."

So, obviously, we couldn’t wait to hear what Harrison had to say when he first talked to reporters Friday during the opening of Steelers training camp. What other bodily functions would Harrison choose to use as metaphors when diiscussing Goodell?

Instead, Harrison went soft, saying, basically: um, hey guys, that's my bad.

"The interview that I did and the comments that I made about Roger Goodell were inappropriate, at the least," Harrison said, via ESPN.com. "They were way out of line, and I was speaking out of anger and frustration at the time. Any comments that I made that offended anyone, I apologize."

Despite talking trash about some of his teammates, he hasn’t apparently created any long-term problems. In fact, team president Art Rooney said any discipline directed at Harrison won’t go as far as a suspension from team activities.

"That's all behind us," Harrison said. "Those comments [toward teammates] were taken out of context with a long conversation. It's not anything I haven't talked to those guys about or my teammates about."

And though Harrison was apologetic, I wouldn’t expect the muzzle to stay on too long (the guy DID just debate the merits of taking a leak on the commissioner). Nor would we have that any other way.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:40 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:40 pm
 

Atmosphere anything but festive at owners meeting

Goodell, SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

ATLANTA -- After the vote was tallied and a new CBA had been passed by the owners, a cheer went up inside the Marriott ballroom where the owners had spent the last nine hours of their day. After months of negotiating and another long day of discussing, arguing and compromising, the owners let off a little bit of steam that could be heard outside in the hallway.

A few minutes later, Roger Goodell, flanked by NFL attorney Jeff Pash, Carolina’s Jerry Richardson, Kansas City’s Clark Hunt, New York Giants’ John Mara and Pittsburgh’s Art Rooney, entered the press conference room.

The mood, though, wasn’t quite as cheery.

There were no balloons -- or champagne corks -- popping. It didn’t feel like a day of celebration. It didn’t feel like things would be all right and that life would be good again. It felt a little apprehensive.

And for good reason. The NFLPA hasn’t signed off on the new CBA, and at first glance, the NFLPA doesn’t seem altogether happy with the new document. We might continue to find out just how unhappy the players actually are.

So, yeah, there weren’t a ton of smiles from the Gang of Six who stood behind the podium in front of the assembled media. If they thought this labor negotiation was completely finished, they might not be (probably aren’t) correct.

“They have a real incentive (to ratify)," Richardson said after the presser. "I can’t imagine why they’ve negotiated so hard, and they have received so many things they thought were important, I can’t imagine why they would not. Of course, there is (apprehension). But we’ve done what we’re supposed to do. We’ve done our half. It’s their choice now.”

Latest on Lockout

Those first two sentences from Richardson was a point made repeatedly Thursday. How, the owners reasoned, could the players NOT accept this deal?

“There are very substantial incentives to do so and to ratify and conclude the agreement,” Pash said. “It is a good agreement. It is a fair agreement. It is an agreement that will be very positive for players in many, many ways. … We would expect that those incentives would be responded to.

“I can’t imagine DeMaurice Smith is electing to pay all of those hours for his attorneys to negotiate an agreement that he and his members then decide not to ratify.”

Well, it looks like the decision to ratify might be rejected. If that occurs, we have another, perhaps larger set of problems that could jeopardize part -- or all -- of the 2011 season. Then, money is lost, paychecks aren’t cashed, fans aren’t happy.

Maybe, on Thursday after the owners voted 31-0 to pass the agreement, they knew the fight wasn’t over, and that’s why there were no fist pumps or fist bumps on display. Maybe, as Goodell said, the owners were simply exhausted from the negotiations.

Or maybe they knew something the players and the rest of us didn’t. The thing we’re only beginning to find out. That the hard part isn’t over yet; that there really was no reason to celebrate at all.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 9:33 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Harrison's agent: 'A lot of it is bravado'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Wednesday, we learned not only how James Harrison feels about Roger Goodell but also his thoughts on teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall. None of the remarks were laudatory.

While this would have been a news story no matter the time of year, that we're four months into a lockout guaranteed it would be the lead news story for several news cycle.

So here we are some 36 hours after the initial story broke … still talking about Harrison. Except now, it's less about what he said and more about how those around him can help stuff the genie back into the bottle. (Frankly, it might be easier to just build a time machine.)

Harrison said that his comments on Roethlisberger were taken out of context (and Thursday night he released a statement apologizing for, well, everything), teammate Lawrence Timmons came to his defense, and even the author of the Men's Journal piece that started it all tried to provide Harrison some cover.

It was only a matter of time, but Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, has weighed in as well. And to hear him tell it (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), "A lot of [what Harrison said is] bravado."

Parise continued: "I think people have to be careful not to read that and think those statements are anything more than expressions of feelings, particularly in regard to the commissioner. The commissioner fined James $100,000 last year. What do you want him to say, he's my best friend? James is a tough individual, and that's the type of language he uses."

Wisely, Parise didn't make Harrison available to the Post-Gazette. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the paper: "We are not commenting on any aspect of the story."

Harrison's Big Day

Not until the lockout ends, anyway.

CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel thinks the commissioner (who Harrison referred to as a clown and the devil) should suspend the Steelers linebacker for a game and fine him $250,000.

"I don't think we should get caught up in his cultural language," Parise said. "I think people will read that for what it is and move on. I don't think anyone truly believes James thinks the commissioner is the devil."

Neither Roethlisberger nor Mendenhall said they were concerned about Harrison's criticism of them, and Steelers President Art Rooney II didn't provide much in the way of details in a statement issued Wednesday. "I have not yet seen the article in Men's Journal nor have I spoken to James Harrison about his comments," he said. "We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted, once the labor situation is resolved."

The sooner the lockout ends the better for the Steelers, an outfit that can't seem to steer clear of trouble in recent offseasons. If anybody in the organization is glad to see Harrison hogging the spotlight, it's probably Hines Ward, who was arrested for DUI in Georgia last weekend.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com