One of my favorite things to laugh at is when people debate about why the Pittsburgh Steelers will or will not draft a player because it’s not the “Steeler Way.”
However while the Steeler Way may have meant a great deal in the 1970’s, 80’s and even the 90’s, that phrase doesn’t carry nearly the merit that it once did.
Throughout the course of the past five or six seasons, Steelers players have had as many issues off of the field as any other team in the league.
The Steeler Way now should read- “If you have talent and can produce, we will find a way to put up with your character flaws.”
And there’s nothing wrong with that approach.
In this day and age, talent wins games, not character,
Character guys are nice to have in the locker room and given the choice, every coach and general manager would like to take the field with 53 character guys, but that’s just simply impossible in today’s NFL.
I’m not diminishing character in any way nor am I diminishing what was once the Steelers Way. But to insinuate that the Steelers should stay away from drafting a guy with some character flaws is ludicrous, especially since they, like any other NFL team have a roster comprised of them.
That brings me to former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, whose name is often debated on whether or not the Steelers should consider drafting him.
That answer is an easy yes.
Mathieu is a first-round talent who brings a lot of baggage along with him. But the bottom line is the guy can play the game and makes big pays doing so.
With a roster that currently has more holes than a package of Swiss cheese, it would be foolish to not consider adding a talented player such as Mathieu, especially if you get him for value in the fourth round or later.
To not draft a guy like Mathieu or Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, who also has some baggage, for football reasons is one thing. If the organization doesn’t feel they are a good fit then that is fine. But to not consider drafting either guy because of some baggage is something that shouldn’t happen.
Look, I’m a guy that would love to see a locker room filled with good guys on and off the field, but I’m also not going to overlook talent in the process.
Guys like Mathieu and Vaccaro have the talent to be great and that’s why the Steelers should be considering both guys in the upcoming draft. If they are deemed not a good fit on the field then fine, but both guys have to be looked at despite some mistakes they have made prior. Remember that these guys are young and have made mistakes like a lot of college kids do.
Character isn’t defined by what you have done, but it’s how you mold yourself to become a better person after making mistakes. It’s the Steelers job (or any other team) to make sure these guys get molded into better people by putting them in good situations to succeed. Being in a locker room and learning from the likes of Troy Polamalu would be big for any young safety, including Mathieu.
The Steelers have made it a point to draft guys with questionable character in the past and have ignored character flaws from guys that have produced during the past decade. Even the perceived good guys have found ways to get themselves into legal situations. Why should that approach change now? They should target the guys who can play and worry about their character later.
Talent wins in the NFL.
Character can be molded.
Give me talent any day of the week.