When an NFL football team is 2-6 at the halfway point of the season, a lot can happen. Fans can throw in the towel, coaches can begin to feel the heat of the almighty “hot seat”, and most importantly, players can begin to give up. Not give up to the point where they aren’t trying on the field of play, but giving up to the point where wins and losses don’t seem to bother them either way.
The latter can be the most dangerous. It’s a given that fans are going to be emotional about their team. Some will turn their backs, some will refuse to buy merchandise and some will just stop caring. That’s going to happen, but when the players stop caring, you have a huge issue on your hands.
These men are professionals and are paid handsomely to play a game. A difficult game, but still a game. They are supposed to show their professionalism both on and off the field, even though that rarely happens for a full NFL season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t playing for a playoff spot anymore. I realize that the coaches and players are going to talk the talk regarding the remainder of the season, but lets call a spade a spade. The Steelers aren’t making the playoffs. The remaining schedule and overall record don’t even matter that much anymore.
No, the Steelers are playing for a bigger cause — pride. When a season has be derailed as badly as this 2013 season has for the Steelers, they can truly test the mettle of the men in the locker room.
A lot of the pressure for this to happen is on the coaching staff as leaders of the men that suit up every Sunday, but as the old adage states — you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Coaches can coach and motivate, but the players have to buy in and have to want to perform even though the ultimate outcome of the season isn’t what every NFL franchise sets their sights on in training camp.
In a twisted way, the remainder of the Steelers’ season will be intriguing to see different players respond to adversity for the first time in their careers. You can see it on the faces of Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger when they are interviewed. They don’t know how to answer questions about losing. You can see it in Mike Tomlin‘s terse demeanor at his press conferences.
This is all new to a lot of men in the Steelers’ locker room. How those players respond will speak volumes.
The Steelers’ season has been reduced from playoffs to pride. Its sad to think that way so early in the season, but sometimes adversity reveals true character, and with the way this season is headed, the Steelers will have plenty of opportunities to see what kind of pride and character their players have in the remaining eight games on the schedule.