An Open Letter to New Pittsburgh Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams

Veteran back comes to Pittsburgh with a great resume, but also an attitude.

Hi Deangleo. Welcome to Pittsburgh. It's good to have you here.

 

I think.

 

See, I like the fact the Steelers have added you, the greatest running back in the history of the Carolina Panthers, to the roster. Le'Veon Bell won't be around for the first two games and in the season opener against New England you'll provide better name recognition for the Steelers at running back than Jimmy Garoppolo will for the Patriots at quarterback.

 

Related: 5 Questions Concerning the Pittsburgh Steelers Entering the 2015 Season

 

After those first two games, when Bell comes back from his suspension, I have the confidence you'll provide all the things a veteran backup will provide. You'll be fundamentally sound. You'll instill confidence when you enter a game. You'll exude professionalism.

 

Hold that thought.

 

That exuding professionalism part. Might need to work on it.

 

It’s just the first day of training camp and you're asking why Mike Tomlin isn't helping you with your bags. This is after the confrontational rant you made in minicamp about, well, we're not sure. Something about being able to become more of a pass catcher in the Pittsburgh offense and adjusting to a new role. All I know is you said it in a patronizing manner.

 

Already in Latrobe you've dragged Bell away from reporters and criticized a line of questioning from another reporter, dismissing him as "local."

 

Scott Brown, John Clayton, Len Pasquarelli, Vito Stellino and Norm Vargo were all once Pittsburgh-based reporters who covered the Steelers. Did they only have credibility and skill once they wrote for national publications?

 

What about broadcasters like Dick Stockton, Sam Nover or even Mark Malone; all of whom covered the Steelers on a local level before going national?

 

You've been in the league for a while. Surely you know it does an athlete no favors to pick fights with the press.

 

True, a player can overcome poor media skills if he plays well. Ben Roethlisberger was notoriously arrogant early in his career.

Still, this arrogance, coupled with some well-publicized off-field issues with women, have doomed him forever from the endorsements and national recognition enjoyed by the likes of Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.

So yes, DeAngelo, if you lead the NFL in rushing this season fans at Heinz Field will be wearing No. 34 jerseys. Just not as many as you could have if you continue the path you're taking when you open your mouth.

 

And you're not going to lead the NFL in rushing this season.

 

Perhaps no other city in America will turn on a sports figure for bad media relations than Pittsburgh. Boston doesn't hate Ted Williams, Philadelphia doesn't hate Steve Carlton, Indianapolis doesn't hate Bobby Knight, and so on.

 

Yet even Bill Cowher was often a polarizing figure during the second half of his coaching tenure in Pittsburgh due to his bullying of reporters that often made him seem defensive and derisive in press conferences. 

 

Outside of football, Pittsburgh even said "good riddance" to Barry Bonds after two MVP awards when he departed via free agency for San Francisco. This sent the Pirates spiraling towards a 20-year era of futility, yet you'll be hard pressed to find a Pirates fan who will say "it all started when Bonds left."

 

DeAngelo, it doesn't have to be this way. That pink nail polish on your toes and the career you've had make you a most interesting character the press would love to engage.

 

But you can't belittle the press. You can't win, and it doesn't bode well for team chemistry. Stop it.

 

Besides, if also lends itself to clichés. And the last thing anyone wants is to hear or read "the media is the line of communication to the fans. When an athlete refuses to speak or belittles the media, he is belittling the fan base."

 

A line which, in your defense, usually does come from media that has belittled said fan base at some point as well.

 

(Photos courtesy of www.steelers.com)

 

— Written by Marky Billson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. An experienced beat reporter and sports writer, Billson has been a contributor to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 15 years. He has covered the Steelers, Panthers, MLB and more during his career. Follow him on Twitter @MarkyBillson.

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