The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy changed the Steelers travel plans for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. NFL teams normally leave for away games no later than Saturday afternoon, but the Steelers instead will leave Pittsburgh on Sunday morning and return immediately after the game.
The Jersey City hotel where the team had planned to stay is still without electricity, and the state of New Jersey was heavily impacted by the storm. Instead of changing hotels, and in doing so taking up rooms that displaced residents could use, the Steelers got approval from Commissioner Roger Goodell to make it a one-day trip so as not to add any unnecessary strain to the area’s resources.
“When you look at it, it’s a minor inconvenience considering what those people in New York and New Jersey went through with such a devastating ‘tropical storm’ as they changed it to, but it was still a hurricane and affected millions of people,” said Max Starks. “You have seven million people without electricity, and a football game pales in comparison to that. You just hope you can do your best to take their minds off such a travesty for a couple of hours by playing some football.”
The decision to change the travel plans was made after practice on Thursday, and the players didn’t blink when they heard about it, especially after seeing the images from the devastated areas the last few days.
“So many people are affected in the area,” said Jerricho Cotchery. “You have staff at the hotel that might be affected and things of that nature. They might not have enough staff. They have no power and you have towns that have been wiped out. I am sure for the hotel it might be a relief. For the people who live there your hearts go out to them. There is a lot of damage.”
This isn’t the first time that a hurricane has had an impact on the Steelers travel plans. They had to deal with Hurricane Jeanne in South Florida in September 2004. The team left for Miami on a Friday and then waited out the hurricane before playing the game on Sunday night instead of Sunday afternoon.
“It’s just one of those things,” said Starks. “It’s an adjustment. I look back to my rookie year and we had the hurricane in Miami and we went down extra early to beat it. When you look at that, it’s one of those things you can’t help it when natural disasters happen. You have to be able to perform under any kind of circumstances. You just have to roll with the punches.”
The Steelers were helped in this regard by it being such a short flight, and with kickoff at 4:25 p.m. it should allow for a reasonable departure time on Sunday morning.
“You just have to deal with it and lock in the best that you can,” said Cotchery. “It won’t be a problem if you are locked in on the game. We know we have a job to do and we have to get the job done.”
Hydrating and stretching before and after the plane trip are keys for the players, but other than that they plan on approaching Sunday with a business-as-usual approach.
“You have to be a professional about it,” said Maurkice Pouncey. “We just have to get on that flight ready to play on Sunday. That is fine with everybody here.”
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The NFL and the NFLPA combined to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross to help in the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
The NFL will run TV pregame and in-game messages to promote donations during this weekend’s games
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Former Steelers’ offensive coordinator and current Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who is serving as the team’s head coach during Chuck Pagano’s illness, was asked about the Miami Dolphins offense during a conference call with the Miami media in advance of their game this weekend.
In praising the Dolphins offensive line, Arians gave props to Mike Pouncey, while saying he is better than his twin brother Maurkice whom Arians coached while with the Steelers.
“I think they have a great young offensive line. When you’ve got Jake Long and (Mike) Pouncey, I think Mike’s better than Maurkice and make sure you tell Maurkice I said that,” said Arians. “I’m sure Mike will. They got a nice young line and Reggie (Bush) is a home run hitter and the quarterback is playing good.
“They’ve got a couple solid receivers. They’re pieces there but when you build it off that running game and offensive line, that’s a great place to start.”
Pouncey learned of the comments after practice on Thursday, and laughed about it.
“I don’t mind it at all,” he said. “I am actually happy for Mike. Let him get all of the publicity in the world. If that is my mark, it’s in my family, I am down with it. He can be the best.”
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Greenert, along with Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno, will be honored along with veterans and wounded warriors on the field pregame when the Steelers take on the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium as a part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” campaign in conjunction with the upcoming Veteran’s Day.
“It’s everything to do this,” said Greenert. “As a lifelong Steelers fan in Washington and the Navy, I follow them everywhere. I have all kinds of paraphernalia, a Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger jersey and many Terrible Towels. To be there in person is wonderful.
“But I get a two-for, I get to see sailors and our servicemen and women at the same time and thank both teams for what they do for our military members.”
Greenert, who is originally from Butler, Pa., has been a Steelers fan since birth, something that just naturally happened in his family.
“What happens is right after we are baptized there is a blood transfusion of black and gold,” said Greenert. “My dad followed the Steelers so I picked it up on television. Myron Cope became a voice I recognized. There are things you can remember, like the first step on the moon, unfortunately the assassination of (President) John F. Kennedy and the Immaculate Reception, when I was sitting in the kitchen huddled around the radio with my dad.”
More recently he has had the opportunity to meet Steelers chairman and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney, Sr., first in 2005 and then spending time with him when Navy played Notre Dame in Ireland this year.
“When I first met him it was a game in Philadelphia and we were walking outside the locker room and there was Mr. Rooney,” said Greenert. “I introduced myself and he was so gracious thanking me for my service.
“Our paths have crossed a lot since then. Recently we went to Dublin and Mr. Rooney was the host. He is a magnificent representative for the Steelers and our country.”
Greenert has seen firsthand what sports means to those who serve in the military, serving as a diversion and something that can lift the spirits of those who are deployed far from home.
“Having been deployed when you have Sunday come around and you have Armed Forces Network and they cover sports and you see people gather together it’s great,” said Greenert. “You have a team like the Steelers with a big following and you look at the person next to you and they are a Steelers fan and they are from all over the place. It’s a way to gather together and talk about home while serving overseas. Franchises like the Steelers are a drawing card that pulls people together away from home.
“When I meet sailors I ask where you are from and talk about what fan they are. Word gets out that I am a Steelers fan and they will proudly say I am a Steelers fan. They will show me Terrible Towels, things like that. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a wonderful way to strike up a conversation and get a connection started.”
Tags: Admiral Jonathan Greenert
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Throughout the 2012 season The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is giving grants to police and fire department K-9 units in the areas where the Steelers play.
This week his timing is perfect as the grant is going to the Jersey City Police Department, the city where the team was going to stay before power outages from Hurricane Sandy forced travel plans to change.
New Jersey has been devastated by the hurricane, and the grant will be an asset to the department.
“That is why we do it,” said Roethlisberger. “We do it to help first responders, police and firefighters. It just so happens that we are doing it this week in a place that needs it more than most places need it.
“It’s always important, but to be able to help out in an area that is so devastated right now, we are glad to be able to help them.”
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger
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Steelers’ players will be signing autographs at Dick’s Sporting Goods at Cranberry Crossroads on Thursday, Nov. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to benefit the United Way of Allegheny County.
There will be two one-hour sessions, with fans able to get one autograph per player for a $25 donation to the United Way per session.
Scheduled to appear in the first session from 6:30-7:30 are Charlie Batch, Keenan Lewis and Shaun Suisham. The second session, which runs from 7:30-8:30, will feature Jonathan Dwyer, Larry Foote and Maurkice Pouncey.
Fans are also eligible to win prizes for additional donations.
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The Steelers were without RB Baron Batch (shin), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf), and LBs Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) at practice on Thursday, but running back Jonathan Dwyer (quadriceps) was back on the field in a limited role.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) also practiced in a limited role, while S Ryan Clark (concussion), LB Brandon Johnson (hamstring) and RB Isaac Redman (ankle) were full participants for the second straight day.
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