Let me preface this article by first admitting that I bleed black and gold, and I am a Pittsburgh Steelers homer.
That said, I am still capable of taking a "backseat look" at the team and making objective observations. Well, after taking my "backseat look," I'm admittedly concerned about the final five games of the season. Is our 8-3 record and second seed in the AFC a good measuring stick for what kind of team we have?
Here are my observations:
n Of the 11 games the Steelers have played thus far, only five have been against teams with a record of .500 or better.
n Of the five teams the Steelers have played with a record .500 or better, the Steelers beat only two of them.
n The combined records of the Steelers' opponents thus far is 54-64.
n Of the remaining five games on our schedule, four games are against teams with records better than .500. In fact, the combined record of the teams the Steelers have yet to face is 35-20.
n Four of five teams the Steelers have remaining on the schedule are hot right now and seem to be playing some of their best football (New England, Dallas, Baltimore, Tennessee).
n Thankfully we still get to play Cleveland again!
n One last fact: Of the eight wins the Steelers have, the combined record of the opponents in those wins is 32-54.
We will find out a lot more about the Steelers over the next month. Based on last year's statistics, the Steelers' schedule is the most difficult schedule in the NFL this season. However, the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" kind of business.
My greatest concern is that we have no evidence that the Steelers are better than mediocrity - except our winning record against teams with records under .500.
Paulson can't be serious
Although very much a sports fan, I am often puzzled at the priorities that we have as a nation.
As many aspects of the U.S. economy are in danger, the family of Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson is attempting to coax the citizens of Portland, Oregon into providing an $85 million subsidy for a sports complex. His son, Merritt, claims this is a good investment because of the prestige sports will bring this community.
Well, prestige might be desirable, but in tough times, it won't pay the bills. Quite frankly, I am disappointed that this story has not received more media attention.
If the person who is overseeing the massive $700 billion bailout can't figure out a way to pay for his own family's sports hobby, we are all in very deep trouble.
Henry Paulson and his son ought to pay their fair share for a privately-owned sports enterprise. It is inexcusable to seek massive taxpayer funds at the same time that most states and municipalities are cutting back on basic services.
When major segments of the economy are on the thinnest of ice, and average people are struggling to make ends meet, our nation's leaders ought to be putting sports subsidies on the back burner.
Fitting tribute to Churchill
On behalf of Jeff Churchill's wife Jackie, his daughter Kate, his mother Wanda, his brother David, and former friends, family and teammates, I want to personally gratefully acknowledge the Altoona boys and girls basketball programs for being present in the stands to honor former Mountain Lion and Red Flash standout Jeff Churchill at St. Francis on Nov. 22.
In bringing a bus of at least 40 members of the program, Athletic Director Vince Nedimyer and head coaches Larry Betar and Craig Long not only showed what a classy organization the Altoona Area High School athletic program is, but they brought an incredible joy to those of us who loved and knew Jeff throughout his life.
Jeff was proud to be a Mountain Lion basketball alum and always let his teammates at St. Francis know it. Their gesture did not go unnoticed by Jeff's immediate family or the St. Francis men's basketball family.
Former players along with Jeff's family from Lancaster kept asking me throughout the evening about the "sea of gray warm-ups" in the stands. As an employee of the Altoona Area School District, it was an honor to say that they were there to represent Jeff Churchill's Altoona basketball family.