PITTSBURGH - Several Pittsburgh Steelers players have asserted they still have reason to give a full effort.
Well, that's reassuring.
It shouldn't even be an issue. Even though the team's playoff chances are minuscule, they're still professional football players. They're getting paid well, and their obligation to provide a maximum effort hasn't waned.
The owe the Steelers the same level of preparation and the same degree of effort when they take the field Sunday in Green Bay.
It's never a good idea to try to play football at half speed or with divided attention.
Jobs are on the line for next season, whether they're in Pittsburgh or elsewhere. That should be reason enough to put in the time and effort for these last two games.
On the other hand, fans have no such obligation. You lay out money for tickets and you can do what you want with them.
A lot of people used their tickets for last Sunday night's home game against Cincinnati as coasters for the beer bottle in their living rooms.
There were more than 20,000 no-shows, a combination of the Steelers' sub-.500 record, miserable weather conditions and an 8:25 p.m. kickoff.
Even under ideal circumstances, who wants to get home from a football game after midnight? So a lot of people made the decision to leave the car in the driveway and follow the game on television.
It doesn't make them bad fans. It doesn't make the people who showed up at Heinz Field dumb fans.
To each his own. Tickets were dirt cheap on the secondary market, which gave some people who are usually shut out a chance to attend a game.
A lot of season ticket holders will probably forfeit their seats for the Dec. 29 season finale against Cleveland.
It may not be as lonely as the Cincinnati game was for a couple of reasons: The game starts just after 1 p.m., which is more manageable for most. A lot of people will be visiting for the holidays and would probably welcome a chance to experience a Steelers game while they're in the area. They'll gladly scoop up some of the available tickets.
It's also unlikely the weather will be as harsh as it was on Sunday night.
Whatever the case, there's no reason to castigate those who didn't bother to use their tickets on Sunday night.
You buy the tickets, you decide what to do with them.
Someone skilled at origami could probably turn them into a nice tree ornament.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org