By Christina Rivers
History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill
As you may have noticed, we\’ve begun a weekly series that takes a step back into Pittsburgh Steelers history. The many greats we\’ve lost, the players forgotten and beloved and the defeats erased by many grand victories. This week we\’ll stumble with our lamp on the path to this week (March 17-23) throughout the great annals of the Steelers\’ past.
(March 17, 2005) – Former Steelers Pro-Bowl Linebacker David Little Passes
David Lamar Little, Sr., (known as David Little) began his career with the Steelers in 1981 as the seventh round pick(183rd pick overall) of that year\’s NFL Draft. He played middle linebacker for the team until 1992 and earned a Pro-Bowl nod after the 1990 season. Little played in 179 games, starting 125 of them.
On March 17, 2005, Little died of accidental causes. Having heart disease, the Associated Press reported at the time that Little experienced a “cardiac flutter” which resulted in him dropping 250 pounds of weights he was bench-pressing onto his neck. The result was asphyxia, according to the coroner\’s report. He was 46 years old.
(March 16, 2004) Steelers Signing of Duce Staley A Bit Un-Popular At Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Bob Smizik wrote a rather scathing article about the state of the free agent search by Kevin Colbert, especially about the signing of Philadelphia Eagles running back Duce Staley to the Steelers roster.
Like 2012\’s pre-season free agency and salary cap conundrum, 2004 was another year to worry about the cap. The Steelers were looking for a necessary upgrade to their roster.
Center Chukky Okobi was re-signed and free agent defensive tackle Travis Kirschke was added by the Steelers.
“The fanfare surrounding the signing of Staley was a bit much considering that his best season was in 1999, that he has run for 1,000 yards once in the past four years, that he has averaged less than 4 yards per carry three times in the past five years.”
Further mention of a deal that was made with Jerome Bettis (in the same article) drew interest by fans concerned that Bettis would be under-valued once Staley started getting the call at running back.
Although Sports Blog Archive nearly tore Smizik apart in their post, Smizik correctly predicted that the Steelers would go after a quarterback in the 2004 NFL Draft to be groomed by Tommy Maddox. That quarterback ended up being Ben Roethlisberger.
(March 21, 2005) Dan Rooney Family Hold Palm Sunday Mass in Maui – Art Rooney II Says It\’s Time For Another Championship
Dan Rooney and his wife, Pat, held a Hawaii family reunion of sorts to celebrate Palm Sunday. The entire clan of children, spouses, grandchildren, etc. attended. Even their own priest was present.
Even though the family was basically on a special retreat, Dan\’s eldest son, Art Rooney II, was candid with reporters on how he felt about the religion of Pittsburgh football fans – that it was time for another Lombardi Trophy to be added to the already growing collection.
“I know Bill (Cowher) feels that way, that we have to get this done,” Rooney said. “I think he has a very good staff and feels like we have to get this done, that we\’re in a position we can do this now. I think there\’s that kind of commitment to it that we have to take advantage of the opportunity when it\’s there.”
The Steelers lost four players as free agents; Kendrell Bell, Keydrick Vincent, Oliver Ross and Plaxico Burress. They released Chad Scott. The team added Cedrick Wilson; re-signed Larry Foote, Willie Williams and Jeff Reed.
Interestingly enough, Art Rooney II was eerily on target. The Steelers faced the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2005 season, winning Super Bowl XL in Detroit; 21-10.
Share your memories from this week in Steelers history in the comments section below. And feel free to share with your Steelers friends (show them how smart you are about Steelers history).