The NFL draft is an endless source of miracles, annually making dreams come true for hundreds of prospective athletes hoping to make it to the top echelon of their sport and chosen profession, even if many of those chosen don’t ultimately make it.
There’s the other side of the draft as well, the one less seen, and less obvious; the side that puts an end to a dream.
After all, there’s a finite number of roster spots throughout the entire league, and for every new player that enters league, one veteran will find himself on the outside looking in by the time the final 53-man roster is established.
It’s the proverbial circle of life, and it’s certainly not limited to just football, let alone to just sports. Everything gets replaced eventually, as some veterans of Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the past will likely be finding out now.
As recently as just before the draft, for example, it wasn’t a far-fetched notion that the Steelers would potentially be interested in re-signing defensive end Brett Keisel in June, depending on what the team was able to accomplish with their nine selections in the draft.
They were able to accomplish quite a bit along the defensive line as it turned out.
As a result, it’s become increasingly unlikely that they will be inquiring about the services of their former Pro Bowl veteran in the near future. In fact, he may find that his opportunities have run dry, and that it’s time to call it a career.
This has been an annual trend for former Steelers veterans of the past few years, including Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke, Casey Hampton, Hines Ward, and others.
A few, such as Ryan Clark and Larry Foote this offseason, have found not only the desire but the opportunity to extend their careers by at least another summer, but they, too, know that the end is quickly drawing near.
Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and Heath Miller are among the current Steelers quietly approaching the end of the line, which in a way feels like the end of an era.
Of course, when a franchise quarterback is in the equation, eras are defined by their playing years. We’re still entrenched in the Ben Roethlisberger era, hopefully for at least another half-dozen seasons or so.
In all likelihood, however, this era will continue without the likes of Keisel in 2014 with the acquisitions of Stephon Tuitt, and Cam Thomas.