Week in Review: The Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker keeps on taking names and kicking ass
But can Vince Williams play this way in 2020 & beyond? Plus, Drew Bledsoe on everything, Lamar Jackson has the Ravens cookin' and a rare look at Sean McDermott...
Three games today. Three games Sunday.
How sweet it is.
Wild Card Weekend never disappoints and I’ve got a feeling this one will be as wild as they come. Bills/Colts, Rams/Seahawks and Bucs/WFT get us rollin’ today so, to get your weekend set, here’s what went down at Go Long this week if you missed anything.
Just ding the headline.
The Last Badass
There just aren’t many players in the sport anymore wired like Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams. It’s by design, too. The Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker has been slaughtering everything its path since the 70s. So for this Friday Feature, I tried to figure out what makes this specimen different in talking to many of those badasses.
This tradition just continues year to year, decade to decade, era to era.
All of the stories from Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown, Joey Porter and Greg Lloyd are classic.
And it’s clear the man in the middle today, Vince Williams, was built for this responsibility. He really doesn’t give a bleep what anybody thinks, too — and he plans to keep on crushing folks, fines and flags be damned. Here are a few snippets from our story…
“I’m going to hit people as hard as I can and I’m going to try to rip their faces off and intimidate them. That’s how I’m going to play because that’s how the people who came before me played. That’s what Steeler football is.”
“I’m not going to change! They’re going to kick me out of the league. I’m going to play and I’m going to hit people the way I want to play and how I desire to play — until I can’t, until they change the rules and just outlaw me. Because that’s who I am as a person and I’m not changing the way I play for anything.”
“I couldn’t care less about Pro Bowls and all that other pussy shit. Man, I don’t care about that! I want my teammates to be like, ‘Man, Vince is out there. Y’all ain’t running nothing because if 98 gets to you, he’s going to knock you out. You know that right?’ … I want to win a Super Bowl! And I want the most respect out of my teammates.”
Drew Bledsoe, unfiltered
There’s something so refreshing about a former NFL quarterback, one of the best to do it in his era, finding happiness outside of the game. You won’t see Drew Bledsoe on TV much at all talking about football because he’s too busy building his wine empire out in Walla Walla, Wash. And before hitting the slopes to go skiing earlier this week, Bledsoe carved out an hour of his time to get into everything.
How brutal the state of affairs was in New England when he was the No. 1 overall pick in ‘93.
The hit that changed football forever. He could have died. (He was not thrilled with Bill Belichick’s decision to roll with “a skinny kid from Michigan” then, too.)
How freakin’ motivated Tom Brady is to win a ring post-Belichick.
Why he loved Buffalo and why he thinks Buffalo can win it all. (He is prepared to break a folding table.)
A take on concussions you probably won’t hear often.
Scratching that competitive itch in the wine business.
That bittersweet feeling when he did win a Super Bowl… as a back-up. He got a taste of action in the AFC title game against the Steelers that postseason but it wasn’t easy to watch on from the sideline…
“I tell people this, and it really is an accurate description of what that was like: It was like giving a starving man a snack. Like, “Here’s a cracker.” You play for a second, and finally get to the big game, and the other guy gets to come in and play. So it was some personal emotional turmoil and the very definition of “bittersweet” because when we win the Super Bowl I was so excited for my team and teammates and all of that. But, for me personally, I’m like, “I was supposed to be on the field for this thing.” On a personal level, that was really hard to swallow. At the same time, I was ecstatic for my teammates and organization and for the Patriots and for the fans. I was ecstatic for all of them. But for me on a personal level, it was pretty tough.”
Why the Baltimore Ravens should be feared?
No team in the NFL is hotter than these Ravens. (OK, maybe Buffalo.)
But, truly, in every facet of the game, the Ravens have dominated for a good month-plus. Lamar Jackson is back to his MVP form, JK Dobbins is a younger and more explosive version of Mark Ingram in the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack, Marquise Brown is starting to look like a true No. 1 who’ll burn you deep… and this defense has the playmakers and the attitude to hang with any prolific offense in the NFL.
Corners Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey won’t back down from anyone.
In The Thread this week, I wrote why the Ravens could be the team that goes on a run right now. Out of anyone not named the Chiefs, Bills, Packers and Saints, they have the best shot because the Ravens are essentially “Sonny” in A Bronx Tale, beating the hell out of that biker gang.
Feel free to give that column a read and let me know if I’m dead wrong. Would love to hear who you all think will get on a roll right now — the topic of this week’s discussion thread, too.
Go Long Podcast with Dunne & Monos
We have two parts this week, a conversation with ex-Saint, ex-Panther safety Roman Harper and our usual spot with former Bills GM Doug Whaley.
Both conversations, fueled by Hamburg Brewery of course, were a riot.
Harper talked about playing for Sean McDermott, shared his best Gregg Williams stories and put Monos on the spot in asking what the Saints really thought when they drafted him in 2006. (Monos was a scout in New Orleans then.)
And while Whaley sees the Bills winning today against Indy, he does believe the Colts could pull the upset. He has a hilarious Greg Lloyd story, too.
Part I with Harper…
Part II with Whaley…
Appreciate you guys rating and reviewing, too. Here is Roman Harper’s perspective on Sean McDermott…
Zoom Happy Hour!
We held our second-ever Zoom Happy Hour last night for subscribers and had a hell of a time. Thanks to everyone for popping on. Monos signed on to tell the uncut stories you may not hear on the podcast. (What happens on the Zoom stays on the Zoom.) If you’re interested in hearing what really goes down behind the scenes, subscribe to Go Long any time and join us Fridays at 6 p.m. (EST).
All log-in information can be found each week at the bottom of The Thread every Monday.
Thank you, everyone!