Stillers Embrace Idiocy at FB Spot; Huntley is released (June 5, 2001)
In a move of sheer idiocy, the Stillers apparently are going to allow Jon Witman to compete for the starting FB job.
Both the Post-Gazette and Trib Review had articles today fawning over John Witman. Here�s some noteworthy excerpts:
Says Witman, "I'm here to be the starting fullback." Obviously, the coaching staff hasn�t informed him of any plans that he�s either going to be a backup, or even an on-the-bubble player during camp.
"But will he be a member of the Steelers' starting lineup? It's certainly possible, if not probable. After all, it was less than a year ago that Witman was playing as well as most fullbacks in the NFL before breaking his leg, dislocating his ankle and missing the final 10 games of the 2000 season." More lunacy. Witman was HARDLY playing as well as "most FBs in the NFL." That�s absolutely ridiculous. Witman was playing no better than the 2 prior seasons. In fact, the team was actually running the ball well WITHOUT Witman on the field, occasionally using 1-back sets and spreading the field with an extra WR. For Bouchette to think that Witman is the "probable" starter at FB is unbelievably asinine.
The only worthwhile part of either of these articles was this: "Both weigh around 245. At 5 feet 11, Kreider, 23, is shorter than Witman by 2 inches and he throws blocks lower to the ground." Actually, Kreider is 3 inches shorter than Witman, but the point remains clear: Dan Kreider packs a MUCH BETTER punch at the point of attack that Jon Witman ever has. Why? Kreider gets leverage; Witman does not. The film does not lie.
Then there will be cries of, "But Witman brings competition for the job." Sure, I�m all for competition. However, I smell a rat here, in which Little Billy Cowher --- the same moron who saw fit last year to CUT Kreider and keep Jon Witless --- will end up starting the inferior but beloved Witman come the season opener. Remember, Kreider had no competition last year when he was thrown into the starting lineup --- both Fu and Witman were lost for the season, and there was no other FB on the practice squad. Nevertheless, Kreider kicked ass and took names. Kreider strikes me as a Mike Webster kind of workaholic who isn�t about to sit on his laurels. And Witman is no more competition to Kreider than Ian Moran is to supplanting Alex Kovalev on the Penguins #2 line.
I also am tired of hearing about Witman�s "turning down other offers of more money". This is shoddy journalism at its worst. First off, what were the REAL, actual numbers from these supposed contract offers? Answer: We have no idea. The only guy who knows is Witman�s agent, the SAME guy who is PAID by a percentage according to how much the contract is worth, and the same guy whose reputation among the NFL players is on the line every time a client of his signs a contract. Any and every player�s agent is always going to walk around trumpeting all the great contract offers his client has supposedly received. To steal a line from Jerry McGuire, Show me the money. Oh, sure, Witman may have gotten an offer of $50K more than the Stillers� offer, but to think that Witman � a clodlike stiff with CHRONIC back problems and coming off a severe leg injury -- was getting, say, near-7-figure per annum contract offers is absolutely ludicrous. Fact is, no ACTUAL numbers have ever been revealed, so all this blathering about the tremendous contract offers Witman turned down is pure grandstanding by Witman�s agent. If Chicago, or ANY other NFL team, really wanted Jon Witman, they would have flown the guy in, wined & dined him, and given him a "can�t refuse " kind of offer. Nothing of the sort ever occurred.
Ironically enough, because the team is so tight against the salcap, RB Ricky Huntley was cut yesterday in a move that will, unless Huntley suffers a severe injury, undoubtedly haunt the Stillers. In a classic case of salcap MISmanagement, the team frittered away $477K on a worthless stiff like Witman, plus another $477K on a nondescript veteran in Rivers, when they could have gotten rookies with the same effectiveness at a savings of some $600K. That $600K savings could have allowed them to keep Huntley, the man who just happens to be the best ALL AROUND back on this team. Even scarier is the fact that this team could very well break camp with the RB spots (if only 5 RBs are kept) being allotted to Bettis/Rivers/Fu/Witman/Kreider.....with Witman winning the FB job. Sounds absurd, but this is the same team that tried for 2 straight years to make PeePee Hawkins a starting WR and the same team that rotted Joey Porter behind Carla Emmons. Under Billy Cowher, anything --- no matter how imbecilic � is not only possible, but entirely likely.