News from the Front Office came down today that former Steelers’ Defensive Back Carnell Lake has been hired as the secondary coach replacing Ray Horton who left to coach the defense in Arizona. Lake, who starred for UCLA in college, played for the Steelers from 1989 thru 2001. He was a 5-time Pro Bowler who excelled at corner but also made the switch to safety later in his career. Most recently, he had been the secondary coach at UCLA.
Lake was one fo the great blitzing corners of the NFL during his time with the Steelers as he recorded 25 career sacks and was the 1997 AFC Defensive Player of the Year. So what is the impact of his signing in terms of the defense? Hard to tell just yet, but any Steeler fan will tell you that anything that can help our secondary is a welcome addition. Lake will no doubt bring some of the traditional trademark aggressiveness he was known for at corner and should help our DB’s learn more effective ways to blitz and to attack running backs on the outside. Perhaps his most important contribution could come with dealing with the younger guys like Crezdon Butler and Keenan Lewis who could certainly benefit from Lake’s vast experience at the corner position. Don’t fall into the trap though Steeler fans. A fan favorite returning home to coach does not always mean success in the that capacity. Look no further than Lake’s alma mater where Head Coach Ric Neuheisel has struggled to recapture the glory of past seasons at UCLA. Give Lake some time to adapt and work with Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau who will certainly preach specifics in terms of what he wants his DBs to do. Either way, I love the hire and wish Carnell great success coaching the Steelers’ DBs.
Here is the portion of this post where if you are suffering from insomnia you will be quickly cured because I’m going to ‘briefly’ discuss the current negotiations between the NFLPA and the league owners. You’ve been warned….
As we all know by now, the players and owners agreed to extend the CBA deadline until 5pm this Friday, March 11th. Most believe this is a good sign that there is at the very least some progress being made and I would concur with those sentiments. Union President DeMaurice Smith has already established himself from former Union head, the late Gene Upshaw, by being very honest and upfront with all of the players and pushing for total transparency. Upshaw seemed more reserved and more concerned with keeping things closer to the vest as is often common during labor negotiations for fear of the ‘other side’ getting information it probably shouldn’t have. Smith really doesn’t seem to care what anyone knows in general. He has a bulldog mentality and wants to see this thing through for the betterment of the players, past and present, but he also seems to get that the fans have a crucial role too and isn’t forgetting that.
The other guy figuring prominently is special federal mediator George Cohen who is already being credited with getting the talks extended into this week. Cohen is known as a mild-mannered, calm individual who is very capable of getting both sides to relax and move towards compromise. Last year, it was the MLS that was in the midst of labor strife and according to some players, it was Cohen that was clearly the difference. So what exactly will the outcomes of this week’s negotiations be? Hard to tell, but I really think that Cohen has been able to stress to both sides that prolonging this thing into the summer is not good for anyone. There was talk that the owners are better suited to sit this thing out for the long run and make the players have to move to their side, but let’s not forget that they will lose money too. Substantial money. No training camp, no pre-season games, no games, means no money and while most owners have other income from a vast array of business enterprises outside of their NFL franchises, they recognize they cannot sit on the sidelines too long. My gut feeling is that while the money that is to be shared is a sticking point, the 18-game schedule and need for additional health care may be the bigger issue. With all the talk of concussions and head injuries this past season, the players have every right to question the owners motives to an increased game schedule, but I think it’s coming. Even Dan Rooney said the move from a 16 to 18 game schedule was not a good idea and his words carry weight, but I still see it coming. For now though, let’s hope this CBA is done this week.
STEELERS’ NOTE: I’ll be doing another podcast tomorrow night which you can hear over at www.steeleraddicts.com. It should be posted sometime on Wednesday…. Also, I was very grateful to be in on the interview with Steelers LB Jason Worilds last week as well. Worilds is a great, young guy and really understands the NFL and I may sound overly optimistic, but I think Jason going to be a starter in the not to distant future for the Steelers or at the very least seeing some time spelling LaMarr Woodley or James Harrison. Worilds showed some tremendous speed coming off the edge in games against Miami and Oakland this past season. Count me as a fan.
THE FINAL SPEW: Sympathies to the family of Wes Leonard, the Fennville, (MI.) HS basketball player who passed away on Thursday night just minutes after scoring the winning basket to give his team a 20-0 season. By all accounts, he was a fine young man. Just a damn shame…. In what comes as no surprise whatsoever, Warner Bros. has fired Charlie Sheen. He may be crazy, but he’s hilarious and would have made more money for CBS than they could have imagined. Please just end the show though. Don’t bring in a ‘replacement’…. Teacher tenure is under fire across the nation. I agree that it needs a major overhaul, but don’t destroy those teaching now. Finding good teachers gets tougher every year…. Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan is the one who needs to “deal with it” now….. Today’s video is flat-out juvenile but I don’t care because it makes me laugh every time. Peter Griffin and Michael Moore…. let the farting begin.