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Tim Benz: As Tom Brady prepares for the Super Bowl, time for Steelers fans to make a new assessment

About an hour ago

I know what Steelers fans will think when they read this post.

“Tim, this is nothing but a giant,” I TOLD YOU SO! “”

Let me tell you that in advance, yes. Yes, that̵

7;s exactly it.

Not anymore. Nothing less. It’s a giant “I told you so.”

Because I did. Now I ask you to reconsider.

I have written many columns that have made many people really crazy. Ripping pirates, penguins and thieves. Or anytime I even mention Pitt.

Promote an unpopular opinion about a trade or a draft. Some cube comment on how our local politicians handled the coronavirus situation. Dance in some touching social or political opinions.

But under these circumstances, for every one or two negative answers, I would normally get one or two positive ones.

Not for today’s example. I refer to a piece I wrote about quarterback Tom Brady on January 7, 2020. It was three days after his New England Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC playoffs and Brady looked bad in the process.

It was clear at the time that the long marriage between the franchise and its six-time Super Bowl champion QB was stoned and he could hit free agency. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh woke up through the season to see if Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired elbow would heal enough to give him back in a Steelers uniform by 2020. If ever again.

So I put forward the idea that – despite almost 20 years of animus built up against Brady in our fair town – Steelers fans would (and should) welcome him to town if Ben Roethlisberger’s arm forced him to retire.

Between negative tweets, Facebook responses, and emails, I’m pretty sure I never got a more universal rejection of a story idea from our readership. I expected blowback for provincial, emotional reasons. Not tactical football. But I got both.

Readers expressed hatred for Brady for his repeated attacks on the Steelers, the Patriots’ period of terror over the AFC and the accusations surrounding Spygate and Deflategate. But also many did not think he could hack it anymore and he would not help the Steelers if he came to Heinz Field.

Mason Rudolph would be better. A draft election would be better. I’m pretty sure if I looked hard enough, I could find a “they would be better off sticking to ‘Duck’ next year” answer.

I was accused of everything from Pittsburgh betrayal to propaganda of “clickbait.”

Yes. How did all that go?

Roethlisberger came back. He led the Steelers to an 11-0 start. And Brady still had a better year. Now he’s in the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Do you think the people of Tampa would be happier with Rudolph or Duck? Or even Big Ben?

No, neither do I.

The parochial “we hate Brady because he was a cheating Patriot n’at,” I expected. Had my hypothetical happened and Roethlisberger had retired during the season, I think most Pittsburghers would have forgotten all that and spit at the prospect of Brady being a bridge for a few years and keeping the offense competitive while the tight defense continued to thrive.

But the rejection of Brady’s abilities was just stupid. Especially compared to whatever quarterback the Steelers would have ended up trotting out on opening day if Brady did not come to Pittsburgh.

Consider these numbers posted by Brady in 2020-21. At age 43 in his 21st season.

• Brady’s 4,633 passing yards is the fourth highest total in his career.

• Brady’s 40 touchdowns were only overshadowed by the 50 he threw 18-1 Pats in 2007.

• His 401 completions were only exceeded once (402 in 2015).

• Brady has already won three playoff games this year. The Steelers have three over the last decade.

And for everyone “Yes, what about Spygate and Deflategate?” theorists, this will be Brady’s sixth Super Bowl since Spygate. His fourth page Deflategate. His fifth, if you count the victory over the Seattle Seahawks game after the scandal broke.

Meanwhile, the Patriots went 7-9 and missed the Super Bowl.

So yes, it would clearly have been a tragic mistake for the Steelers franchise to sign Brady to replace Roethlisberger. Good call to everyone who emailed, tweeted and posted on Facebook.

Now that we look at it, the Steelers should have signed Brady to replace Roethlisberger, even though he remained healthy.

Yes, my email inbox is open if you want to reply to that comment as well.

Or if you want to tell me how I’m still an idiot because the Steelers want to acquire (insert name of Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Sam Darnold, Carson Wentz or Matt Stafford here) anyway this offseason. So I’m still wrong.

Funny how things change. “We will never want Tom Brady to replace Big Ben. But give us Sam Darnold! ”

I’m just kidding, Steelers fans. Enjoy the Super Bowl. I’m sure Dwayne Haskins will get them there soon enough.

By the way, my email inbox also accepts excuses.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be retransmitted. All emails can be published unless otherwise stated.

Sport | Steelers / NFL | Breakfast with Benz

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