PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Offensively, the Steelers have plenty to worry about after ineptitude and key injuries in Week 1, but on Wednesday, they found themselves having to tackle an off-the-field issue.
In a bizarre story reported by Deadspin writer and Pittsburgh native Dom Cosentino, Todd Haley was at a bar inside a local hotel when he chided a drunken fan who, according to an e-mail to Cosentino, egged on the Steelers’ offensive coordinator after giving him an autograph and lightheartedly adding the phrase “Chiefs suck.”
Click here to read the full report by Cosentino.
Haley, who served as Kansas City’s head coach from 2009 until late in 2011, was hired by the Steelers after the 2011 season to replace Bruce Arians.
“I’m very surprised, when I came to work this morning, that it was an issue,” Haley told the media on the South Side. “It’s a non-issue, as far as I’m concerned.”
Haley, who has been staying in the hotel in question with his family while searching for permanent housing in the greater Pittsburgh area, offered his own perspective on the encounter:
“Like I always do, I got asked for an autograph. The guy said, ‘I’m a huge Steeler fan,’ so I signed it, ‘go Steelers.’ Then he said, ‘No, not really, I’m a Chiefs fan,’ so I wrote what I did in jest. It was no disrespect to the Chiefs. I’ve never, at any time, said anything negative about the team that gave me a chance to be a head coach. It was in jest, we laughed about it. That’s why I’m surprised it was being talked about.
“I wrote something about my former team that I probably shouldn’t, so there was no incident.”
When attention shifted to the Steelers’ banged-up offensive line, Haley, like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did during “Vinnie & Cook” Tuesday, sung the praises of backup center Kelvin Beachum, a second-year lineman from SMU originally drafted as a left tackle.
Last year Beachum started the last five games at right tackle, though the Steelers actually listed him as a guard.
“I thought Beach did a great job. Now we need an additional center. We’re trying to get him up to speed, and use whatever remaining time we have with Beach to get him going,” Haley said, noting the team’s recent signing of former Titans center Fernando Velasco to replace Pro-Bowler Maurkice Pouncey. “You can tell [Velasco] has been in the league for a number of years.”
Haley said the coaching staff has not decided how it will deploy its running backs. Jonathan Dwyer, who busted out for 122 yards in a prime-time win at Cincinnati last fall, was re-signed to spell Isaac Redman and replace the injured LaRod Stephens-Howling. Furthermore, the return of rookie Le’Veon Bell from a foot sprain is still not definite.
“It was probably the worst-case scenario, just [in terms of] how we planned to go into the game. It really affected three guys,” Haley said of that ugly home loss to Tennessee last Sunday. “We didn’t get it done. We need to be better in a lot of areas. We’ve made the necessary adjustments, and we’ve had a couple of good practices.”
The Steelers visit the Bengals Monday night at 8:40 as all four AFC North teams enter Week 2 looking for their first wins.
“Everybody’s got to bounce back and play better football, and good things will happen.”