Monopoly Money

By Alex Kozora (Chidi29)

July 19, 2010

Move over Bill Gates. Step aside Steve Jobs. America in tremendous debt? No big deal; I have five hotels and the Boardwalk.

Oh wait....what? Monopoly money isn't actually valuable? Friday's game night, I assume that's what kids do these days, has no bearing on reality?

Of course, that line between Monopoly money and real money is clear to anyone. But for whatever reason, this line becomes much more blurred when looking at the business aspect of football. Decisions are driven financially as much as anything else, and money is finite.

In recent years, the Steelers have been able to lock up key players to long term deals. James Farrior, James Harrison, and Casey Hampton are all examples of that. But this upcoming offseason will again have a slew of players looking to cash in. Jeff Reed, Willie Colon (though his price will be severely reduced coming off injury), LaMarr Woodley and Ike Taylor all will become free agents after this season with Lawrence Timmons and Rashard Mendenhall waiting in the wings.

As great as it would be to keep all of them around, it isn't always possible. This is, as the cliché goes, a business with tough decisions constantly being made. And they have been made in the past. Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, Antwaan Randle El, and Chris Hope hit the market in recent years.

It's not about the Daniel Snyder approach of throwing money around. It's about locking up a couple of key, irreplaceable players and building the rest around a team's scheme. Case in point, the Steelers have been able to cycle in and out Pro Bowl linebackers for what seems like forever. Sure, some of those players were higher draft picks, but there have been a fair share of Clark Haggans types as well. Players that aren't overly talented, usually flaming out once they leave Pittsburgh, but are productive during the time they sported black and gold. The same situation exists at cornerback. There hasn't been a shutdown corner since the days of Rod Woodson. Unless it's referring to shutting down your eyes and praying the defense can get off the field on 3rd and long. It's been about getting reliable, physical tacklers coupled with an ultra-rare talent like Troy Polamalu - that aforementioned irreplaceable player - to create a secondary.

This is not advocating getting rid of either Woodley or Taylor. That's another discussion entirely. It is advocating the philosophy of scheme over talent. The above are merely examples of that.

Reality check. This is not a game of Madden. Tough decisions will have to be made. And the team will survive, just as they have done in the past. Money that is spent has to be chosen carefully., and money for the future can't be spent away.

Or all you'll be left with is Monopoly money. You'll be the thimble while everyone else gets to be the race car.

Do you want to be the thimble?

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