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  1. Big news: The Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to terms with G David DeCastro on a 6-year $50 million contract extension, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday. This deal had been in the works for some time.
  2. And let’s be honest, DeCastro’s deserved it. He’s truly lived up to his hype after being the Steelers 1st round pick from Stanford in 2012. He also made his first Pro-Bowl last season and has become one of the best guards in the NFL. Congrats to him.
  3. The NFL Regular Season is finally here. You know, when teams play for real. I always encourage folks to not get so overblown about the Preseason-because it’s not I mean, who really cares that the Pittsburgh Steelers went 1-3 in Fake Football? Preseason is for the rookies. If you don’t believe me, look at how many games the starters played? Case closed.
  4. Anyway, speaking of the Steelers, they play their first regular season game Monday night vs. the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. It’s part of a Monday Night Football Doubleheader with the Steelers/Redskins being the first game and LA Rams at SF 49ers getting the nightcap. It’s should be a night of good football.
  5. I honestly think the Steelers will beat the Redskins and it’s not knock on the ‘Skins-especially since they won the NFC East last season with a 9-7 record. But let’s be real: The NFC East is much healthier and better, so 9-7 probably won’t be good enough to win that division this year.
  6. The Steelers will be without RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Martavis Bryant (Suspension) but you figure DeAngelo Williams will hold it down on the ground and as for the WRs, well, I don’t think Markus Wheaton is a #2 WR, and if Darius Heyward-Bey was more reliable with his speed, then it wouldn’t be a problem. Plus, there’s young Sammie Coates, whom I think will explode. It’ll be fun.
  7. Of course, the key matchup of the game will be Steelers All-Pro WR Antonio Brown vs. the ‘Skins All-Pro CB Josh Norman, late of the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. I don’t take much stock in that hype. Save that for ESPN to blab about. There will be other players on the field who will make plays as well.
  8. The Steelers also made a significant move last Saturday when they traded a 6th Round pick to the Cleveland Browns for CB Justin Gilbert. I like the move, because the Steelers desperately need help at that position (and since they passed on Keenan Lewis) and Gilbert (a former 2014 1st round pick) probably needed a change of scenery after 2 awful years with the Browns.
  9. Of course, Gilbert has to prove himself. He had maturity issues in Cleveland and played horrible. I believe he can learn the Steelers defense and his progress will determine how much playing time he gets in Monday’s game. It would be nice to see a Gilbert/Artie Burns tandem at corner, but it’s certainly not there yet.
  10. And one more for the Steelers, apparently TE LaDarius Green is still out with either headaches or ankle surgery. Time will tell when he will get on the field. It makes me wonder how this dude passed his physical when the Steelers gave him that $20-million-dollar contract. While he’s healing, I expect the Steelers to be OK at TE with 2nd year man Jesse James. He’s a behemoth of a player. Just stay healthy kid.
  11. In other NFL news, Dallas Cowboys owner/President/GM Jerry Jones buys a helicopter. I mean, really: Why is this news? This is the reason why the NFL needs to start playing games. Unless he can fit the entire team in that helicopter, big deal.
  12. In College Football, of course the big news for this week is the revival of the Pitt/Penn State Rivalry when they play this Saturday before a potential sold-out Heinz Field and a national TV audience on ESPN. Having them get the ESPN coverage is an excellent way to pay homage to this historic matchup. I tip my hat to them.
  13. Apparently, there are some at Penn State who’re not making as much as a deal about this game, saying that they need a better rival to play than Pitt. How rude. I hope the Panthers destroy the Nittany Lions on Saturday because of that statement. And they need to get over it anyway, because both teams will play 3 more times after this.
  14. As for the College Football Polls (Top 5), there’s no surprise that Alabama still holds the #1 spot, followed by Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and Michigan. Pretty impressive Top 5, if you ask me, and I also like the fact that there are 2 ACC-based teams (Clemson, Fla St.) in that Top 5 as well.
  15. I’m also impressed that Houston is ranked 6. It’s truly been a long time since they have been ranked that high, and you certainly can’t argue it after they pulled off a huge upset over #14 Oklahoma. The Big 12 may come calling Houston after they beat one of their own.
  16. And then there’s MLB…and then there’s the Pittsburgh Pirates, who still have an outside shot at the 2nd Wild Card, but after they suffered an 8-game losing streak, I think that was the final straw that broke the Camel’s back this year. They’re done. No playoffs this year.
  17. The Pirates inconsistent pitching, a struggling Andrew McCutchen and their ill-advised trade of All-Star Closer Mark Melancon did them in, and now they will spend the offseason thinking about it-well maybe not GM Neal Huntington, who will find ways to justify them missing the postseason-and the Melancon trade once more.
  18. As for the rest of MLB, the NY Mets made news as they signed NFL player Tim Tebow to a minor-league contract Thursday. They say that they’re honestly ‘intrigued’ about Tebow’s potential and it’s not a publicity stunt. I believe that, because the Mets are contending for a NL Wild Card spot. But I wouldn’t believe it if the Mets were in last place.
  19. I’ve always been a fan of Tebow, who has always displayed an excellent attitude even through his NFL scrutiny and struggles. I hope he does succeed in baseball, and not become another example of when Michael Jordan tried it in 1994.
  20. In US Open of Tennis, defending champ Serena Williams has now reached the Semifinals vs. Karolina Pliskova. I hope she wins it all again.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

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