A Love Affair with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Tate

Christmas is over but the gifts keep on coming. My most recent unwrapped surprise? Ben Tate has been picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I can’t say I’ve always been a Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan. My foray into fandom started with the greatness of Brett Favre. Even in the fourth grade, I could appreciate the athletic ability and leadership of Favre. So of course, with the tunnel vision of any young child, I became a Green Bay Packers’ fan, and I had the giant puffy jacket to prove it.

This lasted for a while. Of course, this was during my middle school years. As a young teenage girl I was far more focused on my up and coming basketball career, how much I hated math and how to navigate the terrible world of fashion and accessories. But all that changed when I became the Junior High football team water-girl. Being on the sidelines, immersed in the game, talking shop with the boys, sharing in the joy of victory and the despair of defeat, really opened my eyes. I have always been a sports fan, but this was when I started to develop a deep appreciation and love for the game of football.

Around this same time a bombshell was dropped on my young football fan head. My grandfather played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know that this seems like something I should have grown up knowing, but my grandmother married my grandfather when I was about five years old. So he was my grandfather by marriage. However, he helped raise me, not to mention buying all my prom dresses, so he was my Pa whether related by blood or not. Once he recognized my growing love for football, he shared some of his glory day football stories. After that I, was a Steelers’ fan for life (though oddly enough he’s a huge Dallas Cowboys fan).

Ben Tate Finds a New Home

My appreciation for Ben Tate started when I was watching him play for the Houston Texans. Sure, Arian Foster got most of the glory, but I loved that Ben Tate didn’t run like a second-string running back. It’s true that his young career has been plagued with injury, and his release from not one, but two teams is concerning, but I like what I see from the 26-year old running back. He finished 2011 with a 5.4 YPC average (third in the league), four touchdowns and 98 receiving yards. His 2012 season ended with a formidable 4.3 yards per carry. He is a power runner, who possess no small amount of break out speed when he finds the open field.

Really, he reminds me of the Pittsburgh great, Rashard Mendenhall. Similar in size, similar in speed, both exhibit the ability to break through the front line and find the endzone. Where Mendenhall surpassed Tate, however, is in the receiving game, but Tate still has pass-catching ability. In 2013, he amassed 34 catches on 51 targets. To make his mark, he will have to bring his best play-making abilities to the Steelers, who are in need of a reserve to backup Le’Veon Bell. Bell has impressed all season making big plays on the turf and in the air, so Ben has big shoes to fill.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Steelers try to keep Tate around for awhile since their backfield consisting of Dri Archer, and Josh Harris leaves a lot to be desired. Either way I rooted for Tate big time against the Baltimore Ravens, but his debut was not what I was hoping for. Again, it would help to have a full offseason to build a connection with the team.

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Categories: Fantasy Football

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