U mad, bro? Readers furious over Alejandro Villanuevas helmet debate. Fixed NFL games. Pirates problems. – TribLIVE

This week’s “U mad, bro?” ranges from the Steelers, to a Big Ten reboot, to Pirates ineptitude, to Justin Timberlake.

It also ranges from substantive to silly.

Alejandro Villanueva’s agenda. Mason Rudolph’s helmet. Accusations of NFL officials on the take. And covid-19 propaganda.

Aside from that … eh, it’s rather tame.

Pfft! Who am I kidding?

“WBROWN” gets us going. He sent me this email in advance of the Steelers’ win over the New York Giants Monday night.

He was very concerned that the officials were on the take!

Cuz … ya know … New York n’at.

We all must be very wary of the officiating, as it relates to holding calls against the Steelers. Interference as well as holding calls against the offense when big plays are completed that either push them back or give the Giants opportunities to continue plays busted up by the Steelers defense.

Not saying they will outright cheat, but what I am saying is that the Steelers must be on their ‘p’s and q’s’ as it relates to the NFL wanting to get the Giants off to a good start.

This is New York, after all. That always counts for something as the NFL is concerned.

Based on that pass interference call on Joe Haden in the first half and the missed hold on T.J. Watt in the second half, for a while, I thought Mr. Brown was onto something.

But, c’mon. Compromising a game for a New York team? When the Steelers have one of the biggest national fan bases going?

Far be it from me to bust up a good old-fashioned conspiracy theory, W.B. But let’s be real.

The Giants have had one winning season since 2012. And the Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. If the NFL is looking to fix games for New York teams, they’ve been doing a pretty lousy job of it.

Someone named “GMoney” commented on our story about Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva’s decision to tape over Antwon Rose’s name on his helmet with the name of deceased Army sergeant Alwyn Cashe.

He doesn’t owe anybody an explanation. He’s done more for this country than most.

Good on (head coach Mike) Tomlin for not making it an issue. Because it’s not.

No, “GMoney,” Villanueva ABSOLUTELY owes an explanation. And his Army veteran status has nothing to do with that. It’s irrelevant to this discussion.

You can agree with what Villanueva did, or not. I do not.

You can agree with the team’s decision to put Rose’s name on their helmets in the first place, or not. I do not.

You can elect to rip Villanueva for breaking ranks from his teammates, while differentiating that from what Colin Kaepernick did. Again, I do not.

But if the team made a decision, and Villanueva decided to go off the grid, and his teammates are saying they were unaware of the decision, then he needs to explain why it happened.

At least Kaepernick did that.

Why should Villanueva feel obligated to address the issue?

• When the same thing happened in Chicago, players said all year that fallout from the anthem debacle was part of the reason they lost that game. A game that eventually helped cost them home-field advantage in the playoffs in 2017.

So why risk that again in 2020?

• Villanueva was one guy on a team of 53 that deviated from the plan. He is intentionally making a statement.

So explain the statement. Why tape over Rose’s name instead of simply putting Cashe’s name above Rose’s? Why avoid doing what everybody else on the team did?

There is nuance and middle ground to be found on a lot of the subjects about this argument. This isn’t one of them. Villanueva needs to step up and address questions.

And this is one area where not having open locker room access in the coronavirus era is a very significant issue.

Let’s mix in a media one. It comes from USA Today writer Christine Brennan. She’s mad about the Big Ten’s belated decision to play football amid the coronavirus crisis.

Wow! Talk about hyperbole.

I mean, we all know this won’t go down as the “darkest day” in the history of the Big Ten.

That was the day the conference allowed Rutgers to join.


David emailed me about my “First Call” post regarding Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. He’d like to “clear the air” with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.

You remind me of media people on Fox, MSNBC, and CNN. Your article is basically your opinion. I get tired of media people interpreting and preaching instead of just reporting the facts. The majority of people draw their own conclusions. We don’t need the media telling us what to think. I don’t know why the media has to constantly put their own spin on things.”

David, I do that because I’m a columnist and I’m paid to give my opinion. It was an opinion-based piece, as all of my entries have the freedom to be.

Maybe that’s why?

By the way, I’m 110% sure that you never would’ve sent this email if you agreed with the opinion I advanced.

People only complain about the opinions of others — or their right to express those opinions — when those opinions differ from their own.

Never once have I gotten a tweet or email that went like this: “I agree wholeheartedly with your opinion, but I disagree with you using your platform to give it.”

And I can guarantee you, I’ll never get one like that either.

Finally, Ed has a thought about the news that Justin Timberlake may want to bring a Major League Baseball team to Nashville, Tennessee.

I thought maybe he wanted to bring an MLB franchise to Pittsburgh (with owners that work with management).

Ed, in the words of J.T., “Cry Me a River” and “Chop Me Up.” Because that email is “Filthy.”

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@triblive.com or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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