Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



Work is work. You need to show up. You have a responsibility to your employer and, if you’re a football player, to your teammates. 

But that line is being blurred. 

Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt isn’t participating in practice. He is still grieving the death of his brother in June. 

That’s a tough tightrope for the Steelers to walk. They can’t be insensitive. They can’t put a timetable on Tuitt’s emotions. 

But the Steelers need Tuitt. He’s under contract. He’s scheduled to earn $9 million this year. 

Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t “feel the urge to play right now.” 

The Pitt product has played 17 seasons in the NFL, has performed at a Hall-of-Fame level, and has a reputation as one of the classiest athletes to play any sport. 

But if you’re thinking about retiring, you already have. 

Indecision makes it tough on coaches and teammates. It’s not being fair to anybody but yourself. But Tuitt and Fitzgerald have certainly earned benefit of the doubt. 

If it's just a dodge to avoid training camp, like T.J. Watt with his "contract negotiations," I understand that. As Fitzgerald said, any NFL player who says he likes training camp is “telling you a bold-faced lie.” 

The Tuitt situation is intriguing. Is there a chance he won’t play this season? 

The Steelers can get by without Tuitt as long as neither Cam Heyward nor Tyson Alualu gets hurt or fatigued. 

The Steelers’ defense will likely use its sub packages (the nickel and dime) over two-thirds of the time. If Tuitt is unavailable, Alualu stays on the field in sub packages instead of coming off, and is more than adequate. Chris Wormley takes Tuitt’s place in the base 3-4. 

Photo: Getty Images

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