Ha­ley at ease with Steel­ers

Coach to face his for­mer team

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE - BY WILL GRAVES ASSOCIATED PRESS

PITTS­BURGH—Todd Ha­ley will pull out the video dur­ing the oc­ca­sional meet­ing with the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers wide re­ceivers as a gag yeah, but also to prove a point.

The screen flick­ers and there the Steel­ers of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor is nearly a decade ago, work­ing in the same job with the Ari­zona Car­di­nals and run­ning pass routes ev­ery Fri­day against strength coach John Lott. Quar­ter­back Kurt Warner throw­ing spi­ral af­ter spi­ral. Ha­ley metic­u­lously—if ad­mit­tedly a bit slowly — mak­ing sure to get the steps right.

Dur­ing the ses­sions Ha­ley would go through ev­ery con­ceiv­able op­tion. The com­peti­tor in him want­ing to get open. The coach in him want­ing to get a feel for what he’s ask­ing his play­ers to do.

T hen on Satur­days the Ari­zona wide re­ceivers — Larry Fitzger­ald and An­quan Boldin among them — would pop in the film and grade Ha­ley’s per­for­mance, laugh­ing all the while.

All these years later, the im­age of Ha­ley churn­ing down field is still a hit. Only these days it’s Steel­ers Al­lPro wide re­ceiver Antonio Brown lead­ing the judg­ing panel, revel­ing in his longheld be­lief that Ha­ley is a pass catcher at heart.

“Todd thinks he’s one of us,” Brown said ear­lier this sea­son.

And in some ways maybe Brown isn’t far off.

There’s more than a bit of ego in the 49-year-old Ha­ley to be sure, who molded the dy­namic of­fense that helped the Car­di­nals to the Su­per Bowl af­ter the 2008 sea­son and has cre­ated a foot­ball hy­dra in Pitts­burgh, where Brown, quar­ter back Ben Roeth­lis­berger and run­ning back Le’Veon Bell have the Steel­ers (12-5) within two games of a shot at a sev­enth ti­tle.

The next hur­dle comes in Kansas City on Sun­day against the AFC West cham­pion Chiefs (12-4). The show­down marks Kansas City’s first home game since the wild-card round in 2010, when Ha­ley — who tur ned his co­or­di­na­tor gig with the Car­di­nals into the head coach­ing job with the Chiefs in 2009 - saw a promis­ing sea­son end with a lop­sided 30-7 loss to Bal­ti­more.

Less than a year later Ha­ley was fired with the team floun­der­ing at 5-8 and his fiery ap­proach wear­ing thin both in the locker room and the front of­fice.

“I don’t re­ally have much to say about that,” safety Eric Berry said this week when asked by T he Associated Press about Ha­ley’s 45-game ten­ure, the fi­nal one a lop­sided loss to the New York Jets in which Ha­ley was flagged for un­sports man­like con­duct.

Nei­ther does Ha­ley, who has spent the last five sea­sons over­see­ing an of­fense that has evolved into one of the league’s most elec­tric. The Steel­ers (12-5) have fin­ished in the top 10 in yards in three straight years for the first time since Terry Brad­shaw was fling­ing it John Stall­worth and Lynn Swann in the 1970s.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pitts­burgh Steel­ers of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Ha­ley works with the team dur­ing prac­tice in Pitts­burgh. Ha­ley in­sists there is no lin­ger­ing re­sent­ment over his fir­ing by the Kansas City Chiefs five years ago.

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