Pittsburgh Steelers

Limas Sweed won two Rose Bowls, a national championship with Texas and an NFL Super Bowl. Now, he’s coaching football, track and basketball at a middle school in Kyle, Texas.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

It was all once so promising for Limas Sweed.

His heroic late fourth-quarter touchdown catch against No. 4 Ohio State kept Texas’ undefeated season alive in route to a national championship. Falling backwards with a defender draped over him, he was able to corral the Vince Young pass to give Texas a one-point lead with just over two minutes left.

His seven straight games with a touchdown catch from freshman quarterback Colt McCoy the following season set a Texas record. He went on to catch 12 passes that year.

The 6-foot-5 receiver was getting looks in the first round of the draft. 

After a wrist-injury ended his senior year, he slid a bit in the draft. Still, the Pittsburgh Steelers took a chance on the high upside receiver in the second round.

Everyone seemed to praise the pick.

“10 years from now, we’re going to say Limas Sweed was the most productive and most talented wide receiver in the 2008 NFL Draft class,” ESPN Analyst Todd McShay noted after the draft.

But that was as good as things would get for Sweed.

Sweed struggled holding on to the ball at the next level. By the end of his rookie season, he caught a pedestrian six passes for 64 yards to go along with two big playoff drops—  one of those being an easy 50-yard touchdown in the AFC Championship game.

Yet, the Steelers were able to hang on and lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy, giving Sweed both an NCAA championship and a Super Bowl ring.

His sophomore season went even worse for him individually. In December, the Steelers took him off the active roster. In training camp the next year, he tore his Achilles, ending his season and effectively his NFL career.

“I think every athlete wants to play until they’re about 75 anyway, but I’m
extremely grateful for the opportunity that I had and the chance to be on a great team that made it to the Super Bowl; it was all a blessing,” Sweed said.

Whether injuries or his five drops in 20 targets, Sweed was unable to catch onto another team. After failed tryouts with the Bears, Bengals and Giants, Sweed looked to Canada. 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders signed him, but, before he even played a game, he left for
“personal reasons.” 

“The media never really knew, but my daughter’s mama had thyroid cancer,” Sweed said. “That’s why I left Canada. I needed to be there for my family. It was unfortunate, too, because they won the Grey Cup. I would have had the three major championships.”

With that, his playing days ended. 

Now, at 29, he roams the hand-drawn, uneven sidelines of the Chapa Middle School football field in Kyle, Texas, a small town less than 30 miles south of Austin.

“I like coaching these knuckleheads,” Sweed said, teasing three of his students that followed him out to the bleachers after school. “I can lead them in the right direction. I’ve been there and know what it takes.”

He’s been there just three months — his first stint as a coach and teacher — and is still getting used to it.

“The hardest thing is adjusting to the administration,” Sweed said. “It’s like being a rookie all over again. The coaching part is easy to me.”

But most importantly for Sweed, he gets to be there for his kids. 

“I’m at peace here,” Sweed said. “It allows me to see my children as needed and watch them grow up and not miss out on their lives.”

However, Sweed can only look back on what was once such a promising career. 

“I can still play, man; I can still play,” Sweed said, mentioning that he can still probably run a 4.47 40. “Injuries, though. Injuries.”

Free agency is always fun, especially the fantasy implications that come with it. If you don’t realize that it has fantasy implications, let me refresh your memory.

Last year, here is what we saw:

  • Stephen Jackson signed with the Atlanta Falcons (fantasy bust)
  • Mike Wallace signed with the Miami Dolphins. (solid fantasy year)
  • Danny Amendola signed with the New England Patriots (fantasy bust)
  • Wes Welker signed with the Denver Broncos (fantasy stud)
  • Martellus Bennett signed with the Chicago Bears (fantasy sleeper)
  • Reggie Bush signed with the Detroit Lions (fantasy sleeper)
  • Rashard Mendenhall signed with the Arizona Cardinals (bust)
  • Percy Harvin signed with the Seattle Seahawks (injuries made him a total bust)

See what I mean? Clearly, free agency impacts our fantasy squads. That was last year, though. So let’s take a look at just some of the many moves thus far for 2014, as many teams wasted no time signing big names.

Knownshon Moreno

(Denver Broncos -> Miami Dolphins)

From Super Bowl contender to a locker room full of bullies, Moreno is joining the tandem of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas in South Beach. This is not promising for Moreno’s fantasy value. With Peyton Manning, he finished fifth last year in total yards and topped it off with 13 touchdowns. Now, he goes to a Dolphins team with two other running backs that will get significant playing time, limiting his rush attempts. However, this could give Montee Ball a boost in Denver and make him a sleeper in 2014.

Maurice Jones-Drew

(Jacksonville Jaguars -> Oakland Raiders)

Jones-Drew will join Darren McFadden, an all-time fantasy bust, in the Raiders backfield. It looks nice on paper, but Jones-Drew is not the same running back he once was. In Oakland, he will likely enter the season as the starter and be solid. He won’t be the Jones-Drew we used to know, but he should improve over his past two years.

Emmanuel Sanders

(Pittsburgh Steelers -> Denver Broncos)

It doesn’t get much better than catching balls from Peyton Manning. Sanders’ fantasy value is definitely up, and I expect a big year out of him. He will replace Eric Decker, who left for the New York Jets.

Eric Decker

(Denver Broncos -> New York Jets)

Decker is now the number one option for the Jets, and he is going to have a solid fantasy year. However, his value is definitely down from last year. Simply put, Decker just left Peyton Manning for Geno Smith and Michael Vick.

Ben Tate

(Houston Texans -> Cleveland Browns)

Tate’s value has skyrocketed. I am a fan of what Tate did in Houston when he got his carries, averaging 4.7 yards per touch over his career. He will be the starting running back, and I am boldly predicting he’ll finish as a top-12 fantasy back.

Hakeem Nicks

(New York Giants -> Indianapolis Colts)

Nicks signed a one-year deal, meaning he will have to prove he can still be a stud wide receiver after a disappointing year last year. Nicks, who failed to score a touchdown last season, is going to be playing with Andrew Luck and I expect his fantasy value will increase as a result.

Steve Smith

(Carolina Panthers -> Baltimore Ravens)

It is going to be weird not seeing him in a Panthers uniform, but Smith should step into a starting role with the Ravens and do what he does. Count on Smith, and don’t be afraid to draft him.

Darren Sproles

(New Orleans Saints -> Philadelphia Eagles)

The combination of Chip Kelly and Darren Sproles is a fantasy football dream. I expect Sproles to explode this year. I suspect Chip Kelly to use him in a variety of ways and gain a ton of yards with some scores here and there.

LeGarrette Blount

(New England Patriots -> Pittsburgh Steelers)

This is the perfect type of running back for the Steelers. A guy that can ground and pound the football, Blount is going to be a factor on the Steelers. Blount will be a goal-line back at the least, and he will be among the league leaders in touchdowns.

Golden Tate

(Seattle Seahawks -> Detroit Lions)

This definitely helps Tate because the Lions aren’t afraid to throw the ball, and Calvin Johnson will take away a lot of the coverage. If Matthew Stafford looks to his left, Tate should be open. His stock is up.

James Jones

(Green Bay Packers -> Oakland Raiders)

Jones is in a similar situation to Decker, except worse. Not only does he not have Aaron Rodgers anymore, he is going to the Raiders who haven’t had a successful passing season in a long time. His stock is down.

Two rookie running backs you can expect to put up big fantasy numbers in 2013

Here are two rookie running backs whom I believe will put up huge numbers next fall:

1. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

The Packers drafted Eddie Lacy late in the second round, which is much later than most experts had projected he would be selected. Nonetheless, this was an excellent pick by the Packers, who filled a serious need in the running back position by drafting Lacy. He is a downhill runner who can break tackles and punch the ball into the end zone at the goal line. At 5 feet 11 inches and 231 pounds, Lacy can still switch gears and pick up speed quickly in the open field, so he will be a load for even the best NFL defenders to take down. Lacy may not be a huge big-play threat in the NFL, but he is an every-down back that can carry the ball 20 times a game. The Packers will most likely use him as their red zone back as well, so he will surely have many opportunities to put up big fantasy numbers.

2. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

Le'Veon Bell was a mid-second round selection for the Steelers, and just like the Packers selecting Lacy, this pick helped fill a serious need for the Pittsburgh team. Bell is a big back, listed at 6 feet 2 inches and around 240 pounds, and he fits the Steelers' running back brand perfectly. With the departure of Rashard Mendenhall, Bell should see immediate playing time, which means quality opportunities to shake the NFL learning curve early on and start producing. If Bell can learn to use his size and become more of a downhill runner, fantasy owners can expect him to rack up goal line and red zone touchdowns and put up monster fantasy numbers. If the Steelers use him the right way he will definitely produce some big stats for a rookie.

Both of these guys are big backs that may not produce a huge amount of rushing yards, but like I mentioned above, they will both get a number of opportunities to score touch downs at the goal line, which in the end accounts for the most fantasy points. In addition, I believe these two players have more fantasy potential than other running backs selected in the draft because they fell to the right teams — teams that are in desperate need of production in the running game. 

Fantasy Frenzy: McCoy torches Cowboys to lead EaglesÂ’ NFL-best rush offense

 Week 8 of the fantasy season is now complete, so here are a few players that knew how to compete and those whose expectations they did not meet.

Hot

1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Quick: Name the NFL’s leading rushing team? Done guessing? Well I’m willing to bet that none of you chose the Eagles, a historically pass-happy squad that has had a change of heart in 2011, averaging a 179.9 yards on the ground. The bulk of those yards have been gained by a lightning quick second-round pick from Pittsburgh, LeSean McCoy. McCoy had been the best running back in football this season, averaging more than 100 yards a game, even before this weekend’s performance. He cut through the top-ranked Dallas run defense like butter for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

2. Maurice Morris, Detroit Lions
Jahvid Best is hurt and that means someone has to get the carries in the Motor City. That person is Maurice Morris, who had a good game on Sunday as Best’s replacement, rushing for 58 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Morris, who is available in 86 percent of ESPN fantasy football leagues and should continue to see touches even when Best comes back to keep him healthy, is a solid pickup.

3. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have always been known as a run-first offense, but they have an All-Pro quarterback behind center and they have decided that throwing the ball is the best way to win ball games, which makes Pittsburgh receivers viable fantasy options. While you will not be able to pick up the Steelers No. 1 option, a solid No. 2 is still available in Antonio Brown, who has had more than 10 points in each of the past two weeks and is the Steelers’ most targeted wideout. He is still available in 76 percent of leagues and is a solid wavier pickup this week.

Not

1. John Beck, Washington Redskins
Whenever your team gets shut out, it will be a rough week for the quarterback. For one that is competing for his job, it could be devastating. This is exactly the situation Beck is in after the Bills shutout the Redskins 23-0 on Sunday. Beck threw for only 208 yards and added two interceptions. After that performance, it remains to be seen if the quarterback carousel in the nation’s capital comes back to Rex Grossman this coming Sunday.

2. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
Rookies will take their lumps and Gabbert took his on Sunday against the Texans. He threw for only 97 yards and two interceptions on a 10-of-30 passing performance in a 24-10 loss. The Jaguars’ league-worst offense was held to only 174 yards in this game.

Printed on Tuesday, Novemeber 1, 2011 as: McCoy runs over Cowboys, remains top fantasy player

ARLINGTON — In their zeal to set a Super Bowl attendance record, the NFL and Jerry Jones overlooked one important detail: Making sure all the temporary seats inside mammoth Cowboys Stadium had been inspected and were ready for the fans.

A week plagued by poor weather took an embarrassing turn Sunday when the league had to find replacement seats for 850 fans. The NFL also scrambled to find a place for another 400 people to sit inside Jones’ $1.2 billion palace and couldn’t find any with a view of the field.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” said Glen Long, a Pittsburgh Steelers season-ticket holder who flew in for the game from Baltimore. “That would be fraud anywhere in the world if you sold tickets to an event that you knew you didn’t have. That’s just wrong.”

Actually, the seats had been installed in six temporary sections, but they went up so late that the fire marshal didn’t have time to inspect them, according to a police officer standing near an affected area who wouldn’t give his name and an explanation of the situation provided to several fans.

The officer said the winter storms that struck Dallas earlier had set back work on the temporary seats.

That didn’t matter to fans who felt they had been deceived by the league and Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner who had hoped some 105,000 people would watch the game inside and outside the stadium. To bolster the crowd, there were $200 tickets that provided nothing more than a chance to watch the game on video screens set up in outdoor plazas.

That didn’t work out either: Attendance was announced at 103,219, just short of the record 103,985 who turned out at the Rose Bowl for the 1980 Super Bowl.

As for those 400 fans, not even a hefty refund offer from the NFL was enough to satisfy them for losing their seats. The league said it would pay back triple the face value — $2,400 for the $800 tickets.

“We don’t want that,” said Odett Karam, a Green Bay Packers fan who flew in from California. “We just want to get into the game. We just want to see the game.”

The NFL said 850 fans were put in “similar or better seats.” As for the rest, the NFL first offered to let the fans watch the game in the outdoor plazas. Then, shortly after kickoff, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said they had been allowed into the field-level club behind the Pittsburgh Steelers bench, where they could watch the game on monitors.

If they wanted to see the game in person, they had to use standing-room platforms in each corner of Cowboys Stadium.

Fans complained that wasn’t nearly enough, especially given what they had doled out for travel and hotel costs.

“They took us to a bar,” said Paul Colavecchi, a displaced fan from Clearfield, Pa., who came to Texas with his sister.

“That’s terrific,” he added sarcastically. “That’s why we fronted five grand for this trip — so we could watch the game in a bar. I didn’t have to take a plane trip to Texas to watch the game on TV, and I certainly didn’t buy a ticket so I could watch the game in a bar.”

Compounding the unhappiness, fans in the affected areas were at first put into a fenced-off area while officials tried to sort things out. They became increasingly unruly, alternating chants of “Jerry Sucks!” and “NFL Sucks!”

One man shouted, “They’re treating us like prisoners.” Another said, “We came a long way for this.”

Gerry Grillo, from New Jersey, said he paid $3,000 for a ticket on the secondary market, so he would lose money even if he got a refund.
“We’ve been in a holding area for two hours,” he said after finally being let in the stadium. “Two hours!”

Seating woes are only the latest frustration for the first Super Bowl in the Dallas area.

A rare winter storm swept across the area Tuesday, ripping holes in tents on the property and hampering travel and celebrations across the region. On Friday, six people at the stadium were injured by melting snow falling from the roof one day after 5 inches of unwelcome snow fell on the area.

Organizers were hoping flawless game-day logistics would wipe out some of the complaints, but the seating problem could be an issue in the area’s plans to bid for the 50th Super Bowl in 2016.

The affected areas were four entryways and two portions of the upper deck on the west end.

In the upper deck, there were off-limits seats in the same rows as seats that were deemed safe. Yellow police tape was used as a dividing line, with uniformed personnel also keeping folks away.

“The safety of fans attending the Super Bowl was paramount in making the decision and the NFL, Dallas Cowboys and City of Arlington officials are in agreement with the resolution,” the NFL said in a statement. “We regret the situation and inconvenience that it may have caused. We will conduct a full review of this matter.”

About 15,000 temporary seats were added to the stadium in a bid to set the record for the largest crowd in Super Bowl history. The temporary seats filled open platforms that are usually standing-room only “party pass” areas for Cowboys games. The entryways were on the third level, while the upper deck is on the fifth level.

Rich McCandless of Butler, Pa., was at the game with his son, Rich Jr. The younger McCandless is in the Navy and got leave from submarine duty to come to Texas from Guam.

They were unable to sit in the seats they purchased and watched the game in a standing room-only section.

“They had no solution. Looked like a run around,” the father said. “I’d be more furious if I had any more energy. I’ve been standing since noon and I’m just tired.”

Aaron Rodgers has turned the Green Bay Packers into Super Bowl champions once again.

ARLINGTON — Aaron Rodgers has turned the Green Bay Packers into Super Bowl champions once again.

Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and Nick Collins returned an interception for another score, leading the Packers to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

This was Green Bay’s fourth Super Bowl title. The Packers won the first two Super Bowls with Vince Lombardi coaching Bart Starr, and captured another with Brett Favre in January 1997.

The Steelers trailed 21-3 before halftime. Ben Roethlisberger got them within 28-25 midway through the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass and a nifty 2-point conversion. The Packers answered with a field goal, giving Roethlisberger one last chance.

Needing to go 87 yards in 1:59 with one timeout left, Roethlisberger couldn’t make it across midfield.

As the Packers ran out the clock, fans chanted, “Go Pack Go!” Rodgers — who was named the game’s MVP — wound up with the ball, bouncing up and down. He hugged Clay Matthews Jr. near midfield as confetti shot out of cannons and silver streamers dropped.

“This is a great day to be great, baby,” said wide receiver Greg Jennings.

“We’ve been a team that’s overcome adversity all year,” he added. “Our head captain goes down, emotional in the locker room. Our No. 1 receiver goes down, more emotions are going, flying in the locker room. But we find a way to bottle it up and exert it all out here on the field.”

This was only the second time Pittsburgh lost a Super Bowl. The Steelers still have the most wins with six and are tied for the most appearances with eight.

The crowd at Cowboys Stadium was 91,060 paying attendees, or 103,219 counting “credentialed attendees.” It fell short of the record.

Green Bay led 21-17 after three quarters, but the Packers were without cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields and receiver Donald Driver.

The Steelers had the momentum, the experience and the crowd — tens of thousands of fans twirling “Terrible Towels” and making things tough for Rodgers to bark out signals at times.

But on the first play of the fourth quarter, with Pittsburgh possibly driving for a go-ahead touchdown, Rashard Mendenhall fumbled on a hit by Clay Matthews Jr. The Packers took over at their own 45.

Jennings caught his second TD pass of the game to give the Packers a 28-17 lead with 11:57 to play — their third touchdown following a takeaway.

The Packers’ final points came on a 23-yard field goal by Mason Crosby with 2:07 left.

Christina Aguilera got the game off to a rocky start by flubbing a line in the national anthem. The Steelers didn’t do much better at the outset.

Green Bay jumped ahead 14-0 with touchdowns on consecutive plays: a 29-yard touchdown catch by Jordy Nelson, then Collins’ interception, which featured a weaving return, a dive into the end zone and hip-swiveling dance toward the Pittsburgh sideline by B.J. Raji, the Packers’ jumbo-sized nose tackle.

Rodgers stretched the lead to 21-3 by drilling a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jennings. The ball whistled past safety Ryan Clark, with Jennings making a tough catch look easy just before getting popped by Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. That drive also was set up by an interception, a pickoff at midfield by Jarrett Bush.

Roethlisberger’s miserable first half turned a little better at the end.

Taking over deep in his own territory after Jennings’ touchdown, he threw a 37-yard completion to Antwaan Randle El. That started a seven-play, 77-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown catch to former Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward.

Also on that drive, Woodson hurt his collarbone diving for a pass. He spent the second half in street clothes, with his left arm in a sling, appearing quite uncomfortable. Driver was out with an ankle injury, and Shields hurt a shoulder.

With two defensive backs out at the half, everyone expected the Steelers to come out throwing in the third quarter. Nope. They gained all 50 yards on their opening drive on the ground, with Mendenhall bowling in from the 8 for the touchdown. He jumped up and flung the ball into the stands with a two-handed basketball chest pass.

The first Super Bowl held at $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium came following a week of ice and snow that caused all sorts of problems. Hopes for an uneventful gameday were ruined when several sections of temporary seats — holding about 1,250 people — were deemed unsafe.

Celebs were everywhere: from former President George W. Bush to baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez, who was seen having popcorn shoveled into his mouth by actress Cameron Diaz. Hollywood stars John Travolta, Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, Mark Harmon, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were in attendance, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson was seated near new Cowboys coach Jason Garrett; on Garrett’s other side was Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.

Football stars were sprinkled around, too. The newest Hall of Fame class, chosen Saturday, took part in the pregame coin toss, with Deion Sanders handling the flip.