Big Lead Sports Bar


We'll Miss You, Duce

Let this serve as the farewell valentine to the now-departed, mercurial talent formerly known as #22, double duces, Duce Staley. The Ducer met his final demise on Monday, when the Steelers finally put him down (as well as placing WR Willie Reid on IR) in order to bring back Lee Mays and Chidi Iwuoma. And thus closes the chapter in Pittsburgh Sports History known as the Duce Staley Era.
The Duce Era officially kicked off in 2004. At the time, it was a semi-controversial signing, because it was a gentle nudge at a certain Steeler running back towards retirement. Staley took over as the feature back, going for 90+ yards in six of his first eight games. And then, the real Duce showed up. Duce was like Terrell Owens: you could count on him to not count on him. Where Owens starts well and has his predictable blow-up with coaches or teammates, Staley simply broke down. Year after year after year. You could not pencil him in as the starting tailback for the next five years. He wasn't that kind of player. He would play in just three games over the last half of the 2004 season.
In 2005, Duce came back, presumably healthy after his long layoff. He was supposed to be a key component of the Steelers' four-headed running back, along with Bettis, Parker, and Haynes. But he was beaten out for playing time by the impressive Parker, and ended up contributing in just two games. He became more famous for his cheerleading in gray sweatsuits than his contributions to the running game. Yet Bill Cowher made room for him on the Super Bowl active roster. Thus setting off another era...the Weird Cowher Loyalty to Duce Staley Era.
As I've stated on several occasions, I could never understand Cowher's undying love for Staley. He didn't draft him, he didn't win any big games with him, he never hitched his wagon to him. To even the casual Steeler fan, El Duce was washed up. But the Steelers brought him back for 2006, despite a training camp in which he ran for 92 yards on 42 carries.
With Parker firmly entrenched as "the man", Staley would have to settle for a backup role in 2006. Not only was he a backup, he wouldn't even be activated. The Steelers signed another running back (Dump Davenport), they promoted another from the practice squad (John Kuhn), all while Duce languished on the sidelines. It was a perplexing roster move, to say the least.
So I felt a little sad when I read on ESPN's bottom line last night that Duce was finally released by the Steelers. We'll no longer have him to kick around, the symbol of the 2006 Steelers: overpaid and non-achieving. And we'll never get any more pictures like this, which has been used so many times, I am now placing it into Mondesi's House retirement:

And they say the Steelers don't have cheerleaders.

We'll miss you, 22.


Jules said...

I especially enjoyed that Cowher had him on the SB roster, didn't play him at all and then NFL Films thought it important to include the "I didn't get you any carries but I got you a ring" conversation.

I am sure Duce watches the DVD with true fuzziness in his heart.

Anonymous said...

The Duce Staley thing was pretty bizarre.

I remember actually being somewhat excited when we signed him.

I also remember going to the game in Miami in 2004 during the 1/2 of a season when Duce was pretty good, and seeing SEVERAL Duce Staley Steeler jerseys in the crowd.

And oh how the several Steeler fans in attendance that night in Miami chanted "DUUUUUUUUUUCE" every time he touched the ball.

Hell, I even bought my young niece one of those cheap, knockoff, $25 Duce Staley Steeler jerseys they sell at Walmart (you know, the ones with the logo on the sleave). Almost immediately after that, he got hurt, and I had to live with my niece asking me "Why'd you get me Staley's jersey? All he does is sit on the sidelines!"

Ahhh... if only she remembered Duce's Steeler glory days (and I do mean "days", because there were only a few days) of September to October 2004.

By the way, I remember Duce actually coming in to the game as relief for Bettis in the 2004 Jets playoff game/near debacle and playing very well towards the end of the game.

Anyways, it's crazy to think that Duce was one of the biggest free agent signees, as far as name value goes, that the Steelers have made in the last few years.

Steeltown Mike said...

Hmm...not a good year to be a #22 in black and gold. First, Ryan Vogelsong gets demoted to AAA (then Xavier Nady gets his number to ensure he wouldn't be coming back), now Duce.

If I were Penguin center Chris Thorburn, I'd be looking over my shoulder...

apk said...

i can't believe you missed a chance at the headline "Steelers Drop Duce"

mai wen said...

Man, I'm happy Duce is Finally released, but seriously, Why Now? Wouldn't it have been better to keep Quincy on board and release Duce then? I'm stoked we've got Chidi back, although it's probably way too late.

I'm baffled by the coaching decisions on players this year...

mai wen said...

Seriously, adam, laughed my ass off, in the way kids laugh at the Penis Game in junior high. Okay, fine, so I still laugh at the Penis Game.

Anonymous said...

so when is the Mondesi's House sister site, "Staley's House", coming to fruition?

Christmas Ape said...

Adam, that would cause me to think the post was about Najeh.

Thanks, Duce. I'll always remember you for 7 games in 2004 and the Packers game last year. And the fact that you're better in this year's Madden game than Fast Willie.

Chidi signing is the smartest thing Cowher has done all year. That says quite a bit. Special teams really needed the help.