Dan Sepulveda: Pittsburgh Steelers Punter Harbinger of Team Success

Mike StangerCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2011

PITTSBURGH - 2008:  Dan Sepulveda of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Four games does not a season make, yet the Steeler faithful are a bit uneasy.  The team has played poorly, even in victory.  

(Exhibit A: the Kerry Collins/Curtis Painter two-headed hydra almost leading the hapless Colts to a win recently against the Steelers.)

Many experts and fans believe they have the answer to what ails the Steelers.  

Some say it's the offensive line, which looked mildly inept going into the season and has devolved into a galactic laughingstock. They point out that any team starting Buffalo Bills throw-away Jonathan Scott at left tackle should expect to struggle offensively.

However, that would not be addressing the issue, but rather would be exposing the front office’s absolute neglect at replenishing the offensive line several years ago when it was becoming apparent that stalwarts Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca and Jeff Hartings were succumbing to age and injuries,

Others point to the defense being old and slow, and bearing a striking resemblance to the Maginot Line. This misguided view, otherwise known as the “Sapp Proclamation,” misses the mark.

True, most of the defense qualify for Colonial Penn Life Insurance (“You cannot be turned down!”), but, just like Hines Ward said, age is just a number.

(If that’s so, maybe Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood can make a comeback.  Ernie “Fats” Holmes isn’t available because he’s dead.  Perhaps age isn’t just a number after all.)

No, it doesn’t matter that James Farrior attended Willam Taft’s inauguration or that Aaron Smith plays football as often as Guns N’ Roses releases something new. 

Nothing but mere “strawman” arguments.

The real reason is quite simple and rests on one man’s shoulders:

Dan Sepulveda.

Yes, the Steelers' punter is the reason for the (shaky) season.  

At first glance, this may seem absurd.  But, dig a little deeper and you will see that the evidence is quite damning.

Sepulveda was drafted in 2007.  That year, with Sepulveda as their punter, the Steelers finished 10-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.  Not a terrible fate, but not overly triumphant, either.

The next year, Sepulveda tore his ACL before the season started and the Steelers won the Super Bowl behind the heroic effort of Mitch Berger and his lofty 41.3 yards-per-kick average. (Paul Ernster chipped in with a spunky 31.6 average.)

In 2009, Sepulveda returned and the Steelers missed the playoffs.

However, in 2010, Sepulveda once again tore his ACL, and the Steelers made it to the Super Bowl.

Is all of this just coincidence?  I think not. 

You see, Occam’s razor states that the simplest answer is probably the most likely.  All of the other reasons may seem valid, but crumble mightily when put against the bone-chilling harbinger that is Dan Sepulveda.

So, the Steelers' fate rests in the hands of Dan Sepulveda.

Steeler Nation watches and waits.