What’s Behind This Insane Dennis Dixon Controversy?

Photo: Chris Gazze

After having Stan Savran crush him in a death-grip of logic and common sense, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk was back on the Dennis Dixon trail Friday morning, continuing to run with his “the Steelers are afraid of Dennis Dixon succeeding” story, which, as we all pretty much agree, is nonsensical in every way possible.

What’s behind this story? My guess, as I pointed out in the comments, is Dixon’s agent, Jeff Sperbeck. (Yes, I’m going to answer Florio’s “theory” with a “theory” of my own. I’ll let you decide which one seems the most logical.)

Let’s rewind back to July and the days leading up to the start of training camp. Here’s what Sperbeck had to say about his client and his role for the upcoming season, via the Tribune-Review:

“I think Dennis should be given an opportunity to start,” Sperbeck said in a phone interview from California. “He’s been there going on three years. He knows the offense. He’s familiar with his teammates. He’s ready to go.

“I don’t understand why after Byron’s been gone a year, they would bring him back and start him ahead of Dennis. To me, it should have been Dennis’ job as the No. 1. He was No. 2 last year. Byron was not even in the picture.”


“That’s such an important part of a young guy’s development,” Sperbeck said. “When you bestow the confidence in him that he is the guy, now the team knows that and they are prepared to follow him. Without the team giving that to him, it’s more difficult for any quarterback to lead when your own status is uncertain. You lead differently as a starter than you do as a backup.”

Dennis was not a typical fifth-rounder. That was an aberration because of his injury,” Sperbeck said. “The Steelers knew what they had early on. They knew they got great value in him. But now, since he was really more of a first- (or) second-round talent, those guys fall in the category of after a season or two they are considered ready to be starters.”

It’s pretty clear what his stance is: he wants Dixon to play, and he wants him to play this season.

Now, here’s where Florio comes in. My guess is it went down a little something like this…

Sperbeck approached Florio, spoke to him on “background,” and floated this asinine theory, which Florio then ran with, and continues to run with. It happens all the time with agents (I’ve experienced it firsthand). Of course, you can never take what an agent says, or a team official, for that matter, as 100 percent, unquestioned fact, because they both have an agenda to push, which are often times moving in different directions.

The fact he’s now pushing the contract situation, as he did on Friday, also screams of agentspeak (that is, after all, the agent’s job).

At the end of the day, the bottom line is this: the Pittsburgh Steelers goal is to win football games, and if they think Dennis Dixon gives them the best chance to do that during the first four weeks of the season, he’s going to start. Conversely, if they think it’s Byron Leftwich, then it will be him lining up under center. Regardless of who starts, it’s only going to be a temporary role because once Ben Roethlisberger returns from his suspension, he will instantly be the guy. As he should be.

He may be a pig-headed slob off the field, but on it Ben’s one of the three or four best quarterbacks in the NFL and a two-time Super Bowl champion. There is no controversy, regardless of how well his replacement plays for the first four games. And unless the Steelers trade for Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or maybe Drew Brees, there’s not another signal caller in the NFL that can unseat Roethlisberger, and that includes Dixon. Of course, these are all (logical) points that have already been made numerous times since this manufactured “controversy” emerged.

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