As Pittsburghers, it's rare that we would publicly display any compassion towards Cleveland. But we have hearts and brains -- we're from Pittsburgh, not Philadelphia -- so we feel for the sports fans in Ohio after the departure of Lebron James.
To express our empathy, here is a list of the top five free agents, in no particular order, to leave Pittsburgh recently:
- Barry Bonds: The last three years that Bonds was a Pirate, they went to the NLCS. In total, since the 17 seasons since he left, the Pirates have an estimated win-loss record of 11-2,531.
- Marian Hossa: It's easy to write this one off since the Pens won the cup the year after Hossa left. However, when he rebuked a lucrative long-term offer from the Pens, it was a big blow. Everything obviously turned out very well for the Pens the following season and it was wonderful that Hossa had a front row seat for it.
- Alan Faneca: One of the best guards of the decade in the NFL and one of the best all-time in Steelers history. The Rooney's were probably smart not to match the Jet's huge offer ($40 million over five years with $21 million in guarantees), but there is no doubt the team hasn't regained its rushing game or pass protection since he left.
- Plaxico Burress: Like the Pens after seeing Hossa depart, the Steelers won the championship the season after Burress departed for the Giants. But, again, not great news at the time. Roethlisberger reportedly begged Steeler management to sign him (surprising they didn't find a way to keep him since Big Ben supposedly doesn't take no for answer). Burress remains in the Steeler's record book when he and Hines Ward had the most receiving yards for tandem team history in 2002.
- Rod Woodson: The Steelers gave up three more points/game in 1997 after the defensive great departed, though they did make it to the conference finals. Woodson left when he and the Steelers could not settle on a contract. Woodson had a remarkably consistent career -- he averaged slightly more interceptions per game (33 in 104 games with the 49ers, Ravens, and Raiders) after he left Pittsburgh (38 in 134 games as a Steeler).
- Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill -- a shut-down defense was clearly the Pen's hole last season.
- Bobby Bonilla -- all over the place throughout his career, but was a big part of a Pirate's success in early 90's.
- Andy Warhol -- Born in Pittsburgh in 1928 he left for NYC in 1949.