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lamberts-lost-tooth
07-29-2007, 04:18 AM
Kirkland's at peace with what 1990s Steelers accomplished
By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, July 29, 2007

Levon Kirkland's return to St. Vincent College during the summer of the Steelers' 75th anniversary celebration couldn't have been more appropriate.
Kirkland arrived last week to learn the personnel business as a participant in the NFL's scouting minority intern program.

He leaves today having provided invaluable perspective.

That's something many among those who packed Memorial Stadium in Latrobe on Friday night or gathered in the grandstand and on the hillsides on campus Saturday afternoon no doubt continue to wrestle with even as they foam at the mouth in anticipation of Super Bowl Trophy VI.

The first four of those were won in the 1970s.
No. 5 arrived at the conclusion of the 2005 season.

The series of near-misses in between remains a source of lingering frustration to some.

Kirkland, who played linebacker from 1992-2000 in the tradition of the two Jacks and Andy Russell, isn't among them.

"I purposely took a few years away from the game just to reflect and do something different," said Kirkland, now the coordinator of minority recruitment at his alma mater, Clemson. "Really, it puts a lot of things in perspective.

"It lets you know the world is a lot bigger than football."

It didn't seem that way when the Steelers were threatening to win championships they could have and, perhaps on at least one occasion, should have won in 1994, 1995 and 1997.

Kirkland, who wasn't around for the so-close agony in 2001 and 2004, acknowledges to this day, "There was no reason for us not to win a Super Bowl."

Still, those 1990s era Steelers did everything short of that, and they did so with a style and attitude befitting their 1970s predecessors.

"If you were with that Steelers defense you had to play up to a certain level," Kirkland said. "We really took our goals very seriously. If somebody got 100 yards (rushing) on us, it really bothered us. If somebody got more than 17 points on us, that really scarred us. And, especially, if somebody won against us, that was just hard for us to take.

"We were a bunch of characters who laughed a lot, but when it was time to work we did our work. Even at practice you would see us just yuking it up, teasing each other. But when it came to competing, we got after it."

What they re-established in the process had enough of a shelf life that it was still detectable Feb. 5, 2006, at Ford Field in Detroit.

"Whatever attitude they had in the 1970s, we actually brought it back in the 1990s," Kirkland said. "We were a tough bunch of guys. We really went after people. And we played defense and offense the way you're supposed to play it. We were physical. We were tough. It meant something to us."

What they did was more than enough to carve out a place in Steelers' lore, even if they never got their names on the Super Bowl trophy.

"If we'd have won a Super Bowl, I think we'd have gone down in history even higher than where a lot of people probably place us," Kirkland said.

Upon further review, the spot they occupy ought to be appreciated with almost as much gusto.

Galax Steeler
07-29-2007, 08:10 AM
I like kirkland he was a great player.

steelpride12
07-29-2007, 12:38 PM
Kirkland is a great man and was a better player.

Preacher
07-29-2007, 07:09 PM
This is probably the homer in me...

but I would LOVE to see Kirkland come back as a LB coach...

Then again, I would love to see the Bus come back as a RB coach.

Yeah, it is probably the homer in me!