View Full Version : Steelers veterans embrace 'team' concept

01-30-2009, 06:32 AM
Steelers veterans embrace 'team' concept
By John Harris
Friday, January 30, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. They're different, yet similar. Younger, yet experienced. Older, yet wiser.

This is the second Super Bowl for the core members of the Steelers, an accomplished group that includes veterans such as defensive captain James Farrior and franchise receiving leader Hines Ward.

It is a group that also includes younger veterans such as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and strong safety Troy Polamalu.

They all share common ground by having started in three AFC Championship Games and are now trying to win their second Super Bowl of the decade.

If the Steelers defeat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday, they will join the New England Patriots as the only NFL teams to win multiple Super Bowls since 2000.

The Steelers would also become the first franchise to win six Super Bowls.

"For me, it's about getting that sixth one for the Rooney family, giving the family one more than any other team and for our fans," said Roethlisberger, who is the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

The Steelers continue to win in this era of free agency because they stockpile talented players who willingly buy into the team concept.

Older players set the example, and the younger ones follow their lead.

"The strongest part of our team is our leadership," said Polamalu, who was voted to his fifth Pro Bowl. "James Farrior, Hines Ward. Guys who have been on this team for a long time have really set a foundation for us younger guys."

Tight end Heath Miller, who had a career-high 48 receptions, will be making his second Super Bowl start. Miller is another one of the Steelers' young leaders, as is running back Willie Parker, whose 75-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XL is the longest in Super Bowl history.

"There are expectations when you come to play here," Miller said. "I am blessed to be drafted here and to be a part of this team where people expect you to be successful, to be in the playoffs every year and have success in the playoffs. Not a lot of teams can say that."

Polamalu and Miller look up to the likes of Farrior, who takes his role as captain seriously. He joined the Steelers several years ago as a free agent and regularly leads the team in tackles.

Farrior, 34, signed a new contract prior to the season that will allow him to finish his career in Pittsburgh.

"I feel like coming to Pittsburgh was a rebirth for me," said Farrior, the team's oldest starter. "It allowed me to do a lot of things that I knew I could always do; make plays in the NFL. I never doubted my ability, but it was just me getting the opportunity and getting a chance. I love it here, and I think it's a perfect fit for me."

What makes the Steelers different from other franchises is the players' strong determination to win.

Roethlisberger was 23 when he won his first Super Bowl. Three years later, he feels like he has something to prove.

"Being a captain this time around, it's different. The first time, my play didn't help the team win. It almost helped us lose," said Roethlisberger, who had the lowest passer rating for a winning quarterback in Super Bowl history. "I've been here before, and I kind of understand what went right and what went wrong last time. I'm going to treat it like it might be my last (Super Bowl)."

Ward, who was named Super Bowl XL MVP, said Roethlisberger may have more motivation than any Steeler to win his second Super Bowl.

"He's on a mission. He really wants to go out there and redeem himself," Ward said. "I know he is excited to get a second opportunity to really solidify himself among the better quarterbacks in the league. Not too many quarterbacks can say they won two Super Bowls in four years."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.