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Old 01-31-2009, 01:33 PM   #1
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Default As Usual, Steelers Winning Without The Glitz

(Love from Dallas for our Steelers! - mesa)

As Usual, Steelers Winning Without The Glitz
Eatman: As Usual, Steelers Winning Without The Glitz
Nick Eatman - Email
DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
January 29, 2009 5:45 PM

IRVING, Texas - It's funny to look back about 30 years and think how much has changed. The uniforms, the rules, the egos, the media coverage, the TV coverage - everything.

And then again, often in sports we get reminded that some things are still exactly like they were.

Take the Steelers and Cowboys, for instance.

Back in the 1970s, these two franchises were the most popular sports teams in all of football. Either you liked the Cowboys, the glitz and flash, or the Steelers, the blue-collar, lunch-pail type of team.

Two completely different ends of the spectrum, but both were quite effective back then. In the decade of the 70s, Pittsburgh won four Super Bowls, twice beating the Cowboys, who won two championships despite five trips to the big game.

Fast forward more than 30 years, and the perceptions of the two franchises haven't changed at all.

The success has, of course, but that is to be expected with a salary cap and free agency that has turned today's NFL into the "horrible one year, but in the playoffs the next" type of league.

Still, the Steelers and Cowboys are arguably the two most popular teams in the NFL. Green Bay might have something to say about that, but overall, it seems like it's always Pittsburgh and Dallas. Fans of the Steelers and Cowboys can turn a normal home crowd into sometimes an even split.

The funny thing is, the Cowboys are like the Yankees, where it seems like fans either love them or hate them.

But the Steelers, who hates them? I'm sure there are some, probably in Cleveland or Cincinnati and maybe Baltimore right now. I bet back in the day, people down in Houston didn't care too much for them. But hate? They're not a real hated team. But they sure are loved.

There has to be something said for that. A team with such a huge fan base, but has garnered enough nationwide respect that they're either loved or respected. A nice combination.

And as I watch this week's Super Bowl coverage, it makes you wonder just what the Cowboys need to do to get back on top.

Now, with the league structured the way it is, no team aside from the Patriots has been able to sustain a high-level of consistency every year. But the Steelers seem pretty close.

They're in their second Super Bowl in a four-year span.

Even when they're not competing for the Super Bowl, they're hovering around .500 and a playoff berth.

I went back and looked over the last 20 seasons and in that span the Steelers have had just four losing seasons, with 6-10 being the worst on two occasions, along with a pair of 7-9 years.

But of the four times they finished below .500, the Steelers have made up for it with success. How about 11 seasons out of 20 with at least double-digit wins and 13 playoff appearances?

Now just three Super Bowls in the span, including this year's game, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. We've all seen the one-and-done format. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it goes against you.

That's what makes the NFL playoffs so great. You have to be on your game at all times.

But from a franchise standpoint, all you can ask is to get your team in the mix every year. And the Steelers, for the most part, have done that.

Now looking up one team's stats over the last 20 years, it's only natural to do the same with these Cowboys.

Over the past two decades, the Cowboys have had nine double-digit wins in one season, with 11 playoff trips. They have won three Super Bowls, but of course, we all know how long it's been since the Cowboys last won a playoff game - dating back to 1996.

Since then, the Steelers have won 12 playoff games, and are the on the brink of winning two Super Bowls to boot. They've been a model of consistency and they do it pretty much the same way they were winning back in the 70s.

Pittsburgh has talented players, just like the next team. But there is a sense of toughness that probably rides throughout the entire city. It starts with the quarterback. Don't know how many interviews I've seen here this season where Ben Roethlisberger is talking about the team reflecting the hard-work attitude of its city.

When you think about it, it's true. I've been to Pittsburgh. It's old, worn-down in places. But for some reason, you don't see the warts of the city as much as you respect it for being a little old-fashioned and rough around the edges.

That's the Steelers team to a tee.

What is flashy about them? Nothing, really, other than Polamalu's hair.

They don't have a lot of superstar guys. You wouldn't call Roethlisberger a celebrity quarterback, as Bill Parcells used to say. Their top receiver isn't real fast, just tough as nails. And we're going to see how tough this week when Hines Ward returns from a sprained MCL injury.

Honestly, unless your nose is fixed on NFL news on a daily basis, you're probably not going to know a lot about guys like James Harrison, Nate Washington, Mewelde Moore or Ryan Clark.

They're not all superstars, but you wouldn't know that by watching them play.

The fact is that's the way the Steelers were back in the 70s, too. Look at the stats of guys like Lynn Swann and John Stallworth . . . you won't be blown away.

But they were the top players on SUPERSTAR teams, therefore, they are now Hall-of-Famers.

And there is nothing wrong with that. In a way, after watching this Cowboys team for the last few years, it's actually kind of refreshing.

Now for the record, I wouldn't mind seeing Arizona pull off the win on Sunday. However, all year long the Steelers have been just good enough. That's why judging this team can be somewhat deceiving.

You see them barely pull out a win here and need overtime to win there, or a late pick for a touchdown like they did to beat Dallas, and you can be duped into thinking the Steelers are just skating by.

But in reality, that's how they win. They know, at the end of the game, they are physically the tougher team and will prevail.

For the most part, it's true.

I can remember standing on that Heinz Field turf back in December, watching the Steelers march down the field for a game-tying touchdown. Now, the way the Cowboys had controlled the game, I honestly thought they would still find a way to win somehow.

Then it happened, on the jumbotron. Just before the ensuing kickoff of a tie game, the Steelers played a musical video to the Rocky theme, splicing in a few of the hardest hits I've ever seen by Steelers players. It was a great video, probably because it just so happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time.

But nonetheless, I'm watching this video and hearing the crowd just go crazy.
I'm thinking to myself, 'how can you beat this?' I mean, you can possibly overcome the cold and the wind, and maybe this stifling Pittsburgh defense and its fans. But a Rocky video on top?

No way. And sure enough, moments later, there goes Deshea Townsend the other way with an interception to win the game.

OK, so the Steelers didn't just win the game because of a video. They win because of an attitude. They win because they believe they will.

They win because their franchise believes it will. The Steelers believe in what they're doing all the time. If an above-average player wants to test the free agent market, the Steelers let him walk. That's because they believe in the franchise first, then the players.

So as the Steelers take the field Sunday, primed to win yet another title, they'll probably get a huge play from some guy named Carey Davis or Gary Davis.

Even their best players aren't really star players - not yet anyway.

The way the Steelers won back in the 70s, or the way they are winning now. It begs the question: do superstar players make great teams, or do great teams make the superstar players?

In Pittsburgh, it seems to be the latter.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: As Usual, Steelers Winning Without The Glitz

Great article!

I have a bunch of friends in Texas, and am always hearing about the cowboys. This Superbowl means the world to me to get one up on them in the world championship count.

I'm sure that, like me, most of you have friends all over the country who think of you whenever they hear anything about the Steelers; well, a lot of my internet buddies are big Cowboys fans, so I'll have to share this article with them.

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Old 01-31-2009, 02:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: As Usual, Steelers Winning Without The Glitz

Can't believe this is from a Dallas writer. Great article nonetheless though.
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