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Old 11-09-2006, 06:19 AM   #1
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Default Steelers react to 'hunger' criticism

Steelers react to 'hunger' criticism

By ALAN ROBINSON
AP Sports Writer


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Willie Parker's comments that the sagging Pittsburgh Steelers may have been overly satisfied with winning the Super Bowl didn't exactly unite his teammates. They apparently didn't divide them, either.

Wide receiver Hines Ward said he wishes that Parker hadn't been so outspoken, but his teammates must decide whether Parker's words apply to them now that the Steelers (2-6) have lost six of seven games.

"If you're not putting in the time and effort as much as the guy next to you, maybe it's not important to you to turn this thing around," Ward said Wednesday.

Alan Faneca doesn't dispute the notion that finally winning a championship came as a much-needed relief to a franchise that played in six AFC title games in 12 years before winning the Super Bowl.

"Being as close as we were for so many years, that did satisfy that hunger a little bit," Faneca said. "But I think, at the same time, myself and everybody came back in here ready and hungry to get another one. There's different types of hunger."

Parker, exasperated by a turnover-filled, 31-20 loss to Denver on Sunday that left the Steelers (2-6) trailing Baltimore by four games in the AFC North, was the first player to publicly speak out about a possible post-Super Bowl letdown.

"Last year, we were getting the job done, we just seemed hungrier," Parker said. "This year, it seems like we've already got what we want, what's the use? What's the use of going out there and selling out?"

Dating to the midpoint of last season, the Steelers have lost nine of 16 regular-season games - yet also won a Super Bowl during that span.

Ben Roethlisberger doesn't deny that "sometimes, teams get comfortable" and that the Steelers have not always played up to the level of their competition. They have played five teams that are 5-3 or better, and only two (Miami, Oakland) that are below .500.

"We played some good football teams, you got a bull's-eye on your chest and teams are really gunning for you," Roethlisberger said.

Five of the Steelers' eight remaining games are against teams that are .500 or below, including two games against Cleveland (2-6) and one against Tampa Bay (2-6). New Orleans (6-2), which plays Sunday in Pittsburgh, and AFC North leader Baltimore (6-2) own the best records.

The danger of falling so far out of playoff contention so early, Ward said, is that players may stop playing as hard as they should and effectively give up on the season.

"I'm embarrassed and disappointed," Ward said. "To come off the year we had, to come back 2-6, it's not how we envisioned our season to be. The leaders on the team, we need to work even harder and lead by example so these guys don't give up, I'm not going to give up. ... Right now, a lot of people are looking at us to see what's going to happen now that we're down and out."

Ward joined the Steelers in 1998 and played through two losing seasons, 7-9 in 1998 and 6-10 in 1999, before they went 9-7 in 2000. They have had only one losing season since, going 6-10 in 2003, and they were a combined 26-6 the last two seasons.

"For me, having been through a losing year, I know there's a lot of changes expected," Ward said. "Guys have got to go out and play because you don't know if you're going to be here or not. You're really playing for your job. We're going see what guys are going to quit on us and what guys are going to keep working."

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Old 11-09-2006, 07:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers react to 'hunger' criticism

I'd rather see the reaction on the field. Now that would be a definite statement!! Rather than having something posted in black and white.

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Old 11-09-2006, 07:05 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers react to 'hunger' criticism

Quote:
Originally Posted by stlrtruck View Post
I'd rather see the reaction on the field. Now that would be a definite statement!! Rather than having something posted in black and white.

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That's the response I was looking for....

Personally, I haven't seen the "hunger" since Feb. 5.
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