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Old 02-05-2010, 07:29 PM   #1
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Default Houma native relives Super Bowl experiences

Houma native relives Super Bowl experiences
Matt LeBlanc
Staff Writer

Published: Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 at 10:09 a.m.

It was the Steelers’ NFL-best sixth Super Bowl championship, and while the 62-year-old Lewis hadn’t suited up for Pittsburgh since 1977, he is a part of the franchise’s storied history.

“You’d be shortchanging yourself to look at those guys now, and (think) you’re not a part of that,” Lewis said of the Steelers winning Super Bowl XLIII. “It’s history. You’re a part of it regardless of whether you see (the players) or know them personally. When they win, yeah, I take pride in that.”

Lewis, who grew up and currently lives in Houma, played college football at Grambling State before the Steelers made him the eighth-overall pick in the 1971 NFL draft.

He played for Pittsburgh until 1977, then moved to the Buffalo Bills from 1978-83. With the Bills, he made his lone Pro-Bowl appearance in 1981, posting 70 catches for 1,244 yards and four touchdowns.

The highlights of Lewis’ career, though, came in 1974 and 1975 when the Steelers won Super Bowls IX and X.

The Steelers had won the AFC Central division in 1972 and 1973, so finally getting to the Super Bowl wasn’t a surprise.

“It wasn’t like an all of a sudden thing that ‘bam, you’re in the Super Bowl,’” Lewis said. “We knew as a team that we had the team to go all the way.”

Being a champion, Lewis said, was a great feeling, but not something he fully appreciated until years later.

“As time passed, you think about all the guys that never had a ring, or even played to get a ring,” Lewis said. “That ring just becomes larger and larger to you. Only a certain number of players get the chance. You can’t go back.”

This weekend, the New Orleans Saints will play in the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Kickoff is set for 5:25 p.m. Sunday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

After becoming a franchise in 1967, it took the Saints 42 years to reach the Super Bowl.

The Steelers, who became a franchise in 1933, took 41 years to win their first championship.

But with the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle, Lewis said the Super Bowl is much different today than it was in the ’70s.

“During my time, when we played, we never felt the magnitude of what the game is today,” he said. “The Super Bowl is so much bigger than it was back then.”

Teams’ regular-season home openers, Lewis added, are treated the way Super Bowls were back then.

“That’s the magnitude of the game,” he said. “It just didn’t have the media attention back then.”

With the media attention that surrounds Super Bowls of today, the Saints have been in the spotlight for the past two weeks.

And while Lewis is a former Pittsburgh Steeler and Buffalo Bill, he has enjoyed watching the hometown team’s Super Bowl run.

“I love it,” he said. “I like to see it. No matter where you go, you see fans. No matter if its the work place, ball games, it’s a kick watching their reaction.

“I was telling someone the other day, that I’ve never seen that much black and gold in the area as I’ve seen this year. People rally around the team. It hasn’t been hard to rally with this team.”

Lewis said Sunday’s game should be evenly matched. The Indianapolis Colts’ Super Bowl experience, he added, shouldn’t give them any kind of distinct advantage.

“Minnesota had the experience when (we) went in there (in 1974), and we won the game,” Lewis said. “Whoever is going to play that Sunday, whoever gets the breaks and plays the best, that’s who’s going to win. Look at the Buffalo Bills back in the ’90s. They went four years in a row and lost.”
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