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Old 01-31-2011, 06:43 AM   #1
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Default Steelers are America's real team

Steelers are America's real team
Cowboys? All hat! Packers? Small town! Pittsburgh has the rings to prove it
Millman By Chad Millman
ESPN.com
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playof...had&id=6068358

Ben RoethlisbergerDonald Miralle/Getty ImagesThe Steelers have won six Super Bowls, more than any other team, and will try for a seventh Sunday.
Arguments are only as strong as the facts that support them. So to prove to you that the Steelers, the AFC representative in Super Bowl XLV, are indeed America's favorite NFL team, I present you with these incontrovertible, undeniable, irrefutable facts:

The man whose jersey outsold every other player's in the NFL this past year and the team whose merchandise outsold every other NFL franchise's this season: safety Troy Polamalu and the Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively.

The Real 'America's Team'

Millman Steelers: The myths that the Cowboys and Packers are worthy of "America's Team" status need to be destroyed, as the Steelers have done to opponents for the past four decades. Millman

Wojciechowski Packers: A small-town team owned by fans and beloved by many, the Packers have plenty of history on their side. They are the ultimate American success story. Wojciechowski

MacMahon Cowboys: Which team most captures the country's fascination? Judging by tangible measures of popularity such as television ratings and franchise values, it's the Cowboys. MacMahon

The team with the most Hall of Fame inductees during the NFL's modern era: The Pittsburgh Steelers, with nine.

The team that has won more Super Bowls than any other: Umm, let me see, take a second, oh yeah, wait for it -- THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS.

Commercialism! Idol-worship! Achievement! What's more American than those? Good night, game over, light up the fireworks and sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" while waving the Terrible Towel. Really, need I go on? OK, I will, only because the myths that the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers are worthy of "America's Team" status need to be buried. They need to be destroyed and humiliated, as the Steelers have done to opponents for the past four decades.

In fact, the notion that the Cowboys, especially, were first anointed "America's Team" has long bugged the Steelers. In the 1970s, there was no more heated rivalry in sports than these two franchises, who were as opposite in style to each other as "Jersey Shore" and "PBS NewsHour."

The Steelers represented their blue-collar, coal-dust choked city with physical dominance on the field. The Cowboys, with gleaming pants, stars on their helmets and trickery on offense, reflected the slick, oil-rich, new-money ways of Dallas. From 1971 to 1980, Dallas and Pittsburgh played in nine Super Bowls between them. Twice, after the 1975 and 1978 seasons, they played each other. Both games became, up to that point, the biggest spectacles the Super Bowl had ever seen. More media credentials were doled out, and TV commercial rates hit all-time highs.

The Steelers were defending Super Bowl champs the first time the two played for the title and had the NFL's best regular-season record heading into their second matchup. And yet, both times, Chuck Noll's players felt stung by their second-class status. At one point before the two teams' first Super Bowl, which was played in Miami, Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert complained to the media about the Cowboys' team hotel being closer to the beach than Pittsburgh's. "I hope," said Lambert, "that Roger Staubach is eaten by a shark."

The Whole Story

Roddick Chad Millman's book, "The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the 70s and the Fight for America's Soul," is out now and is available here.

"We took it personally that they were called 'America's Team,'" Steelers cornerback Mel Blount once told NFL Films. "Who granted them that?"

The Steelers, by contrast, have never been given anything. The team was founded by Art Rooney in 1933 and then had losing seasons for 36 of the next 39 years. At times, Rooney was short on funds and couldn't afford to pay a full roster of players; instead, workers from his father's brewery filled in for free. Until Three Rivers Stadium opened in 1970, the Steelers never had a home field to call their own. They practiced in South Park, a public fairgrounds, where the players had to clear rocks from the field and take cold-water showers after drills.

It was appropriate that all of the Burgh could watch this team practice, because Rooney viewed owning the team as a public trust, no matter how big the business of football became. One hot summer afternoon in 1974, Steelers linebacker Jack Ham and offensive lineman Gerry Mullins found themselves on a dusty road across from a cemetery, outside of the entrance to the Steelers' training camp. They were on strike, along with the rest of the Steelers and NFL players at training camps across the country, fighting the owners for free agency, more money, better contracts. At that moment, rookies Jack Lambert and Mike Webster and Lynn Swann and John Stallworth were at practice, getting coached up by Chuck Noll, while the veterans waited and wondered: Will we win this fight? Or will we lose our jobs?

As the day dragged on, the picket line began to thin. By late afternoon, only Mullins and Ham remained. As they sat by the side of the road, a car came flying toward them, kicking up dust. Then it stopped, right where they sat. It was Rooney. "He rolled down his window and said to us, 'Don't you boys worry about this strike. We'll get it settled,'" Mullins remembered. "Then he pulled a six-pack of beer out of the car, handed it to us and drove off."

That season the Steelers won the first of their NFL record six Super Bowls.

As fans we may appreciate the Packers' small-town narrative; we may aspire to live as large and be as brash as the Cowboys; but we are all the Steelers. A ragtag bunch of misfits, underestimated yet undeterred, born in the foundries and rising to the highest peaks.

Their story is our story. End of argument.

Why Green Bay is 'America's Team'

Owned by fans and beloved by many, the Packers have plenty of history on their side

Wojciechowski By Gene Wojciechowski
ESPN.com


Donald LeeJeff Hanisch/US PresswireIt's no leap to say the Packers have the most rabid fans in the NFL.
Remember the movie, "Working Girl?" Vintage Melanie Griffith in all her vacuum-cleaning, high-heeled glory?

Anyway, Griffith's Tess McGill resorts to identity theft to climb the corporate ladder. She junks her Staten Island accent, borrows her injured boss' Chanel outfits and helps engineer a huge radio network acquisition. But her best friend warns her: "Sometimes I sing and dance around the living room in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna. Never will."

That's how I feel about the Dallas Cowboys. They can sing and dance around their $1.2 billion stadium all they want, but it doesn't make them "America's Team." Never will.

The Real 'America's Team'

Millman Steelers: The myths that the Cowboys and Packers are worthy of "America's Team" status need to be destroyed, as the Steelers have done to opponents for the past four decades. Millman

Wojciechowski Packers: A small-town team owned by fans and beloved by many, the Packers have plenty of history on their side. They are the ultimate American success story. Wojciechowski

MacMahon Cowboys: Which team most captures the country's fascination? Judging by tangible measures of popularity such as television ratings and franchise values, it's the Cowboys. MacMahon

And while I have a very soft spot for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they're not "America's Team," either. They're not even Pennsylvania's team.

No, it's the Green Bay Packers. Has to be. And this just isn't me talking. Someone once asked the late, great NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle to name the best football city in the country. Rozelle didn't hesitate.

"Green Bay," he said. "A small town. People owning their own football team. Rabid supporters."

Exactly. The Packers are the only publicly owned major sports franchise in the country. No dividends are issued on the 4,750,937 shares held by the 112,158 shareholders. Instead, these people invest in the Packers out of football love, not profit. How American is that?

They bailed the franchise out in 1923, 1935, 1950 and 1997. They pepper the team president and team general manager with questions, good ones, at the annual shareholders meeting. NFL commish Roger Goodell attended last July's event -- and got Q-and-A'd into submission by the football-savvy Packers owners.

And, by the way, shareholders vote for the team's board of directors. Nothing against Steelers fans, but Packers followers do more than wave Terrible Towels. They influence team policy.

Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun established the Packers' franchise in 1919. That's 14 years before Art Rooney Sr. purchased the then-named Pittsburgh Pirates. That's 23 years before Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was even born and 33 years before the Dallas Texans became the last NFL franchise to fail.

Sorry, "America's Team" isn't supposed to fold.

So the Packers have history on their side. First publicly owned NFL franchise. First NFL franchise to hire a gap-toothed Vince Lombardi as its head coach. First team to win the Super Bowl. First team to win two Super Bowls in a row. First team to have a Broadway play about its head coach. First team to make "frozen tundra" part of the football lexicon.

The Packers are the ultimate American success story. They survived and now prosper in the smallest city in the league. They've won 11 NFL championships and three Super Bowls. Hmmm. Maybe that's why it's called the Lombardi Trophy, not the Jones or Rooney.

Don't get me wrong. The Steelers and Cowboys have formidable trophy cases, too. But it took the Steelers 41 years to win their first championship. And the Cowboys franchise was still in diapers when Lombardi was beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I.

Ever been to Lambeau Field? It's the Fenway Park of the NFL. It's perfect. It's also unpretentious.

At JerryWorld you get The Art At Cowboys Stadium, including such exquisite pieces as "Unexpected Variable Configuration: A Work in Situ." At Lambeau, you get a hot brat, a cold beer and a chorus of "Go, Pack, Go" while smooshed next to some guy wearing a cheesehead and orange hunting overalls. You tell me what sounds like more fun.

The most-watched show in the 2009 fall TV season was a Packers game. The second-most-watched show in cable history is a Packers game. Five of the top 20 most-watched shows in the fall of 2010 were Packers games.

The real "America's Team" doesn't have cheerleaders or a domed stadium. (And to the Rooney family's credit, neither do the Steelers.) You go to a Packers game and you feel like you're at Army-Navy, Bama-Auburn, OU-Texas.

I don't care how much merchandise they sell or how big their stadium is, the Cowboys aren't "America's Team." How can you be "America's Team" when just as many people are rooting against you as they are for you?

Plus, the Cowboys aren't football relevant anymore. In the past 15 years they've won exactly two playoff games and appeared in zero NFC Championship Games. Compare that to the Steelers (14 wins, two Super Bowl appearances and victories, six conference titles) and the Packers (11 wins, two Super Bowl appearances and one victory, four conference titles).

The Packers and Steelers are built for success. The Cowboys are built for melodrama and coaching turnover. And as it turns out, JerryWorld was built so the Packers and Steelers could play Super Bowl XLV there.

So on behalf of the Packers, thank you, Jerry.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

Cowboys still own 'America's Team' title
Just look at how popularity across the nation hasn't suffered, even in the lean years

CowboysLionel Hahn/US PresswireThe Cowboys were larger than life even before they had the video boards to prove it.

This is a popularity contest, plain and simple.

It's not about victories and virtues. The subject of debate is which NFL team most captures the country's fascination.

That's the Dallas Cowboys. That is clear, judging by tangible measures of popularity such as television ratings and franchise values.

The Real 'America's Team'

Millman Steelers: The myths that the Cowboys and Packers are worthy of "America's Team" status need to be destroyed, as the Steelers have done to opponents for the past four decades. Millman

Wojciechowski Packers: A small-town team owned by fans and beloved by many, the Packers have plenty of history on their side. They are the ultimate American success story. Wojciechowski

MacMahon Cowboys: Which team most captures the country's fascination? Judging by tangible measures of popularity such as television ratings and franchise values, it's the Cowboys. MacMahon

The point of playing the game is to win as many championships as possible. The Cowboys lost those bragging rights a couple years ago when the Pittsburgh Steelers claimed their sixth Super Bowl title. Cheeseheads can proudly point out that the Green Bay Packers own 12 titles, the majority of which came before the NFL's championship game was given a catchy name.

But the point of going to high school is to get an education, and it's not as if grade-point averages are the determining factor in selecting prom queens.

You could consider the Cowboys to be the NFL's prom queens. "America's Team" just sounds better.

The Cowboys' popularity probably spiked during their '90s dynasty. However, it's still going strong a decade and a half later despite only one playoff win in the last 14 seasons.

It's been a long time since the Cowboys lifted a Lombardi Trophy, but the "America's Team" crown still fits fine.

Some proof:

# According to Forbes, the Cowboys are the nation's most valuable sports franchise. The magazine reported the franchise's value to be $1.65 billion, ranking behind only soccer institution Manchester United in the world.

# According to an NFL release, the most-watched television program of the fall was the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day loss to the New Orleans Saints, which had an audience of 31.9 million viewers. The Cowboys' Dec. 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles had the highest audience ever for a Sunday night game (25.73 million viewers). And those two games came with the Cowboys, who always get the maximum number of prime-time games allowed by league rules, well out of playoff contention.

[+] EnlargeDallas Cowboys cheerleaders
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesWhen it comes to popularity, the Cowboys' organization is the prom queen of the NFL.

# The Harris Poll determined that the Cowboys were the most popular NFL team among American sports fans the past four years.

The Rooney family reportedly declined a version of the "America's Team" nickname when NFL Films wanted to give it to the Steelers in the 1970s. They were proud to be Pittsburgh's team.

The Cowboys wanted much more. They didn't ask for the nickname, but they certainly took advantage after NFL Films anointed them with the title for their 1978 team highlights video.

It was a perfect fit to Tex Schramm, the marketing genius who served as the Cowboys' president and general manager for the franchise's first three decades. He already had invested heavily in showcasing the Cowboys to the world, coming up with such promotional innovations as Thanksgiving Day games and the creation of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. (The Steelers and Packers, who clearly don't make promotions such a high priority, still don't have cheerleaders.)

Jerry Jones placed just as much emphasis on marketing, if not more, when he took the baton from Schramm. (OK, Jerry ripped the baton out of Schramm's hands, but the Cowboys' colorful owner/general manager admits learning a lot from Schramm about the NFL promotions business.)

More on the Cowboys

Calvin Watkins, Tim MacMahon and Todd Archer have the Dallas Cowboys blanketed for ESPNDallas.com. Blog
More: ESPN Dallas
Super Bowl XLV coverage

For instance, Jones preferred to focus on the positive while many were ripping franchise quarterback Tony Romo for taking a playoff bye-week Cabo vacation with then girlfriend Jessica Simpson. Jones noted at the time that Romo's relationship helped market the Cowboys to an audience that expanded far beyond football fans, even kidding that he might have taken the paparazzi photos of the getaway.

Jones made a commitment to excess when building Cowboys Stadium because he believed the buzz that could be created by the $1.2 billion building, which features a couple of 60-yard high-definition video screens, would create a marketing bang. He boasts about building a stadium that causes television announcers to be in awe. And he opens it for daily tours, occasionally even when the Cowboys are practicing.

Maximizing the marketing potential of practice isn't anything new for Jones. Just check out the Cowboys' annual summer carnivals that double as training camps, which get kicked off by a concert each year. The Cowboys split camp this season, a concept Jones is considering instituting on a regular basis, because the owner wanted exposure to the team's large fan bases in South Texas and Southern California.

Thousands of fans each day came to watch the Cowboys practice -- to borrow a line from Allen Iverson, "We talkin' about practice!" -- 1,500 miles away from home. Only with the Cowboys, "America's Team."
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Old 01-31-2011, 07:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

the Steelers are America's team. If you travel all over the country....to different cities in all 4 corners and in-between.....you see people in Steelers clothing/jersey's/etc ALL OVER. Everywhere. People come up to you on the street, in bars, malls, etc.
I understand the Cowboys are big in Texas and do have some fans elsewhere....but even taken my "pittsburgh-bias" out of the equation, its really not even close here. Outside of TX, OK, LA, i just don't even see hardly any Dallas anything, and i'll all over the place.
Those facts above are kind of like "so what?" facts.

This is a "marketing" ploy, a clever one, at that.
Just as NE claims their autumns are the best (even though you get the exact same autumns in PA, Virginia, Michigan, etc..), they market it as their own.
Just as south FL beats the same drum over and over and over again as "living in paradise" (its not...i lived there too....unless you call out of control crime and scumbags "living in paradise"). Its their marketing gimick for that area.
Dallas does the same thing with the "America's team" thing. Its a marketing ploy.
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Old 01-31-2011, 07:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

I have met only 1 Packers fan in my life. ONE. I travel coast to coast on business, and like I think I have a broad range of friends. Even some jets friends mixed in, lol.

The franchise said a lot about themselves when they resufed to fly in the DL players early.
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

Of course they are .... and the facts back this up ... when they travel, the town the Steelers play is taken over by Steelers Nation!

All other teams are just jockeying for second fiddle.
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

Cowboys only got the term Americas Team cos Mr Rooney turned it down when NFL films asked him.
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

The America's Team name for The Steelers sound so irrelevant, because The Steelers have Fans outside of the USA. I say let The Cowboys keep the name. It sounds stupid just for one team who is practically falling apart. It may sound stupid, but I like The Global Team. Yeah, I know it sounds stupid, but I got nothing else
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

We are the Pittsburgh Steelers. Boom. Full Stop.
That name alone is what sends the other 31 Teams in the NFL into Cold Sweats and keeps them up at night for a full week until the game is over.

Great Article though. Loved it.

Last edited by SteelSurf; 01-31-2011 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deserei90 View Post
The America's Team name for The Steelers sound so irrelevant, because The Steelers have Fans outside of the USA. I say let The Cowboys keep the name. It sounds stupid just for one team who is practically falling apart. It may sound stupid, but I like The Global Team. Yeah, I know it sounds stupid, but I got nothing else
Exactly!
Ever had a Cowboys fan puff out his chest and tell you he was a fan of "America's Team"?
I have.
I friggen laughed. Rolled my eyes and said "Sure you are.Nice chatting with you."
It's damn hard trying to have a civil conversation and talk tackle football with someone when you are doubled over laughing.
America's Team...Bwaaaa!

There are 32 Teams in the NFL covering the whole of the United States.
To claim such a name with nothing to back it up is is empty rhetoric.
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers are America's real team

Just win this Sunday and get #7...that's all I fcking care about.

everything else is garbage.
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