View Full Version : Many teams change, but the Steelers have not

01-26-2009, 02:13 AM
Many teams change, but the Steelers have not

http://www.scrantontimes.com/articles/2 ... 7_spo3.txt (http://www.scrantontimes.com/articles/2009/01/25/sports/sc_times_trib.20090125.c.pg1.tt25dccolumn_s1.22494 27_spo3.txt)

Published: Sunday, January 25, 2009
Updated: Sunday, January 25, 2009 4:14 AM EST
Even when the rest of football changed, they didnít.

There was Air Coryell and the Run-N-Shoot. The K-Gun and the Greatest Show on Turf. Football has become about offense, about statistics and points and pretty passes that can be packaged into a two-minute highlight reel.

But the Steelers of today essentially are the Steelers of yesteryear. Three decades ago, they were a defensive force, the Steel Curtain, a team that was above all else physically superior. Today, a week before they play in their seventh Super Bowl, theyíre still a defensive force, above all else physically superior. At a time when continuity in sports is a trashed art, the Steelers remain the unchanged principle.

In their brutality, there is beauty. A meanness and abrasiveness that is exclusively football. Football is sportsí answer to war. Itís violent. Itís bloody. Itís severe. The way the Steelers play it, thereís no answer to all of it than more violence, more blood, more severity.

But in their weekly war, there is an eternal peace.

Itís a peace that reaffirms hard-working people will always have a place, that itís OK to be more spit than polish, that good things donít have to end as long as they work and keep working.

People debate the true identity of Americaís Team.

Well, itís a useless exercise. Americaís Team isnít a team at all. Itís a unit. Itís the Steelers defense, philosophically unchanged for the past three-and-a-half decades, predicated on the belief that even the best offenses can be intimidated, out-nastied into submission year after year, without fail.

Since their dynasty of the 1970s began to take shape in 1972, the Steelers have led the NFL in least yards allowed seven different times. Eighteen times in those 37 seasons, they finished in the top five. As far as finishing in the top 10 goes, they are 26-for-37.

Winning is no mystery.

This kind of success, itís no accident.

Itís a lineage of belief in the infallibility of hard work, a testimony of toughness. Itís the unwavering belief in a system.

For the most part, the Dallas Cowboys built their teams with the free-agent dollar. Theyíve sustained their success by throwing money at players like Deion Sanders, Charles Haley and Terrell Owens.

The Steelers have had their share of stars, but they were stars formed by the Steeler Way.

Think about so many of the great defensive players in Steelers history, then remember where they came from.

Mean Joe Greene, Dwight White, Ernie Holmes and L.C. Greenwood ó the front four of the vaunted Steel Curtain ó came from North Texas, Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, respectively.

Greg Lloyd, the star sack-artist of the 1990s and one of the most feared players in all of football, came out of Fort Valley State.

Think the Steelers are lucky to find players of that caliber out of smaller schools? Or are they just better at finding those players than everybody else?

The 2008 Steelersí defense, which ranked first overall in the NFL for the second season in a row and in the Top 10 for the ninth straight season, isnít built on stars. Itís built the same way the Steel Curtain was built ó on players who the system turned into stars. Great players, yes. But system players, too.

This tells the whole story:

? There are only two free agent signings among the Steelersí 11 defensive starters ó middle linebacker James Farrior and hard-hitting safety Ryan Clark.

? Counting Farrior, there are just three first-round draft picks among the starters ó run-eliminating defensive tackle Casey Hampton and the unfairly talented safety Troy Polamalu.

Neither of them were among the top 10 picks in the Draft.

? Only one of the other eight starters was picked among the first 50 players drafted the year they came out of college.

Two players ó Clark and linebacker James Harrison ó werenít drafted at all.

Football has changed a lot. The Pittsburgh Steelers havenít.

Theyíre a week away from their date with the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, and theyíre seven-point favorites to win their record sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Itís unprecedented success.

And no accident.

01-26-2009, 02:20 AM
I have chills.

01-26-2009, 09:04 AM
I didn't realize 3 of the front 4 of the Steel Curtain were from TX!

Limas Sweed comes from a small town in TX also, Brenham, about 10,000 people. So maybe he'll man up too!

Oh, and our 2009 Rookie of the Year, Patrick Bailey, comes from Alamo Heights High School here in San Antonio.

Football is pretty big, high school especially, here.

01-26-2009, 05:31 PM
I have chills.

Not bad for my local rag here, the Scranton Times-Tribune.