Steelers hope to avoid Super Bowl hangover
By John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, September 10, 2009
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Three years ago, the Steelers experienced the mother of all Super Bowl hangovers.
There wasn't enough Alka-Seltzer to go around after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL.
Too much partying will make anyone sick.
Between the nonstop celebrating, Ben Roethlisberger's near-fatal motorcycle accident, early season complacency and the uncertainty surrounding the future of former coach Bill Cowher, the Steelers needed a 6-2 finish just to go 8-8.
The playoffs were out of the question.
The Super Bowl? A distant memory.
They say those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
The Steelers, who have since added to their impressive array of hardware by winning yet another Super Bowl trophy, are saying all the right things entering tonight's 2009 opener against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.
This time, so the saying goes, they won't take their success for granted.
"I think the difference is in preparation from last time to this time," outside linebacker James Harrison said. "Last time we won it, we soaked in it too long."
Harrison was a backup when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, playing behind Joey Porter.
His role has grown exponentially. He was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year last season, and he ran back an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 win over Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII.
Inside linebacker James Farrior was a starter on both Super Bowl teams. He has a somewhat different perspective from Harrison, who joins Farrior as a defensive captain this season.
Speaking as a longtime team leader, Farrior promises the Steelers won't repeat their fatal mistake.
"I feel like we haven't really left off from last year," said Farrior, one of 15 current starters, including long snapper Greg Warren, who played in Super Bowl XL. "The offseason was short, and we're right back at it. I don't know if we had a lot of extra time to think about what we did last year and how things are going to be compared to the last time.
"I think for it being our first time winning a Super Bowl in so many years, a lot of players were relieved. It's a natural sense that you get when you win it all to relax and let your guard down. I think we did that a little bit too much the last time."
Farrior's and Harrison's words carry special meaning.
They're two of the best at what they do — both made the Pro Bowl last season. In addition to being two of the hardest workers on the team, Harrison and Farrior are stars at the team's signature position.
Today's Steelers have three linebackers good enough to start for the Steel Curtain. Harrison, Farrior and LaMarr Woodley make me think about Jack Ham, Andy Russell and Jack Lambert.
"I think, this year, we got back to work in a timely fashion, to where guys were back working out in the offseason and preparing themselves to come back and start this season," Harrison said.
Added Farrior: "I think it's just the focus that we have. A lot of the guys weren't even here last time we won, so they don't even know how it feels anyway. We're just trying to move forward, always being positive."