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Thread: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

  1. #1

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    Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    McGrath: Steelers motto 'better to be lucky than good'

    Submitted by SHNS on Tue, 02/01/2011 - 13:53By JOHN McGRATH, Tacoma News Tribune

    Unlike those Seattle Seahawks fans unable to let go of the Super Heist in Detroit five years ago, I've got nothing against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Sure, Steelers fans were obnoxious in their overtaking of downtown Detroit's largest hotel five years ago, but if you can't stumble down escalators and pass out in the hallway during a February weekend in Detroit, where in the world can you?

    And while I'm a little tired of hearing how quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has changed his evil ways, I like the uniform he wears, and respect the tradition it represents.

    What I especially admire about the Steelers is their ability to dominate an aspect of football that can't be taught, coached, or willed.


    This is a franchise originally bankrolled by the horse track successes of the late Art Rooney Sr. After buying the team for $2,500 in 1933, Rooney kept it solvent by enjoying a particularly fruitful day at a suburban New York City racetrack in 1936, followed, 24 hours later, by an even more fruitful day at Saratoga.

    It was there that Rooney put down $8,000 on an 8-1 long shot, which prevailed in a photo finish. Rooney ended up hitting on seven winners in eight races -- five of them long shots -- leaving the track with a haul estimated somewhere between $200,000 and $358,000.

    Put it this way: The general manager at Saratoga offered Rooney the use of a Brink's truck for the trip home.

    Rooney's uncanny hunches as a horseplayer did not immediately translate into competitive teams on the football field. During the 1950s and '60s, Rooney's Steelers were the laughingstock of the NFL -- the clodhoppers who cut Johnny Unitas, passed on the chance to draft Jim Brown, and traded the 1965 first-round selection Chicago identified as Dick Butkus.

    It was after the 1969 season the Steelers' began their romance with Lady Luck. They'd finished 1-13, with one of the defeats to the Bears, who also finished 1-13.

    A Super Bowl week coin flip was arranged for the rights to the No. 1 draft choice, widely anticipated to be Louisiana Tech quarterback Terry Bradshaw. The Bears called heads, the coin turned up tails, and while it's much too simplistic to point out that the rest is history, the rest, well, is history.

    Bradshaw was erratic for a few seasons before revealing himself as the Hall of Famer whose clutch play helped lead the Steelers to four Super Bowl wins in six years.

    Bradshaw's most celebrated pass was off the mark, a desperate throw in the waning moments of a 1972 playoff game that bounced off somebody -- either intended target Frenchy Fuqua or Raiders safety Jack Tatum -- and into the grasp of the Steelers' Franco Harris, who turned the near incompletion into a game-winning touchdown renowned in NFL lore as "The Immaculate Reception."

    It was anything but immaculate, and if Fuqua made contact with the ball before Tatum did, it wasn't even a reception per rules (changed in 197 that prohibited an offensive player from catching any pass first touched by a teammate.

    Obvious question: How is the Immaculate Reception of 1972 relevant to the Super Bowl in 2011?

    Obvious answer: The Steelers' stupefying streak of good fortune -- almost four decades and counting -- was on display in the AFC Championship Game last weekend, when Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was ruled to have fumbled on a play that might've been interpreted as an incomplete pass. The fumble was returned for a touchdown, giving Pittsburgh a seemingly commanding 24-0 lead that proved to be insurmountable after the visitors, trailing 24-10 with eight minutes remaining, failed to convert a first-and-goal opportunity on the Steelers' 2.

    If the Jets appeared out of synch, it was because they were out of synch: Communication from the sideline to the huddle was impeded by a hardware malfunction -- faulty headsets -- for which the Jets were held accountable.

    I'm not suggesting espionage was involved, because that kind of untoward behavior (ahem) is not tolerated in the NFL. Besides, the Jets, whose strength coach was reprimanded for organizing a "fence" designed to impede opposing special teams players from running full speed down the sideline, pretty much exhausted their status as espionage victims.

    A better explanation for the Jets' communication breakdown is luck.

    The Steelers still have it, just as they had it against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, when Darrell Jackson's touchdown catch was nullified by a slight, almost indiscernible push-off ruled offensive interference, and Sean Locklear's equally obscure holding penalty nullified a deep completion, and ...

    Enough. The Seahawks lost to the Steelers fair and square. If the many disputed calls that went Pittsburgh's way left referee Bill Leavy "with a lot of sleepless nights," as he admitted a few months ago, Leavy should realize his crew was facing a weird dynamic: officiating a Super Bowl destined to be won by the Steelers.

    "My dad," Art Rooney Jr. said in 2002, "used to tell me: 'I've seen a lot of talented guys who can't hold a job, and smart guys who all they could do is work for someone else, and hard workers who all they were were hard workers. For some reason, a lucky guy does all right in life, and everybody likes him. Don't rap good luck.'"

    As for Sunday, I'm convinced the Packers have the better team: A better offense behind a better quarterback, with a better defense, as well.

    My hunch is Green Bay wins in a second-half shootout -- make it 30-24 -- but I'd never put a bet on that.

    Betting against the Steelers means betting against the spirit of their founder. He went to Saratoga one day in 1936, and he left with enough cash to fill a Brink's truck.

    (Contact John McGrath at john.mcgrath(at)

    (Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, [url=""][/url].)

  2. #2
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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    Plain 100% garbage.

    Luck is made and preparation meeting opportunity.

  3. #3

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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    Quote Originally Posted by skyhawk
    Plain 100% garbage.

    Luck is made and preparation meeting opportunity.
    It's one of my favorite quotes:

    Luck occurs, when preparation meets opportunity.


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  4. #4

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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

  5. #5
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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    And no other franchise with 3 or more Super Bowls ever had any luck.

    I'll give him luck + talent. But, this fool, who claims not to hate the STeelers, wants to put all of their good fortune on luck. Sorry, dufus. This team has made its own luck all year.

    And, why do people keep bringing up the Sanchez fumble? It was a close call, but most experts agree that it was a fumble. It was not a lucky play. It was a great defensive play call and well executed.

    That crap about the headsets is total bull. For years, folks have complained about headsets going out in Foxboro and piped in noise in Indy. Pittsburgh has never been accused of such petty crap and the Jets are on the hook for this malfunction not the Steelers.
    Even if Bill Belichick was getting an atomic wedgie, his face would look exactly the same.

  6. #6

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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    The only "luckily" play in SB XL was an Ike Taylor interception. Cause we all know Ike can't catch.

  7. #7

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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    I don't remember the Steelers being very lucky in the 1980's and I'm sure Bill Cowher would have liked to have luck on his side when he was losing all of those AFC Championship games.

  8. #8
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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    Quote Originally Posted by Notleadpoisoned
    I don't remember the Steelers being very lucky in the 1980's and I'm sure Bill Cowher would have liked to have luck on his side when he was losing all of those AFC Championship games.

    So luck doesn't trump cheating?
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  9. #9

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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    Quote Originally Posted by Djfan
    Quote Originally Posted by Notleadpoisoned
    I don't remember the Steelers being very lucky in the 1980's and I'm sure Bill Cowher would have liked to have luck on his side when he was losing all of those AFC Championship games.
    So luck doesn't trump cheating?
    Nope. If you're taking a test and you have the answers to the questions already written on your hand you're more likely to get an 'A' than you would by simply guessing at the answers.

  10. #10

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    Re: Steelers motto: It's "better to be lucky than good"

    For the Rooneys, Patience Pays Off in Rings

    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
    President of the Pittsburgh Steelers Art Rooney II at a pep rally for Super Bowl XLV.

    Published: February 2, 2011

    ARLINGTON, Tex. — Art Rooney II was glancing up at the enormous video screen and at the plush seats, taking in Jerry Jones’s monument to revenue with a bemused smile. The Pittsburgh Steelers will probably never have a stadium quite like Cowboys Stadium, which will be host to the Super Bowl on Sunday. But this week Rooney, an owner and the president of the Steelers, had something that Jones, the owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, wanted desperately: the opportunity to explain how his team kept returning to the Super Bowl every few years, with the consistency of a metronome.

    Rooney’s explanations in the middle of Jones’s lavish drama dome were in stark contrast to Jones’s news conference later, when he had to explain how he so badly misjudged his own team this season.

    “Panic doesn’t seem to work; let’s put it that way,” Rooney said. “Enough people seem to have gone through that. Our philosophy is, you pick good people and try to stick with them. There’s no guarantees. There are ups and downs in any sport. But if you have the people in place, you always have a chance to be successful. That goes back to my grandfather and down to my father. Keeping it simple and keeping the right people in place.”

    More than by any player or coach, the Steelers are identified by the way they have done business for 40 years. They build through the draft, take care of their players, maintain financial discipline, eschew flashy hires and treat people well.

    In the win-now world of professional sports, the Steelers have managed a twin bill that only a few other organizations, including the Green Bay Packers, can claim: they win now, and they set themselves up for the future, too. Of the 22 players who are expected to start for the Steelers on Sunday night, 18 were either drafted by the Steelers or signed as undrafted or rookie free agents. For some of those players, it will be their third Super Bowl appearance in six years.

    It is a blueprint that has put six Lombardi Trophies behind glass in Pittsburgh, given the Steelers a chance to win a seventh, generated a devoted, nationwide fan base and left even other owners agog, although Rooney laughs a little when asked if the Steelers way has been codified. It has not, he said.

    “I’m envious,” the Indianapolis Colts’ owner, Jim Irsay, said. “I’ve spent more than $100 million more than those guys in the last 10 years. You scratch your head and say wow. That’s what makes it a bit stunning — how can you accomplish so much with such a disciplined business model? That’s when you look at the whole thing and see a third generation. It’s truly something special.”

    Art Rooney II’s grandfather Art — the beloved Chief — founded the franchise. His father, Dan, steered it to the stunning success of the 1970s and became one of the N.F.L.’s most influential owners. And in recent years Art II has moved into the primary decision-making job. That seamlessness is at the root of the Steelers’ philosophy.

    The Steelers have hired only three coaches since 1969 — Chuck Noll was the first — and each has won a Super Bowl. With Noll, Dan Rooney and his brother Art Jr. formed a threesome that recognized the draft as the building block of a team. That philosophy remains. Offensive and defensive systems are not adopted and ripped up every few years, necessitating cyclical remakings of the roster.

    When Mike Tomlin, an under-the-radar young coordinator, replaced Bill Cowher in 2007, his most critical decision was to keep the defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and the 3-4 defense that is the cornerstone of the Steelers, even though Tomlin ran a 4-3 as a coordinator.

    The continuity means everybody from the owners to the entry-level scout knows what Steelers players should look like. The team is able to draft prospects who will fit its system for years — because the system is not going to change — giving them time to develop without shoving them into service as the team is made over.

    “Some teams change quarterbacks like underwear,” the Steelers’ Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham said. “Then you have this organization. Stability is the key and they let people do their jobs.”

    That lacks the glamour of splashy hires accompanied by well-attended news conferences that other owners seem to crave. But it is a path to success that the Packers share. Ted Thompson, the Packers’ general manager, is friends with Kevin Colbert, the Steelers’ director of football operations, and they have a common background steeped in the intense film study and constant travel of scouts.

    Ernie Accorsi tells a story about Colbert, whom he calls the best general manager nobody knows about. Since Accorsi retired as the Giants’ general manager, he has consulted with other teams looking to rebuild. One team was looking for a general manager. Accorsi called Colbert, who has been with the Steelers since 2000, a run that has included appearances in five conference championship games and three Super Bowls.

    “I didn’t even tell him the money,” Accorsi said. “I said this is a good job. He said: ‘I could never do that to the Rooneys. I don’t care what they would pay.’ Where you going to find that?”

    Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney and president Art Rooney II recieved the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the Steelers won the A.F.C. Championship against the Jets.

    If the strategy engenders unusual loyalty, it also requires patience and imperviousness to outside pressure that even Irsay acknowledges is rare in ownership circles.

    “They’ve been successful doing it this way and they know there is going to be a year we’re 6-10,” Colbert said. “They don’t want that year after year. They understand there will be a dip somewhere along the way.”

    Two weeks ago, when Dan Rooney, now the United States ambassador to Ireland, returned to Pittsburgh for the American Football Conference championship game, he spoke briefly to a handful of reporters about the N.F.L.’s labor strife. During that conversation he offered a bombshell of a quotation that summed up the Steelers’ ability to take the long view of success.

    “I’d rather not have the money,” Rooney said about the proposed 18-game regular season

    That comment snapped a few heads around the league, particularly among owners who would very much rather have the money. But Rooney wonders why it is necessary to change something — 16 games for 32 teams — that has worked successfully for years. It is a mind-set the Steelers have leaned on in the past — do not make sea change decisions in haste — when fans agitated for Cowher to be fired, or wondered why the Steelers were hiring Tomlin instead of someone they had heard of.

    But it also resonated deeply in the Steelers’ locker room. There, stories about the Rooneys’ unusual affinity for the people who work for them are limitless. They shake the hands of each player after games, win or lose. They offer advice to new players on where to send their children to school. They take the men and women who work in the cafeteria at the team’s training facility to the Super Bowl.

    “He’s talking about he’d rather not have the money,” Steelers linebacker James Harrison said. “He’s truly concerned about the players. Other owners that are willing to go ahead and say give us 18 games don’t really care about the safety of players. They care about making money.”

    Despite the victories that took the Steelers to Dallas, this was an unusually trying season for the Steelers. Last spring, after missing the playoffs entirely, they grappled with what to do about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, as the investigation into an alleged sexual assault in a Georgia bar deepened. The Steelers were deeply troubled by the allegations of Roethlisberger’s behavior that emerged in police documents, and even some of their own fans called for him to be traded or released.

    “It changed every day, every week, every month,” Colbert said. “The more we thought through it, it was easy to come to the conclusion this player deserved the opportunity to make right. We’re happy we did and sure happy he did, because without him we’re not here today.”

    Probably not. But the Steelers will most likely be back to the Super Bowl even after Roethlisberger is gone into retirement and perhaps even before the Steelers have to fire a head coach. They have not done that since 1968, and Art Rooney II pondered whether he would live long enough to be the one to do it.

    “I hope not,” he said.



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