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Super Bowl teams feature mystique, tradition
Question of the Day
ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - NFL commissioners can’t root, so Roger Goodell will just sit back and smile as he watches this Super Bowl.
A season that saw pro football claim boffo TV ratings and reach new heights of popularity _ even as it dealt with a stream of off-field woes _ will end with two classic, hard-nosed teams clashing in its championship game.
“This isn’t just about fans in western Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. They have national followings. And I think that is what’s so exciting for this country and the whole world. This is fun. This is celebrating the game that I love, that we all love, and I think this is going to be a terrific night.”
It’s hard to argue with the mystique and tradition that comes with this one, stretching all the way back to football’s blue-collar roots.
The Steelers (14-4) already own the most Vince Lombardi Trophies (six), which must gall their opponents from Titletown USA. Pittsburgh goes for its seventh Super Bowl title Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. Green Bay (13-6) has three, taking the first two Super Bowls under Lombardi’s guidance, and winning another in 1997. The Packers also took six NFL championship games before there was a Super Bowl.
What’s funny, in this age of tweeting players and 24/7 Super Bowl week coverage, is that these teams would probably look familiar to the Steelers and Packers of 1933, the first year both franchises were in the league.
Each has a dynamic defense led by the top two vote-getters for Defensive Player of the Year, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, the runner-up. Both have playmaking quarterbacks who have risen to elite status _ although in entirely different manners. Just as the two teams went about getting to the Super Bowl in opposite ways: Pittsburgh as a division winner and second seed that won two home games, the Packers as a wild-card that hit the road for three victories over division champs.
“Coach (Mike) Tomlin uses the term with his players,” Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson says of the Steelers coach. “He says, ‘The standard is the standard.’
“Quite frankly, that philosophy seems to fit pretty good with us, too.”
Yes, there’s the Steelers Way and the Packers Way. Through the Lambeau, Lombardi and Holmgren years in Green Bay, the Noll, Cowher and Tomlin years in Pittsburgh, the common thread has been sticking to your roots no matter how bumpy the journey.
“I think the idea of having the right people in place and finding and keeping good people, that’s something that goes back to my grandfather and my father,” says Steelers President Art Rooney II. “As they said, keeping it simple and keeping the right people in place, that’s the key.”
The players recognize how different these two franchises are from the other 30 teams.
By Donald Lambro
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