Will Mike Tomlin's Steelers Achieve the Status of an NFL Dynasty?
The statuesque tree that stands shading my street with its voluminous leaves has begun to shed.
Handfuls of yellow foliage flutter down with each passing breeze.
It doesn't feel like the summer has gone that fast.
I've yet to make my July trip to Kennywood Park. I haven't been there since I rode the Jackrabbit when I was dragged to Polish day as a lanky eight-year-old.
It will be great to see some family that I haven't seen in years.
A few more leaves drop and I start to forget about July. I have the urge to find my iPod and put on some Sam Spence as the Monday Night Football Fanfare quietly slips into my mind.
This is the time of year for reporting either minor team business or speculation.
I've never been good at either.
I either see, or I feel.
So, without any actual football being played or atmospheres being created by the guys being together as a team, I have found some great books.
The best one so far is the 2006 Sports Illustrated publication, Sports Illustrated, Great Football Writing by Peter King.
My favorite piece from King's book is Myron Cope's The Immaculate Reception and Other Miracles, originally published Aug. 20, 1973.
Charged with a privileged perspective earned by Cope, the story eloquently condenses a 40-year history of the Steelers into roughly 10 pages.
When the Walt Kiesling era Steelers of 1955 are recalled for their complete lack of offensive imagination, the pain that they inflicted on Cleveland's Jim Brown during every loss is cited.
"Heroes we always had. They thrived in the black pall that rose from the steel mills along the Monongahela."
Cope poignantly reminds the reader that even before the Steelers dominated, they inspired.
The balance of the story centers on Chuck Noll's fledgling team, all written from a time before a single silver Lombardi sat behind glass in the Steeler's trophy case.
Cope captures the opinion gaining momentum in the city, a conviction being set in motion. Noll built a team of motivated men, and they were just getting rolling when Franco's shoestring grab put a face on the feeling that the sky was the limit.
We all know what the Steelers went on to achieve in the 1970s, but can we feel, here and now, the optimism that was palpable in the city at the dawn of the dynasty?
I feel it.
I felt it in the bitter cold game as the Steelers wouldn't quit against Cowboys last December. I felt it when Springsteen sang "The Rising" in Mellon Arena the night before the Penguins notched up another W over the Hurricanes as they advanced toward the Stanley Cup.
Personally, I'm going for it.
I'm believing in Tomlin.
I'm believing in the city.
I'm believing in Ben.
I trust LeBeau, the Defense, Santonio, Reed, and Ward. I just feel good about the Steelers. With a skillful plan, solid protection, and the resilience of their unconquerable attitude that they have developed, they can win seven.
I definitely live in the hopes of seeing a yardage seeking missile tacking more than one touchdown onto the scoreboard this year.
I have, however, re-watched enough of last year's games to also look forward to seeing the Steelers doing their best work under pressure with a rapidly approaching deadline.
These days, Pittsburgh won't quit.
The team has momentum.
Myron Cope's article was written around the time of the Steelers' 40th year as Pittsburgh's football team. We waited 26 years with much higher expectations than the first group of Steeler fans who waited for their super team.
History shows us that Super Bowl repeats are rare.
But, as the cornerstone of the dynasty, "Mean" Joe Greene, once observed: "They say that when you're the champs, everybody will try to beat you. Well, I'm glad we're champs, so bring 'em on, bring 'em all on. If we die, we ain't gonna die running. It's gonna be a fight."
I can't imagine that the 2009 Steelers would want it any other way.
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