With a franchise record of 534-509-21, and 31-19 in the postseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to always be competing not only for a playoff spot, but for the Super Bowl. However that record really doesn’t speak of how good they’ve been recently. The Steelers started out as a struggling franchise. Since they’ve put it all together in 1972, they have a record of 361-229-8.
The Rooney family has done a remarkable job with this franchise, and have done it in their own way. How do they do it? Let’s take a closer look.
You hear it all the time. The Steelers have the best traveling fan base of any team in the NFL. Take a look closely at the road games how many Steeler fans are in attendance. It is easy to spot them, look for the Terrible Towels waving. In some venues even, there are more Steeler fans in attendance. Just look at the Browns games. When you’re home, and you have all those Steeler fans yelling, it messes with you.
Then you have the home games, where Heinz Field has 65,050 seats. At any given game, at least 62,000 of those seats are filled up with Steeler fans waving their Terrible Towel. This makes it difficult for any team to get on the same page with each other.
Jerome Bettis, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleir, Barry Foster, Willie Parker, and now Rashard Mendenhall.
These are just some of the names that come to mind when you think of the Steelers. They pride themselves in a strong, forceful running game. This helps them dictate the game by holding on to the ball and controlling the clock, tiring the defense and often times stunning the opposing team.
Talent, skill, or luck. Call it what you want, but when a play is needed, a play is made.
Through history, the Steelers have had many playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Defense: Mel Blount, Mike Wagner, Darren Perry, Rod Woodson, Carnell Lake, Troy Polamalu
Offense: Lynn Swan, Franco Harris, John Stallworth, Louis Lipps, Yancy Thigpen, Santonio Holmes, and now Mike Wallace.
These guys have added that big play to their Steelers team that makes that team special.
Do I really need to get into this? Here I’ll just give you a list:
Andy Russell, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Robin Cole, Mike Merriweather, Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, LeVon Kirkland, Earl Holmes, Jason Gildon, Joey Porter, James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons.
Fear it or be jealous, your choice.
Its week 7 and the undefeated Vikings are in town. You’re playmaking middle linebacker, Lawrence Timmons, is injured. Keyaron Fox is forced to step in and start.
Arguably the biggest play of this game, is an 82 yard interception return for a touchdown. Who made this play? The fill in at LB, Fox.
The Steelers do such a great job at developing talent that if one player goes down, there’s someone ready to step in and take his place.
As Mike Tomlin said last year, “No matter who’s playing, the standard is still the same”
Justin Hartwing, James Farrior, Ryan Clark.
What do these three players have in common?
Of the Steelers 22 starters, these are the only 3 that the Steelers did not draft. They build their team through the draft and develop the players to play STEELER football.
Not only have they done an excellent job with their first round picks, they always seem to find talent in the late rounds. Of the 19 starters they drafted, 10 were drafted in the third round or later:
Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Trai Essex, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, James Harrison, Ike Taylor, and Willie Colon.
I’ll let Larry Foote describe this.
SrA Christopher Kurtz, USAF at Warren AFB, Wyoming asks: What did you miss about playing for the Steelers?
Larry Foote: “The locker room, the relationship I built through the years, and the camaraderie. All around I just missed the fun.”
A tough, hard nosed, and smart football team has to start from somewhere, and it comes from the coaches.
Since 1969 the Steelers have only had 3 coaches.
Let me say that again. 1969, 3 coaches.
That’s something you do not have with any other team in the NFL. When you have a consistent coaching staff, you have a consistent team.
All 3 coaches, Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin, fit the same bill. Tough, hard nosed, and smart.
Not to mention the greatest defensive mind in football, Dick Lebeau.
My friends and I have developed a new phrase we use amongst each other when we see a big hit.
“He got Clarked!”
This phrase was first coined when notorious big hitter Ryan Clark put a hit on Wes Welker.
Clark is just one player in a long line of players that have put fear in the oppositions eyes. Not only big hitters, but strong players that will impose their will on you.
And its not limited to the defense, the player that most fits this bill is a wide receiver. Enter Hines Ward. A man known to lay a big block on whoever he can. A man who will take a big hit, and get up smiling from ear to ear. A man known who caused commissioner Goodell to make a rule about earhole blocking.
This goes hand in hand with passion. And Steelers have more of it than anyone. They have a history of winning and want to continue that history. They love the game, they love to win, and they play the game to win.
These are the same players who want to do it with the Steelers. Some of the players have taken a pay cut, restructured their contracts, or taken a lesser role just to win.
When you have players who will do whatever it takes to win, usually you win.
There you have it, when you mix all those ingredients together, you have the recipe for a good team that will consistently compete. No team has done it better over the past 50 years, than the Pittsburgh Steelers.