To say I have been blessed as a Steelers fans is really an understatement. I have been to three Super Bowls in five years. I have won (hopefully) all of them. The Steelers did lose a Super Bowl 15 years ago, but I was only two. So that really doesn’t count, because I remember nothing from years zero to two and a half, except for one dream where there was blinking wallpaper.
Anyway, I really became a Steelers fan in 2000, when I was seven. I am sure I watched Steelers games before that, but I am unaware of it due to the extremely small mind of a child. I suffered through five years of Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox, and then Ben Roethlisberger was introduced to me.
Ben completely revolutionized the way I see the quarterback position. He combined what made the two quarterbacks before him marginally good (Kordell’s incessant moving out of the pocket once a defender came within 15 feet of him, Tommy’s traditional passing skills) and turned into a great quarterback.
If you do not think that Ben is one of the five best quarterbacks in the NFL today, you are sadly mistaken. It is easy to root against him; I can see it. He was previously surly to the media and has been twice accused of doing sexually-related bad things. But you cannot deny that the man wins football games. Not in a Trent Dilfer, let-my-defense-do-all-the-work-while-I-play-average, level. He does things to make his team win. I’m sorry I can’t elaborate more than that. It is just too difficult to put into words the difference Ben makes.
Look at the 3rd down conversions he had two weeks ago to ice the AFC Championship game. What other quarterback has the cajones to throw on 3rd and long, with little time remaining and any mistake you make could cost you the game (If Ben throws an incomplete pass, it is pretty conceivable that the Jets drive down the field. The Jets had all the momentum.)?
The reason I bring Ben up is because he is the reason I believe the Steelers should be the favorites in this game. Ignore the fact that I am an unabashed homer, and I would have thought the Steelers should be favored with Timothy Cook playing quarterback. I just feel confident with Ben at the helm.
I can’t say that about Aaron Rodgers. He’s been playing out of his mind, but Ben does so much more for his team. I am not sure that Aaron Rodgers completes a pass to Antonio Brown on 3rd and 14 with time running down in order to seal the game. I know Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have anyone named Antonio Brown playing wide receiver, but that is besides the point.
Let me give you the five biggest reasons why the Steelers will win this game:
1) Ben Roethlisberger- Seriously? I just wrote 500 words about this.
2) The Cast of Characters- Big Ben’s epiphany this offseason made him realize he needs to be a better team leader. He has become one, and the Steelers have stepped out of their shell and become a group of mentally-unstable oddballs.
Look at Ike Taylor. A cornerback, he is probably the most eccentric guy on the Steelers. He looks like a combination of D.L. Hughley, Chamillionare and the alien from American Dad.
Ike’s classic moment is during the annual team Christmas Carols e-card, where Ike kneeled in the front and smiled the entire time, not even attempting to sing along to basic songs like “Jingle Bells”.
My God, why did they not give Ike his own podium at Media Day? Step up, Goodell. If you are going to give us crappy, injury-addled football seasons from now on, at least give us the joy of seeing Ike have his own podium.
James Harrison threatened retirement this season and regularly rejuvenates himself in a hyperbaric tent.
The MVP’s of Media Day: Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Brown moreso than Sanders, but Sanders was called “My biological son” by Deion Sanders, which is never a good thing. Brown spent the day wearing Lil Wayne sized sunglasses (the one Wayne wears to hide his ever-present glossy eyes) and saying things like “Dallas Up” and “We in the lights”.
3) Brett Keisel’s Beard- Teams are 16-3 in Super Bowls when they have players who have beards over five inches long. That is a scientific fact.
4) Troy Polamalu- AP Defensive Player of the Year. Although it might be a “Lifetime Achievement Award” style deal (but nowhere near as appalling as Pacino winning Best Actor for Scent of a Woman), Polamalu still deserves the award. You can still see the Packers defense functioning without Clay Matthews. The Steelers defense goes into a catatonic coma without Troy.
Troy has done little the past two playoff games, and to the untrained eye, it could seem as if he has had little impact.
But he has been playing over-the-top, in order to stop the big plays down the field, the one that Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco like to thrown. You have to look for Troy to be doing the same thing Sunday. But do not think that he is doing nothing. You’re better than that.
5) The Coaching Advantage- You have to assume that Mike McCarthy will to something awful in terms of clock management at least three times during the game. He is, after all, a top student from the Andy Reid school of coaching. Tomlin has the big-game experience (which should really mean nothing, but McCarthy is such a spaz with the clock it comes into play).
Some of you might have been wondering why my picking games between me and my brothers have stopped. The truth is, I forgot.
To make up for it, me and my brother, Danny, have decided to do some prop bets. Here we go:
Will Christina Aguilera Wear a Cowboy Hat While Singing the National Anthem?
What Color Will the Dumped Gatorade Be?
Me: Red (15-2)
Danny: Orange (3-1)
Who Will Win the Coin Toss:
I’ll put up the rest of them in Part Two of my Super Bowl Preview column, coming out Friday.