It's been a
while, and maybe that's what makes this Super Bowl so sweet for the Pittsburgh
Steelers and their insanely loyal fans. Here's how long it's been: The last
time the Steelers won the Super Bowl was a year and a half before Ben
Roethlisberger was conceived. The Steelers won their third and fourth titles in
January 1979 and 1980, strafing the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams.
The MVP in both those games, Terry Bradshaw, threw for a total of 627 yards and
Now, finally, one for the thumb. And now, finally, a quarterback to lead
Bradshaw was 26
when he won his first Super Bowl, a complementary player on a team starring a
ravenous defense and a relentless Franco Harris--led running game; it wasn't
until the last two championship runs that the Steelers put the game
consistently in Bradshaw's hands. Roethlisberger is 23--which leads to all
sorts of delicious and dynastic thoughts for Steeler Nation--and Pittsburgh
didn't make its run through these playoffs with Big Ben just handing the ball
off and waiting for the defense to throttle the opposing quarterback. That's
the difference between the first Super Steelers team and today's champions. The
MVP of the 2005 playoffs for Pittsburgh was Roethlisberger. The MVP of the 1974
and '75 teams was ... well, there wasn't a single one, just an amazing
amalgamation of Harris, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann and Bradshaw.
Days before the
Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl, Bradshaw said he thought Roethlisberger
was a fitting addition to the Steelers' pantheon. And if you know Bradshaw,
he's not one to say something just for p.r. value.
you can see in the kid is that all he cares about is winning," Bradshaw
said. "Forget stats. Forget who gets the credit. He understands--as I did,
as I do to this day--that the only thing that matters is winning. That's your
benchmark in this game. The reason I can walk down the street in Pittsburgh and
people say nice things is because I was the quarterback when we won four Super
Bowls. I can see it in Ben: He understands that. And that's why he's a good
quarterback for that team, in that city."
I asked Bradshaw:
Do you think Roethlisberger has much in common with you? He furrowed his brow
for a second.
arms," he said. "Big arms, and not much else. Big guys. We're both
country kids, I guess. That's something. But Ben's doing it so soon. I was not
ready in my second year to do what he's doing. No way.
the arm, the way he plants his feet, the command of that team. He's got it. You
can see it. The players on that team, on that offense, look up to him. They
look to him to make it happen. Actually, the quarterback I compare him with is
not me but Tom Brady. He takes it on his shoulders. He stands tall, hangs in
there, does what he needs to get the job done in that game, whatever it
As much as you
want to celebrate the kid's accomplishments in 2005, it's hard to look at
Roethlisberger, these Steelers, Bill Cowher's hold on the team and the future
and not think dynastic thoughts. Cowher has coached for 14 years, yet at age 48
he doesn't have one of those clocks in his head that tells him he's reaching
the end of the line with the Steelers. Jimmy Johnson said five years is long
enough to coach one team, then players begin to tune you out. John Madden said
10 years was the line of demarcation for a coach. Cowher believes that with how
transient players are today, teams don't stay together long enough for a
majority of players to get sick of the coach. "I wouldn't want to coach
anywhere else," Cowher says.
So think of it.
Ten years more of Cowher. And 10 years more of Roethlisberger. It's enough to
make these passionate fans start counting down the days to training camp.