- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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I give today's Steelers credit: They speak of the old ones as if they were gods. "Hanging out with Mr. [Mel] Blount, seeing Mr. Greene, doing signings with them," says Clark, "I actually become starstruck."
"They repeated in the Super Bowl," says tight end Heath Miller. Repeated twice, I told him. "They did it twice? I can attest to how hard that is—we haven't fared well the years after our Super Bowls."
Defensive end Brett Keisel, he of the big bushy beard: "It's awesome to be around them and to know that we share the same helmet."
I kept wanting a current Steeler to say of the old ones, "We could take 'em." Not that they could.
After the Steelers lost to the Ravens on Nov. 18, Keisel politely told reporters, "It is what it is. They're a good team. We fought hard ... and it just didn't work out the way we wanted it."
I don't know. Maybe Steelers could be that trite in my day. But not to me. I will still root for today's Steelers. I will still shout, "HEEEATH!" when that excellent performer catches a pass. And I will concede this much: If the Steelers' first Super Bowl team were to come back at playing age today, five current Steelers could hold on to their starting jobs: Miller, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, linebacker James Harrison (since they're using four now), safety Troy Polamalu and kicker Shaun Suisham.
The head coach? Before I went to Pittsburgh and watched Mike Tomlin with the media, I would have taken him over Chuck Noll. On TV I've seen Tomlin and Roethlisberger with their arms around each other's shoulders on the sideline, following the game together, even when they're down a few points—a much better-looking relationship than Noll's with Terry Bradshaw. But in Pittsburgh I watched Tomlin with the guys who cover the team regularly.
"Are you confident Ben will play again this year?" a local reporter asked. Here is how Noll might have responded, with asperity: "I'm confident that question will be asked again before it is answerable."
Here is how Tomlin answered it, in a downright contemptuous tone: "Next question."
I'm thinking that if Mike is as cool as he seems to be, he should be able to play with reporters a little. Reporters are going to ask annoying questions, like kids on a car trip: "Are we there yet? When will we be there?" That's their job. Those are the questions their readers are asking.