Where the Intangible Becomes Tangible

Make no mistake.  The New York Jets are an incredibly talented football team which is well coached.  The outcome of Sunday's game is not a guaranteed trip to Dallas for our Steelers.  But when two well matched teams battle for all the marbles the intangibles, those things you can't actually put your finger on and touch, make a huge difference in a game of inches.  Like many other marks in football, our 2010/11 Steelers take the intangibles to a whole new level.

I don't propose to cover them exhaustively, but what is intangible for most football clubs and for most football teams is very tangible for our Steelers.

I read today that Jets coach Rex Ryan said "They've had six Super Bowl trophies.   If they want to put them on the field, we will play them, too."
I bet you'd like to be able to do that Rex, but you're going to need to beat the organization, the team and the fans that won those trophies - on their home field!

While Ryan and the Jets are just now coming to the realization of facing what won those trophies, there's a team of men who faced the intimidation of the legacy of the first four every day, who went out and won 2 more for themselves.  Day in and day out, current team leaders like Hines Ward had to battle the expectations of those first 4.  And you know what?  They won!

A lot has been said about experience.  Our Steelers organization has a depth of championship experience that few organizations have ever dreamed of.  And that becomes tangible in rookies like Maurkice Pouncey, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.  Don't believe me, go ask Ladarius Webb and the Ravens - - -  wherever you find pro football players watching the playoffs.

Just a note about coaching experience.  Dick LeBeau has more years of experience on his own than most NFL coaching staffs have combined!  And while Coach Tomlin is one of the youngest head coaches in the NFL, he is a student of football history, who I think is peerless.

You'll find a lot of articles and posts about experienced players on our Steelers, but I want to say a word about experience in big games most organizations are unaware of.  Our Steelers are not a young team.  Many of our players who have 2 championship rings know all too well that opportunities like the one that arrives Sunday are few and far between.  Some of them were there when getting Jerome Bettis the ring he earned before he was gone was thought to be a lost cause in 2004.  The difference between being good enough and actually hoisting the trophy is amazingly thin and not at all fair.  You don't let these chances get by you, or your team mates. 

Last, but not at all least, through good luck (and good play by the Jets!) our fans have the opportunity to be a part of this Stairway to 7 climb.  And like the organization playing, there is 40 years of discriminating attendance experience for these fans.  I read somewhere that the crowd was too quiet last Sunday, and that maybe this was because Steeler fans are spoiled (or lazy).  Here's what I saw and heard.  In the third quarter with the Defense on the field, the Steeler fans did what they have been doing since the early 70's.  They got loud and intimidating!  Llike it has so many times before in playoff games at the confluence of the Three Rivers, the emotion and noise of the Steeler fans inspired the Steeler Defense to turn it up to eleven and shut down the opposing team.

Rex, you may want to play trophies to get to the Super Bowl, but you are going to face the Juggernaut which is our 2010/11 Pittsburgh Steelers, and you're going to face the fans at Heinz Field and you're going to face the ghost of Myron Cope and the Terrible Towel, and you're going to face the Divine Intervention of our Chief.

It's okay to be scared Rex.  What you and your team face IS scary.  Like those inanimate trophies you speak of, the power of the Pittsburgh Steelers to win is very real and Tangible.

Reminisce and enjoy -

Go Steelers!

The date of Sunday's game, January 23rd, is Myron Cope's birthday.  If Myron were still with us he would be 82. 
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