Art Rooney II: 'Fair to say Baltimore is (Steelers) biggest rival right now'

Matt Sullivan

Steelers president Art Rooney II admitted Baltimore is the Steelers' bigger rival, but points out new chapters of long-standing rivalries are written over games like Sunday's.

Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland interviewed Steelers president Art Rooney II leading into the Steelers at Browns game Sunday.

Rooney spoke on what most people would find somewhere in the Land of the Obvious.

"Certainly there are a lot of our fans who still consider Cleveland to be a big rivalry," Rooney told Grossi. "But there’s no doubt, because of the competition we’ve had with Baltimore and the fact we’ve had a lot of meaningful games with them, that has created a rivalry with them.

"It’s probably fair to say that’s our biggest rival right now."

The old school might take an issue with that. The realist suggests the outcomes of these games have been so one-sided over the last 14 years, it's hard to call it a rivalry based on anything other than proximity and frequency.

Sunday marks what could be argued as the first time these teams have played with playoff implications on the line since 2007. That in and of itself should be enough to toss the past aside and prepare for a battle.

It appears Rooney is thinking along the same lines.

"I think it is getting healthier," he said. "I think it’s fair to say it’s not what it once was. But I think that’s a function of the two teams for the past few years had their ups and downs. I think this game (on Sunday), there’s a lot on the line for both teams. Both teams are in the hunt. That’s really what it takes, I think, for a rivalry to get some spark. That’s what is needed, probably."

Regular season playoff games have a way of fueling the smoldering embers of a rivalry. It wouldn't be surprising if a spark or two fired up from Sunday's game, setting up a do-or-die Week 17 game in Pittsburgh.

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