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Steelers Fans, Patience Is A Virtue

This is just a short thought with no real coherency, but as I've said before, I'm not a journalist, so I have no obligations to make each and every piece organized and researched.

The subject of this random diatribe is how incredibly hard it is to win in the National Football League.

Without getting in too deep here, let's just remember the past 35-40 years in this league. In the 70s the Steelers, the Cowboys, the Vikings, and the Dolphins accounted for 14 of the 20 SB appearances (10 AFC, 10 NFC). In the 80s, the field was a bit more open, but there were still two repeat SB winners (SF and Washington), while the Broncos appeared in 3 SBs that decade. The 90s were dominated by the Cowboys and Bills, and now we have NE doing dynastic things on the field, and the Colts threatening to do the same while Manning is still playing.

Moral of the story? It's tough to build an elite-level franchise, and those that do usually stay at or near the top of the mountain for awhile once they're there. For now, we have the Colts and Pats at the top, and frankly it will probably remain that way for the next five years.  Those teams that do compete for SBs usually have a remarkable QB and/or Hall-of-Fame caliber players at critical positions on the field that stay at the top of their games for prolonged periods of time. It's very, very hard to compete at the highest level in this league with merely a 'solid' team across the board. You need something exceptional - like the Ravens defense in '00, the Steel Curtain in the 70s, or John Elway in '98 or '99 - to win a Lombardi Trophy.

There are the occasional unexpected Super Bowl runs like ours in '05, but from the look of it, that's a rare exception.

We've been treated to a SB in the past three years. We've been in the AFC Championship game 6 times in the past 12 years, and we've avoided any prolonged stretches of futility despite the constant overhaul of rosters since the Collective Bargaining Agreement of '93 that ushered in the era of Free Agency to professional football.

We're a spoiled fanbase with high expectations. We follow the team loyally and rabidly, and we rightfully expect a good product to be put on the field. It's been a symbiotic relationship between the organization and the fanbase by all accounts, with no reason at all for either side to feel slighted by the other.

While it may seem we're light-years away from NE and perhaps even Indy, the reality is we too have an incredible QB and special talent at several critical positions on the field. The AFC will be a minefield for the remainder of the decade, but so long as the Rooneys and Kevin Colbert make sound decisions to improve our football team, especially in the next five years when Big Ben should be in his absolute prime, I will be content with our team and confident that we'll at least have multiple opportunities to do something special like we did in '05. The tempation is to get frustrated if we're not able to reach the ridiculously high bar that NE and IND are setting right now, but that bar is being set by two once-in-a-lifetime QBs in Manning and Brady.

Perhaps this talk is more for me than any of you. Writing about this team nearly 365 days a year had me thinking yesterday: man, I'm going to be in for a lot of heartache in the future, because there's only really one team a year that feels good about itself once the final second of the season has ticked off the clock - the SB Champion. Without the proper perspective, that's a lot of potential agony.

Steelers Nation, be patient. Our ship will sail again.