Steelers, Packers arrive in Dallas
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
The big rodeo is in town. It’s called the Super Bowl.
If Monday is a fair indication, this could be a wild week in Big D.
Video cameras and cowboy hats were in order for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers when they arrived six days before they’ll face off for the NFL championship.
With dozens of fans chanting “Go Pack Go,” the Packers witnessed Super Bowl frenzy for the first time in 13 years. Many of the players carried video cameras or aimed their cell phones at the crowd to take pictures before heading to news conferences.
A few of them wore cowboy hats, but none went so far as Steelers veteran receiver Hines Ward. He took the “True Grit” route, decked out in black cowboy hat, black shirt, Texas-sized belt buckle and jeans.
“I’m in Dallas, Texas,” Ward said, smiling as if he’d just won the Super Bowl MVP trophy, something he did in the 2006 game. “I wanted to put on my whole cowboy outfit and enjoy it. No nerves.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger held his mobile phone high, taking photos of the six-deep pack of reporters at his podium.
“Just taking it in stride, enjoying this opportunity regardless of what comes or how it comes,” Roethlisberger said. “Take it all in.”
Taking it all in were the big guys who block for him. They paid tribute to tackle Flozell Adams, who spent a dozen seasons as a Dallas Cowboy before joining this Pittsburgh team, by wearing his No. 76 Michigan State shirt as they deplaned.
“It’s special to bring back the throwbacks, for all the guys to wear them,” Adams said. “They’re all still walking around with them on. ... I’m grateful for it.”
There were plenty of fans in black and gold outside the Steelers’ hotel, some carrying the obligatory Terrible Towels. But they were far outnumbered at the Packers’ hotel in Irving a few hours later when the NFC champions pulled in.
Maybe that has something to do with Pittsburgh making its third Super Bowl appearance in six years. Not that the players are blase about it.
“It’s always exciting for the opportunity to close up the season by playing in the Super Bowl,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t think you ever get tired of this, so take as much video and pictures as you can.”
Clearly, the first day of Super Bowl week was not about blocking blitzers or sidestepping tacklers. Confronting anything more pressurized than answering questions from the media was not a consideration.
“It definitely sets in today, but guys that have been here before, they understand what it’s going to be like,” said linebacker James Farrior. “We just tell the young guys, ‘Just do what we do. Just take it all in. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy this time.’ It’s supposed to be a fun time for everybody this whole week.”
Ward got a kick out of how some teammates who haven’t traveled this far into the postseason handled the trip from Steel City to Big D.
“I think a lot of guys kind of overpacked, really not knowing,” he said. “They were just excited to be here. For a lot of guys, some anxiety. When you get here, you get the police escort and the helicopter following you and all the guys have the cameras and whatnot. It’s still fun to see the younger guys and also fun to see the veteran guys. I still enjoy it.”
With neither team practicing until Wednesday, there’s one more day of frivolity: media day. This should send a jolt — or at least a shudder — through the Packers, who have just three players with Super Bowl experience. Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, both lost in the big game, and John Kuhn was on the 2008 Steelers’ practice squad and watched them win from the sideline.