Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:57

Steelers, Packers Weather Age Well With Super Bowl Trip To Dallas Dome

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Ed Staton--Louisiana SportsThis year's Super Bowl will be old school:  Packers vs. Steelers.

In an era of dizzying X-and-O game plans (but we know Xs and Os don't win games, the Johnny and Joe’s do), climate-controlled stadiums and pyrotechnic halftime shows, what could be better than this matchup if the Saints aren't repeating?

These two franchises conjure images of bruised bodies and blue toes (Jim Taylor running through defenses). Two franchises that are like running , banging, grunting history books, one born in 1919, the other in 1933.

One franchise is owned by the Rooney family, the other by 111,968 stockholders. Together, they've combined for 18 league championships, 44 Hall of Famers and two fan bases that unofficially hold all records for beer consumption.

Cut to the grainy film and the voices of Ray Scott (Packers play-by-play announcer who called the first Super Bowl and made 32 errors) and NFL Films voice John Facenda. Green Bay and Pittsburgh will play in the Super Bowl just under two weeks. The only unfortunate thing is it will take place in Jerry's World in Arlington, Tex., a $1.3 billion football stadium which has a retractable roof and a thermostat and a blur of martini bars.

Some frozen field in the mountains of Pennsylvania or in the hills of Wisconsin with wooden bleachers and a line of kegs would be more appropriate.

The Packers defeated the Bears 21-14 for the NFC championship. The Steelers, after a late-game mini-meltdown, held on to beat the Jets 24-19 for the AFC title. Although these are two of the most successful franchises in NFL history, it will be the first time they'll meet for the NFL championship.

You may not think of this team as a "Green Bay" team. The Packers two biggest plays of the day: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers' tackle of the Bears' Brian Urlacher at midfield following a third-quarter interception, which probably saved a touchdown; a fourth-quarter interception by the nose tackle B. J. Raji, whose 337 pounds of thundering blubber shook the earth (where were the seismographs for measurements?) and 18-yard return for a touchdown that made it 21-7.

Rodgers was lucky he didn't suffer a dislocated elbow with the arm-tackle of Urlacher. I'm not saying Raji is fat, but when he sits down in a bathtub, the water in the toilet rises. You could take his shoe off and use it for an umbrella holder.

Rodgers went to Cal-Berkeley, where Scott Fujita and Bobby Hebert's daughter went. Not Packers quarterbacks.

One year after two the first Super Bowl between two dome stadium teams, this year's
finale will be played between two outdoor teams that have dealt with the elements. Outdoor teams from cold-weather cities generally have overcome more adversity than indoor teams. The Packers-Steelers matchup presents a great Super Bowl for the league. But it comes with a catch for the league office. Lost is a brash, up-and-coming team from the New York market that could have driven the hype for this one even higher.

Six years ago the Patriots came to Pittsburgh and stole a ticket to the biggest stage in sports. Since that game, the Steelers are 9-1 in postseason.

It's an amazing feat. They missed the playoffs twice since 2005, but when they qualify for the postseason, the Steelers make it count. The Steelers will now play in their third Super Bowl in six years, and the Steelers have a chance to convert Sixburgh to something catchy with "seven" worked into the title. Or maybe they should just call the place "Seven."

Speaking of seven, the guy who wears that number in Pittsburgh has had an interesting year.

Love him or hate him, Ben Roethlisberger already has a solid claim for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. There's only one retired quarterback with two Super Bowl rings who has yet to make it to Canton: Jim Plunkett.

Roethlisberger could cement his immortality with a third Super Bowl win.

Offense got the Packers to the playoffs, but defense got them to the Super Bowl. Defense has always been the engine that drives the Steelers.

It should be a perfect old-school theater.


Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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