Showing No Signs of a Hangover

Country-music troubadour and Pittsburgh Steelers fan Hank Williams Jr. once sang that "the hangovers hurt more than they used to." Steelers Nation



Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes running the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII.

The Super Bowl hangover lingered for several agonizing months after the Steelers beat Seattle to claim Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Jerome Bettis, the team's emotional leader, retired after the season. Ben Roethlisberger had perhaps the most famous motorcycle accident in city history in June and then had to have his appendix removed right before the season opener. He struggled through the worst season of his brilliant career. And rumors dogged the team all year that head coach Bill Cowher would step aside as well, which he ultimately did at season's end.

On the field, the Steelers suffered the kinds of thrashings they used to administer to opponents. Jacksonville physically handled them in a 9-0 shutout in week two on "Monday Night Football." The Baltimore Ravens combined to beat the Steelers 58-7 in their two meetings. There were also two three-game losing streaks, as the Steelers finished an unsatisfying 8-and-8. But after winning Super Bowl XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals in February, the Steelers think they can avoid a "Super Bowl hangover" this season.

"I think we know a little bit more what to expect this time," says linebacker James Farrior. "We know the first time we did it we didn't come back and have the great season we expected to have. But this time, I think we'll be a little more focused and pay a little bit more attention to details. We know it's a tough road ahead of us, so we're going to be out here working hard."

The road is tough, and the journey can begin with the weary. The Steelers played 24 games in 2005, including the preseason, regular season and postseason. After the Super Bowl victory in Detroit, there was the parade in Pittsburgh as well as a few parties to celebrate the team's accomplishment. The extended postseason meant that there were already six weeks or so less time to let the bodies heal from the season, and in the afterglow of the championship, perhaps a little less will for some to get themselves back into top shape.

"I think the last time we were a little lax," says nose tackle Casey Hampton of his first visit to the Super Bowl in Detroit. "We kicked it, and [let the whole thing get to us] a little last time, and forgot how we got there."

The Steelers have a large number of key holdovers from the first Super Bowl-winning team, and they think that will help them avoid a letdown this season. "We know what it's going to take," Farrior says, "and all the veteran guys know what we have to put in to make this season another good one."

And younger players like Matt Spaeth plan on following the lead of the veterans. "I'm just going to get with some vets, and learn from them, and ride their coattails," Spaeth says. "They'll learn from their mistakes, and they're going to know what to do and how to handle themselves."

Repeating is tough. Only eight teams have successfully done it, including the Steelers, twice, in the 1970s. Part of the reason lies in the "hangover effect," but part of it is in the expectations heaped upon the defending champ and the desire for other teams to knock them off. "You've got a target on your back," says linebacker LaMarr Woodley. "Teams are out to get you. You want to come in better, because fans are going to expect more, and you should expect more from yourself."

Another reason that repeating is tough is that the pool of competition is so deep. To combat that, the Steelers speak of motivation, the edge that's needed in a sport of such parity that this year's defeated Super Bowl team frequently become next year's champions..

For Hines Ward, the motivation lies in the chance to become known as the best team in the NFL over the course of his career. "I want to win another [Super Bowl]," Ward says. "The [Steelers] team in the '70s - they won four. And I think if we can win another one, we'd be right up there with New England as one of the teams in the dynasty [discussion] since I've been here."

Ward also thinks that Mike Tomlin will help the team keep its motivational edge. "He won't let us have a down year," Ward says. "His expectation level is very high - and it should be."

And for Tomlin, Steelers Nation is part of what keeps him hungry for more success. "The more I get to understand it, the more Steelers Nation drives me," Tomlin said the day after the Steelers' Super Bowl win over Arizona. "I want to give them something to be excited about. I want to perform for them; I want to win for them, because they're that special."

And if the Steelers can't beat the odds this season and win another championship? Well, we can always turn to Hank Williams Jr.'s daddy for a prediction: "There's a tear in my beer," he once famously sang. And there'd be some salty suds in Pittsburgh as well.

 

Rob King's versatility places him in the studio or at the game for FSN Pittsburgh. He brought his enthusiasm for sports to the 'Burgh in 2000 after having spent the previous five years in Syracuse, where he was the sports director at CBS affiliate WTVH and hosted a radio show on WHEN-AM. Before that, Rob spent 21/2 years as a reporter at KPLR-TV in St. Louis and also hosted a radio show on KFNS-AM. He's a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, where he was an all-conference quarterback.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Richard Kohl devoted most of his adult life to caring for homeless large-breed dogs.
10 Things You Might Not Know About The Old Allegheny County Jail

10 Things You Might Not Know About The Old Allegheny County Jail

The former Allegheny County Jail on Second Avenue, Downtown, remains one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic pieces of architecture.
Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

The recognition comes less than month before the release of Keaton's newest film, which is generating some early Oscar buzz.
Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

The course directs runners over taxiways usually reserved for incoming and departing planes.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

After his first taste of big-league ball, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow is ready for his close-up.
Edit Module

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Richard Kohl devoted most of his adult life to caring for homeless large-breed dogs.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Thyme and Place

A Thyme and Place

Old friends Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves reconnect via Facebook and collaborate on a historical cookbook.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

The local pubs that fly the Sharp Edge banner remain a favorite for top-notch beer and tantalizing grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

The Pirates did just enough in the days before the All-Star break to embrace the second half of the season with anticipation if not expectation.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling Sandal are super comfy yet chic.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

Reviews of "Ghostbusters" and "The Infiltrator," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

This Pittsburgh bride brought all the details together for a flawless “Alice in Wonderland”-themed wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

The new, larger location in Squirrel Hill features an expanded selection of handcrafted merchandise.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

The university landed in the top 10 schools for disabled students seeking an online education.

Comments