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

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Two years after Chuck Noll’s death, University of Pittsburgh Press prepares to publish the first definitive biography of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach. Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to share an interview with author Michael MacCambridge and an exclusive excerpt of “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” scheduled for release in October.
The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

Renovation is under way at nearly all of our area colleges and universities. For students heading back to school this fall — and their parents — we offer this crash course on the highlights of these projects and their projected benefits.
Fall Fashion: In the Black

Fall Fashion: In the Black

The little black dress, and shirt, and pants, never go out of style. Add mystery to your wardrobe with these easy-to-accent autumn staples.
Apteka: A Taste of Home

Apteka: A Taste of Home

Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski bring top-notch vegan, eastern European cuisine to Bloomfield.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has been lobbying for more direct service from Pittsburgh to the West Coast.
Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

The online grocery delivery service opened this week, promising delivery in 45 minutes or less to selected neighborhoods.
Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

In its 225th year, the reference book on weather suggests we tune up our snow-removal equipment.
Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

The Ross native finished third on NBC's “The Voice” in December of 2014.

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

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Two years after Chuck Noll’s death, University of Pittsburgh Press prepares to publish the first definitive biography of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach. Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to share an interview with author Michael MacCambridge and an exclusive excerpt of “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” scheduled for release in October.
The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

Renovation is under way at nearly all of our area colleges and universities. For students heading back to school this fall — and their parents — we offer this crash course on the highlights of these projects and their projected benefits.
Fall Fashion: In the Black

Fall Fashion: In the Black

The little black dress, and shirt, and pants, never go out of style. Add mystery to your wardrobe with these easy-to-accent autumn staples.
Apteka: A Taste of Home

Apteka: A Taste of Home

Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski bring top-notch vegan, eastern European cuisine to Bloomfield.
Talk of The Tahn: City of Beer

Talk of The Tahn: City of Beer

There are plans afoot for a international museum of beer to be built and staffed right here in Pittsburgh.
Pitt vs Penn State: Resumption of Hostilities

Pitt vs Penn State: Resumption of Hostilities

After an extended hiatus, the storied rivalry between the Pitt Panthers and Penn State Nittany Lions returns in September to Heinz Field.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

Southwest Airlines Planning More Flights from Pittsburgh

The Allegheny County Airport Authority has been lobbying for more direct service from Pittsburgh to the West Coast.

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
Where to Go at the Three Day Blow

Where to Go at the Three Day Blow

Our dining critic (and Three Day Blow organizing committee member) has a roundup of some open to the public events.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

These comic book shops offer more than just your casual Batman or Spider-Man choices.

Comments


New Industry Public House Location Up to Par

New Industry Public House Location Up to Par

If you’re in need of a dining option that’s not a national chain while visiting the Robinson area, this is one to keep in mind.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

The Steelers running back emphasized his latest suspension resulted from missed random drug tests, and not a relapse into the marijuana-induced haze that got him jammed up last season. But if you lack the maturity to grasp the consequences of your actions (or, in this case, inactions), does it really matter?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Straight out of Canada, the custom menswear store opens its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh.

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.
'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

Reviews of "Hands of Stone" and "Don't Breathe," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

Want even more Real Pittsburgh Weddings? We'll be bringing them to you throughout the fall, beginning with this lovely and lucky couple.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

The store famous for carrying storage and organizational products is set to open at the revamped Block Northway in Ross Township.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

A fall visitation day and a Saturday information session aim to allow interested students a look into life at the university.

Comments