"When the going gets weird
The weird turn pro."
- Hunter S. Thompson
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And, fairy tales DO come true.
Monday, the Steelers met the press. It wasn't black and gold that a large number of the team was wearing, though, it was green...a replica of Jerome Bettis' Notre Dame jersey.
Jerome Bettis wore a hat and jacket from his hometown Detroit Tigers. He had a broad smile as he said in a quiet voice, "Hello everybody. Welcome to Detroit." Detroit went all out to welcome Bettis; including presenting him with a key to the city.
There was once a Dallas linebacker who questioned Terry Bradshaw's ability to spell cat if he was spotted the c and the t. Bradshaw had all the smarts that were needed. The Steelers won that Super Bowl; Bradshaw collected four rings. How many people remember "Hollywood" Henderson?
This week, a Seattle player spoke about the wonderful story of Jerome Bettis leading into the Super Bowl. How sad that Bettis would be leaving the game without a ring, the Seahawks tight end said. Steelers linebacker Joey Porter didn't take well to the comment. Porter cut through the bullshit. It's not the time to talk about how good the team in the other locker room is. It's time to go to war. If I'm walking down a dark alley, there aren't many people I would want by my side more than Joey Porter.
Jerome Bettis was not a starter for the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a player who came in when the tough yards were needed and got the job done. Have no question or doubt, Jerome Bettis was a LEADER of the team.
Last year as the final seconds of the AFC Championship game wound off the clock, Ben Roethlisberger went to Jerome Bettis. If The Bus came back for one more, Roethlisberger said, he would find a way to take him to the Super Bowl.
Through the worst of times this season, taking their future Hall of Famer home for the Super Bowl was a driving force. It was his 13th year and he'd never been to the dance. Over the past week it was time to live the dream.
It's been 26 years since "The Chief" held up the last of the four Lombardi trophies won as the team of the decade in the 1970's. It has been 10 years since Bill Cowher led his team to the championship game.
Bill Cowher is currently the longest tenured Head Coach in the National Football League. In 14 years under Cowher the Steelers have earned postseason berths nine times. Cowher ranks among the top coaches in leage history for time spent coaching one team and for number of playoff appearances. Unfortunately, discussions of Cowher's career had a "Yeah, but..." attached. He had never won a Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XL removed the "Yeah, but..." from any discussion of Bill Cowher's career. There was a classic moment on the podium after the game. Cowher said I've been waiting a long time to do this...handing the Lombardi Trophy to owner Dan Rooney. When he closes out his coaching career, Cowher will join Rooney as a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
A moment for the ages was Jerome Bettis holding the Lombardi Trophy high. This was his last game. The fairy tale that began on the mean streets of Detroit ended on one of the biggest stages in the world.
Hines Ward became the most prolific pass catcher in Pittsburgh Steelers history in 2005. On this night he would catch five passes for 123 yards and one touchdown...good enough to earn Super Bowl XL's Most Valuable Player award. This brought to mind the performance of another Steelers wide receiver who'd been the game's MVP 30 years earlier.
It will be left for history to write the story of Super Bowl XL. There will be talk of a playbook that could have been crafted by Inspector Gadget. Willie Parker's longest run from scrimmage in Super Bowl history will be played and replayed. Ben Roethlisberger's promise to take Jerome Bettis home if he came back for one more season will be remembered; as will the plays he made to seal the deal.
History will also show that there were three Hall of Famers wearing black and gold on this night when Terrible Towels filled Detroit's Ford Field - Bill Cowher, Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And fairy tales DO come true. Just ask Jerome Bettis.
Photography by Kilroy_60
The Super Bowl XL victory made the Steelers the third team in NFL history, joining the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, to have five Lombardi trophies.