Sunday, January 30, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: The real deal

By Mike Batista

So here we are again, in the midst of the two-week buildup to another Steelers Super Bowl. It's nice to be back after a long, barren January last year.

Life has been good for Steelers fans. The Steelers have a chance to win their third Super Bowl in six years. But for all this decorated franchise has accomplished, there is something the Steelers haven't done in 32 years.

With a win over the Packers next Sunday, the Steelers would beat a "real" team in the Super Bowl for the first time since they beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII.

The Cardinals played in Arizona but belong in St. Louis. The Seahawks played in the NFC but belong in the AFC.

Sure, the Cardinals gave the Steelers all they could handle two years ago. But Super Bowl XLIII matched a misplaced franchise with an organization that has been the model of stability.

Like Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett, they just didn't look right together. Wait a minute.

In Super Bowl XL, there was something not quite right about the Seahawks as a Super Bowl opponent because I grew up with the Seahawks as an AFC team and remember a lot of dull Steelers-Seahawks games during the dark days of the 80s.

Even the Rams seemed cartoonish in Super Bowl XIV after an era in which NFL behemoths such as the Steelers, Cowboys, Raiders and Vikings were Super Bowl regulars.

Like the Seahawks and Cardinals a generation later, the Rams made their first Super Bowl appearance when facing the Steelers

The Packers are no Super Bowl debutantes. They won the first two Super Bowls and dominated the 60s the way the Steelers dominated the 70s.

These franchises have national followings that are rooted in their respective decades of dominance. So many people outside of Wisconsin and Western Pennsylvania are fans of the Packers and Steelers today because of what happened in the 60s and 70s.

Fans from the Titletown and Steel Curtain eras had to stick with the Packers and Steelers through a lot of lean years, and they've been rewarded with modern-day championships.

Such loyal souls are a far cry from the crusty retirees of Arizona, the coffee snobs of Seattle and the actor wannabes waiting tables in LA.

Even the team nicknames have a historic value.

The Packers, who were founded in 1919, were sponsored by the Indian Packing Company and later the Acme Packing Company, both of which packaged meat.

After joining the NFL as the Pirates in 1933, the Steelers were renamed in 1940 as a nod to the city's steel industry.

It's fitting that Super Bowl XLV is being played in Dallas, the home of the last "real" team the Steelers beat in the Super Bowl. Even the Cowboys have a name that is easily linked to their home city.

The Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams are all named for animals.

C'mon. What are we, 8?

OK, OK, let me provide my official disclaimer that the opponent doesn't diminish the Steelers' championships. Those Lombardi Trophies on the South Side wouldn't shine any brighter if the Steelers had beaten the '85 Bears.

But this is a cool Super Bowl matchup. The first two dynasties of the Super Bowl era. This pairing looks right. It feels right.

The Steelers and Packers are like the guy and the girl whose mutual friends always thought they'd make a great couple. Finally, they get set up on a date.

Well, maybe that's not the best analogy because we have to figure out which team is the girl. Hopefully that will be resolved when the Steelers make the Packers their bitch.

What I'm trying to say is the Steelers and Packers go together a lot better than Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett.

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