Knowing the Steelers Way: A Unique Intangible
July 28, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown (far left) and Steelers receiver Ryan Clark (second from right) have a heated discussion as Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley (left center) and cornerback Ike Taylor (24) intervene during training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport
In the NFL, everything about the league is constantly changing. Teams are always changing their rosters, front office, and coaching staffs. One constant in the NFL is the Steelers way. Back in 1933, Art Rooney himself set a precedent for the next 80 plus years on how to run a winning organization in professional football. You will hear almost all new Steelers talk about the Steelers being “one of the most storied franchise in the NFL.” Six Lombardi trophies later, the Steelers continue their winning ways. Now of course they aren’t always going to the super bowl, but they have not had a losing season since 2003.
Now almost all teams have their spurts, but it makes you wonder, what makes a team successful for decades apon decades?
Winning 6 Super Bowls takes not only talent, but also a winning mentality. Ever since Franco Harris caught “the Immaculate Reception” the Steelers winning mentality has never ceased. You might ask yourself, how do they keep this winning mentality going 40 years?
Paying it forward is what has made the Steelers as successful as they have been. It is no mistake the Steelers keep on continuing to win. Chuck Noll knew this, as well as Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin. They all know that it is important to continue passing the Steelers way on through the coaching staff, the front office, and the players. Mike Tomlin has demonstrated several times the importance that he sees in passing on the Steelers way.
Last year, Tomlin stressed one point for why he hired Todd Haley as his new offensive coordinator:
"I was really impressed by his genuine love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.That was a unique element of it for me. One that I have been attracted to in the past to be quite honest with you. I will always be interested in guys who know the what the standard of the Pittsburgh Steelers is all about."
If this doesn’t show you how much Mike Tomlin values having Pittsburgh guys on the team, then I am not sure what will. Todd Haley grew up watching his father, Dick Haley, run the Steelers for several years. To have your offensive coordinator genuinely know what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, that is a big plus.
Chuck Noll brought Tony Dungy back to coach. Mean Joe Greene was also in and out of the Steelers. Greene retired just yesterday from the Steelers front office at the age of 66. If you look at the Steelers current staff, defensive backs coach Carnell Lake was a former all-pro defensive back for the Steelers. Richard Mann, WR coach, is a Pittsburgh native. New special teams coach Danny Smith also grew up in the Pittsburgh area. Defensive assistant Jerry Olsavsky played linebacker for the Steelers in the 90’s.
Mar 14, 2012; Norman, OK, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers scout Joe Greene watches the action during the Oklahoma pro day at Everest Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Not only do the Steelers have coaches that know the Steelers way, they also have several players. Most recently, back in the 2012 draft, Mike Adams was taken completely of the Steelers draft board. He had gotten himself into trouble in college, but he went to the Steelers brass himself and told them how much he wanted to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. I’m sure the Steelers were impressed by this, because they ended up drafting him with their second round pick in the draft. Mike Adams knows the Steelers way as he grew up a big fan of the black-and-gold.
Several players in the last couple of drafts have come from Steelers families, Cam Heyward and Le’Veon Bell are only two of a large group.
About 2 months ago, the Steelers decided to lower the age of the quarterback room. Bruce Gradkowski was their first free agent pickup of the offseason. If you had a chance to see one of his many interviews, you would notice how much he was elated to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. Being a Steelers fan since a child, Gradkowski acted like he was on cloud-9 whenever he talked about his new team.
One might ask, what makes the Steelers a constant in the talk of the best when you only have a handful of individuals who know the Steelers way? The Steelers way rubs off on others as members of Steeler Nation can attest. These players and coaches pass this winning mentality on to others, to the point that it becomes a chain reaction. Players that understand the mentality pass this on to young players, and these young players will eventually pass it on to more young players.
In the picture at the top, you will see Todd Haley separating Antonio Brown and Ryan Clark during a dispute they were having during practice. A lot of coaches would just let the players work things out, but Todd Haley knows that that type of attitude is not tolerated by the Steelers as a team. Most coaches wouldn’t step in during a fight like that, but most coaches don’t understand what it takes to win 6 Super bowls. Then again, most teams aren’t the Steelers.
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