The Super Bowl is finally here, and the Chiefs and the 49ers figure to present fans of the NFL (and Taylor Smith) with a great game. Unfortunately, as a Steelers fan, there hasn’t been a lot of Super Bowl excitement in recent years. With the NFL boasting talented teams each year in this big game, I can’t help but feel somber heading into this Super Bowl weekend.
The Steelers are rightfully seen as one of the most successful franchises in the NFL. Their six Super Bowl wins are tied for the most with the Patriots, and this team has seemingly been one of the league's standard bearers since the turnaround in the 70s. However, recent seasons have been a challenge for this team, and one could argue that the Steelers are in their worst Super Bowl drought in franchise history.
Are we rivaling the Steelers in the 80s?
After the dominance of the 70s, the Steelers franchise regressed in the 80s. This was in large part due to the excess of talent that retired from the team. That said, there were still regularly competitive seasons for this team. While they went 16 years between Super Bowl appearances, they still made the playoffs seven times in that span with two conference championship appearances.
Currently, the Steelers are in a 13-season Super Bowl drought. In that time, they have made seven playoff appearances and one trip to the conference championship game. On paper, that is better than the 80s, but digging deeper it is a different story.
The post-dynasty Steelers were led by the likes of Mark Malone, Bubby Brister, and Neil O’Donnell. The current stretch was mostly occupied by Ben Roethlisberger. On top of this, you had the famous stretch of games with the “Killer Bs” as the Steelers offense boasted arguably the best receiver and running back in the league. There is nothing to show for this in the trophy case though.
It isn't like this team is up and coming right now either. The quarterback room is a mess and the team seems to be content playing .500 football every season. This team hasn't won a playoff game since 2017. Heck, they are stumbling into the postseason whenever they luck themselves into the playoffs.
To be fair, I was not alive in the 80s, so I didn’t get to witness the team then, but I remember the disappointment and underachievement of the recent Steelers teams. One could argue that the Patriots surpassed the Steelers given the immense strength of their dynasty in the 2000s. The Chiefs are on the same track, as they haven’t missed, at worst, a conference championship game since 2018.
I’ve written a few times in recent months about the Steelers standard, and I feel like it isn’t what it once was. No team is going to dominate forever, but Pittsburgh is currently in its second-worst stretch of postseason performances in history. While I plan on relaxing on Sunday with the big game on, I can’t help but feel almost sad about the state of my team and where they used to be.