‘Middle America’ teams a perfect match

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

By Mark Craig
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Yippee!!! There couldnít be a better Super Bowl XLV matchup for Jerry Jonesí Egodome in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 6.
Steelers vs. Packers. Move over, Americaís Team. Here come Middle Americaís Teams.
Move over, Jerry. Here comes anti-Jerry Dan Rooney and Green Bayís 110,000 shareholders.
Move over, Big D. Here comes Little GB and Western, Pa. Move over, Big Oil. Here come meatpackers and steelworkers with their brats and Iron City 36-packs.
Here come the Packers and their NFL-record 12 championships; and the Steelers and their NFL-record six Super Bowl rings. By the way, Pittsburgh has tied the Cowboys for most Super Bowl appearances (eight) and can move ahead of Dallas and into first place in all-time playoff victories with 34.
Remember when Dallas was a favorite to not only host but play in this game? Well, the Cowboysí flop-a-roo can be blamed in part on Jones, the owner, refusing to give up as general manager. Meanwhile, the Packersí and Steelersí success can be traced in large part to the fact that Green Bayís Ted Thompson and Pittsburghís Kevin Colbert are the NFLís two best general managers. One-two, two-one. Take your pick.
The Cowboys were supposed to be the best defensive team in the league this year. But here come the Steelers and Packers giving us a Super Bowl between the No. 1 scoring defense (Pittsburgh, 14.5 points per game) and the No. 2 scoring defense (Green Bay, 15.0). The Steelers and Packers also ranked 1-2 in sacks (48 to 47), which is no coincidence since Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers is a former Steelers defensive coordinator who shares the same philosophy as current Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Offensively, the Cowboys pay Tony Romo a ton of money because they think heís a franchise quarterback. The Steelers pay Ben Roethlisberger a ton of money because they know heís a franchise quarterback. Heís 28 years old and owns two Super Bowl rings and a 10-2 postseason record.
Meanwhile, the Packers did more than pay Aaron Rodgers a ton of money. They staked the careers of Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy that this 27-year-old is better than Brett Favre. So far, Rodgers is better than old Brett Favre. Eventually, heíll be better than young Brett Favre, too.
Move over, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Here comes one team with no cheerleaders (Pittsburgh) and one with the most basic fan chant in sports history: ěGo, Pack, Go!î Of course, Pittsburgh fans only need seven words: ěHere we go, Steelers, here we go!î
Good-bye, silver and blue. Hello, gold. Lots of gold in the form of Cheeseheads and Terrible Towels.
Looking for a ticket? Better take out a loan because no fans travel better than Steelers fans. Except Packers fans.
ěI know our fans are going to turn out,î Steelers receiver Hines Ward said after Pittsburgh beat the Jets 24-19 in Sundayís AFC Championship Game. ěWhatever a ticket costs, theyíre going to get their hands on them.î
While the Steelers completed their Super Bowl run by bouncing the Jets and their bluster on Sunday, the Packers started their stretch of five elimination games by routing the Big Appleís other team, the Giants, in Week 16.
ěThis was the path that was chosen for us, and it has forged one hell of a football team,î McCarthy said after the Packersí 21-14 victory over the Bears in Sundayís NFC Championship Game in Chicago. ěWe always thought we were a very good football team. Now we have a chance to claim greatness and bring the Lombardi Trophy home.î
Ironically, to do that, Green Bay needs to beat the team McCarthy grew up rooting for in Western, Pa. Ah, just another storyline in a great matchup.
So let the pregame hype begin. Perhaps Jerry can start things off by yelling:
ěHow ëbout them Packers and Steelers!î