Steel is blast-furnace tough. Steel is durable. Steel is heavy-duty. Steel is strong. Steel is iron.
Steel is the Pittsburgh football team.
No other NFL team embodies the city in which it plays, and the people it plays for, as well as the Steelers do. In hard times, think hard-hitting, hard-nosed, hard-charging, hard-headed. Think Steelers.
Terrible Towel, Steel Curtain, bitter cold, Mean Joe Greene, The Bus, Franco, the Immaculate Reception, Big Ben, steel-jawed Bill Cowher, Jack Lambert.
Pittsburgh will win an NFL-record sixth Super Bowl today and truly be America's Team.
Not the dysfunctional Cowboys or the ex-"dynasty" Patriots or Joe Montana's 49ers or the "Team of the Decades" Raiders, and certainly not the Broncos, last decade's news.
The Steelers have played in the Super Bowl in the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s. There have been great defenses, great quarterbacks, great catches, great Super Bowls against the Cowboys and great finishes.
And a not-so-great movie, "Black Sunday," which was filmed at a Super Bowl and featured a blimp implanted with a bomb by terrorists (long before there was a real terrorist threat) landing on the field during a Steelers-Cowboys title game.
Pittsburgh joined the NFL on July 8, 1933, when a horse player named Art Rooney put up a few thousand dollars and put all his proceeds from tickets sales in a cigar box. The team was originally known as the Pirates, like the baseball team.
But, in 1940, the team became the Steelers, as it should. Pittsburgh, at the confluence of three rivers, was a hard-driving steel town. The Steelers adopted the emblem, plastered on just one side of the helmet, of United States Steel.
In the 1970s the steel mills began to shut down, and tens of thousands of steel workers were laid off, and Pittsburgh took a mighty blow.
When a dying city needed a break, a hope, a light, the Steelers came through, winning the Super Bowl on Jan.
12, 1975. And they kept winning — four Super Bowls (IX, X, XIII, XIV) in six seasons.
Pittsburgh pulled through and pushed up, shifting to new service industries.
According to Dan Rooney, who took over as owner from his father and has passed the chief executive's role to his son Art Rooney II, NFL Films once wanted to name the Steelers "America's Team." But Rooney replied: "No, we're just Pittsburgh's team."
Terry Bradshaw has long gone to TV; 16 former players and coaches have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and too many Steelers greats have passed on too early.
But the next generation of Steelers won the Super Bowl three years ago, and the Steelers of Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Hines Ward are back, just when the entire country, not just Pittsburgh, needs a little push and a big pull.
President Barack Obama has admitted openly in the past week that he is cheering for the Steelers.
The Steelers are hard bark, firm bite.
The Arizona Cardinals are a good team and a nice story, but they are a one-trick redbird.
The Steelers represent what's right about the NFL, what's right about Pittsburgh, what's right about America. They work hard; they play hard; they win in mud, snow and rain. "We're not flashy. We carry a lunch bucket, just like everybody else," Ward says. They've got a tough-love young coach, a rock-solid quarterback and a defense that's first in pass defense, second in run defense. They zone blitz and
force turnovers and strike hard.
The Steelers have been selected the most popular local pro team in the major sports leagues. They've sold out every game since 1972.
The Steelers defense is anchored on the line by Aaron Smith, of Colorado Springs and the University of Northern Colorado; at linebacker by Harrison, the NFL's defensive player of the year; and in the secondary by Polamalu, the dynamic Samoan-American safety.
The Super Bowl will be low-scoring, and it will be fun to watch, and the Cardinals will be hanging around, and the outcome will be decided late, but the Steelers will win 24-17.
The Steelers will be world champions when the game is over. They are the men of Steel.