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The Steelers Epitomize Perfection.

By Zach Keeney
April 21, 2012

 

The NFL is made up of 32 total teams. Some of these franchises are good, while some are not so. But certain franchises, like all things in competition, rise to the very top and the Pittsburgh Steelers epitomize what it looks like to be at the top.

 

In every conceivable way the Pittsburgh Steelers shine. From ownership, through management, past the players, and to the souls of Steeler Nation there is a way that things are expected to be done, there is a standard. This standard isn’t known by any specific term, there is no manual on how to meet it, it just is, it has no name beyond “The Standard” yet it is a guide to anyone with any standing or love for the franchise. The mere fact that an ideal, which has been instilled into the mindsets of all those with relation, is so prevalent shows the consistency and dedication to perfection that screams Pittsburgh.

 

With The Standard comes a few obvious expectations, the main being to win, and since the beginning of the Super Bowl Era that is what the Steelers have done. Since the start of the super bowl era the Steelers have logged 28 winning seasons, with nine or more wins, including six Super Bowl victories in eight appearances, not to mention countless playoff berths and wins.

 

The simple act of winning barely scratches the top of what sets Pittsburgh apart from the NFL pack, however. To win as consistently as Pittsburgh does many cogs in the franchise machine must move and work correctly to see these results and in few franchises does it click like it does for the Steel Brigade. One of the most essential factors to consistent winning is the selection and development of players. The selection, i.e. the draft, is Pittsburgh’s bread and butter. Unlike some other teams the Steelers focus undeniably on getting production from the draft, building their team through the draft rather than free agency. This requires a quality coaching staff and general manager to put a myriad of hours into research of each and every player they feel has potential to help the team maintain the standard.

 

Once selected these players are molded into Steeler s. They are taught what it means the play in Pittsburgh through extremely powerful veteran leadership as well has molded into the cream of the crop by outstanding coaching staffs. Never overlooking an aspect of perfection the ownership of the Steelers makes sure that when a coach is selected he is the correct man for the lofty job. In the Super Bowl Era the Steelers have had Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and the current Mike Tomlin, let me allow you to avoid the math; that is three coaches in forty plus years’ time. When a coach is selected for Pittsburgh he embodies the standard and leads the team like no other coach can lead setting the franchise apart.

 

In many of the ‘lesser’ franchises you see shameful things: dysfunctional locker rooms, loud mouthed coaches, violence or crime from players, and overall buffoonery. However, again holding itself above the rest, you will never see unrest in the locker room of the Steelers, and if you do it will not be for long. One reason of this is that the value of good character players has not been, and will never be, lost on the ownership and management of the Steelers. In the draft they select quality character players with tremendous work ethics that help them stay out of trouble and on the field as well as flourish in the system. Secondly, the expectation on and off the field as a Steeler is to maintain professionalism, in winning and losing, on and off the field, it is mandated that actions are taken to not deface the franchise. Win gracefully, lose gracefully, stay out of trouble, assist in the community, and if ever a player does not meet this expectation, he is ejected and expelled from the organization. Take for Santonio Holmes for instance. An outrageously talented player, a first round pick, yet his on and off the field actions led him to be traded from the Steelers, for very little at that, a mere fifth round draft pick. This move by the organization exemplifies that if a player does not comply with the standard he will not be kept as a distraction in the locker room. And though he is a great player we currently see him causing disruptions in a certain New York locker room.

 

The Steelers are also a perfect fit as far as their location: Pittsburgh. Proclaimed a blue collar city, the land of steel mill workers and the three rivers, if ever there was a place for hard-nosed, gut busting defense, and a historically pounding offense to be played Pittsburgh is the place. Founded in 1933 the Steelers have for 80 years now been a staple in the Pittsburgh community emulating what it means to be a part of the city of Pittsburgh. The players represent the rough never-give-up blue collar people and for this the people idealize the players. This cycle creates what is known as Steeler Nation, and anyone who is a part of Steeler Nation can recognize the power and connection that bonds them to the team. The connection Steeler Nation feels to its team is unlike any other that other fans have for their teams. This connection raises the plane to another level for the fans and the team alike. The Steelers play for Steeler Nation as much as Steeler Nation screams for their Steelers. Any given Sunday, Monday, or Thursday for an away Steelers game you could walk into the stadium and wonder how the Steelers could possibly have a home game in Arizona. This insane as well as insanely large fan base elevates the Steelers franchise to even further heights above the rest of the NFL.

 

Last but certainly not least the Steelers maintain something that no other NFL franchise comes close to: A family environment. The ownership, the Rooney Family, knows that football is a business, but the Rooney Family makes sure that though it is a business everyone in the organization and Steeler Nation alike are treated like family. Former players are not simply discarded. Fans are not disrespected but deeply and earnestly cared for. And current players and coaches aren’t treated like property but rather like intricate family members all serving each a role that is as important as the one before. This feel that the Rooney’s have created over nearly a century is like none other in the NFL, it is as unique as its fan base, as unique as its drafting strength and emphasis on coaching, it is as unmatched as its professionalism. However it remains part of The Standard, which is what sets the Pittsburgh Steelers above all the rest in the NFL.