DETROIT — The Seahawks were fortunate to arrive in Detroit one day ahead of the Steelers. It gave them an extra few hours to get used to seeing so much black and gold in the Super Bowl city.
Even though the Lions’ home jersey is a shade of blue close to what the Seahawks wear, the color of choice this week appears to have a Pittsburgh hue. At the airport, in the shopping malls, in Greektown, wherever. The only non-Lions NFL apparel seems to sport the names Bettis and Roethlisberger.
That doesn’t bother league MVP Shaun Alexander, whose best friend doesn’t root for the Seahawks. He roots for, you guessed it, the Steelers.
“He is definitely coming,” Alexander said. “He’ll be there, probably wearing a Pittsburgh jersey, but that’s OK.”
“He asked me for 10 tickets. I said, ’Why do I want to give you 10 tickets and you’ll bring all Steelers fans?’”
Alexander’s buddy won’t be alone. It takes just a bit longer to drive from Pittsburgh to Detroit as it does to fly from Seattle, and at considerably lower prices, the rising price of fuel notwithstanding.
Considering that the Steelers (14-5) have won three straight road games in the playoffs, in such difficult venues as Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver, any sort of home-field edge in the Super Bowl might not matter. Coach Bill Cowher has furthered that mind-set by insisting his AFC champions will wear white on Sunday.
But Cowher surely knows Motown will resemble Steeltown by next weekend when Steelers fans arrive in droves. The last time Pittsburgh made the Super Bowl, 10 years ago, the Phoenix area was loaded with Pittsburgh supporters. And that was against Dallas. You know, America’s Team.
An argument could be made that the Steelers have usurped that nickname, or at least claimed a portion of it.
It sure seems that way with all the phone calls the players have been fielding.
“They are coming from everywhere,” running back Willie Parker said. “They are crawling from under the rocks. They are coming out of the woods. I am like, ’How did you get my number?’ I have to change my number again.”
Added defensive end Brett Keisel: “People have come out of the woodwork. It wasn’t surprising. People that you knew in college and high school that think they had some sort of impact on your life call you up and say, ‘It’s me, remember what I did for you, can you get me tickets?’ You just have to take care of your family and cut it off.”
Cutting off the extra attention and hype of Super Bowl week is almost as big a challenge for the players as performing on Super Sunday. While only a handful of Seahawks (15-3) have been this far— with other teams, obviously— and one Steeler (reserve DB Willie Williams), both coaching staffs have Super Bowl experience.
They know the novices on both sides are in for quite an awakening.
“They’ll have meetings and so on,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. “Monday they get a little taste of it and then Tuesday at the media day, it’s pretty wild. They get their fill of that and they settle into a practice routine on Wednesday. At that point they kind of figure it out, I think.
“We’ve talked about it; I’ve kind of counseled them on a few things. This group has always listened pretty well all season long. Hopefully they were listening about this.”
And not looking around at all the black and gold.