"He was throwing these bombs," Smith of Bradshaw, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles during the 1970s."He was throwing them to me. He said, `If you keep this up, son, you can play football one day.'
Of course, it's anecdotal and unrelated. Bradshaw gave back, and Smith is giving back (as well as rounding out to be a strong member of his communities). But the Steeler theme has continued to come out with this team, an alarming statement of the franchise's young history. This continued in the offseason's first moments: notice of a head coach's retain (a coach who was a former Steeler, highly recommended by Steeler ownership) coming with a decree: "We want to be like the Steelers."
It's a good statement - run the ball, stop the run. Be tough, control the game. The same things that John Fox won on and was hired on. Not bad things to live up to. But the blantant crush on the Steelers has been curious. From Dom Capers and the rush of ex-Steelers (Barry Foster anyone? Ernie Mills?) to the constant rumors of Bill Cowher, Jerry Richardson has tried his best to find a way into the mold of friend Dan Rooney's franchise.
At times, it's been limiting - teams have been built for conservative football and haven't been able to snap out; teams that could put up points, conversely, were often limited by directives. There's no one right way to do things, and ask any of the 32 franchises how they're planning on doing things, and all have the intent of success with direct ideals as to how to do it. They all believe they can win it all. So the ideal of emulating another franchise is a rarity in the league, especially across multiple coaches. Let's hope when the tough decisions have to be made, they do what's right in their eyes, and not someone else's.