COLUMN: The Window is Closing on Stairway to Seven

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the most successful franchise since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger, winning six Super Bowls; more than any other franchise. Steeler Nation, and rightfully so, is quite proud of that accomplishment. It ties into why Pittsburgh is called the City of Champions.

The 1970’s were the glory days of the Steelers, winning four Super Bowls in six years. Many from those 70’s teams are enshrined in Canton, Ohio’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. They boasted the most dominant defense of all time in the Steel Curtain, a hall-of-fame quarterback, two hall-of-fame receivers, and Franco Harris, who not only is also a hall-of-famer, but is responsible for one of the most iconic plays in the history of the NFL.

Yeah, those were the good days.

The 2000’s brought some glory back to the Black and Gold. After drafting their first franchise quarterback since Terry Bradshaw, Ben Roethlisberger helped lead the Steelers back to that winning championship tradition, winning Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008, the latter being a superb performance.

This decade looked to be promising, when the Steelers appeared in Super Bowl XLV in 2010, but lost to Green Bay. Big Ben was still in his prime, the defense was older, but still solid, and Mike Tomlin looked like he was going to become an all-time great at the pace he was going at for such a young coach.

Seven years later, we still don’t have that seventh trophy.

Now, most other franchises and their fans would criticize us for being so selfish. None of them, however, would be singing a different tune if it was their team. Most teams, when going through a rebuild of any kind, will tear everything down and start from scratch.

Not the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Rooney’s are always trying to win. That’s what makes them the most successful franchise. You get to the top by sacrificing everything, taking risks, and sometimes having a little bit of luck, but you can get rewarded if you put all your cards on the table.

That’s what the Steelers do. They’ve had to rebuild the defense, and that is a process that is still going on. The offense has become explosive, all being built through the draft. GM Kevin Colbert and coach Tomlin deserve praise for that.

But this past offseason should have been an awakening for them, the players, and the fans.

With Big Ben now going on a year-by-year basis of whether or not he will continue playing, the Steelers’ window for getting that seventh Lombardi is closing. Le’Veon Bell‘s future with the team is up in the air. He wants to stay a Steeler, but wants to be paid, and rightfully so. He’s grown into arguably the best running back in the league. Outside of Antonio Brown, the receiving corps is possibly really solid, especially with the return of Martavis Bryant, but his inconsistency on and off the field leaves just a little doubt that it’s not as dangerous of a group as it should be. The defense, despite the front-seven getting better and better every year, is still not a defense you can say is a “Super Bowl” defense. It has potential, and that may even come to fruition this season.

But let’s face it: you can’t win a Super Bowl without a franchise quarterback. The only teams to have done it are teams that had all-time defenses (i.e. the 2005 Baltimore Ravens).

And we can easily take for granted the fact that the Steelers have had a hall-of-fame quarterback for the last 13 seasons. He may not be the best of his generation, but he is up there as one of the best, and for sure is one of the main reasons the Steelers have had so much success during his career. Just take a moment and think of where the Steelers would be without him or any other franchise quarterback. The 90’s ring a bell?

The window the Steelers have to win a Super Bowl with this group intact is closing. Ben’s time is coming to an end sooner rather than later. It could be after the upcoming season, or it could be five more years. I’d seriously bet closer to the former than the latter. It took the Steelers over two decades to get another franchise quarterback after Bradshaw; who knows how long it could be before the Steelers get another one after Ben hangs it up. Maybe the Steelers strike gold in the draft and it’s not long. Or, it could be another two decades. Steelers fans who remember the 80’s don’t want to relive it.


In Pittsburgh, we’re passionate about our teams. We expect the very best out of them every time they suit up for a game. There’s a reason why Pittsburgh is called the City of Champions. That’s the standard. Anything short of that is considered failure in our eyes. While I, nor the Steelers, can guarantee a Super Bowl this year, I will say this will be a fun year for the Steelers and the fans.

There is serious promise with this group. The offense is elite and the defense is getting closer and closer to being Super Bowl ready. It’s an exciting time to be a Steelers fan. They came up one game shy of the goal last season. 2017 is another shot at the elusive seventh Lombardi.

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