A two-time Pro Bowler, Ilkin played for the Steelers from 1980-92 and then for the Packers in 1993. He stopped by for a quick interview during a practice last week:
Q: You know the teams in this matchup pretty well, don't you?
A: I only played for two teams in my career. Does that answer your question? But I was only in Green Bay for a bratwurst. It was a wonderful experience, but still it was very short.
Q: Do you still have friends there from your playing days?
A: No. The doctors are still there, and they're great guys, but [Mike] Holgren's staff went to Seattle. The guys on the staff that I know now are from Pittsburgh (laughs). The only guy who's there that I had a relationship with is Pepper [Burruss], their trainer.
Q: You mentioned the Packers' defensive staff and their Steelers connection. What should we expect to see from the two grandfathers of the zone blitz, Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers?
Q: It's not too different than what we do here – a little different. That nickel, they run it a lot more. They run that 2-4 as opposed to the 3-4. They'll take the nose tackle out and play an even front, but the outside guys will be small.
Q: They do that a lot here.
A: They'll go based on personnel, but Dom likes the 2-linemen down look. He runs it a lot more than we do. It's almost like a base defense for them. This is going back to last year preparing for them. I haven't watched much tape on them yet.
Q: Have you won a ring yet?
Q: You played 13 years for the Steelers, and have been a part of their broadcast team the last 13 years, and you don't have a ring? Doesn't seem fair.
A: You know what? I had 14 years of more fun than I would've ever dreamt. Would I have liked to have a Super Bowl ring? Who wouldn't? But at the same time, I'm OK with it.
Q: Knowing that you haven't really gotten into the tape yet, what's your early prediction?
A: That's hard. On the surface, their defense is a lot like ours. They just don't play the run as well as we do. They're not as physical, as tough a defense as the Steelers are. I think this defense is really tough. As good as the Packers are – and Charles Woodson's a dynamic player; so is Clay Matthews – I think this defense has more guys that scare you. I think you've got to block Clay Matthews, and Charles Woodson brings all sorts of blitzes, but there are five guys on this defense that scare you. There are five guys on this defense, at least, that can knock you out. So I think that's one of the advantages we have. We play the run better. We run the ball better. Those are two areas, and I think they're going to impact the Super Bowl.