Been-There, Done-That Guys Matter These Days

Mike Tomlin calls them "been-there, done-that guys," and the Steelers have a masssive edge in that department over the Denver Broncos. Mike Prisuta writes in detail.

Anybody that's ever won anything of consequence had to do it at least once when they'd never done it before.

The Steelers know.

Their storied, post-merger playoff history began, in a sense, with a Chuck Noll declaration that "losing has nothing to do with geography."

The Noll-era Steelers then went out and proved as much with the Immaculate Reception and with the subsequent four Super Bowls in six seasons that eventually followed.

The Mike Tomlin-era Steelers, conversely, are lousy with what Tomlin likes to characterize as "been-there, done-that guys."

Their challenge this postseason isn't to prove they can do it. Their challenge is to prove they can do it again.

Offensive tackle Max Starks, one among a collection of the Steelers who has done it twice already, perceives an advantage in that, individually and collectively. Starks maintains the Steelers have a firm grasp of what it is they'll be trying to achieve beginning on Sunday in Denver.

"Simply put, to be the best at what we do," he said. "That's what we all strive for in this locker room, in this league in general. It's a test of man on man and team on team. Who can put together the better gameplan? Who has the better group of guys that can come together and drive toward one goal?

"That's the reason that we do it, to prove you're the best in the league at what you do by process of elimination because you're still playing."

Better still, Starks is convinced the Steelers have a clear understanding of how to get where they intend to go because they've been there before repeatedly.

"I think all of us in this room can agree, whether it's something as meaningless as rolled-up tape basketball in a trashcan, we're all competitors," he said. "We all want to win. All these games (locker-room pool and ping pong and the like) are geared toward competition, a clear cut winner and loser. That's just how we've always been wired. That's how sports are ingrained in us.

"You want to be the best if you're going to participate in it."

The Steelers have prospered in previous postseasons, Starks explained in the locker room in Cleveland, because of an ability to thrive in pressure situations, because they've developed an understanding of how to embrace "calm in chaos." He elaborated on that concept before boarding the charter flight to Denver.

"The biggest thing is having that sense of self and knowing what it is," Starks said. "It's different if it's misguided or you don't have a clear direction. We have a clear direction in what we're supposed to be accomplishing and what goal we're striving for and everybody bys into that.

"It's not like you're trying to push yourself to hopefully push somebody else in the process. Everybody knows what's at stake. Everybody knows how important it is and everybody's giving their all.

"That's why you can't be the guy that's not giving as much as the next guy."

From that standpoint, at least, they're as ready as they could possibly be.

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