Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin aren't immune to such emotions; far from it.
But they not only get the game, they're in the game.
And they know the score.
"The way that a guy like Jerome Bettis retired is a fairy tale, it doesn't happen," Tomlin told Bob Labriola during a Monday appearance on Steelers.com Live at 4. "In my adulthood in terms of following the NFL you can think about Jerome Bettis and maybe John Elway and nobody else has that fairly book, Hollywood-story type ending to their career.
"That's just the gory reality of professional football."
The old make way for the young, or are shown the door to clear the way for the young.
Tomlin is confident the Steelers' proactive approach toward the process will result in the standard remaining the standard.
"I am," he said. "And that's not just theory. Through the course of natural attrition that is involved in the game of football I think we've gotten a window into what life is like without these men in some form or fashion from the '11 season. All of those guys missed some time in a form or fashion and we saw the emergence of guys like Antonio Brown, of course, the re-emergence of Larry Foote into the lineup defensively and, of course, Ziggy Hood has played a lot of football for us.
"It's not unknown in terms of who's going to be playing or potentially playing football for us in those spots."
Tomlin and Colbert's first public comments on the reshaping of the Steelers during their Steelers.com Live at 4 visit also included:
Tomlin on what Ward, Smith and Farrior meant to him beyond their game tapes and resumes: "When you're talking about Hines Ward you're talking about his will, the way he forces his will on situations and circumstances and his ability to do that. He can will himself to acceptable health. He can will himself to produce plays. I think he has a unique will in a business among men that have unique will. I think he separates himself even in that field in that way.
"When you're talking about Aaron Smith you're talking about a guy who had the unique ability to appreciate it while he was living it. Often times most people appreciate something when it's in their rear-view (mirror). The thing I'll remember the most about Aaron and really loved about Aaron is he smelled the roses. He realized how special this journey and this experience were and he appreciated it while he was living it.
"When you're talking about James Farrior, I think he has unique leadership ability in terms of bringing people together. When you look at an NFL locker room, particularly one such as ours, we have people at different phases of life. We have some guys who are in their 30s and married and stable with kids. We have some people who are just beginning adulthood if you will, going from being dependents to independents, from amateurs to professionals. James Farrior is the type of personality that's capable of bringing all of these people together under one common goal, and I think that's a unique leadership trait."
Tomlin on how the three veterans responded when he was hired: "They were pros. They were legitimately humble. They legitimately wanted to know what they could do to help. And equally as important as all that they were singularly focused on winning and they understood the division of labor and the chain of command and how they fit in it."
Colbert on the organization making football decisions as opposed to emotional ones: "It's hard to remove the emotion but you have to. What we try to remember is these players will always be Steelers. Whether they move on and sign with another team or they choose not to, either way they're always going to be a part of the Steeler legacy, part of our success. You have to remove them from your team to make the decision to be the best team you can be in 2012, but it doesn't lessen who they are. You're not taking them away from the Steeler family in the long run. They're always going to be Steelers and be remembered for what they gave to this organization."
Colbert on whether the Steelers are done cutting: "For the time being. March 13 is the deadline (for compliance with the salary cap). We feel good about where we are from a cap standpoint but things can change real quick as we move into free agency. We still don't have a final cap number so what we're projecting to be the cap number may or may not be and we still may have to make another move prior to free agency starting.
"Once we get into free agency then it's always plus and minus. There could be (more cutting) if we decide to add from the outside."