Sunday, November 29, 2015         


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Players face grind with grins

By Jeff McLane / Philadelphia Inquirer


DALLAS » It would probably make for a better story if the Green Bay Packers arrived here wide-eyed and overwhelmed by the spectacle that is Super Bowl XLV.

To contrast that with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have a been-there-done-it sense of themselves, would only add to what is a popular angle this week in North Texas.

But when Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy and several of his players arrived at the Las Colinas Omni in Irving, Texas, for their first media session, they did not cower from the extra attention, and they did not appear to get caught up in the hoopla.

"From understanding how to approach this week and avoid the distractions, (the Steelers) have the decided advantage there," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "But maybe ignorance is bliss for us."

Rodgers' counterpart, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, walked into the Omni Fort Worth holding his phone and taping the proceedings. At least 50 members of the news media engulfed his podium, looking to probe the quarterback about his redemption tour.

This is Roethlisberger's third Super Bowl. He won both times before. But a victory on Sunday would likely eclipse the importance of the previous two because of a turbulent offseason dealing with sexual-assault charges and the four-game suspension he served as a result.

"Honestly, you guys probably think I'm just telling you this, but honestly I don't think it's the time," Roethlisberger said when he was asked what a third ring would mean to him. "When you reflect on something, usually you think back because something is over. The season's not over."

Nevertheless, a third title would put Roethlisberger in rare company. But he wouldn't be the only one. Sixteen Steelers are also two-time winners. Despite being underdogs, their experience would seem to even the playing field.

"You get off the plane, and you've got helicopters. You've got police and media and then" media obligations, said Roethlisberger, bearded and often smiling. "If you're not used to it, it can be overwhelming."

The Packers, meanwhile, have just two players with Super Bowl experience — cornerback Charles Woodson and defensive end Ryan Pickett. Woodson played in Super Bowl XXXVII when the Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pickett was a rookie on the St. Louis Rams team that lost to the New England Patriots in XXXVI.

"We've got two guys who have played in the Super Bowl before," Rodgers said. "We've talked to those guys about their experiences. Charles, obviously, has a unique experience with what happened down in San Diego. We want to get this one for him."

Steelers receiver Hines Ward kicked off the craziness of the event by sporting full cowboy gear on Monday, complete with a 10-gallon hat, boots and a flashy buckle.

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