Pittsburgh To coach Bill Cowher, the Pittsburgh Steelers simply look right in white.
The Steelers will buck years of tradition and wear their white away uniforms in the Super Bowl against Seattle, even though they are designated by the NFL as the home team and could wear their more imposing black jersey tops.
The black jerseys and gold pants are the Steelers' traditional look, and numerous sports teams have switched to black uniforms in recent years because they believe it creates a more intimidating presence.
Cowher made the choice by himself and without consulting with ownership, saying, "We're not playing at Heinz Field so, in my mind, it's an away game."
The Steelers' unprecedented success as a road team no doubt factored into Cowher's decision to wear white for the fourth consecutive game. The Steelers are the only sixth-seeded team to reach the Super Bowl and the first to knock off the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams in a conference to get there. They have won in successive weeks at Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver.
The Steelers also will go against another tradition by not flying to Detroit until Monday normally, teams travel to the Super Bowl site on the Sunday before the game. With Pittsburgh located so close to Detroit, Cowher said there was no reason to go any earlier since the first big Super Bowl-related event is Tuesday's media day.
But it was Cowher's decision to wear white that caused the biggest stir in a town where it's difficult to drive past more than one or two houses without seeing a black and gold Terrible Towel or banner. Cowher became perplexed at the constant questioning about the issue at his weekly news conference, finally saying, "You want to know what shoes I'm wearing, too?"
"I didn't think it was that big a deal what jersey colour you're wearing," Cowher said. "Maybe that's just me, OK? To me, if you're not playing at Heinz Field it's an away game. I think anyone can understand that rationale. If it's a sensitive issue to people, I'm sorry."
Sensitive issue, maybe. But could it be superstition?
"We've been playing well last three weeks on road, and this is another fourth game on the road I don't know if that's superstitious," he said.
Uniform issues aside, Cowher effectively revealed the Steelers' theme for the next two weeks, and it's a familiar one we ain't done nothing yet. Despite the Steelers' 3-for-3 AFC road sweep, he said any Super Bowl finalist's season is defined by what it does in this game and not how it gets there.
"The deal isn't done yet," he said. "This is going to be our toughest challenge. Seattle is playing at an extremely high level, and we haven't accomplished anything yet. That's the thing to keep in mind. ... it all can change in one play, one quarter, one bad game."
The Steelers know all about that, having lost four AFC title games at home and a Super Bowl in the last dozen seasons, gaining them a reputation of being a team that can't stand up to the challenge of big games. While this road run may be altering that theory, Cowher understands it will be stamped on his team again especially since the Steelers are favoured against Seattle after being underdogs the last two weeks.
"They're just as hungry as we are," Cowher said. "It's a golden opportunity for us, but don't underestimate the challenge that's in front of us. ... You realize how hard it is to get there, but don't lose sight that the goal is to win a championship.
"Nobody remembers that you lost a Super Bowl, they remember who won a Super Bowl."
Cowher did reveal one other thought he had after the Steelers ended a streak of three consecutive losses in the AFC title game by beating Denver 34-17 Sunday.
"Thank goodness I'm not going back to Hawaii," he said.
The losing coach in each conference championship game handles the Pro Bowl teams, so Cowher has coached the AFC four times since the 1994 season. This is his second time in the Super Bowl; the Steelers lost 27-17 to Dallas in January 1996 as a two-touchdown underdog.