Steelers, Packers share history, colors and a whole lot of titles 

Though it is the Steelers' third trip to the Super Bowl in six years, Sunday's match-up against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV will be significantly different from their previous two trips to football's promised land. 

In XL and XLIII the Steelers defeated Super Bowl virgins: the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Pittsburgh's championship prior to those also came against a Super Bowl first-timer, the Los Angeles Rams (Super Bowl XIV).

This time around we'll be unable to crack jokes about titles, Super Bowl appearances or a city's inability to fill its bleachers during home games. Yes, we have twice as many Super Bowl rings as the Packers, but don't forget they have twice as many titles. 

In Pittsburgh, it's easy to forget about football history predating the Super Bowl era, a time when the Packers collected an NFL-high nine titles, and the Steelers were unable to log a single playoff victory.

Feel free to pound your chest and call Pittsburgh the "City of Champions," but know that Green Bay has a nickname for its abode too: "Title Town, USA," which packs a lot more pop than Glendale, Ariz., the home of our last Super Bowl foe.

Besides the origin of stadium names -- Green Bay's Lambeau Field is named after legendary Packer founder/player/coach Curly Lambeau, and Pittsburgh's Heinz Field is named after a condiment -- Pittsburgh and Green Bay are similar in just about every category imaginable.

If you want season tickets for either team, get in line and prepare to wait for at least a decade.

Pittsburgh has the Terrible Towel; Green Bay has the Cheesehead (a hat shaped like a foam wedge of cheddar). Since both are that beautiful color of school-bus yellow, it's going to be difficult to pick out Terrible Towels twirling on TV amongst all those blocks of cheese, and vice versa.  

Speaking of yellow -- or "gold" as everyone but Wiz Khalifa calls it in Pittsburgh -- before the Washington Redskins re-joined the party this year, Pittsburgh and Green Bay were the only two teams in the NFL to sport bright gold drawers on Sunday afternoons. 

Not only are both teams' spandex pants the same color, but the striping on their jerseys is quite similar. So much so that when I ripped through a pack of football cards as a kid, many times I thought I got a Steelers player until I looked more closely and realized Lynn Dickey and James Lofton were wearing Packers uniforms.

When you think of a figurehead for each franchise, a bespectacled legend comes to mind: Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, and the Green Bay Packers' win-a-holic coach, Vince Lombardi. Fittingly, both are immortalized in statues outside their respective teams' stadiums and have been snapped for more pictures than the entire Kardashian family combined.

You want Hall of Fame quarterbacks? How 'bout Terry Bradshaw and Bart Starr? Both hail from the Deep South and called their own plays in the huddle. Also, neither ever lost a Super Bowl, and both QBs won the game's MVP award twice.

If the Steelers win on Sunday, they'll bring home a trophy named after a coach from Green Bay; if the Packers are victorious, a coach from Pittsburgh will be responsible. Win or lose, we'll be able to hear Greenfield native Mike McCarthy's lovely Pittsburgh accent during the post-game interview.

Super Bowl XLV is not just a battle between two classic NFL teams, hailing from smaller markets and boasting two of the most knowledgeable and passionate fan bases in all of sports. In addition, two of the best heads of hair in football will be on display: those of Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews -- who are not just masters of the gridiron, but of the curling and flat iron, as well.

Sunday night's game will take place in the home stadium of the Dallas Cowboys, a franchise that lost two NFL title games a piece to both the Steelers and Packers.

But here's where the similarities end. Inevitably, one city's team will win, while another city's team experiences its second Super Bowl defeat. One city will celebrate; another will look for random household items to break in half.

Regardless of the outcome, Pittsburgh and Green Bay can also show you that the Steelers and Packers don't just play football for their cities; they are their cities.

  • Illustration by Jim Shearer


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