DALLAS (AP) — Welcome to Big D, Packers and Steelers.
Y’all are in for a good ol’ time.
The first Super Bowl in North Texas is going to be a big, gaudy celebration of excess, just like the stadium where the game will be played. So it’s great that two teams with large, loyal fan bases will be the stars of the show.
Bring all the Cheeseheads and Terrible Towels you want. Big as Cowboys Stadium is, there will be room for them all — more than 100,000, counting folks who’ll pay $200 to hang out around the building and watch on TVs. Plenty of people inside will be watching on TV, too, unable to pry their eyes from the gargantuan video boards.
This game should be a heck of a sight: two proud franchises led by quality quarterbacks and dazzling defenses. Oddsmakers figure the Feb. 6 game will be close. The early line was Packers by 2½ points.
Green Bay advanced by going into Chicago and beating the rival Bears 21-14 on Sunday. It was the third straight road playoff game for Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and the NFC’s No. 6 seed.
“We’ve always felt that we are a very good football team. Now we have the opportunity to achieve greatness, and that is winning the Super Bowl down in Dallas,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I have a feeling there will be a lot of green and gold there. That will be great.”
Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu lifted Pittsburgh into the big game for the third time in six years by knocking off Rex Ryan and those big-talkin’ New York Jets 24-19 in the AFC championship game Sunday.
The Steelers are in the Super Bowl for the eighth time overall, matching the Cowboys for the most appearances. Pittsburgh already has the most titles with six. That includes a pair of tight wins over Dallas teams led by Roger Staubach, who happens to be the chairman of the committee that planned this game.
Good thing he doesn’t hold a grudge.
“The Steelers fans, you’ve got to kind of like them, as far as their dedication,” Staubach said last week.
Roethlisberger will be looking for his third Super Bowl title, which would put him behind only Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, who each won four. Among those Roethlisberger would tie with ring No. 3 is another former Cowboys great, Troy Aikman, who is No. 2 to Staubach on the game’s executive committee and who will be broadcasting the game on Fox.
For Roethlisberger, leading the team this far is quite a story considering he missed the first four games as punishment for his behavior in a small Georgia college town over the offseason. He was accused of sexually assaulting a young woman, though no charges were filed.
For Rodgers, one title would be enough to match his predecessor, Brett Favre.
Both teams started strong and held on for dear life to win their conference titles. Pittsburgh was up 24-0 but needed a goal-line stand to finally silence the Jets. The Packers jumped ahead by two touchdowns on the Bears, who nearly pulled it out with third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie leading the comeback. A native of nearby Forney, Hanie would’ve been a conquering hero returning home had he pulled off the rally. Instead, an interception in the final minute sent the guys from “Titletown USA” packing for Dallas.
All Super Bowls are a huge deal, especially when a city or stadium is hosting for the first time. Well, this time, you’ve also got to remember that we do things bigger in Texas — like the host committee’s budget coming in around $40 million, making the roughly $16 million spent last year in Miami look like chicken feed.
Things are spread out down here, too. The Steelers are staying in Fort Worth, the Packers in Irving and all media events will be in Dallas. Oh, yeah, the game itself is in Arlington. That’s why this is technically called the North Texas Super Bowl.
The Steelers will have a lot going for them down here.
They get to practice at the home of college football’s new power, TCU. And two of the four pro sports teams are owned by Pittsburgh natives: Mark Cuban of the Mavericks, Chuck Greenberg of the Rangers. Cuban tweeted on Sunday night, “You’re going to love Dallas Steeler Fans !! Bring me some Primantis and IC Light !”
The Packers will be practicing at SMU. If it’s too cold or too wet, they’ll drive down the street to the indoor facility at Highland Park High School. That’s right — the Cowboys and Mustangs don’t have an indoor facility, but local high schools do. This one boasts football tradition along with lots of money; it’s the alma mater of Hall of Famers Bobby Layne and Doak Walker, as well as Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda, who is on injured reserve.
There aren’t many tourist attractions here. The biggies are Dealey Plaza, where President Kennedy was shot; Southfork Ranch, home to the fictional Ewing family from the TV show “Dallas,” and the Fort Worth Stockyards. The other hot spot is Cowboys Stadium, which rakes it in on daily tours.
Neither team has played there since it opened last year, so they may be looking forward to it, too. The Steelers should have more inside information on the place because offensive lineman Flozell Adams spent his entire career with the Cowboys until this season.
Once known as “Hotel Flozell” because of his size, he should be able to give guys restaurant recommendations, too. Maybe he can even talk a rookie into hosting a dinner at the steakhouse where Dallas’ Dez Bryant dropped $54,896 on a single meal a few months ago.
While both teams will be aiming to take home the Lombardi Trophy, they can already start clearing space in their trophy case.
Upon their arrival, each team will get a custom-made, handcrafted saddle valued at $12,500, courtesy of a local boot and saddle maker.
They carry this game’s logo, with six sterling silver and gold conchos engraved with the NFL logo. The saddle horn will feature a sterling silver and gold horn cap with each team’s logo.
The Cowboys may not be in it, but there will be plenty of cowboys flavor.