Overcoming Adversity Is The Backbone Of Steelers Football - By Keno Sultan

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Every player in the National Football League is bound to go through adversity once in his life. Some will face it on the field while others will run into it elsewhere. Three players (with one recently retired) have had their share of adversity as members of a franchise that has won five Super Bowl championships.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, former running back Jerome Bettis and linebacker Joey Porter have all dealt with adversity during their Steelers careers. Each individual showed what being a champion is about overcoming the obstacles that stand in their way. Roethlisberger is one example of this and he has just completed his second year with the Steelers organization. The Miami University quarterback was thrown into the starting position during the second week of the 2004 season when original starter Tommy Maddox was injured in a 30-13 loss at Baltimore. He led the Steelers on a 15-game winning streak before throwing three interceptions that proved costly in the AFC title game against New England.

Many individuals expected Roethlisberger to go through a "sophomore slump." Pittsburgh was 7-5 and one loss from missing the postseason when the Steelers hosted Chicago. Being the third team in the race for two wild card spots, missing the playoffs was a distinct possibility.

Unfazed by that danger, he successfully led the Steelers to a win over the eventual NFC North champion Bears, which started an eight-game winning streak through the end of the regular season and the playoffs. The 23-year-old Roethlisberger was under center as the Steelers won their fifth world championship, 21-10 over Seattle.

His run during the playoffs was vastly superior to that of the 2004 playoffs. During the 2005 postseason, he threw for seven touchdowns against three interceptions, compared to just three touchdowns to five interceptions a year earlier.

Not bad for a quarterback going into his third year in the league.

The heart and soul of the Steelers, Bettis, is another example of the Steelers overcoming adversity. The Notre Dame product arrived to Pittsburgh via the Los Angeles Rams in the 1996 season. The Steelers were coming off a Super Bowl XXX loss to Dallas.

It only got more frustrating for the man the city dubbed "The Bus." The chance for Bettis to play in the NFL's ultimate game eluded him in 1997, 2001 and 2004, as Pittsburgh was halted in the conference title contest each year. Rumors of his retirement were rampant after the 2004 loss to New England. He came back for one reason: to lead the Steelers into Super Bowl XL It took him 10 years and 173 games with the Steelers but when the night of February 5, 2006 ended, he went out as a champion in his hometown of Detroit. Let's not forget that he also took a pay cut to remain with the black and gold. That is what you call commitment. He took his wear and tear during 10 proud years with the Steelers, but he overcame a high hurdle during those years to go out as a champion.

Included in this mix too is Porter. It was three years ago that a bullet wound threatened to cut short Porter's 2003 season. Porter had just attended his alma mater - Colorado State - take on their rival Colorado at Investco Field in Denver. He ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was shot outside a bar in Denver, and missed the first two games of the season. This was the trigger of a dismal 6-10 2003 season.

But the fact that he was able to come back from an unfortunate incident also shows the strength of Porter's will. It was on display again this year when he came back to Denver, three years after that incident and recorded a sack and forced a fumble, leading Pittsburgh to a 34-17 dispatching of the Denver Broncos in the AFC title game Roethlisberger, Bettis, and Porter define what being a Pittsburgh Steelers player is all about. It takes a strong demeanor to overcome any adversity arriving on the doorstep. These three men have accomplished that and as a result, they are champions with a franchise that defies all odds.

And they have the rings to prove it.