LeBeau coming back
In an attempt to squash rumors that he'll retire after this season, longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, 71, told players in a team meeting that he'll be back, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday. "I would never make any kind of decision without the guys in that room, like my son, knowing first," LeBeau said. "The way they're playing, they're going to have to run me out of here."
Concussion study doesn't faze Big Ben
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is known for taking some big hits, having been sacked more times (192) than any other quarterback since 2004. And he suffered a concussion in the last regular-season game this season. But when asked about a study released Tuesday that revealed concussion-related brain damage in NFL players, Roethlisberger, 26, wasn't overly concerned. "I don't go out there and ever worry about getting hurt or being hurt in the past," he said. "I'm playing this game and living this life to the fullest. I've had that question asked to me a couple of times because of what I've been through, so I don't go out there and worry about it. When the Lord decides to take me, he's going to take me."
Tomlin downplays Gruden's inside info in Bucs' Super Bowl title
Much has been said about the supposed advantage the Bucs had in their Super Bowl win over the Raiders in January 2003, considering then-coach Jon Gruden had been Oakland's coach the year before. But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin — a Bucs assistant then — downplayed the inside information. "I really think it was overstated. It's a good story. The reality is when we were on that Super Bowl run, we faced that offense every day all season — training camp, organized team activities, etc. If you look at the teams that we played in the playoffs, we played San Francisco coached by Steve Mariucci — West Coast (offense). We played the Philadelphia Eagles, coached by Andy Reid — West Coast. Then we played the Raiders, coached by Bill Callahan — West Coast. So we had played the same offense three weeks in a row, and besides that, we had seen it all year. It got to the point that you didn't have to draw new scout cards for the week. We played the same offense three weeks in a row."
Revelation of the day
WR Santonio Holmes admitted he sold drugs as a teenager while growing up in Belle Glade, saying he chose the biggest stage — the Super Bowl — to make public the mistake in hopes of persuading other kids to stay away from drugs. Holmes, who was charged with marijuana possession in October, said he doesn't think that fact, which was first reported in Wednesday's Miami Herald, will be a distraction.
Leading WR Hines Ward (sprained right knee) was the only Steeler not to fully participate in practice. Ward, wearing a brace, walked through some plays with the first-team offense and jogged for a few pass routes before working out on his own for the next hour, according to the pool report. Coach Mike Tomlin didn't appear too concerned about Ward; he didn't watch the star run and cut on the side field away from the team. Ward, who said he's feeling "better by the day," is expected to practice more with the regular offense today.
No time to party
Steelers OT Max Starks, who began planning a Super Bowl party months before knowing whether he would be playing in the game, now won't be able to attend.
"It was one of those things where I plan it, and if I go I'm going to be bitter if I'm not in the Super Bowl," Starks said. "So then it turns out we're in the Super Bowl and I can't go anyway."
Starks, an Orlando native and Florida grad, said he was contacted by former Bucs QB Doug Williams and former Cowboys G Crawford Ker, the owner of the Winghouse, to partner on a charity event. Williams is hosting a golf tournament at the Bayou Club on Friday and the Winghouse will sponsor both events.
Starks' event, tonight at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, will include a fashion show, a Texas hold 'em card tournament, live and silent auctions, music and dancing. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Max Starks Charitable Fund to implement literacy and education programs in Orlando, Starks said.
Ask Ralph Wilcox if he's surprised that coach Mike Tomlin has led the Steelers to the Super Bowl, and USF's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs will tell you he remembers Tomlin as a bright, inquisitive mind and a role model. Nothing new, right? Wilcox saw that in Tomlin in 1996, when he was a 24-year-old graduate assistant at Memphis taking a weekly three-hour seminar, Sociocultural Dimensions of Sport in Contemporary Society, that Wilcox taught. "The irony is that we studied the Super Bowl as a spectacle," Wilcox said. "He was a very bright student, one of the best I've had the chance to work with. … Well-prepared, always did his research, and wouldn't take for granted that what he read was the truth." Wilcox said his only regret is that Tomlin didn't stick around long enough at Memphis to complete his postgraduate degree, taking a full-time position at Tennessee-Martin, then Arkansas State. "He's made some very good decisions since then," Wilcox said.
Number of the day
9 Quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls (the winner Sunday will be the 10th).
Times staff writers Joey Knight, Greg Auman and Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this report.
Upon reaching his personal riser at Wednesday's media session at the USF Sun Dome, LB James Harrison found a golden, football-shaped award awaiting him. It was something called ESPN.com's Tuesday Morning Quarterback Non-QB, Non-RB NFL MVP Award, presented annually by ESPN.com's Gregg Easterbrook. Harrison, the first undrafted player named NFL defensive player of the year, said he had never heard of the honor. He said little else afterward, other than to express disdain for this week's media attention, and his disregard for the public's perception of him. "It's like this: Y'all are going to paint the picture that y'all want to paint anyway," Harrison said. "You've already got an idea what you want to write, you just want me to say it. So just let me know what you want me to say so you can write it." Vintage Harrison, colleagues say. According to fellow LB Keyaron Fox, teammates frequently refer to the fifth-year veteran out of Kent State as "Deebo," the hulking bully from the 1990s film Friday. "As long as I'm comfortable with me, that's all that matters," said Harrison, who enters Super Bowl XLIII with 93 tackles and 16 sacks. "I was born by myself, I'm going to die by myself. I don't need nobody in between."
"Sometimes I wake up and forget which team I'm playing for."
P Mitch Berger, on playing for seven teams during his NFL career