For Steelers veteran P Mitch Berger, his time has finally come. Berger, 36, a British Columbia native, is on his ninth NFL team but playing in his first Super Bowl. Berger, a Cardinal last season, won Pittsburgh's starting job this year when regular punter Daniel Sepulveda tore the ACL in his right knee. Berger himself had hamstring problems at mid-season, and was released in November before re-signing 19 days later.
Things you might not know:
Berger used to have a habit of hiding a Snickers bar in a spare shoe and eating it throughout the game, calling it his "Snickers kicker" days. "It took a life of its own," Berger told the Vancouver Sun. "The next thing you know, I am at Snickers conventions and opening up malls."
Berger's father, Don, grew up in Homestead, Pa., as a huge Steelers fan. "I've got Terrible Towels, Steeler mugs, flags and a picture of Super Bowl legends — Mike Webster, Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Terry Bradshaw," Don told the Sun.
Has a burger in his name. Berger co-owns the Players Chop House in Vancouver, where the "Super Mitch Berger" — two 18-ounce patties of prime beef, mushrooms, Canadian back bacon, cheddar cheese and a special sauce called "Mitch's Mayo" — will debut Super Bowl Sunday.
. Berger is a solid tackler, picking up five in 2008, including two that saved touchdowns.
Mewelde Moore: From nearly a Buc to Super Bowl
Moore, a running back, signed as a free agent in the offseason but said he closely considered the Bucs before doing so. In a diary on steelers.com, Moore reflected on taking his own way to Tampa.
"I had a lot of offers and I was close to signing … with Tampa, but that was before Pittsburgh called. When they called me, that's when I was like, 'This is my trip to Tampa. This is how I'm going to get to Tampa — by going to Pittsburgh, not going to Tampa.' I am just so happy that the good Lord blessed me to be able to come here and play and play well. … As the season started to end and we were winning and Tampa was losing, in my mind it's just all about (things coming) in due time."
Myths and mysteries
The Steelers play hoops in the locker room: One of the team's customs is to take turns playing "Around the World" by tossing tape balls into a can inside the locker room. The competitive basketball-like game includes players and coaches, and backup LB Bruce Davis said, "Even (owner) Mr. (Dan) Rooney came in once to check it out."
Polamalu's hair: The fluffy 'fro has gotten S Troy Polamalu plenty of attention over the years. He claims the last time he got his hair cut was at USC in 2000, when a coach told him he needed one. It is a common custom in Samoan culture (he's of Samoan descent) for men to wear their hair long.
What they're saying
"You want to know what quarterbacks in modern history (since 1950) have been better than Roethlisberger through five seasons? None. Nobody. Not Joe Willie Namath, not Joe Montana, nobody. Big Ben is the only quarterback to win 51 games his first five seasons. That's three victories better than Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Tom Brady and John Elway. If I had to win a game to save my own life I'd take Roethlisberger over everybody who played in the NFL this season, and that includes everybody named Manning."
Michael Wilbon, Washington Post columnist, on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Hall of Fame DT Ernie Stautner, above, is the only Steeler to have his jersey retired (No. 70).
Number of the day
5,000 The approximate miles that fan Giovanni Poggi flew from Rome to see his first Steelers game this year. The Steelers are known for one of the best fan bases in the country but this fan went the extra mile.
Q&A | DT Chris Hoke
What are your thoughts about returning to the Super Bowl?
Really, your whole life you dream about playing in the Super Bowl. You go there once and it's unbelievable. To go there twice, it's unreal. To go there and play in a second Super Bowl, to have another ring on your finger, is just awesome.
How often do you wear the other ring?
Once a month maybe. I'll wear it to a charity event or I'll get dressed up with my wife, I'll wear it. It's nice. (It shows) the hard work that you put in throughout the season and what you accomplished. It really is something to be proud of.
Are you aware of the defense's place in history if you guys win this game?
We know what is out there. We know we had a good year as a defense and we were number one. That is our goal every year, to be No. 1 in the NFL as a defense. Right now is not really the time to reflect on what has been going on. We will do that after the Super Bowl and say we had a heck of a season, heck of a team. Right now, it's a matter of looking at the Arizona Cardinals.