Emotional Super Bowl to reunite the coaches of Steelers, Cardinals
By Larry Fine, Reuters
January 21, 2009, 10:47 am TWN
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers say they will face an emotional test in their quest for a record sixth Super Bowl title when they face the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa on Feb 1.
The Cardinals, who reached their first Super Bowl by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 32-25 in Sunday's NFC title game, are coached by key members of the Pittsburgh staff that guided the Steelers to the NFL championship three years ago.
Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt was offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh and his assistant coach Russ Grimm was also on the Steelers staff as were four other members of the Cardinals coaching crew.
“It's going to be emotional for us,” said Pittsburgh offensive tackle Max Starks after the Steelers' 23-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's AFC Championship tilt.
“Those are the coaches I won my last Super Bowl with. But it's going to be old school versus new school. I think it's going to be a challenge.”
The defence-minded Steelers will have to stop a Cardinals air attack led by veteran quarterback Kurt Warner and dazzling receiver Larry Fitzgerald to pass out the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers on five Super Bowl championships a piece.
“It's going to be a good test. They have a good team and are clicking on all cylinders just like we are,” Starks said. “So it's going to be a great ball game.”
When Mike Tomlin was elevated from defensive coordinator to replace Bill Cowher as head coach, the passed-over Whisenhunt took the Cardinals top job and brought with him Grimm and others including special teams coach Kevin Spencer.
They have steered the Cardinals within one win of their first NFL title in 61 years.
“I'm proud and happy for Coach Whisenhunt, Coach Grimm and Coach Spencer,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.
“It is going to be fun to play them again. They beat us last time we played them at their place last year. It's going to be a fun match-up, I'm sure.”
Tomlin, in his second season at the helm, also has ties with the Feb. 1 clash when he will return to the scene of his first NFL job on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff of Tony Dungy.