the Bengals may have celebrated a little too soon...and the Steelers are a great team to play for:
Steelers want payback vs. Bengals
Steelers host Bengals on Sunday for first place in AFC North
Some players don't want to play in Pittsburgh because of money issues
Concussions and playing through pain are simply part of football
Throughout the 2009 NFL season, SI.com's Jeff Ritter will work with Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley to get his thoughts and observations on the NFL and take you behind the scenes with the Steelers. Woodley is in his third season and finished with a career-best 11.5 sacks in 2008 while helping Pittsburgh win a Super Bowl title. The 6-2 Steelers host the 6-2 Bengals on Sunday.
• Beating the Broncos on Monday night was great, but when you play for the Steelers, every week is a big week. It doesn't matter if the game is on a Sunday, a Monday or a Thursday. They're all big games. This week, first place in our division is on the line. I'm not surprised the Bengals are an improved team this year. They've made some good draft picks, Carson Palmer is healthy again and Cedric Benson has been doing a great job for them. But when they beat us earlier this year, they celebrated on the field like they had just won the Super Bowl. The second that game ended, I started looking forward to playing them again.
• I know I'm lucky to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, and to be a part of an organization with such a winning tradition. We have a great thing going here, and I think it all starts with the quality of the players. The Steelers are a group of guys who care more about the team than about the individual. We don't have players trying to be in the spotlight, or a bunch of trash-talkers. We have team guys. The Steelers are great at finding these kinds of players and getting them here. Now that we've built a tradition around these players, and this mentality, that trickles down from the veterans to the younger guys, like me. And as new guys join the team, I'll continue to pass on this tradition myself.
If being a Steeler sounds a little like being a part of a college program, that's because it is. The Steeler tradition is almost exactly like how it was for me when I was at Michigan and a part of that tradition. When I first got to the Steelers, I realized that guys care about team first. Plus with the history, the fans, and the way players conduct themselves, I loved it here immediately. This place just fits me perfectly. This is a team that gets it done on the field and is respected across the league, across the country ... why wouldn't you want to play for a team like that?
Despite all this, I have a few friends on other teams who don't want to play for the Steelers because they feel like the organization won't pay them the money they want. Maybe the Steelers aren't known for paying the highest salaries. But what are the Steelers known for? Winning championships. At the end of day, when you're done playing in the league, you're going to want to have those rings on your fingers. Not everyone has that opportunity. I've got one, and I look forward to competing hard and trying to win a Super Bowl every year. That's one of the things that make it special to be a Steeler -- knowing that every year I'm going to have a chance to put another ring on my finger.