Executives, players marvel that a Steelers victory tonight would mark 'lucky' city's 12th major professional championship since 1971

Sunday, February 06, 2011
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



FORT WORTH, Texas -- This all began, really, with a Steve Blass pitch that brought the Pirates the 1971 World Series championship.

It carried into the next year with Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception, a remarkable reversal of fate that set the stage for four Super Bowl championships in six years.

Two decades later, Mario Lemieux and the Penguins hoisted back-to-back Stanley Cups.

And now, tonight, with so many other successes along the way, the Steelers can add to a phenomenal four-decade run for Pittsburgh's professional sports franchises by beating the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV in North Texas. It would be a 12th championship for the city, the seventh for the Steelers, in 40 years.


To fully appreciate that, consider these figures since the championship-clinching pitch in 1971:

• Pittsburgh's 11 total championships rank behind only Los Angeles' 14 and 12 each for Boston and New York in that span. All of the other cities with seven or more -- Chicago has nine, Detroit eight -- have much larger metropolitan bases. New York's take would increase to 16 if the four Stanley Cups of the NHL's Islanders were counted, but precious few fans there consider the Long Island-based team a New York city entity.

• Of cities that have fewer than four professional franchises, as Pittsburgh does, the next highest-championship total is six, with that many won by each of the Bay area cities of San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.

• Of all cities with six or more championships, only Pittsburgh and Boston have seen all of their individual teams win. Eleven of Los Angeles' 14 championships have come from the NBA's Lakers, and another was by the NFL's Raiders, who played there briefly between stints in Oakland.

• Pittsburgh teams have appeared in 13 championship series or games and won 34 division titles, almost one per year on the latter count.

• Nine individual Pittsburgh athletes have been named league MVP, and seven Steelers have been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, emblematic of the team's trademark strength. Safety Troy Polamalu just won the latter award this week.


• And, just for fun: Cleveland has gone without a championship since 1964, when the Browns won an NFL title. The Indians have not won in 62 years, the American League's longest futility streak.

A victory for the Steelers tonight would only add to it all, Harris said.

"For a little town inside these three rivers to achieve so much in sports for 40 years, that's remarkable," he said. "But, to me, that's the spirit of this area. I can't explain it, but that's how it is."



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