Of course, it definitely counts for something. The veterans understand how to capture the moment, handle outside expectations and stay on task with football-related activities. With two weeks to prepare for the greatest spectacle in the world, it can be easy to lose focus or grow intimidated by the looming events. Plus, when they take the field, it takes some real talent to quell the butterflies that force players like Donovan McNabb to puke under pressure.
It would be foolish to say that Super Bowl experience is inconsequential, but it's not always going to determine the final score.
In the 15 Super Bowls from the 1995 season to the 2009 season, there have been nine matchups between one team that played in one of the three previous Super Bowls and another team that hadn't been in a Super Bowl in at least eight years. (For example, last year's Super Bowl featured the Colts, who participated in the 2006 game, and the Saints, who hadn't ever participated in a Super Bowl.) In those nine occasions, the more experienced team was 5-4. It's also happened in each of the last three seasons, and the more experienced team was 1-2 (the Patriots and Colts lost, while the Steelers won).
Sunday will feature another such matchup, and the Steelers have a monumental edge in Super Bowl experience. Twenty-five Steelers have played in at least one Super Bowl, and 16 Steelers are attempting to win their third ring.
Meanwhile, the Packers have a grand total of two players who participated in a Super Bowl, and neither had a positive memory. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett's Rams lost to the Patriots in 2001, and cornerback Charles Woodson's Raiders lost to the Buccaneers in 2002.
Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, who is attempting to be the fifth quarterback in history to win three Super Bowls, told the media Monday he hoped his experience counted for something, but Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin punted on the notion.
"This is going to be an executed-oriented game," Tomlin told reporters at his news conference. "The team that executes better is going to win."
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has never been to a Super Bowl in any capacity, but he told reporters Monday that he's gotten advice from plenty of coaches who have the experience. At the end of the day, though, McCarthy thought the most important thing would be staying true to themselves. They've got to be who they've been and not change anything.
Think back to the 2007 Patriots for a moment. They were uncharacteristically loose and jovial during Super Bowl week in Arizona, breaking from the mold that helped them win three times before, and they fell victim to one of the greatest upsets in NFL history. That, in a sense, is part of what McCarthy alluded to.
"Just don’t look into the lights," McCarthy said. "That will probably help you. Our players were real excited to get down here [Monday]. They're excited about the process leading up to the game. Like a lot of us, we wish the game was already here. We do want to take away this experience. I told them to be very realistic, be practical, enjoy it. It's unique."
The team that best handles this week's experience will have an edge by Sunday's kickoff, and the Steelers should have no problem recognizing the element. However, recent history indicates Pittsburgh's experience won't give them too much of an edge when the clock is running at Cowboys Stadium.
Will the Steelers have an advantage because of their Super Bowl experience? Leave your thoughts below.
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