When Super Bowl 43 kicks off in Raymond James stadium on Sunday, two unlikely opponents will meet head-to-head: Team Humility vs. Team Gratitude.
Faith will play a larger role than ever before right in the middle of the Super Bowl hoopla. And it won't be with pre-game public prayers or loud demonstrative pronouncements. No, faith will influence the Super Bowl, on the world's biggest stage, through two of its primary virtues: humility and gratitude.
Steelers' owner, Dan Rooney, leads Team Humility. Rooney, a devout Catholic who attends Mass each day, exudes low-key simplicity. He lives in a modest house, from which he walks to home games. The owner drives a Buick, stands in line to eat lunch in the team cafeteria each day, and speaks to his players by name. His entire work force marvels at how Rooney treats everyone equally, from star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to the laundry room laborer. In other words, Rooney models humility, not counting himself as higher or more important than others in the organization.
Dan Rooney assumed the reins of the Steelers from his father. From the beginning of their ownership, the family has instilled humility into the core DNA of the Steelers' organization. Steeler leadership exhibits little patience for luxuries, egos, and frills. Rather than boasting a self-exalting star named Terrell Owens, the Steelers lead instead with the workaday Hines Ward, known for his work ethic, versatility, and blocking. Rather than high-profile coaches who serve on a rotisserie at the pleasure of ownership, the Steelers have had only three coaches in the last thirty years. Mike Tomlin, head coach, is a man known less for words and more for action. Tomlin values team and success over individuals or stardom. He says, “We don't care who gets the credit, and all we want to do is win.” In other words, just do the job, and all the details of self will work out.
Many observers, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, have commented that the Steelers' humility reflects the workmanlike ethic of the city of Pittsburgh. But the Steelers' humility finds its origins first and foremost in the faith life of Dan Rooney. Rooney's deep devotion expresses itself not in public prayers or pious pronouncements, but in quiet, humble leadership, day in and day out.