Coach Mike Tomlin's drive to keep everything as normal as possible for a team on its way to the Super Bowl got off to a bad start yesterday.
An hour before his weekly televised noon news conference was to begin, it was delayed until 1 p.m. on orders of Steelers chairman Dan Rooney because of a conflict. Something about the new president taking the oath of office at noon in Washington.
"What we are doing here today pales in comparison to what's going on in our nation's capitol with President Obama's inauguration," Tomlin said.
Tomlin hopes to become the first coach of a sports champion to receive a phone call from the new president.
"I will cross that bridge when I come to it," Tomlin said. "I am just trying to put together a decent game plan at this point."
To maintain a sense of normalcy while the rest of Pittsburgh loses its own, the Steelers will go through a regular work week -- off yesterday with practices today through Friday. The coaches began formulating a game plan yesterday, as usual. There just won't be a game Sunday.
"We are not playing the Super Bowl today," Tomlin said. "So, there is no need for the hair to stand up on the back of my neck today. It is Tuesday. We are putting in a game plan.
"You need to be somewhat cerebral as you approach it that way. I think that I am. We've got some work to do from that standpoint. We need to ready ourselves more than anything for our guys coming into the building tomorrow morning to receive the information that we are going to have for them."
It will be Tomlin's last chance to create a normal atmosphere for his players because, starting Monday, when they depart for Tampa, the Super circus awaits.
"I need to create an environment that is similar to the one that we have had all year because it has been a winning formula for us," Tomlin said. "We're going to be a humble group. We're going to be a grounded group. We're going to be a selfless group. We are going to respect the process that is required for us to prepare and ultimately we acknowledge that it is our play that gets it done.
"We can't play today. We can prepare today. We are going to master the things that we can control. That's our level of preparation today."
Twenty-two players on his roster have Super Bowl XL rings, as do nine members of his staff, and this isn't Tomlin's first rodeo, either. He earned a Super Bowl XXXVII ring as the secondary coach with Tampa Bay.
"To be quite frank, it is not normalcy waiting for us on the other end," Tomlin said of the scene awaiting his team next week. "Those that have been a part of that understand that. At the same time, we've got a nice blend of veteran guys and guys that have been there.
"It's never been our goal to get to the Super Bowl. I think our guys will keep that in perspective and understand why we are going to Tampa. We are going to Tampa to do the job."
Many of his counterparts have Super Bowl experience in Arizona, too, and Tomlin acknowledged yesterday that Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, his top assistant Russ Grimm and others on their staff might have some kind of an advantage by previously working on Bill Cowher's staff with some of the current players.
"I am sure that it is an advantage in some form of a fashion. Is it a significant enough advantage to be the difference in the outcome of the football game? I am not willing or ready to say that. We have no control over that, so it is not our worry at this point.
"What they know is what they know. The Baltimore Ravens know us pretty well. That's football."
Ed Bouchette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .