Super Bowl notebook: Ex-Steelers QB Miller likes Bears

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- The line of quarterbacks between the previous time the Chicago Bears won a Super Bowl 21 years ago and today is a long one.

Among them are at least three former Steelers quarterbacks, who were intertwined in many ways. Jim Miller opened the 1996 season as the Steelers' starter but was replaced at halftime of their first game by Mike Tomczak, who started the rest of the season before he was replaced in 1997 by Kordell Stewart.

Tomczak was the Bears' starting quarterback for parts of the 1986 through 1990 seasons. Miller eventually became Chicago's starter in 2001 and parts of 2002, and one of those who succeeded him was Stewart.

Miller, once bitter at Steelers coach Bill Cowher for yanking him halfway through his first game after declaring him the team's starting quarterback after Neil O'Donnell signed elsewhere, sees things differently today.

"He had a lot of veterans on the team," Miller said yesterday here. "Greg Lloyd, Rod Woodson -- those guys wanted to win now. He chose to go with Mike Tomczak. I wish it would have worked out differently, but it hardened me, it made me a better player. I got kicked around a little bit. I resurfaced in Chicago, and everything worked out all right."

He also picked up a Super Bowl ring as a backup with New England in 2004. Today, Miller is the football color analyst for his alma mater, Michigan State. He also does a four-hour talk show three days a week on Sirius NFL Radio and another show Sunday night after the games. He retired in 2005 after a hip injury with the New York Giants.

"I like the Bears," said Miller. "A lot of people aren't giving them credit. I think they're more physical. I think that injury to Nick Harper is going to play big in this game."

The Colts' cornerback has a high ankle sprain and may not play. Miller also believes that rain, which is forecast for Sunday night, could help the Bears' punishing ground game.

"I think that's definitely in the Bears' favor -- a bigger offensive line against a lighter line of the Indianapolis Colts. I think the Bears are going to pull it out."

Big Ben adopts low profile

Ben Roethlisberger won't appear at the Super Bowl for the first time since he joined the Steelers in 2004 and became their starting quarterback.

After that season, he won the NFL rookie of the year award in the days leading up to the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, and he also made an appearance for Campbell's Chunky Soups.

A year ago, he played in the game. But Roethlisberger has other things on his mind these days.

Monday, he had dinner with new Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh, and Roethlisberger has no big commercial television ads or other endorsements scheduled anytime soon.

"He's laying low and focusing internally," said Ryan Tollner, his agent.

There are Bears and Da Bears

The Bears cannot escape their 1985 predecessors who won Super Bowl XX, and that team is one of four finalists as the greatest of Super Bowl champions in America's Game.

"During the season, it seems like every day they want to compare us to them or talk about them," said linebacker Brian Urlacher. "The guys are still around, though, so you still see them come around the facility. Most of them are my friends, so I still talk to them every once in a while."

Oh brother

Brothers will officiate in a Super Bowl for the first time when Carl Paganelli serves as the umpire and Perry Paganelli as back judge.

The NFL announced the seven-man crew yesterday, headed by Tony Corrente, who will referee his first Super Bowl. The other officials are George Hayward (head linesman), Ron Marinucci (line judge), Jim Saracino (field judge) and John Parry (side judge).

The highest-rated official at each position under the NFL's evaluation system is chosen to officiate at the Super Bowl, provided he has five years of NFL experience and has worked in past playoffs.

Noll not forgotten

Chuck Noll was brought into the Super Bowl conversation this week and every time, not unexpectedly, in laudatory terms. The comments coming from members of the Indianapolis Colts -- quarterback Peyton Manning, offensive coordinator Tom Moore and head coach Tony Dungy -- show that 15 years after his retirement the Hall of Fame coach still has an impact on the game.

Manning's dad, Archie, was a quarterback in the NFL when Noll was coaching the Steelers to four Super Bowl championships.

Peyton Manning said: "Part of playing in the NFL and the reason you have confidence is because of how hard you worked and how hard you prepared. I've used this quote before. My dad gave it to me when I was a kid. It was by Chuck Noll, which said, 'Pressure is something you feel only when you don't know what you are doing.'

"I really abide by that when it comes to preparation. Tom Moore and Tony Dungy have that same philosophy and both of them have worked for Chuck Noll."

Moore, an assistant under Noll from 1978-89, said, "I had a great run with the Steelers. Chuck Noll was good to me. He was so confident in himself. As an assistant coach, he allowed you to grow. He gave you a position to coach and he let you coach it. And he coached you a lot. He coached me. I was the luckiest guy in the world getting the opportunity to start with Chuck Noll."

Dungy, who played for and coached under Noll, was asked how his team overcame defensive injuries.

"We just concentrated on doing what we do and not getting too exotic. Lovie [Smith] said it best, and he's been in staff meetings with me when we've had trouble. I've always said something I've got from Coach Noll:

" 'When you struggle, do less.' That's what we try to do; we cut back on some of the things we were doing so we could execute a little faster, and I think that helped the guys."

Super Linebacker

The top 10 Super Bowl linebackers as selected by Sports Illustrated on SI.com.

LinebackerTeamJack LambertSteelersRay LewisRavensRod MartinRaidersTed HendricksColts, RaidersChuck HowleyCowboysLawrence TaylorGiantsNick BuonicontiDolphinsRay NitschkePackersDerrick BrooksBuccaneersMike SingletaryBears 

Bob Smizik contributed to this report. Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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