Pennsylvania Highways
Super Bowl XL Victory Parade

It had been 26 years since the Pittsburgh Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl when they defeated the then Los Angeles Rams at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on January 20, 1980.  Putting that into perspective, at the time, there were only three major television networks, a Democrat was in the White House, and the Commonwealth was talking about a new expressway that would open in the Monongahela Valley in a few years.  Well, forget the last one.  I was only three at the time and don't remember much from then aside from the hysteria that surrounded Southwestern Pennsylvania.

It had not been as smooth sailing for the team as it was during the 1970s since that last victory.  Chuck Noll, who led the team through the four victories, retired after the 1991 season and brought on-board was a young former player and coach by the name of Bill Cowher.  Many looked at him to be the one who would win the "One for the Thumb," a reference to winning a fifth championship.

Just a mere three years later, the new head coach would lead the team to the first AFC Championship game only to loose to the San Diego Chargers who went on to drop Super Bowl XXIX to the San Francisco 49ers.  The following year the team would return the AFC Championship game, but the outcome would be different.  The Steelers would face their 1970 Super Bowl rival, Dallas Cowboys, in Super Bowl XXX, but the outcome would again be different and not for the good this time.  The Steelers would also drop the 1997, 2001, and after a team best 15-1 season performance, the 2004 AFC Championship games. 

The 2005 season began on a high note with two consecutive wins, but then the loses began to pile-up and compounding the situation was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's knee injury.  Upon his return, the team managed to finish at 11-5 and get into the playoffs as the number sixth seed.  After finishing off the Cincinnati Bengals, and the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts, it was back into a familiar but uncomfortable place:  the AFC Championship game.  Beating the Denver Broncos meant it was onto an unfamiliar place in Super Bowl XL.  Not since the 1985 New England Patriots had a wildcard team made it to one, but unlike them, the Steelers would top the Seattle Seahawks and finally get the fabled "One for the Thumb" after almost three decades.

Since the Super Bowl was taking place in Detroit, which is only 285 miles away by car, a good number of "Steeler Nation" faithful made the journey.  So much black and gold filled Ford Field that it looked more like they were playing in Heinz Field.  As they say, "to the victor go the spoils," but to the victor's fans went congestion.  The fans who made the journey to Detroit caused a six-mile-long traffic jam on the Ohio Turnpike at the state line trying to return to the "City of Champions."  However, unlike being stuck on the Parkways in rush hour, it turned into a linear tailgate party with vehicles sporting Steeler flags or passengers waving Terrible Towels out of the windows.

The victory parade was held on Tuesday, February 7 with around 250,000 fans lining the route that wound through downtown from Mellon Arena to Point State Park.  It tied a June 15, 1991 parade for units returning from Operation Desert Storm in terms of number of people packed into downtown for a single event.  The largest gathering is believed to be the 300,000 who filled the streets on October 14, 1960 after Pirate Bill Mazeroski hit his famous ninth-inning home run in Game Seven of the World Series to defeat the New York Yankees.

The Pittsburgh Paramedic Honor Guard leads the way.  (Jeff Kitsko)
North Catholic High School marching band next is in line.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Right Guard Kendall Simmons (left) and back- up Center Chukky Okobi (right)
(Jeff Kitsko)
Right Guard Kendall Simmons (left) and Left Guard Alan Faneca (right)
(Jeff Kitsko)
Gateway High School marching band  (Jeff Kitsko)
Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau (left) and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt (right)  (Jeff Kitsko)
Safety Troy Polamalu (behind the Terrible Towel), Left Outside Linebacker James Harrison, and a couple more of the defensive line.  Further down the parade route, Polamalu and Harrison would do some crowd surfing.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Running Back Willie Parker who set a Super Bowl record when he sprinted 75
yards for a touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter to put the Steelers up
14-3.  (Jeff Kitsko)
North Allegheny High School marching band  (Jeff Kitsko)
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who became the youngest starting quarterback to
win a Super Bowl, and back-up Quarterback Charlie Batch.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Punter Chris Gardocki, Place Kicker Jeff Reed (behind the glove), and Punter Mike Barr  (Jeff Kitsko)
Split End Cedrick Wilson  (Jeff Kitsko)
Perry Traditional Academy marching band  (Jeff Kitsko)
Right Outside Linebacker Joey Porter, the most outspoken Steeler, and a couple
more of the defensive line.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Gladys and Johnnie Bettis, parents of Running Back Jerome Bettis, who became
celebrities in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.  (Jeff Kitsko)
Super Bowl XL's Most Valuable Player Wide Reciever Hines Ward was the last in
the procession. As he passed, the crowd responded with chants of "M-V-P."
(Jeff Kitsko)
Heinz Field, home of the 2005 Super Bowl Champions, seen from Point State
Park.  (Jeff Kitsko)

Being born and raised in Southwestern Pennsylvania automatically makes you a Steelers fan; however, I'm probably closer than some.  I attended Saint Vincent College (where the team has training camp), lived in Rooney Hall (where the team lives during camp), and worked for the organization during the 1997 training camp.  Arthur Rooney II, son of Dan Rooney, was my commencement speaker and I had a chance to meet him after the ceremony.  A very soft spoken and personable man, much like his father and his father's father, you would not think of him as the owner of a major professional sports franchise.  He laughed when I joked about being a Rooney Hall dorm representative on student government and making sure nothing happened to the summer home of the team.

The Pittsburgh Steelers: The Official Team History
by Abby Mendelson (1996)

Perhaps the most storied football team in the National Football League, the Steelers began their climb up the ladder to greatness through many loosing seasons.  The 1970s saw them reach the top, when they became the first team in the history of the NFL to win four Super Bowls.

Pittsburgh Steelers:  The Complete History DVD
by NFL Films (2005)

From the era as the Pittsburgh Pirates, through the lean years, to the dynasty of the 1970s, this DVD is truly a complete history.  Comes with Super Bowl XIII and special features on Bill Cowher, Jerome Bettis, and Terry Bradshaw, Franco's Italian Army, Rocky Bleier, Myron Cope, Dick Hoak, and Bill Saul.

Steelers 2005 AFC Champions Locker Room Tee
by Reebok (2006)

Root for the Steelers this season with this shirt commemorating the sixth AFC Championship the team has won.  The white shirt comes in sizes large and x-large.

Steelers 2005 AFC Champions Locker Room Cap
by Reebok (2006)

Perfect compliment to the above shirt and for keeping warm in the cold Pittsburgh winter.  Show your support for the Steelers with this cap commemorating the sixth AFC Championship the team has won.

Steelers Super Bowl XL Champions Locker Room Tee
by Reebok (2006)

Wear this shirt with pride commemorating the "one for the thumb" this year while rooting for the defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers.  The gray shirt comes in kid's and women's sizes small, medium, large, and x-large and men's sizes medium, large, x-large, and xx-large.

Steelers Super Bowl XL Champions Locker Room Cap
by Reebok (2006)

Perfect compliment to the above shirt and for keeping warm in the cold Pittsburgh winter.  Show your support for the Steelers with this cap commemorating the fifth Super Bowl the team has won.

  • Purchase it in either kid or adult sizes

Super Bowl XL Terrible Towel
by McArthur Sports (2006)

Started in the 1970s by former Steeler radio broadcaster Myron Cope, the Terrible Towel has become a recognized symbol of the organization.  All proceeds from sales of the towel go to the Allegheny Valley School where Myron Cope's mentally handicapped son resides.  This version comes with the logo and final score.

Super Bowl XL-Pittsburgh Steelers Championship DVD
by Warner Home Video (2006)

Highlights the improbable season that led to the Steelers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.  Included are team records and photos, the NFL Divisional Playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, and a tribute to Jerome Bettis and his retirement announcement.

Tough as Steel
by Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (2006)

Chronicles the Steelers' 2005 season with in-depth coverage of each game, as well as profiles of Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, and Bill Cowher.

National Football League
Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers Fever
Steelers Special Edition - WTAE-TV Pittsburgh
Steelers Victory Parade Slideshow - Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau
Super Bowl XL - Super Bowl XL Host Committee
Super Bowl XL Victory Parade - City of Pittsburgh
Super Bowl XL Victory Parade - Pittsburgh Steelers

Back to Pennsylvania Highways
Back to Pennsylvania Highways Features
Page updated May 06, 2008.
Content and graphics, unless otherwise noted, copyright Jeffrey J. Kitsko. All rights reserved.
Background courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers.