FORT WORTH, Texas -- Howdy, Hines. Welcome to Big D.
Pittsburgh's star wide receiver, who embraces his reputation as one of the league's most aggressive -- and some say, dirtiest -- players, was decked out in a big black cowboy hat, a black sequined Western-style shirt, blue jeans, boots and a Texas-sized silver belt buckle.
"I'm in Dallas, Texas," Ward said, smiling. "I wanted to put on my whole cowboy outfit and enjoy it. No nerves."
He sure looked loose, and almost like a native Texan. Not bad for a guy born in South Korea who grew up in Georgia and has played in Pittsburgh for 13 years.
"Where'd I find all this stuff?" an amused Ward asked, repeating a reporter's question. "A little place in Monroeville (Pa.). It's my little diamond in the rough there."
"We're enjoying this," Ward said. "We know right now that there are a lot of guys who would love to have this opportunity. Being here, there's a comfort level. We kind of know what to expect."
"Just like last time when we were in this game, it's our intention to enjoy all of the elements that this week has in store for us and not fight against it," said Tomlin, looking for his second ring as the Steelers' coach. "Part of you is somewhat resistant to some of the things, but we're not going to make a negative out of what a wonderful week that we have awaiting us. We are going to embrace it all."
"You step off the plane and you've got helicopters, you've got police, media and then this," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "If you're not used to it, it could be overwhelming."
"I definitely think it's more a sense of calm on our side of the ball, being that we've been here," linebacker James Farrior said. "A lot of guys in this locker room have got Super Bowl experience. I think it'll help us out just dealing with everything that'll be going on this week."
Roethlisberger is plenty used to this wild environment, and he has tried to take a low-key approach since winning his first ring back in his second season, when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in 2006. It was the same three years later, when he engineered a late comeback win as Pittsburgh rallied to beat Arizona 27-23.
"I'm just taking it in stride, enjoying this opportunity, regardless of what comes and the outcomes," he said. "I'm just taking it all in."
And, this all comes after an offseason in which he was accused of sexual assault of a 20-year-old college student, but a prosecutor in Georgia declined to bring charges. But, Roethlisberger still was suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the season -- later reduced to four -- for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
"We're all human," Roethlisberger said. "We all make mistakes, and it's how can you bounce back from your mistakes? Just like a football game, you throw interceptions, you lose a game, you've got to be able to bounce back and find a way that it doesn't happen again."
"You get yourself into trouble when you try to have preconceived notions about how the game is going to unfold," he said. "That was an exciting, entertaining game we had against them a year ago. ... What happened at Heinz Field in '09 is going to have no bearing on what happens in this stadium. So many of the components of those teams are different, so it's really irrelevant."
But even Tomlin acknowledged that that meeting could help ramp up the expectations for a hard-fought, close Super Bowl game.
"This is going to be an execution-oriented game," Tomlin said. "The team that executes better is going to have a better chance to win. So we're going to sharpen our sword for battle with that in mind."
When he took over as the Steelers coach in 2007, he set some lofty goals for himself and the franchise. And, he's one win closer to achieving the biggest of all.
"It's probably about two Super Bowls short of my vision," he said. "But that's just me. I'm not in a reflection mode. I'm really not. I'm just trying to go and do it."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press