From the Steelers Digest right after Ben was drafted... It's a slow news time, so I decided to delve into the archives for a little bit of past reflection...

2004 season about veterans
Bob Labriola

The names getting all the attention right now are Roethlisberger, Colclough
and Starks. But the names that will matter starting in July are Faneca and Ward and Hampton; Simmons, Marvel Smith, Hartings, Ross, Maddox, Burress, Bettis, Staley, Riemersma, Bell, Haggans, Smith and von Oelhoffen; Porter, Farrior, Hope, Townsend, Polamalu and Scott.

Those in that second group are the ones with the say in how the Steelers
do in 2004, whether they compete for a championship or watch the playoffs
from home for the second straight year.

There always is excitement surrounding an NFL draft, because the fresh blood lends itself to a level of optimism that can find its way to the irrational.

Immediately after a draft, every pick is an answer to an on-field problem. But the reality is that every one of these newbies is about to step up in class, and the difference is light years away from the one they experienced from high school to college.

There are no Purdues or Marshalls on the schedule anymore, no more 19-year-olds across the line of scrimmage.

The worst players in the NFL right now were stars when they were in college, and thereís something extra desperate about a man whoís fighting to protect a paycheck. Within the industry, the Steelersí 1974 draft is considered the best in NFL history. Four Hall of Fame players in the first five rounds, plus two
undrafted free agents who played a lot of football on a team that won four
trophies. Thatís the standard, but not even those guys were stars that first

Lynn Swann was a dynamite punt returner, but Antwaan Randle El was
a better one last year on a 6-10 team. Jack Lambert made a lot of tackles,
but he was only the teamís third-best linebacker and those defensive linemen
made things awfully simple for everyone else. John Stallworth caught 16 passes. Mike Webster was part of a rotation at guard. And when Donnie
Shell and Randy Grossman got to play at all, it was special teams.

Certainly, those rookies contributed, often in spectacular fashion, but the difference-makers were the guys already on the team. Kolb and Mullins. Harris and Bleier. Ham. Blount. Russell. White and Holmes and Greene and Greenwood. That first trophy belonged to them.

That was a generation ago, but the lesson to be learned is that even when great players are added via a particular draft class, they end up being supporting actors in the drama that unfolds, good or bad, in the ensuing

The Steelers assembled for the first time as a 2004 roster on May 7, and
Coach Bill Cowher isnít backing off when it comes to the stated goal of
ending the season at the Super Bowl.

There are times when moves have to be made with an eye to the future, but Dan Rooney believes in trying to win every season, and he got that trait from his father. Itís what the Steelers are about. They may fail, and they often have, but the goal never changes.

This is the atmosphere into which these players have begun working with a coaching staff that includes four new faces and two different coordinators.

And, to a man, each one has something to prove, each one has to be better than he was in 2003.

Itís OK if it feels better to lay off last yearís 6-10 on some injuries to the offensive line, or on turnovers, or on too many gadget plays and not enough blitzing. But the truth is that too many guys didnít win enough of their one-on-one matchups every week, whether the situation was runblock or pass-rush or blitz-pickup or making a play on the football.

There is no such thing as rebuilding in the NFL today, because there are too many instances of worst-to first in division races to justify wasting a season. Cowher wonít play rookies in regular season games only to get them experience, and so youíll see largely the same people on the field for a critical third down come September that you saw for a critical third down last December.

Go back to the names on that second list. Itís their team. Theyíre the ones who have to fix it, because there are no saviors in the NFL.