Easy to see game's importance
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
Saturday October 30, 2010

For most Steelers, it’s all business this weekend. They’re in New Orleans trying to win a football game. But for five of them, the trip to the Big Easy is way more than that.

That’s home for them. They were born and raised there. Their families and friends still live there.

[IMGL]http://i54.tinypic.com/v5yjps.jpg[/IMGL]They understand the history, the diverse cultures and the way of life in that fascinating city. They love the food. They love the music.

They also understand the heartache New Orleans experienced in recent years, first with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and now with the BP oil spill.

“I’m always fired up for every game we play,” said cornerback Ike Taylor, one of five Steelers who hail from New Orleans or its suburbs. “But with me going back home, I’m sure it will be more emotional than most games I play. I’m going back home for the first time ever.”

The last time the Steelers played in New Orleans, Taylor was a senior at Louisiana-Lafayette. That was in 2002, when wide receiver Mike Wallace and cornerback Keenan Lewis were sophomores at O. Perry High School in New Orleans.

A year later, Wallace and Lewis played in the state’s Class 4A championship game at the Superdome.

Free safety Ryan Clark, a former LSU star, moved away once he turned pro. But he loves New Orleans so much he’s moving back after this season. He’s already purchased his new dream house.

He doesn’t even seem to mind that during the off-season he’ll probably see many of the Saints who now call New Orleans home. He’s so happy for everyone down on the bayou that the Saints were able to bring great joy to the city and the entire state last season by winning the Super Bowl.

“I thank them for bringing that championship to that city,” Clark said. “If we couldn’t win it, I’m glad they did.”

Of the five Steelers with “ragin’ Cajun” roots, Taylor is the only one yet to play in the Superdome. He’s played in every NFL city except his native New Orleans.

Backup running Mewelde Moore, a native of Baton Rouge, played college football at Tulane, which played home games in the Superdome

“For me, this means a lot,” Moore said. “Not only am I proud to be an American, but I’m proud to be from Louisiana. I’m proud to be from New Orleans. I grew up a Saints fan. Every Sunday I cheered for them as a kid.

“That’s why I was so happy for them last year. It was good for the city. It was good for the state. It was good for our entire country.”

For as much as Moore respects the Saints, he plans on doing whatever he can to help the Steelers beat them tonight. Likewise for Taylor, Clark, Wallace and Lewis.

“I’m from there. I’ll be back home,” Clark said. “It’s going to be awesome.”