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Super Bowl coaches: Let's play the game

TAMPA, Fla. - After nearly two weeks of hype, Ken Whisenhunt spoke for both Super Bowl coaches Friday morning.

"Our guys are ready to play," Whisenhunt said. "I don't know that I have to say anything to get them ready to go."

Speaking from the same podium less than an hour later, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he and his team also are antsy for Sunday's 6:18 p.m. kickoff. He reserved judgment when asked if he was "pleased" with his team's preparation to this point.

"You know, performance always defines preparation," Tomlin said. "I can trick myself into feeling good about it. The reality is, if we play well on Sunday, it was great preparation. If we don't play well on Sunday, then it wasn't good enough."

A reminder of what each team is playing for sat on a table to the right of each coach: the silver Vince Lombardi Trophy.

One organization is flush with Lombardi Trophies -- the Steelers have five -- and the other is hoping to win its first.

Whisenhunt, a former Steelers assistant who lost out to Tomlin when Bill Cowher retired after the 2006 season, has talked this week, and did so again Friday, about bringing the "Steeler Way" to the desert.

"I would hope that somebody coming into our organization from the Pittsburgh Steelers would say there are a lot of similarities, because that's an organization that has been very successful," Whisenhunt said. "Hopefully, we can do a lot of things that that organization has done from a standpoint of winning games, No. 1, from a mentality, and from a belief in how you are successful."

Tomlin came from outside the Steelers' organization -- he was the Vikings' defensive coordinator in 2006 and a defensive backs coach for Tampa Bay before that -- yet won over Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and team president Art Rooney II with his approach. He is very much in the mold of the coaches who preceded him in Pittsburgh, Chuck Noll and Cowher.

"I think one of the reasons that we have had consistent excellence over a long period of time in our organization is because we are under the leadership of Dan and Art Rooney," Tomlin said. "Their vision of what Steeler football is about is very clear. I think I have my job because my vision is similar to what their vision is."

Friday morning was the final time this week that either coach will field questions from the media. Both were asked about their plans for players on Saturday.

"Saturday will be a normal Saturday for us with the morning meetings and a walk-through," Whisenhunt said. "They'll have time in the afternoon to spend time with their family and take care of those things that they normally do, and then we'll have our normal Saturday night meetings, our normal Saturday night routine.

"I think the biggest thing that you have to do is you have to keep a sense of normalcy with your players. By and large, players in the NFL are creatures of habit, and if you can keep that as normal as possible, there's a comfort level that goes with that."

Tomlin said his plan was similar, though he differed from Whisenhunt in one respect. Saturday nights are traditionally when coaches give their best motivational talks, and Whisenhunt said he had an idea of what his Saturday night speech will entail. Tomlin said he had no clue.

"I make a conscious effort to wing it," Tomlin said. "I think that's real. I think our guys relate to that. It's that way that I deal with them, for the most part.

"This week has been tougher than most in terms of trying to keep those thoughts out of my mind because there's a lot to say. But at the same time, I'm intent on doing that [winging it]. I'm going to just walk in and communicate with them like I always do."

New York Sports