It's appropriate that the Pittsburgh Steelers have the color gold in their uniforms.
If there's a gold standard for the NFL, it's the Steelers. Six Super Bowl championships and 28 winning seasons dating back to Chuck Noll's first year as coach in 1969 tells an impressive story.
Third-year coach Mike Tomlin's goal to add a seventh Super Bowl title hit a few roadblocks early in the season with consecutive losses to the Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals. Is Tomlin worried about a Super Bowl hangover?
"It's not something we're dealing with or even acknowledging," Tomlin said. "Last year is last year. I'm taking the approach that it's no different than the '74 and '75 Steelers. Our team has that same mentality."
The Browns, who have lost 11 straight and 25 of the last 29 games to the Steelers, could learn a few lessons from the Steelers' organization. The first place to start would be continuity. The Steelers have had it for four decades. The Browns haven't it in the last four decades.
Former Browns owner Art Modell once said that the late Art Rooney, who purchased the Steelers in 1993, "got lucky" when he put together the team that won four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. Modell said Rooney told him that in reference to landing a great quarterback (Terry Bradshaw) and Noll at the same time.
It takes more than luck to have enough lasting power to carry through four decades. The Steelers have drafted well and mixed in the right amount of fiscal responsibility in avoiding big-ticket free agents, but it's all worked because of consistency. Remarkably, they've had just three head coaches since Noll replaced Bill Austin. That same continuity has filtered down through the coaching staff as seen by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who's spent 11 combined seasons with the Steelers in two stints.
"Dick has been there quite a long time, and they've been consistent in the things that they do," Browns coach Eric Mangini replied when asked if he admires the way the Steelers have been consistently good on defense. "That really helps what you're trying to get done because everything you do isn't breaking new ground. The older guys can help teach the younger guys."
The concept of continuity is foreign within the halls of the Browns' facility. Coaches come and go with regularity. Ownership thinks the general manger should have most of the power one year, and the next year it might think the head coach should have all the power while the GM stays in the background and only talks when allowed (check current GM George Kokinis).
Mangini would like nothing better than to have enough job security to allow his plan to grow over a period of at least four seasons, but he won't feel totally secure unless the team begins winning with regularity.
The situation is different for Tomlin, who led the Steelers to a Super Bowl win in his second season. He's now trying to do what Noll did twice - bring home back-to-back Super Bowl championships.
"We let each individual performance stand on its own," Tomlin said. "No question, if we're going to be a championship-caliber team, we have to be capable of stringing wins together. Our approach is that each week stands on its own. We're not worried about what we did last week or the week before."
If the past holds true, Tomlin will be with the Steelers for a long time. Noll lasted 23 seasons, and Cowher held the job 15 seasons before heading off to the CBS studios.
"I never focused on replacing coach Cowher," Tomlin said. "I have a great deal of respect for what he's done in this business and specifically in Pittsburgh. All I can be is me and trust my instincts and do what's best. The longer I'm here, the better understanding I have of all the moving parts here.
"We like to fashion ourselves as a singly-focused group, and that focus is winning. Personal agendas and things of that nature are secondary."
The motto seems to be that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.