Editor's Note: Our next Super Bowl Q&A is with Michael Bean of SB Nation's Behind The Steel Curtain, who writes to us from Dallas prior to today's game.
BallHyped.com: Hey Michael, thanks for taking the time to discuss your blog, Behind The Steel Curtain and the Super Bowl. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how Behind the Steel Curtain came about?
I started Behind the Steel Curtain the week before Super Bowl XL. SB Nation had not yet filled out its roster of NFL blogs, so I was certainly very fortunate to jump on board with the network at a time when it was essentially still in its early stages. It was purely a hobby at the time, but as I became more immersed with the site, I became interested in the constantly evolving world of communication technologies and enrolled in a Masters program in Digital Media Communications at the University of Washington in Seattle. When I'm not writing about the Steelers or the NFL for Behind the Steel Curtain and other sites on the SB Nation network, I teach kids how to tell and share their stories through mediums like video, photography, blogging, etc.
We have a ton of bloggers on BallHyped.com, some who blog for blog networks, some who don't. How has it been blogging for SBNation and why would you recommend it to other sports bloggers?
In my humble opinion, SB Nation is the absolute gold standard when it comes to blogging. Not necessarily because the content is always head and shoulders above the rest of the sports blogging world. There's tons of amazingly talented bloggers outside of SB Nation. However, the tools SB Nation gives us bloggers are incredible. The network's proprietary content management system was designed specifically for sports fans, and the collaborative publishing aspects of the site (fanposts/fanshots) really make for a unique, social experience. There are close to 300 blogs on the network, which of course means there's fewer opportunities to break through and join the network. However, sites like Behind the Steel Curtain are always looking for contributing authors, and there's no better place to find them than amongst our own community. So join the conversation, highlight your own work in a tasteful way, and eventually you're going to get noticed.
What advice do you have for less established bloggers trying to make a name for themselves ... considering not everyone blogs regularly about teams that keep making it back to the Super Bowl every few years (lucky dogs!)?
Well, it's definitely a treat to be a Steelers fan, and it's always more fun to talk shop when your team is winning. But wins and losses really have no effect on how popular or big your blog can become. In fact, when your team is losing, there's often times more to talk about (what went wrong, how to fix it, etc) than when your team is winning. The offseason is absolutely the most important time of year to dig in and write as much as you can. That's the time of year when people are starved for as much content and analysis as possible. The vast majority of blogs will kind of shut down during the offseason, but that's the worst thing you can do because that's when you can really differentiate yourself and earn the loyalty of new readers.
Love the name of your site ... would you say the Steelers teams of the past six or seven years are starting to resemble those defensive powers of yesterday?
Absolutely. Comparing defenses of recent years with the Steel Curtain units of the 70s is tricky because of how much the game has changed. I actually did a series of posts this season that tracked the stats of the 2010, 2008 and 1976 defenses. You can see the final post in the series here. Even though recent Steelers defenses don't quite compare statistically to the great groups of the 70s, they sure have been dominant and a huge reason why the Steelers continue to find themselves in the mix for division and Super Bowl titles.
What was your favorite post on the Steelers this year? How about your favorite moment of the season?
One of my favorite posts of the year was written by a contributing author that I'm very fortunate to have writing on the site. It was titled 'The Character of the Pittsburgh Steelers Has Never Changed', and it was written this past spring after the news broke about Ben Roethlisberger's alleged incident in Georgia. My favorite moment of the season had to be the second half of the Divisional Round win over Baltimore. What a remarkable and exciting turn of events.
At the beginning of the year, with the Big Ben drama and suspension, did you think the Steelers had any shot at the Super Bowl?
I thought they would be a very good team because of how great the defense is. It's incredibly difficult to win it all though, so I wouldn't necessarily say I thought the Steelers were Super Bowl bound. But when your defense returns that many talented players, you're going to have an opportunity to win plenty of games.
Were you still a Big Ben fan at the beginning of the year? What are your thoughts on him now?
My thoughts on him as a person haven't ever really changed. I always thought he was a bit standoffish and not exactly the type of dude I'd want to be friends with. What has changed is my view on him as a quarterback. I always thought he was special, but I've been impressed by how much more seriously he's taken his craft this season. More time in the film room with his receivers and offensive line, and the end result has been better decision making and a better understanding of what defenses are trying to do.
Steelers vs. Packers. Has a historic feel to it. Does it get any better than that?
It's certainly a dream matchup for the league and the TV networks! Casual fans are probably more excited to watch this year's Super Bowl than they were, say, two years ago when the Steelers faced the Arizona Cardinals. Should be a great game!
With everything that happened during the offseason, particularly at the QB position, you could say the Steelers are somewhat of a surprise to make the Super Bowl, but same could be said for the Packers. What are your thoughts on the Packers and are you surprised by their late surge?
I'm surprised by how resilient they've been considering the mind-boggling number of injuries they faced early on in the season. Steeler Nation thought we were unlucky by all the injuries, but somehow it paled in comparison to how Green Bay's roster was decimated. Their late season surge reminds me of the '05 Steelers team that needed to win out just to make the playoffs as the last Wild Card. Then once the playoffs start, anything can happen, particularly when you have a competent quarterback under center.
What’s your favorite part about the Super Bowl?
I've been down here in Dallas since Wednesday covering the Super Bowl. It's been an incredible experience and I'm very appreciative of SB Nation and the NFL allowing us bloggers to cover the event.
Who do you have winning this year’s game? How about a score?
I'm not much of a prediction guy, and I've not predicted a big win very often this year, but I really think the Steelers will handle Green Bay. I'd say a 14+ win except I can see the Packers scoring a late score or two to make it close. So, how about 27-21.