FORT WORTH, Texas -- Howdy, Hines. Welcome to Big D.
Hines Ward was ready for a rodeo of a week leading up to the Super Bowl as he stepped off the Pittsburgh Steelers' charter flight when the team arrived in Dallas.
Pittsburgh's star wide receiver, who embraces his reputation as one of the league's most aggressive -- and some say, dirtiest -- players, was decked out in a big black cowboy hat, a black sequined Western-style shirt, blue jeans, boots and a Texas-sized silver belt buckle.
"I'm in Dallas, Texas," Ward said, smiling. "I wanted to put on my whole cowboy outfit and enjoy it. No nerves."
He sure looked loose, and almost like a native Texan. Not bad for a guy born in South Korea who grew up in Georgia and has played in Pittsburgh for 13 years.
"Where'd I find all this stuff?" an amused Ward asked, repeating a reporter's question. "A little place in Monroeville [Pa.]. It's my little diamond in the rough there."
Both the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers arrived in the Dallas area on Monday.
Ward and the rest of these Steelers are no strangers to the NFL's biggest stage, making their third Super Bowl trip in six years. It's a new experience for the Packers.
"We're enjoying this," Ward said. "We know right now that there are a lot of guys who would love to have this opportunity. Being here, there's a comfort level. We kind of know what to expect."
And, in Pittsburgh, titles are expected. The Steelers are looking to win the franchise's seventh league championship Sunday, when they take on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
"We're going to embrace it all," said Mike Tomlin, looking for his second ring as the Steelers' coach.
"You step off the plane and you've got helicopters, you've got police, media and then this," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "If you're not used to it, it could be overwhelming."
Roethlisberger is plenty used to this wild environment, and he has tried to take a low-key approach since winning his first ring back in his second season, when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, in 2006. It was the same three years later, when he engineered a late comeback win as Pittsburgh rallied to beat Arizona, 27-23.
And, this all comes after an offseason in which he was accused of sexual assault of a 20-year-old college student, but a prosecutor in Georgia declined to bring charges. But, Roethlisberger was still suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
"We're all human," Roethlisberger said. "We all make mistakes, and it's how can you bounce back from your mistakes? Just like a football game, you throw interceptions, you lose a game, you've got to be able to bounce back and find a way that it doesn't happen again."
The Steelers are trying to focus only on the task at hand, and might have learned a few things about the Packers in their last meeting -- a 37-36 win in 2009 -- that they can make use of in this game. Not that Tomlin is giving away any secrets.
"You get yourself into trouble when you try to have preconceived notions about how the game is going to unfold," he said. "That was an exciting, entertaining game we had against them a year ago. What happened at Heinz Field in '09 is going to have no bearing on what happens in this stadium. So many of the components of those teams are different, so it's really irrelevant."
From the Packers side, Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings isn't worried about the edge in Super Bowl experience for the Steelers.
Green Bay is playing in its first Super Bowl since 1998, a year after the Packers' last championship. The Steelers are in their third Super Bowl in six seasons.
"We' don't look at it as a disadvantage," Jennings said the Packers arrived in Texas. "Obviously, they're fortunate enough to have guys with the experience of this, the week and what it entails. At the same time, we have a lot of young guys who haven't been in this position, so we don't really know any better."
A Pro Bowl pick this season for the first time, after 76 catches for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns, Jennings described the Packers as loose despite their inexperience in Super Bowls.
"Not knowing what to expect, there isn't that stress factor," Jennings said. "Hopefully on Sunday, we're loose and we come out and play the way we've always been playing."
Even before they practice in North Texas, the Packers have claimed a small victory: They appear to have gone an entire day without getting caught up in a Twitter-driven mini-controversy.
After earning a spot in the Super Bowl, the Packers spent much of last week bickering about -- of all things -- the timing of their team photo.
When the Packers arrived Monday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers insisted the controversy was "resolved" and not an issue.
Two players on injured reserve, linebacker Nick Barnett and tight end Jermichael Finley, posted complaints on their Twitter accounts early last week when it appeared that the team photo would be taken before injured players arrive in the Dallas area. The team eventually scheduled the photo to accommodate injured players, but the controversy continued through the weekend.