With the Steelers hosting the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday, our Ron Lippock caught up with some members of the 2005 Seahawks team that faced the Steelers in Super Bowl XL in Detroit.
Today, Ron spoke with former Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck about his life, his memories of the big game and if the rivalry lives on today.
First – tell me a bit about what you’ve been doing with yourself since retirement from the NFL?
Well, I’m an insurance broker here in Seattle. I’ve been doing that since I retired – really before I retired. I was doing that in the offseason for about five years before I retired. I retired right after the playoffs – went to Costa Rica and fished for two weeks – then came back and continued to work.
Jumping into the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh – how did you guys prepare for that game?
I think we approached it as we did most games. We got Pittsburgh when they were hot – they got hot at the right time and won some road games in the playoffs. But we prepared like we always prepared. We looked at it as – we do what we do and know how we want to prepare for games. We knew Pittsburgh had their exotic blitzes and were strong upfront – they had guys you had to account for of course. But we prepared they way we felt we should have and didn’t worry so much about what Pittsburgh did. That’s how we approached the season and we felt like we had a good week of practice.
We had a lot of respect for those guys, I knew Kimo – I played against him when he was in Cincinnati and I was in Atlanta. He was a tough guy. And Hampton was a Pro Bowl nosetackle – he had a low center of gravity and was tough to move. It was a team you had to prepare for well in the film room because of what they did on defense. We knew it was going to be a tough game. But we felt we’d be successful. Heck, we were a team that made it to the Super Bowl team too. We thought we could establish the run and get Shaun into the open field where he could really do some big things. He had a great season and we felt if we could get him in open field, he’d have some big plays.
As the game went on – well you know about the calls and I won’t get into whether they were good or not. All year long we were able to overcome things like that – we just weren’t able to that game for some reason.
Did the penalties get to you guys as the game went on? Urban said you guys got frustrated after a while. And maybe got a bit conservative.
Oh I don’t know. We kept taking our shots. The holding call on Locklear looked like Haggans was clearly offsides. That killed some of our momentum. The pass interference call on Jackson that negated the touchdown could have gone either way for sure. And we had a good punt return – it went up the sidelines and that got called back. I just remember thinking on the sidelines that every time we did something good it got called back. I didn’t know then if they were good or bad calls. We were able to overcome calls like that all season. Give the Steelers credit too for not letting us get out from under those and making the plays. So credit goes to them for that.
Any memories stand out to you from the game?
As a center you can be freed up sometimes to help some other guys on the line out. I used to like to give guys a shot in the earhole or in the ribs – just to let them know I was there and to be thinking about me. I played with Ironhead Heyward who would hit guys so hard in the pass rush – he’d just destroy their ribs. They’d be watching out for him the rest of the game.
Well, I tried to do that to Kimo early on in the game. I gave him a hit as hard as I could in the ribs – it was a little bit dirty – but legal. But a good shot in the ribs. Well, he just got up and said “Good shot – good hit!” I wanted to get him fired up and worried. I just thought, doggone it, I didn’t get to him like I wanted to!
Who were the guys on your team that were the emotional leaders – the ones who got guys fired up?
I was probably one of those guys – I was at least for the offensive line. It was a quieter group so I was probably the mouth of the group. Grant Wistrom – who we just got that year from the Rams – he was a talker on the defensive line. And a couple of our younger linebackers on defense – Totupo and Leroy Hill were as well. And of course Hasselback was as our quarterback – you always have to be a leader a that position.
Do you think rivalries are tough to maintain in today’s NFL with the new rules and with free agency?
I don’t think so. I know guys go to new teams and flip allegiances, but players understand that. We have the 12th man here and they get pretty fired up when we play the Steelers here. They still remember the Super Bowl even if there aren’t any players on the team that were here then. Most of those guys were in junior high then!
I was a Dallas fan growing up – so I hated the Steelers before the Super Bowl! So they hold a lot of heartache for me. But I respect all they’ve done, too. Six Super Bowls and had, what, three coaches since those 70’s teams? That’s impressive the way they do things. I can appreciate that.
But our 12th man – they are still intense due to the Super Bowl – they still remember and that I think fuels the rivalry. They still feel it and that feeds into the players.
What do you think of this current Seattle team? Close but big win last weekend. Still follow them?
I still follow football – I love the game and Seattle is still the main team I follow. I like this team’s chances – they just traded for Clowney and they upgraded their defensive line. Offensively, they are still the same kind of team. They like to run the football and establish that. That’s he same old thing. And D.K. Metcalf is a heckuva rookie – he had a big game – and with Lockett on the other side, those are two good receivers. And Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
And Pete Carroll – he’s just great at his messaging and getting players to buy in to it. He knows how to get guys to conduct themselves and to be successful. You can’t argue with his results.
Any last thoughts?
I had the great fortune to be in two Super Bowls – with Atlanta too. I have a lot of fond memories and a lot to be thankful for. I still have to pinch myself for how lucky I am to have played a sport that was a childhood dream.