Chris Hoke knows what it feels like to win a Super Bowl. He owns two rings, one from Super Bowl XL, the other from Super Bowl XLIII. He knows the joy that comes with it, the excitement and the hype.
He was hoping to have that same feeling again, but instead he experienced the other side of it when the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
"You never want to lose that game," said Hoke. "I have been blessed to play in three, and I am glad I didn't lose the other two because it's tough to deal with. You want to be on that podium. You want to be able to lift the Lombardi Trophy.
"It's tough right now. I don't know how you deal with this. It makes you so much happier you won those two games. This one, it's tough to lose the Super Bowl. You get there and you dream about being on the podium passing around the trophy to your teammates. It's hard to swallow."
Like many of his teammates, Hoke has shut off some of the outside world, not wanting to see highlights of the game or any of the celebrations that followed.
"I watched the local news, but I have been staying away from SportsCenter," said Hoke. "I don't want to see them celebrating right now. You have to deal with it, chew on it and you'll be fine."
Hoke strongly believes that the Steelers have what it takes to get back to the Super Bowl next year. He likes the mix of talent.
"There are a lot of veterans and young guys and we just have to continue to build," said Hoke. "Guys have to just work out and stay in shape in the offseason. One thing the Steelers have is focus to get back and win the Super Bowl. The focus is now getting back to Super Bowl XLVI."
"This will drive you. You want to get back to there and win that game. It won't ruin anyone's lives. It will be tough to deal with for a while, but I think it will motivate all of us."
Hoke said he doesn't know how long it will take to move on from the loss, as these are unchartered waters for him.
"I have never been here before," said Hoke. "It will take a while. It's going to take a while to get over it but we will be stronger for it."
Hoke, who just completed his ninth season, is at the end of his contract with the Steelers and will become an unrestricted free agent. His hope is that he stays put.
"I hope I come back," said Hoke. "I love this team. I love playing for the Rooney family and the City of Pittsburgh. This has been home for my family. I pray that I can come back."