When Mike Mitchell signed with the Steelers as a free agent back in 2014, he did so for times like this.
He did it for the opportunity to play in an AFC Championship Game, like the Steelers will this Sunday against the New England Patriots, and for a lot more. He did it for the opportunity to win it all.
While Ben Roethlisberger called the Patriots 'the gold standard,' when Mitchell was a free agent he looked at the Steelers the same way. And while he has the utmost respect for the Patriots, he hasn't changed his opinion.
"When I was a free agent, the reason that I came to Pittsburgh is because Pittsburgh had six Super Bowls," said Mitchell. "So that is why I wanted to come here and play for this franchise. I know New England is somewhere near the top, but in my mind Pittsburgh was the cream of the crop and I wanted to come here. Obviously we have a lot of respect for New England, they've been doing it at a very high level for a very long time. It's going to be two great franchises meeting on Sunday and like I said, this is why you play."
Mitchell said that while it's a big game, the key is to keep everything in perspective. That is advice he is giving to young players in the Steelers' secondary, including rookies Artie Burns and Sean Davis.
"The beautiful thing about me is I've really adopted a lot of what Coach (Mike) Tomlin believes and made it my own beliefs," said Mitchell. "I say the same things I've been saying to them since the beginning. You don't take anything for granted, you come to work every single day and do today's work. Today we're focused on winning Wednesday and getting Wednesday's work done and then we'll do that Thursday, Friday, Saturday and we'll take care of Sunday when it gets here.
"I'm not going to say anything to them that I haven't already been saying. It's going to be business as usual for us, and I think when you're playing in bigger games that needs to be more of the mindset. Obviously there's a bunch of faces in here that I've never seen, a lot of new people, there can be a lot of distractions, but you need to stay focused on what is real, what is true, and that's our preparation day to day."