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Numerous Steelers returning to home state of Texas

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011

Back in August in Latrobe, Emmanuel Sanders wasn't thinking about February in Dallas.

The rookie receiver's only thought at that point was making the team — until safety Ryan Clark spoke up one day.

"I remember he said, 'You're going to be spoiled this year,' " Sanders said. "I was like, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'You're going to be spoiled this year because you're going to the Super Bowl your first year. We're going to have the No. 1 defense, and y'all got to put up points and you're going to go to the Super Bowl.' I'll never forget that, and here we are. We're going to the Super Bowl."

Sanders is one of several players on the roster for whom the showdown with Green Bay is a homecoming. He was born in Bellville, Texas, outside of Houston, but went to college in Dallas at SMU and has family in the area.

Receiver Arnaz Battle was born in Dallas and raised in Shreveport, La., but lives outside Dallas in the offseason and has a lot of family in the area.

And tackle Jonathan Scott is Dallas-born and -bred, having gone to high school at David W. Carter of "Friday Night Lights" fame.

"The funny thing is, I never did get to play at Texas Stadium, and now I get to play at Cowboys Stadium, so it's pretty exciting," Scott said.

Having family and friends in the area is special, but it also means dealing with additional ticket requests. Battle said the players receive two tickets with an option to purchase 13 more.

"It's tough, but I have a core of family — my immediate family — that I feel is deserving of it and who I want to be there with me and cherish the moment," he said. "I've allotted six tickets for certain family members that I'm going to come out of pocket and pay for, and the rest are there for family members if they want to pay for them. You just can't take care of everybody."

Sanders said he finds it crazy the number of requests he has gotten.

"But that's the thing about it. I think Mike Tomlin has done a great job of making us rookies — and especially us guys going home — understand that you're going to have to tell some people no, and I've had to do that," he said. "It's hard because no one really wants to tell their loved ones no, but at the same time, you got to."

Sanders is hoping to get his family together for dinner, and Battle said he'd like to welcome the receivers to his home — about 100 minutes north of the city — for a meal if he can.

Gail-David Dupree, the principal at Scott's former high school, said it is planning a homecoming assembly next week. As far as meals go, Scott isn't thinking of anywhere but home.

"I plan to eat good at my mom's house and enjoy some good air conditioning instead of heat," he said. "It's going to be a pretty exhilarating experience, just being around my hometown, possibly being a hometown hero. Just the whole aspect of being at home and playing for a world championship is a miraculous feeling."

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