Posts tagged ‘Steelers’

93.7, The (so-called) Fan

Even if (and I still say it’s a big if) Hines is no longer a starter when fully healthy, he deserves more respect than he got this morning from 93.7 FM, The (so-called) Fan.

They seemed inexplicably smug (bordering on happy?!) to note Hines’ minimal play yesterday, talking about him as if he’s some new-kid-nobody who got outplayed and didn’t earn a starting position. First and foremost, I’m not convinced he’s lost his starting position. The man’s dealing with two injuries that would have put a lesser man (a radio talk show host for instance) out for at least 4-5 weeks, if not the season.

It’s a small miracle and a tribute to Hines’ toughness (and perhaps a sign of the Steelers caginess) that he was even dressed and on the field yesterday. The team is in a great position right now with a phenomenal group of receivers, so why not give Hines a bit of a rest when he’s banged up?

They talked as if Hines isn’t as good as Jerricho Cotchery. Seriously? Nothing against Jerricho. Glad to have him. But he’s no Hines Ward. He hasn’t been here since 1998, a catching, running, blocking, fighting, bouncing-backing, smiling from ear to ear symbol of what football means in this town. Jericho’s a nice addition to be sure, but if he had that beyond-height-beyond-speed-beyond-training-beyond-coaching-beyond-explanation spark that somehow makes things happen — like, oh I don’t know, some 6-foot tall guy being the team’s all-time leading receiver or, um, maybe, catching five passes and a touchdown to be MVP in a Super Bowl that brought the Lombardi back to Pittsburgh — I think he’d have played in more than three games this year.

Yeah. I know. There are other talented receivers on the field with younger legs than Hines or Jerricho. That’s icing on the cake. That’s smart succession planning. We’ve breathed a collective sigh of relief in the past few months. Not because we like Brown and Wallace better than Hines Ward but because we’ve known, deep in our blackest-goldest gut, that the day would come when we’d be without Hines. And we’ve worried about it. And we’ve dreaded it. And the whispers in our heads say, This could be it; this could be the last year. I don’t know about you, but that breaks my heart a little. And I, for one among what I suspect are many in Steeler Nation, am in no hurry to see such an iconic, talented, intelligent, and spunky Steeler retire.

In a time when very few players stay with a team, in any sport, throughout a career, we have had the privilege to call Hines Ward “ours” since 1998. He was drafted a Steeler. He’ll retire a Steeler. And, in-between, for one play or one hundred, he plays his heart out.

That’s what loyalty looks like, 93.7.

November 14, 2011 at 9:52 am 4 comments

We Hate Potholes More Than You

So Terrell Suggs thinks he’s the Most Hated Man in Pittsburgh. Terrell, honey. You don’t even make the top 10.

We hate Barry Bonds.

We hate Francisco Cabrera.

We hate the guy who decided to trade Sid Bream to the Braves when he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh, when he even offered to take a pay cut to stay and they traded him anyway.

We hate Ray Lewis.

We hate Bill Belichick.

We hate Tom Brady.

We hate Neil O’Donnell. Not because he lost us Super Bowl XXX (which he totally did) but because of his post-game interview in which he said, “It was everybody’s else’s fault and I don’t care I’m outta here.” (I may be paraphrasing.)

We hate George Atkinson. (The Raider who cheap-shotted Lynn Swann, putting him in the hospital and, ultimately, shortening his brilliant career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.)

We hate Turkey Jones. (The evil bastard who nearly killed Terry Bradshaw and then stomped on his throwing hand, too.)

We hate Art Modell, who totally screwed up our hate for Cleveland, which then kind of shifted to Baltimore, which will only ever be a step-child to the One True Rivalry.

You want to be the most hated man in this town? Get used to disappointment.

Go Steelers.

November 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm 2 comments

The Grin in Chagrin

The NFL football season ended last night. I, like all of Steeler Nation, feel bad.

But. I don’t feel that bad.

I haven’t screamed. I’ve barely pouted. Until 7:35 this morning, I had not shed a tear.

I don’t feel that bad. And that baffles me.

I suspected, at first, a scenario in which I am in a coma, last night was an IV-induced dream, and Rocky Bleier is my doctor.

But. At work, fully clothed, unable to fly, pinched myself. I’m awake.

It’s real, eh?

Well, maybe I don’t feel that bad because I got to have a lot of fun this season. Having attended only two Steeler games in my life (both losses), this year I got to attend two more:  the opener and the AFC Championship game. And, despite a temperature difference of about 70 degrees, I had a similarly exhilirating, palpitating, voice-losing, Towel-twirling, high-fiving-the-nephew, brought-home-a-winner blast at both.

Or maybe I can’t feel pain because my endorphin levels are still so high from the game of January 15. Could a win last night possibly have felt any better than the night we beat the Ravens? I wonder.

Then again, maybe I don’t feel horrible because the Packers are a team that’s hard to hate. Small market, storied history, fans who know the game—I’ve always felt the affinity. (Losing to Dallas in XXX was worse. So much worse.)

Look, I’m not saying I’m turning cartwheels (or would be turning cartwheels if I could do a cartwheel). But. I’m okay. Which is weird.

I was pondering thusly, in my car, coming up on 7:35 a.m., as I crossed the West End Bridge and veered right, onto the ramp to 65. And with the car aiming North, there—in a wee trickle of rare February morning light—sat Heinz Field. And I reached for my Steelers scarf like Linus Van Pelt.

Last night, I believed. Not wished. Not hoped. But believed the Steelers were going to win the Super Bowl. Even though (or, actually, because) the odds makers called them underdogs. Even after nearly all the talking-heads picked the green and gold. (Good on ya, Terry B.) Even after Pouncey finally, most definitely, had to sit out. Even after 58 minutes and 1 second of losing. I believed.

How is that possible? I’m a devout lapsed Optimist.

Think for a moment about how this season started. After last year? With Santonio gone and Ben suspended? With some rookie at center? Remember that? Yeah. Now, think about how you’ve felt for the past few weeks. How you felt going into last night’s game.

This year was extraordinary. This year was a transformation. This year surprised. And it wasn’t us. It wasn’t the media. It wasn’t Goodell. It wasn’t luck or juju or even our beloved Myron or the Rooney tradition or some dynasty magic.

This year was extraordinary because of that group of men on the field last night. The Steelers 2010 squad. Players and coaches. Good guys and “bad” guys and even a kinda skeevy guy (who I want to believe has changed but, bottom line, either way, is still an incomparable quarterback). Quiet guys and crazy guys. Big guys, tall guys, fast guys, and small guys. Veterans and rookies. This happy few. They made us believe. They overcame the obstacles. They played through the tendon-tearing, ankle-twisting, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking injuries. They stepped in and stepped up. They unselfishly supported each other. They kept their cool right next to their swag. They played with heart. And talent. They gave us an amazing season. They made it to the Super Bowl and let us come along for what was a wild and wonderful ride.

Maybe I don’t feel that bad because pride trumps disappointment.

But maybe they do feel that bad. And so I say, Gents:  Chin up. Stand tall. You had a great year. Thank you for being one of my favorite life preservers. And thank you for making me proud to be a Steeler fan every day—even today.

What was your favorite thing about the 2010 Steelers?

February 7, 2011 at 6:20 am 3 comments

Are You Ready?

It’s a Legend. An Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Coming over the next 28 Days. An entire city stricken by the same affliction.

It’s about to happen. You know it is.

The little hairs on the back of your neck sense it. And those goosebumps that slide down your arms like the snow and ice that cover the landscape. There’s a chill wind. I pull my scarf a bit tighter around the collar of my black jacket, which I bought to go with the scarf and not the other way around. And I observe this super-natural town.

A normally well-groomed friend has begun to wear the same shirt regularly—and will not wash it.

A dear and respected friend of the family who had to be coaxed and “feeling good” to dance even one dance at his son’s wedding has begun to leap about, executing an intricate pattern of steps, an interpretative voo-doo dance meant to curse.

Serious businessmen, street-wise policemen, and the most faithful folks of the cloth have turned superstitious. Even the roughest men from the mills are not immune to changes, oddities, mysterious charms.

Certain words and phrases are hereby banned from speech. Loud people have gone quiet. Quiet people will get loud. Strangers will become comrades. Knuckles will crack. Nails will be nubs. Breath will be held. Teenage children will borrow clothing from their parents.

Keep your head up. Pay attention. You’ll see the signs. Above roadways. On the fronts of buses. Above tunnels. On storefronts. On Church letter boards. Car washes. Burger joints. Front porches. Flagpoles. Vehicles. In people’s yards. In their windows.

And in their eyes.

Get ready. Stock up. Pull friends and loved ones close to you. Huddle together. Because it’s about to get a little weird in this town.

Screams will be heard. Pacemakers will pulse. And towels will be waved.

The playoffs are about to begin in Pittsburgh, PA .

Here we go Steelers. Here. We. Go.

Got a playoff superstition? What is it?

January 10, 2011 at 4:12 am Leave a comment

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