here we are, nine days away from the 45th edition of the national football league's biggest game, and the extra anticipation time gives me a chance to reflect. for those of you who are steelers fans, i would encourage you to think about this along with me, lest you let this moment slip by without savoring it. and for those of you who are not steelers fans, i would simply want you to know that while i understand if you resent the steelers for their frequent success, i also don't want to rub it in your face.
if it is possible, i simply want to enjoy these moments while i can without gloating. you might think that i am a spoiled sports fan, and you might be right, i don't know. but i can tell you one thing: i'm doing my best to enjoy every moment of this journey; every printed word; every blog; every black and gold picture in the sports section; every scrolling ticker across the bottom of the nfl network. i want to soak every bit of it in.
i was born in southwestern pennsylvania, nearly an hour south of pittsburgh. i was born in 1976, at a time when the steelers were the muscle and guts of the nfl, in the midst of winning four super bowls. i was three years old when the steelers won their fourth in january of 1980. i was more interested in climbing curtains than the steel curtain. an unfortunate accident of the cosmos caused me to be just a few years too late to enjoy the mania that was being a steelers fan in the seventies.
still, i loved pittsburgh. we didn't go there very often, and so it represented something holy and sacred, big and magnificent, full of radio stations and rivers, skyscrapers and something better than all of it: sports. i started falling in love with sports at an early age. i played football for the green demons, i played baseball for the local sports store, the locker room. i spent many late nights secretly listening to the pirates on my little am radio under the sheets. my sweetest dreams would be when lanny frattare would croon into my craning ears: there was NOOOOOOOOOOOO doubt about it!
but the steelers, oh the steelers. i turned 11 in 1987. by then, the dynasty of the seventies was a distant memory, as mean joe green was inducted into the pro football hall of fame that year. starting in 1985, the steelers went 7-9, 6-10, and then 8-7 during the strike season of '87. football wasn't so fun, except when dad and i would throw football in the yard. i'd pretend to be louis lipps, but dad was probably bradshaw. we only called him mark malone when he would throw an awful pass into the bushes. such was steelers football in the eighties, when i was finally old enough to care.
my bedspread as a child
me with my steelers corkboard, circa 1987
this is something i made in 1990, and it shows my developing insanity. "#6 in the black and yellow cadillac" is a reference to bubby brister. you can also see references here to rod woodson and merrill hoge. i was already beyond help at this point.
"our greatness will never be repeated," lambert seemed to be scowling at me
"why can't we just get a franchise quarterback?" i wondered in disappointment.