Monday, January 19, 2009

The Red Sox of the NFL

Shortly after the Arizona Cardinals won the NFC West, they played the Vikings in Phoenix and the Vikes walloped them. Then the next week, they travelled to Foxboro and got killed by the Patriots. It looked like the Cardinals had no business being around the playoffs, and they avoided going in with a .500 record by beating Seattle on the final weekend of the season.

As I write this, the Vikings and Patriots are home enjoying the off-season and the Cardinals are going to their first Super Bowl, against the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 1. Who'd a thunk it back in early December? The Cardinals have gone on one of those late-season surges, like the Giants did last year. Talk about getting hot at the right time.

I was in Professor Thom's yesterday and caught both games. Lots of Steelers fans in for the second game, along with some girls who brought their "Terrible Towels" with them. 95% of the fans in were with the Steelers, and I'm sure it will be overly pro-Steelers on Super Bowl Sunday. My congratulations to all those Steeler fans out there.

I guess I shouldn't like the Steelers since they beat the Vikings in the Super Bowl in 1975. But I have always admired the loyalty the fans have always shown their team, in good times and in bad. They've always reminded me a lot of the Red Sox and their fan base. Like Sox fans, they always show of their team colors and always have pride in their club. The Steelers were the laughingstock of the NFL for many years before they started becoming a consistent playoff team in the early 1970s.

And like the Red Sox fans, the faith the Steelers' fans had in their team was finally rewarded with a championship. All the suffering finally paid off.

Good luck to the Steelers and their fans on Super Bowl Sunday. And to the Cardinals and their followers, too. They haven't won an NFL championship since the club was in Chicago in 1947. (And thankfully, there have been no media-created "curses" surrounding the Cardinals, but should they lose to the Steelers, you know somebody somewhere will make one up.)


Steel36 said...

okay that 36 is not for any Red Sox. All hail Jerome Bettis. Red Sox Nation has baseball. Steeler Nation has a lot of what is left.

My mom is the fourth of six kids born and raised in the Shady Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. 6 kids in 16 years-way to go Grandma!

Steeler Nation really started in the 70s. As the Steeler ascended, the steel industry tanked.

I am sure many left Pittsburgh to find better jobs and sought a way to connect with that Western Pennsylvania place in our minds. So The Steelers offer us a way to be with people like us. Regardless of status, we all root on our boys like children with fellow like minded idiots (in the best sense)

Steeler fans are everywhere. My sister and brother in law were stunned during November's game in DC against the Redskins how Steeler Nation ruled the opponent's stadium. Well, the largest Steelers fan club in the USA is based in Baltimore. So a hop down I-495 and we're there! That devotion to go anywhere like a clarion call is a trademark of Steeler Nation.

I can say that my Steeler fandom came from my Grandpa Dave. He played semipro football for Art Rooney before The Steelers' birth. Grandpa has season tickets for years until he died in 1987. We all have stories of parents, friends, siblings who turned us on to The Black and Gold. Grandma would always complain that TV announcers rooted against The Steelers. She would turn up the radio and listen to the Steelers high priest-broadcaster Myron Cope. She died in 2005, about 12 hours before The Steelers season opener-weird.

Red Sox fans have the same kinds of stories I am sure. It was to make a connection that is strong years after those parents and friends have died and left with memories.

Many Steeler fans are fans because of The Rooney family. They are The Steelers and that team is Pittsburgh. Art Rooney-The Chief- was a good man. He set out the ideas of faith, family and football. In this day of mega-corporation and huge egos in sports, The Rooneys are a classy bunch who think of the many instead of the one. Steeler fans are proud of The Rooneys.

Art Rooney missed The Immaculate Reception! He was on the elevator down to the locker room ready to console the players. How fitting. He was stunned when The Steelers won.

The Steelers are like rooting for a part of the family and to show my love for my grandparents. It's also a good excuse to wave a Terrible Towel.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Thanks for your story, Steel. What you wrote does parallel the story of many Red Sox fans. Thanks for sharing.

Steel36 said...

Oh and about The Terrible Towel-Did anyone notice that The NFL is trying to market "Trophy Towels"?It is for grand events like The Super Bowl and all teams except one.

Guess who that is? Umm The Steelers!! The idea of The NFL using marketing kitsch makes me wretch. Tho shalt not screw with The Towel.

Myron Cope invented The Terrible Towel as a gimmick. He had been a talented sportswriter in 1960s-even writing for "Sports Illustrated." Myron used his oratorical skill to use The Terrible Towel as a source of mystical power as it willed The Steelers to victory. It also did not hurt that those Steelers teams were some of the best The NFL had ever seen.

One thing people is not realize is that The Terrible Towel helps a lot of people. Myron's son, Danny, is 40 years old. He was born with brain damage and is severely autistic. Danny has lived at the Alleghany Valley School near Pittsburgh for over 25 years because he cannot care for himself. Danny can neither speak or communicate in a normal manner.

One day in 1996, Myron gave The trademark of The Terrible Towel to The Alleghany Valley School. They have received all of Myron's royalties for Terrible Towel related merchandise sold for over 12 years.

The NFL can try to make money by marketing. The Terrible Towel is a true "good" It is done not for money but for love and to benefit others who need help.

I hope The Steelers can win The Super Bowl to show what a sham The Trophy Towel truly is.

The Omnipotent Q said...

I didn't know that about Myron Cope's son and autism. Very nice thing he did with the Terrible Towel royalties.