Tuesday, February 08, 2011

It's Our Fault the Steelers Lost the Super Bowl

It's all our fault.

We're guilty. It is Joey Porter's Pit Bulls' fault that the Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV.

First, we were born, baptized and confirmed Catholic. Roman Catholic. In England, that gets you asked, "You're Roman, aren't you, eh?"

After responding, reasonably, "What?', and wondering for a baffled moment what the hell this Cockney moron is talking about (Roman gladiators?), it dawns on you. "Oh, you mean Roman Catholic? Huh. Does it matter?"

But we digress. Those of us born, baptized and confirmed Catholic know we're guilty. We carry it around with us like a, well, a ... can't say it.

But we're guilty. It's our fault. If we had stuck to the same formula for success that won critical games during the regular season and two playoff games vs. the Ravens and Jets, the Steelers would have rallied to beat the Green Bay Packers.

It's complicated.

It all started with the color green. First, green was the color of the priest's vestments at Mass, and that means green vestments are worn by every priest at every Mass all across the Catholic universe -- if you doubt this, you can check any Catholic calendar. It's right there, in small letters at the bottom of the little block for Sunday, Feb. 6: "Green."

This was a concern from the get-go. Well, not the Get-Go, but you'd have to live in Pittsburgh to get that.

Second, our dog-walking jacket is green. That's the lucky jacket we wore on the days the Steelers beat the Ravens and then the Jets. It worked then, so why change? Green, however, is also the predominant color of, you guessed it, the Green Bay Packers, who wear green and gold.

After some considerable waffling -- the black jacket or the lucky green jacket? ... and after having actually donned the black jacket at home and then thinking, no, the green jacket has been effective, even against the green-clad Jets ("Gang Green") -- we decided to stay with the green jacket, albeit with some misgivings.

So, a bit later, walking along Hamilton Avenue with a black pit bull who was wearing a Steeler bandana no less, some cat in his car at the red light rolled down his window to yell out, "That better not be green and gold I see you wearing."

As a matter of fact it was: Green jacket complemented by a Steelers scarf and Steelers cap, both of which, naturally, are black and gold. Unless the idiot in the car didn't happen to notice the Steelers logo on the cap and scarf, he was willfully giving us a hard time just for the hell of it. And he kept woofing despite our protestations of Steeler loyalty. Any coward can yell from a car. Jerk.

Samson wanted a piece of him, but restraint seemed the better course that early in the day. If it had been later, however, after the game, the dude would have had to roll up the window pronto.

Green also happens to be the color of our lucky socks, which we wear only for Steelers games (and on St, Patrick's Day, of course). These socks work. They are infallible.

But did we forget to wear our lucky socks? Yes. Shamefully, unbelievably, yes, we forgot to wear the lucky socks. On Super Sunday. Of all days.

To compund our guilt, we also forgot to wear our lucky "Yoi!" shirt displaying the the picture of Myron Cope. That's the shirt that won the Ravens game, when we changed into it at halftime. That shirt triggered the Steelers' second-half comeback and ultimate triumph over Baltimore.

During the Super Bowl, however, by the time we realized we'd forgotten to wear Myron's shirt, the Steelers were already down by a halftime score of 21-3. Too much to overcome with too little, too late.

It gets worse.

For us Catholics, apparently it's not enough just to have a Black 'n Gold Steeler Rosary. You must actually say the Rosary. Which entails kneeling down and, you know, actually praying all the way through the Rosary, which takes about 45 minutes. Did we do that? We must confess, no.

So, you see, it really is our fault. We're guilty. It's because of Joey Porter's Pit Bulls that the Steelers lost the Super Bowl. Guilty is, as guilty does.

Well, at least we have St. Patrick's Day to look forward to.

And the Penguins!

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda ...


Less than 48 hours separate Steeler Nation from the defeat in Super Bowl XLV, and it still stings.

The Packers won. The Packers played the better game. The Steelers lost. The Steelers made too many mistakes. That's all there is to it.

No whining, griping or sniping here. Except to wonder why the Steelers didn't try to run the ball more -- did they wait until the third quarter to run the ball on consecutive plays? That's no way to establish the running game -- especially against the NFL's 18th-rated rushing defense!

Because the Packers scored first and had that big lead at halftime, it didn't feel like a close game. But it was. Six points. A one-score game. At the beginning of that last possession, we tried to visualize Big Ben connecting with Mike Wallace wham full-speed on a sudden crossing pattern with Wallace sprinting into the end zone.

It didn't happen, but they've done that very play this season. If they'd been able to connect this time, it woulda, coulda, shoulda been game, set, match.

One play. Seven points. That's all it would have taken.

But they didn't get it done, and that's that. No griping, sniping or whining here. The Packers made the plays, and the Steelers didn't. Simple as that.

Congratulations to the Packers and their fans, and congrats especially to head coach Mike McCarthy, a Pittsburgh guy from Greenfield.

Having known a bunch of guys from Greenfield, well, let's just say they're a tough lot. And that's being polite.

If any team besides the Steelers were going to win the Super Bowl, at least it was led by a Pittsburgh guy from Greenfield. Now, having got THAT out of the way and feeling nearly nauseated writing it,
Joey Porter's Pit Bulls must comment on a couple of things related to the event itself, not the game.

The "Jones Mahal" Debacle

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones must be very proud. Yeah, right. Sheesh.

He built a
billion-dollar palatial stadium, a colossus many mainstream media have dubbed "The Jones Mahal" because it was built on ego as much as anything else. The stadium also clearly was intended to be the crown jewel in Jones's "legacy" and just as clearly was built for the express purpose of hosting this Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys as the host team.

What an achievement this would be! Power! On display for all to see! Oh, the glory, and it's all about me, me, me ...

Instead, Jones's Cowboys stumbled through a miserable, losing season; fired their coach midway through the year; failed to come close to making the playoffs; sustained withering criticism from local and national media; and, then, finally, the entire Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex had to watch in suffering, torment and envy as the rival Steelers and Packers stormed through the playoffs and made it to the Super Bowl. "Dang, it shoulda been the Cowboys!"

As if to add insult to misery, Dallas fans had to endure the onslaught not just of Packers fans and Steeler Nation, but also a fluky weather system that slammed the Metroplex with frigid temperatures, nightmare ice storms and, finally, snow.

Calamities abounded: Flights into DFW were delayed or cancelled; local traffic paralyzed; fans stranded; and the media focused on all that was going wrong, which was just about everything.

, on the Friday before the Super Bowl, a torrent of snow cascaded off the roof of Jones Mahal and injured six people. Lawsuits coming!

And then, to top it all off before a national television audience shortly before kickoff, Jones's and the NFL's bald-faced, grubby stab at greedily trying to set an attendance record (in other words, collect as much money as possible by attempting to overbuild seating capacity and cram as many payng fans into the stadium as physically possible) backfired shamefully and disgracefully, as an estimated 2,000 fans, most of whom apparently were Steelers season-ticket holders, were turned away at the gates by direction of the Fire Marshall or some such bureaucrat that you would have thought would have been paid off long before game time.

These were legitimate ticket-holding fans
-- many of whom sacrificed, worked, scratched and clawed -- to purchase their tickets and travel to Texas.
More lawsuits! These were real fans, by the way, not blase celebrities.

Which takes us to our next point of crankiness ...

Celebrity Adulation Makes Us Puke
One aspect of the annual Super Bowl spectacle has become particularly cloying, if not downright revolting: The loathsome onslaught of video shots of inane, vapid celebrities.

We presume few of them care about the game itself or the teams involved. We also presume they just want to see and be seen. Particularly nauseating this year was the retina-burning image of Cameron Diaz hand-feeding popcorn to Alex Rodriguez in a super-duper luxury suite. Yecch, blaaah, puke.

Yet Another Awful Halftime Spectacle
Much has been said about Christina Aguilera's butchering of the National Anthem (frankly, we didn't notice her flubbing the lyrics and thought her rendition was pretty strong), so we'll skip right past that to the halftime show.

The halftime show sucked, once again. There, we said it.

We like the
Black Eyed Peas, but, man, this show was overly orchestrated, which happens nearly all the time in the Super Bowl. They played four cover songs -- what, they don't have enough original material to fill 18 minutes? Most Super Bowl halftime shows are awful, and this was no exception.

The first turn-off was the now farcical and
de rigeur on-field "audience" jumping around as if they weren't paid to do it. Plus, it would help if these characters in the Black Eyed Peas could sing. Granted, they have style and talent, but singing chops? Eh, not so much, apparently.

Unfortunately, the NFL has a much too-long history of odious halftime shows, whether it's because of the "talent" selected or because the talent selected puts on an awful performance -- which happens nearly
every year.

The only exception in recent memory was
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band three years ago, in Super Bowl XLIII, which the Steelers won. Good job, Bruce and band, who kept it simple, straightforward and rocking.

In other years, however, even historic bands we've liked -- such as Z.Z. Top, the Stones and the Who -- were gruesome. Six years later, it still bugs us that the Stones, who did so many Motown covers over the years, somehow failed to notice they were in Detroit and missed a golden opportunity to pay tribute to American Rock 'n Soul by neglecting to invite Motown legends onstage to perform some of the many classics the Stones have covered.


Since we're feeling cranky, we may as well continue. Joey Porter's Pit Bulls have seen the Stones more than a few times over the years, including a "homecoming" concert in London, at Wembley, which was only so-so at best, curiously enough.

In some concerts, yes, the
Stones are awesome and nearly live up to their own, self-proclaimed moniker of "Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band in the World." Some concerts, however, they absolutely live down to their parallel reputation for self-indulgence and sloppiness -- which is what they did in Super Bowl XL, another Steelers win, by the way.

Granted, this is an old rant. Being half-Irish, though, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls have the genetic imperative to forget everything but our grudges. Therefore, six years later, we'll say it again: Shame on the Stones for not paying tribute to Motown in Motown.

And, while we're at it, shame on The Who for last year's going-through-the-motions "performance," which was putrid. PUTRID!

That rant is off our chest. Again.

Now, back to the real world, the harsh glare of reality, cold winter and the drudgery of dealing with real, everyday problems. What fun!

Yep, we're grumpy, but that's what a Steelers loss in the Super Bowl will do to a Steelers fan.

Not to be bitter.