We are down to four teams. It makes me feel good to report that I picked two of these teams to be in this position before the season started. It’s true, I wavered a bit on the Packers at one point this year, but just a bit. The loss of Ryan Grant to injury during the first game of the season hurt this team much more than I expected. And although Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games, I never doubted that the Steelers could be in this position, one game from the Super Bowl.
I am merely slightly surprised by the presence of the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game, my preseason picks had them losing last week. I must admit that I am very surprised by the season that the Chicago Bears have put together. Not only did I not pick them to play for the NFC Championship, I did not pick them to sniff the playoffs. I expected an improvement from the Jay Cutler led, Mike Martz coordinated, offense. And if Brian Urlacher could stay healthy, he, combined with the addition of Julius Peppers, could lead the Bears defense back to prominence. Playoffs AFTER the 2011 season? Perhaps … just not this year. I’ll eat my hat over that one.
However … the true reason for blogging today is not to discuss my prowess as a pre-season NFL prognosticator, no no no no. My reason for turning to blog, my DILEMMA, is simply that the Pittsburgh Steelers have once again advanced deep into the playoffs … God help me if they win this weekend (which I expect) and advance to meet, possibly, the Green Bay Packers (a team that I like very much).
This dilemma has nothing to do with whether or not I will be rooting for the Steelers. It has to do with … ‘The Question’! What is the question? It goes something like this, “Ready for the Steelers’ game, George?” OR the ‘other question’, which is worse … “So, are you a Steelers’ fan?”
When answering the first question, I can (and at times do) take the easy way out by responding with something to the effect of, “Sure, always ready for football!!!” And yet, there are times when for whatever reason I feel that I must elaborate and add, “But, I am not a diehard Steelers’ fan.” It is during these times that I see some of the dirtiest, confused looks on people’s faces. What can be worse are the situations when I must answer the second question. I will share my polite answer, but you must know that it does not always get me very far. When asked if I am a “Steelers’ fan”, I most often choose to respond with, “Not the way most people around here are. But I respect the team, everything that they have accomplished as a franchise, the Rooney family, and they way they seem to have done it with as much class as possible in an ever changing societal atmosphere.” As you might imagine, that answer often gets me out of further explanation.
The real dilemma comes from those who comprehend enough of my previous answer to ask ‘THE Follow-Up Question’. “Well who eez yer favrit team then Gerrrrrrrrrrrge?” (forgive the phonetics, but these people tend to lose their grammar skills when confronted with another human being who does not worship at the altar of the black & gold) Again, this is a question that I can answer simply by responding, “I am a HUGE NFL fan, but I just don’t have a favorite team. I tend to root for teams who have players or coaches whom I like and enjoy watching.” Most of the time, that type of answer will do it, especially if I immediately turn and walk away. It is simply not a very satisfying ending for me.
The true response is that I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, bleeding silver and blue all over the place, crying my eyes out at 14 years old IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE when they lost yet another Super Bowl to the ‘Stupid Steelers’. There are times when I have a few minutes to ‘get into it’ that I do respond in this manner. Of course no one wants to hear about the fact that Jerry Jones has so ruined my pristine image of the Dallas Cowboys’ organization that it has come to the point that I simply find it nauseating to pull for that team. This is a subject for another long blog entry, however, and I do wish to wrap up this, my immediate, topic.
The truth is that I AM a huge fan of the NFL and the game of football on every level. I do tend to find new players and/or coaches to root for every year, although I do not consider myself a bandwagon fan (as evidence I can share that I pulled for the Jets all year in 2009, but the circus wore me out this season and I hope the Steelers smack them tomorrow). And it is a fact, I do respect the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, their owners, the three great coaches that they have had since 1969, the fans (for the most part) and appreciate all the success therein.
I guess what I just used all these words to say, boils down to this ….
If you are part of my family, one of my friends, a Facebook pal or even an aquaintence whom I rarely get the chance to talk to, there can be no doubt, I love you. If you know me then you know this is true, I have a big heart and a great capacity for loving people on different levels (thank You God). So if I am not joining you in all of the Steelers Madness, it is not intended as a shot or to be disrespectful. When you are happy, it makes me happy, so LIVE IT UP! Just please, don’t jump down my throat when you forget my position and inevitably ask me one of those questions!