Posted on: January 22, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: January 22, 2011 10:57 am

Steeler Fans, My Family & Friends

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!



Posted on: December 27, 2009 2:26 pm

Why must I hate Pitt?

So you're a Penn State football fan? Does that mean that you MUST hate Pitt?

My earliest sports memories go way back into my childhood. I remember my father's family watching Super Bowl III and all the talk about Joe Namath, and I remember The Amazing Mets of 1969 and how that was the big talk all summer around my grandfather's kitchen table. I was 4-years old, turning 5 during the baseball season. My OWN memories that go beyond listening to Dad, Pap and my uncles .... forming my own opinions and memories, come from Super Bowl V when the Cowboys lost to the Colts on a field goal in the waning seconds and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates winning it all against the Orioles behind the epic play of Roberto Clemente. So what does this have to do with Pitt and Penn State? Just a little backgroound to explain where I'm coming from with my take.

While still in the early '70's I began to follow Penn State football in our local paper, front page of the sports section as we were only about 40 miles from University Park. Pittsburgh was only a two-hour drive, so I was also able to follow the Panthers, albiet, on page 2. In November of 1973 I was fortunate enough to attend my first Pitt v. Penn State football game. The first half of the game was dominated by a freshmen RB from Pitt named Tony Dorsett who slashed through the Nittany Lion defense, scoring a touchdown and leading the Panthers to a 13-0 lead. Late in the half Penn State got themselves into position for a last-second field goal, and when Chris Bahr's attempt bounced off the crossbar and through, the halftime score was set at 13-3. The momentum of that play combined with halftime adjustments changed the game completely as the Nits, led by Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti, outscored Pitt 32-0 in the second half for a final of 35-13. Cappy finished with 161 yards and secured the Heisman. I was thilled! I was equally thrilled watching Dorsett clinch his own Heisman rushing for 224 yards and finding the endzone twice while leading his Panthers to a 24-7 victory over the Nittany Lions in 1976. Pitt went on to win the National Championship, their ninth title, when they beat the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl.

It was shortly after this that my family and friends started getting on my back that I NEEDED to pick one team or the other to pledge my allegiance. I chose Penn State. Over the years I BLED blue and white ..... but all the while I was a closet Pitt fan as well. So while I celebrated loudly and proudly as my Nittany Lions finally won the National Championship in 1982, I secretly admired Dan Marino carving up defenses for the Panthers over four seasons. While I lived and died each week with PSU's wins and losses, I rooted my butt off watching my high school teammate Troy Benson lead Pitt in tackles his final two seasons. And while over the most recent past two decades, both programs have seen their fortunes rise and fall, I have stood by my Nittany Lions through thick and thin, while still keeping one eye on the Panthers in the hopes of a return to prominence.

Love one team, hate the other? Hardly. Just because when I became a Nascar fan I loved watching Jeff Gordon race, did I have to hate Dale Earnhart Sr? Well, yea, I did for a little while. But as I watched race after race, I developed more than merely respect for Dale Sr. I found myself rooting equally throughout each race for both drivers, praying for a shootout between the two in the final laps. So, I am the biggest diehard Pittsburgh Pirate fan there is, despite 17 straight losing seasons, must I despise the Philadelphia Phillies? Sure, when they are playing each other. But I love watching the team they have built in Philly. They are exciting, they can hit, pitch, play defense and run the bases like roadrunners. Any TRUE baseball fan has to appreciate watching them play, even if their favorite team is a rival. Celtics v. Lakers? Yankees v. Red Sox? Cowboys v. Redskins? Penguins v. Red Wings? Must I dislike LA, Boston, Washington and Detroit just because I like Boston, NY, Dallas and Pittsburgh more? Not a chance. I LOVE the rivalries and love watching the epice battles!

A little over a year I got engaged, and my now wife and I decided to celebrate by spending the weekend in Pittsburgh. The Panthers just happened to be hosting the Louisville Cardinals, tickets were available (ANY Penn State fan can tell you that Nittany Lion tix are DAMN hard to come by), so there we were. Heinz Field was awesome! The fans were great, the food was great and the Panthers won the game. I have watched Pitt and rooted right out there ever since, nearly equal to how hard I root for Penn State. We attended the Pitt v. Notre Dame game this season, attended a tailgate with my boss and his family and sat at the game with a good friend (my pastor) who LOVES Notre Dame. What a blast!!!!

In summation ........ I LOVE PENN STATE FOOTBALL! I bleed blue and white and my allegiance is truly pledged for the rest of my life to the Nittany Lions. I will root for the Nits over any opponent. And I state ..... I LOVE PITT PANTHER FOOTBALL! Unless they ever get a chance to play PSU again, I will root for Pitt against any opponent. IF the circumstance ever arises that the Pitt v. Penn State rivalry renews, I will, for one game a season, root against Pitt with apologies. THERE!!!!

Congratulations to the University of Pittsburgh Panther football on a great season and a great victory over North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl! Dion Lewis has a great future and I hope he stays for a few more seasons, perhaps even winning the Heisman.

And GO PENN STATE!!!!!!!! Crush LSU and finish this season in style! 

Category: NCAAF
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