Today the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Bengals in Cincinnati at 4:15. This is a game we usually own. Big Ben has never lost in Cleveland or Cincinnati. The Bengals are coming off an impressive win over Green Bay last week. I say it’s impressive only because I had them picked to lose, after their dismal opening day performance against Denver.
My family and I used to always go to the Steelers games in Cleveland, stemming from when we used to live in Toledo. Then when the Browns left Cleveland, we began going to the games in Cincinnati instead. At first, the fans were pretty docile, as a long tradition of uninterrupted losing will do to a fan base. Then in 2005 when they got a sniff of respectability, they went completely off the scale.
My brother and I and some other friends went to that fateful playoff game in January of 2006… you know… the Carson Palmer/Kimo Van Olhoffen game.
We practically had to fight our way out of there that night. The whole walk to the parking lot we were getting screamed at by the riled up locals. I must have been called every name in the book… well, maybe not me personally, more the number 43 on my back. Now I know that a lot of visiting fans do a lot to bring grief on themselves with strutting and taunting, but seriously, we were just walking along minding our own business.
When we got to the car we tried to just linger for a bit and enjoy our victory cigars. But you know, a person can only turn the other cheek for so long before something gives. Guys from the orange colored, tiger-striped bus a couple slots down started screaming at us. My brother yelled back a bit and it looked like something may happen. But my brother has a wife and family, a good job and sterling reputation. He was not about to get into a parking lot brawl with a bunch of sore-loser Bengal fans. But then the ringleader started screaming at me about how Polamalu took the cheap shot at Palmer. Now everyone watching the game that had a pulse could see that Troy was nowhere near the backfield and it was the lineman, Kimo Von Olhoffen that rolled up on Palmer’s leg. So I yelled that back to him, more or less, and next thing you know, he comes charging over here.
Now you should see this guy… actually, you can… here’s a picture from earlier in the day:
This is one of those self-styled uber-fans that thinks he’s the living embodiment of The Bengals Fan. Note to dude: Real fans don’t wear feather boas.
Anyway, you’ve seen this kind of guy before… he thinks that since he’s all big, drunk and ugly, people will just back down from him. And normally, I probably would have. But I was just so pissed at his mis-attribution of the play I felt the need to set the record straight. Loudly. With colorful terminology.
So Big, Drunk and Ugly comes striding over to me, clearly expecting me to back away, but something made me just stand right there. I didn’t move an inch and he basically just came right up until his chest hit mine. So we stood there, toe to toe screaming at each other, like Earl Weaver arguing with an umpire, until my brother grabbed me by the back of my collar and yanked my ass out of there. We didn’t waste anymore time at the parking lot… it seemed to be a good time to get the hell out of Dodge.
Way to be classy, Cincinnati! As you can see, ever since that fleeting wiff of success, they haven’t done jack ever since. That’s a karmic smack down if ever I saw one. Thou shall win and lose with grace at all times. Or else thou shalt suck pond water.
(Then again, how do you explain the Patriots?)
Has anyone seen the Bengals on HBO’s Hard Knocks series? That’s where the team allows cameras to film everything that happens during training camp. They’ve previously done this with the Cowboys and the Ratbirds. They get such good footage that sometimes I wish they would do Hard Knocks with the Steelers. But that will never happen. The Rooneys would never allow that. They don’t need cheap promotion like that.
Which brings me to this cheap promotion:
Could you imagine, under any circumstances, the Steelers putting a goddamned advertisement on their jerseys? Training camp or not, that’s just an abomination. I’m surprised the NFL even allows it. What doesn’t surprise me is that it’s the Bengals that do it. Good old, Mike “Anything for a Buck” Brown. I guess this is to recoup the loss of revenue he missed out on by not selling the naming rights to his stadium. (Which is one thing I give him credit for. Heinz Field should be Art Rooney Sr. Stadium.)
Anyway, I have a suggestion for their next advertiser:
Which brings us to today’s mojo… During Week 1, I watched the game at home and we won, so I’m not going to tamper with that success. I’m going with the Willie replica jersey over the gold Steelers Tee, with white Steelers shorts. I considered compensating for the game being an away game for the Steelers, but I’ve found that that is a secondary consideration, especially early in the season. Always try to prolong the streak. That’s a mojo staple.
I’ll be back later with thoughts on the game. Last week I ended up going 8-10 on picks, which was quite a comedown from Week 1's 16-2. Today I start 0-2 because I missed on both college games. (Thanks, Pitt and Miami! No sorority girls for you tonight.)