Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowling Pt 2

Part 1 of this story is immediately below.  If this is the first thing you're seeing, you should scroll down and start at the beginning.  It'll make much more sense that way.
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We could see from the TV monitors in the casino that the lines to get in were tremendous.  Once we could see that they were letting people in, we got moving and got into line… a line that was over 6 blocks long.  Enterprising citizens of Detroit were selling beers from store doorways, which helped pass the time.  Also helping kill time were the group of anti-abortion protesters holding graphic signs and screaming at everyone in line.
God’s children, ruining everyone’s time in line.

They were really bothering our friend Margaret, as they were calling everyone sinners, apparently for going to a football game and not spending the day in church.  I’m not sure what their excuse was.  Margaret tried to plead her case to them but of course they just kept up with their speechifying.  I tried to tell her that these people weren’t interested in listening to anyone; they were only interested in condemning them.

Most of the time, stadiums have multiple entrances all around the venue.  For the Super Bowl, there was only one, although there might have been another on the opposite side.  That’s what made the lines so long… that and the giant security station.  They had a large tented area were everyone had to go through an airport-like security check.  They checked our bags, did a pat down and we walked through the big metal detectors.

Once through that, it was home free.  We skipped on up to the entrance, eager for our first sip of Super Bowl atmosphere.  But first I had to stop and stare at little Linda Cohn, sportscaster with ESPN, as she interviewed people in the crowd.  I would have stayed longer and was hoping to get a picture but the rest of my crew was steadily steaming ahead.
It was weird seeing all the Lions signage inside Ford Field.  You just don’t mentally link the Lions with the idea of the Super Bowl.  But the venue was indeed very nice.
My parents, showing off their tickets, on the concourse behind the corner of the end zone.

We were stunned to find how good our seats were… 2nd row of the 2nd deck.  And in the row in front of us, it was nothing but press photographers.  This was great, because they never stand up, they just sit there with their one-legged camera stands and long lenses.
This was our vantage point. 

At least this was my vantage point.  Ed and Margaret sat a couple rows behind my parents, Bob and me.
The players all ran out from the corner at our lower right.  The towels were really flying, but it’s hard to tell from the shot.

This looks more like what we saw.  I believe this shot is from the Post Gazette.

I couldn’t get over the ratio of Steeler fans to Seahawk fans.  It’s like they weren’t even there.  I’d put the ration at 85/15.  Steeler fans owned the place.  This became evident during the introductions of the past Super Bowl MVPs.  When Franco ran out as the MVP of Super Bowl IX, waving a terrible towel, the place just went crazy.  And you should have heard the boos for Tom Brady when he went out.  You could see him laughing about it.

Pre-game entertainment was stellar.  Stevie Wonder played a rocking medley of his hits, then Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin blew out the National Anthem.  That’s when it really hit me that I was actually at the Super Bowl.  I wished like hell my friend Brill could have seen this day.  I couldn’t help but tear up, just a bit.

But then the player introductions began and there were yells to yell and towels to wave.  I’ll never forget Jerome Bettis charging alone onto the field, whooping and hollering, then turning around and going, “Where the hell is everybody?”  We couldn't see Joey Porter holding everyone back, but we figured as much.  It was a classy move to give the Bus his spotlight in his hometown.

The game had an under whelming start.  The Seahawks seemed to move up and down the field at will, firing short pass after short pass.  The Steelers went 3 and out time after time and couldn't seem to get out of their own way.
The Steelers, starting at their own 20, for the umpteenth time.

We went to halftime, up 7-0, owing to a short run from Ben.  Whether he crossed the goal line is still debated.  The Seahawks have been whining about it ever since.  As far as I’m concerned, photos I’ve seen online remove all doubt.  He didn’t make it by more than an eyelash, but he made it.

The halftime show was great… It was the Stones!  We were in the same building as Mick and Keef!  Just breathing the same air as Keith Richards will add at least 3 years to your life.  

The 2nd half began with a bang, as Willie Parker ripped off a 75-yard run right into our end zone.  The place just went berserk.  I will never forget the sight of Fast Willie churning down the field, with no one else even close to him.  There was exactly zero suspense about that play.  He got past the line and was just gone

After that, the Steelers just started putting the game away, while the Seahawks blew play after play.  They were called for penalties and dropped several key passes.  Looked like a serious case of the yips, to me.

The Steelers administered the coup de grace with the Antwaan Randle El pass to Hines.  That play went away from us but was on our side of the field.  You could see Hines streaking wide open and we just prayed that the pass would end up somewhere near him.  It was a true thing of beauty.
Bob, my parents and moi, realizing that the Steelers were going to win Super Bowl XL.

On the Seahawks last possession, they worked very hard to remove any suspense.  Their 2-minute drill was atrocious as they pissed away a great deal of time.  When the clock ran out, I barely realized it.  But then there is was.  The Pittsburgh Steelers were Super Bowl Champions, finally attaining that legendary “One for the Thumb.”
Bedlam on the field, as the trophy presentation stage is set up at midfield.

When I was a teenager, Super Bowl championships seemed to be my birthright.  Next thing you know, 26 years had rolled by and my perspective had changed.  Only then did I begin to understand what my dad had gone through with the Steelers, prior to 1972.  Nothing makes victory sweeter than the endless years of failed seasons.

We stayed for a while, just soaking in the winning vibe.  We saw the trophy accepted and handed around.  We saw the Bus retire after a long, fabulous career.  We cheered when Hines Ward was named MVP.
This shot was specially framed to include the final score.

But eventually we had to get the hell out of Dodge, so we high-tailed it to our outlying parking lot and actually got out to the freeway in pretty good time.  We got back to my buddy John’s house about 1:00 am, to find that he was still up and waiting for us with some Gentlemen Jack.

We toasted all around, to a great season, to a satisfying victory, to good family and friends and to the joy of being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
The ticket to my dreams.

All pictures, with the one noted exception, were taken by my brother or me.  You may click on any of them to see a larger, clearer version.  bluz

10 comments:

  1. Aww! Sounds like you had a GREAT time! While I'm not a huge fan of the Steelers (or the NFL in general...I know, blasfamy!) you made me wish I was there!

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  2. We sure did, Cassie. And thanks... my goal in telling stories it to put people right there with me. I'm glad it worked.

    Even if you're not into football, surely you can see how the Steelermania grips those around you in town.

    Uh oh... don't look now but (looking out window) here comes some more snow...
    GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

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  3. I swear, my tummy warmed up about ten degrees just seeing you guys with your victory shots :)

    The pictures were fucking fantastic. It made me wish I was there.

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  4. The Victory Shot is a long-standing tradition. And on this particular night, it was much needed and much appreciated.

    Football fan or not, Sal, you would have had a great time.

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  5. OMG, I know. That friggin' snow. Is it May yet?

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  6. Been coming down real heavy now for the last 3 hours now. Here we go again...

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  7. You're right. If there's people and excitement involved, a great time is guaranteed :)

    Your parents are cool as hell. Me and my mom have shots sometimes. On special occasions, even. They're called everyday :P

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  8. We've always done celebratory shots. Probably comes from my Grandpa... I remember whenever we'd go to visit, we'd come home from church and the first order of business was to break out the shots for and "eye-opener." Then Grandpa would say, "we have 2 eyes, don't we?", and then pour another round. I loved it once I got old enough to participate. Like 16, I think. I always prided myself on never making the "strong drink-face" after caging a sip of whatever from my parents. So I got to start "celebrating" at a pretty early age.

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  9. I love Grandpa.

    And the strong drink face? I'm right there with you. In my younger days, I'd do shots of tequila and the only expression I'd make was one raised eyebrow.

    But that eyebrow said it all. It said "Is that all you got, Jose Cuervo?"

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  10. See, that was key. If you made The Face, you didn't get any more. And as the oldest, I always wanted to be the big boy. So even if it was burning my lips off, I wouldn't dare flinch. Next thing you know, I had a taste for the stuff.

    Sometimes I'd do like you'd see guys do on TV and hoarsely whisper, "Smoooooth!"

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