Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Victory Lap

I just finished watching the official NFL highlights DVD for the Super Bowl XLIII Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. List price is 24.99, but to any real Steelers fan, this disc is worth twice that. I watched the last half through very watery eyes. The footage and the narrative are brilliant.

All the stupid things we fans do… the efforts we make to wear our “lucky” apparel… the lengths out of town fans go to in order to watch the game when it’s not on local TV, or the numbing environments we endure to attend a game during bone chilling cold, or soul soaking rain are all worth it when we get to relive a championship like this that validates us as fans and as Pittsburghers.

Random thoughts:

* This collection of highlights points up that Nate Washington made a hell of a lot of plays this year. We are going to miss him more than we expect.

* There was a plethora of tooth-rattling hits this year, both defense and offense. Hines’ hit on that rookie Bengal was both lethal and necessary. Despite all the criers, there was nothing cheap or illegal about it. Hines hit the guy just as the defender was reaching for the runner, hit him straight up on the button. Rookie’s got to learn to keep his head up. Bet he doesn’t make that mistake again.

Ryan Clark was a one-man wrecking crew late in the season. I bet Willis McGahee is still wondering why hears a phone ringing. And Limas Sweed made his bones in a very timely manner, namely 4 plays after dropping what would have been a long touchdown bomb, by blowing up Cory Ivy just as he was reaching for Heath Miller.

* Despite all the sacks by Defensive Player of the Year, James Harrison, he was held so often he could have doubled his sack total if not for said transgressions.

* Mike Tomlin is the coolest coach, if not human being, in the NFL. These guys are going to knock down walls for him for years to come.

*Ben Roethlisberger is a goddamned magician. He made more plays out of nothing than anyone I’ve ever seen. Sure he sometimes holds onto the ball far too long and ends up sacked; but without that devil-may-care attitude, he wouldn’t have made the dozens of plays that made the Black and Gold faithful lose our minds with joy.

* As the credits rolled over footage of the Champions Parade and the tears in my eyes made my vision blurry, there is no greater microcosm of the relationship between the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans than the footage of Troy Polamalu diving from his ride into the outstretched arms of the crowd… total and complete trust. If you think about it, any number of bad things could happen to a pro athlete in a situation like that. But Troy trusted the throng of celebrants not only to catch him, but to deliver him unscathed back to the car from which he hurled himself. And those people would rather die than to let any harm come to their beloved Samson-haired number 43.

I can’t wait to see what next season brings us. Bill Cowher had a problem getting his team in the right mindset to repeat. I don’t think Coach Tomlin will have such problems.

Regardless I and millions of other Steelers fans across the nation and across the world will be watching, yelling, waving our towels, dying a thousand deaths and giving our hearts, our souls and our Sundays so that our team can compete for lucky number 7.

Here we go Steelers, here we go!

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