Continuing to Live Vicariously Through Hines Ward…

22 Jan

I hope President Obama doesn’t mind if we borrow his slogan…

In celebration of his Inauguration, the Rooneys presented the new President of the United States with the game ball from Sunday night’s AFC Championship game. To quote Dan Rooney,
“He’s a Bears fan first, he admits that…But he’s a Steelers’ fan. He’s said it, and all his staff, they’re rooting for us [in the Super Bowl].”

Before my sports blog made its move over from ESPN’s website, I posted my thoughts on the Penguins making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. With the Steelers now headed to Tampa for the Super Bowl, I was reminded of something I wrote then…

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-0 (ouch) to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. I’m reading the local free paper on the Washington D.C. Metro this morning and see a picture of an elated Pascal Dupuis celebrating after his second goal of the evening. I can barely sit still. It’s the same maddening feeling I had two years ago when I realized that the Steelers were going to Super Bowl XL. I was living in Boston and had to have had the most ridiculous, goofy smile on my face for the whole week before (and then after!) the Super Bowl.

What’s so maddening about this feeling? Well, there’s no one to share it with when you live in a different city. In Pittsburgh, I know they must be bubbling over with nervous excitement. That is when I suddenly feel nostalgic and long for home.

I’m wishing I could be in Pittsburgh, watching the Strip District buzzing with excitement, sharing enormous sandwiches at Primanti’s over game highlights, listening to “Here We Go” on repeat, and immersing myself in that sea of black and gold.

Two stops later, a gentleman gets on the train wearing a Penguins ball cap. Shortly before I get off at my stop, I tell him that I like his hat and ask if he is excited for the upcoming finals. He answers with an elated “yes!” Not surprisingly, we are both transplants to the area from fairly close parts of Pittsburgh.

As I exit the train and begin walking toward the escalator, I catch a glance of him through the train window.

His smile is beaming, and I wonder if he’s back home for a moment too.

Writing that (8 months ago!) made me start noticing fan gear anywhere and everywhere. While the occasional Sidney Crosby jersey or Pirates hat would float by, it was mostly Steeler paraphernalia that caught my eye. From the quiet island of Chincoteague where a man in a Hines Ward jersey told me to “keep an eye on those Redskins fans,” to a bar in Northwest DC where a fellow fan and I debated the effectiveness of Casey Hampton, there were dozens of folks who noticed my hat (or super-awesome-$1-in-the-Strip-charm-bracelet) and stopped to chat. In any case, I’m on the lookout for the next week and a half for anyone in the area wearing Steeler gear. So if you happen to be doing just that in the NoVa/DC area, and a short 23 year old girl comes running up to high-five you, please don’t be alarmed. I can’t help it.

Right now I can barely let myself think about the possibility that in less than two weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers could become the first NFL team to have six Lombardi trophies. But I definitely don’t want to get ahead of myself either (pompous fans anywhere are obnoxious). The Cardinals are a formidable opponent and it’s going to be a really exciting game. I plan to have more in-depth analysis and some thoughts on the game as it gets closer. For now, I’m just enjoying the excitement.

Some Useless Trivia!

*Coach Mike Tomlin and linebacker James Farrior played against one another in college. Farrior was a linebacker for The University of Virginia while Tomlin was a wide receiver at William and Mary. In the game on October 4, 1994 Farrior finished with 2 tackles and an interception, and Tomlin finished with 4 catches for 58 yards.

*Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. has been covering the Super Bowl for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder for 28 years. This year, he will be covering his own son, Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., the standout wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals.

*At age 36, Mike Tomlin is the youngest coach to take his team to a Super Bowl.

*Kurt Warner didn’t start a game in the NFL until age 27. He is 37 this year and on to his 3rd Super Bowl appearance.

*The Steelers and the Cardinals are the only teams this year to have swept their respective divisions (the AFC North and NFC West).

Oh, and as for the title of this blog post? On my old ESPN blog, it asked me to describe myself “in my own words.” Here’s what I said:

I bleed black and gold.

I follow most professional sports, but my favorite is football. I play fantasy football on a couple different websites and dream about being a wide receiver in the NFL. (Alas, I am 5 ft 3.)

Debating players and sports is one of my favorite activities, but it’s all in good fun. While passionate about the teams and players I love, I am in no way like my angry neighbor who broke his TV when the Pats lost the Super Bowl this year.

Here we go, Steelers.

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