So, the Steelers won the super bowl, huh? Or the Seahawks lost it. Whatever. After letting my boiling blood cool for a day, I want to say a few things about the big game.
First off-a disclaimer: The Pittsburgh Steelers are a class organization, starting at the top with the Rooneys, all the way down through the coaching staff, most of the players (former and current), and I’m sure a large percentage of their inexplicably large fan base. I have no problem with Jerome Bettis. He played the game the way it should be played for his entire illustrius career, gave back to his community, and if anybody deserves a storybook ending like we saw yesterday, it is Jerome.
That being said-a couple things that anybody not plastered beyond belief on Iron City beer with their air supply being choked off by an unfortunate byproduct of too much malicious towel-waving should be able to see:
The Agenda of the NFL
Is there anybody left in this country (with even passing access to a television) who doesnt know what city Jerome Bettis is from? Make no mistake about it-the NFL is an ENTERTAINMENT company. They make their money from advertisers paying for airtime during NFL broadcasts and fans dishing out their hard earned dollars to be entertained by 250 lb steroid enhanced man-beasts. And so, in keeping in line with that, the powers that be at the NFL decided the best way to get more people to watch the culmination of their entertainment season was to pull at the heartstrings of the casual fan or even non-fan by giving them something to relate to-the story of a boy beating the odds to get out of his ghetto of a hometown, achieving national fame, and ultimately returning to that (still very ghettoish) hometown for the biggest game of his life. You can’t write this stuff. However, Jerome Bettis was not the only player “going home.” Hell, he wasn’t even the only Steeler, nay, the only Steelers STARTER who was “going home.” LB Larry Foote also calls the Motor City home. How many segments did we see about him? Bettis deserves a lot of credit for announcing his retirement right there on the field after the game too, taking the high road rather then the, “lets keep them in suspense” path that so many egotistical athletes display these days.
Also, in watching the game, I couldn’t help but notice those commercials that showed a player or coach molesting the Lombardi trophy like something you’d hear in a Rolling Stones song and talking about how much it would mean for them to win it. After the 3rd one I saw during the first half featuring a Steelers player I mentioned something along the lines of, “what the fudge?” to my surrounding Seahawk fans du-jour. Somebody explained to me that they were doing the commercials with both teams. And sure enough, during the 3rd quarter, there was Matt Hasselbeck groping said trophy. Next commercial break, right back to the steelers. Eventually, a group of players representing both teams, the majority of which, of course, were Steelers. Am I implying that the NFL was pulling for the Steelers in this game? All I am saying is that they are a company, like any, in the business of making money. Do you really think they fail to notice the abundance of Steeler fans floating around this country? The fact that about 70% of the crowd at Ford field yesterday had testicle towels with them? It gets a little annoying to those of us not wearing black and gold. Thats all Im sayin.
The blind (or very well supplementally paid) Zebras
Ah, the officals. First off, realize that the collective headache enveloping the city of Pittsburgh today pales in comparison to the one being suffered over at the NFL head office. The day after the Super Bowl, and the majority of the country wants to talk about nothing but the referees. That doesn’t bode well for them. Chat rooms, newspaper columns, shit nobody will read (like this), and even ESPN are adamant that the officials undoubtedly affected the outcome of the game. Theres plenty of reading material on that elsewhere, so I wont dwell too much here. However, I do want to point out that along with the phantom holding and pass interference calls, along with the mystery touchdown by Ben in the first half and the 15 yard penalty on Hasselbeck for tackling (tackling??) below the waist, there were also glaring No-calls. Joey Porter (in the one play he made all day) dragged Shawn Alexander down by the back of his collar. No penalty for the horsecollar. On the play of the holding call (unanimously NOT holding if you watch ESPN today), the Steelers were obviously offsides, with the hawks center later saying, “I thought they were offside [on the play Locklear was called for holding],” center Robbie Tobeck said. “I thought we had a free play on because they had two guys come across.” Whatever, right. Here’s the bottom line: The Seahawks didnt play well enough to win. Neither did the Steelers. Either team, with the right calls, could be wearing rings today.
What can you really ask for out of a super bowl, or any game for that matter? That the best team win, right. Did the best team win Sunday? Let’s look at it for a second. The Steelers got beat “up and down the field,” in the first half according to Michael Irvin. I’d have to agree. Anybody watching that first half would have never guessed the score to be 7-3 Pittsburgh at the break. “Big Ben,” reverted back to his “Baby Ben” days of last year’s playoffs, looking rattled and out of sync. To his credit, he was the first to admit he had a bad game. Still, even the plays he did make could have easily gone the other way. His 3rd and 28 hail mary to Ward was a smart play, because even if it is intercepted, the end result is likely just as good or better than a punt. However, had the Seattle secondary not had a group brain-fart at the time, ‘dem stillers never take that 7-3 lead. He had the lowest passer rating of any winning QB in super bowl history. When I expected him to be perfect on those 3rd and shorts as hes been all season, he overthrew his guys by feet, not inches. And when he did put the ball where it needed to be, the steelers receivers displayed hands of stone. Game “MVP” Hines Ward had at least 2 balls bounce right off his chest. His only real MVP moment in the game came when Andre Dyson injured himself tackling Ward out of bounds. Dysons replacement took a bad angle on Willie Parker’s run and also bit hard on the fake reverse, allowing Ward to scamper open to the end zone. In Herndon’s defense, he is also the one who picked off Ben’s lame duck and returned it to the Steelers 20 (on a side note, it was great to see Ben get absolutely flattened on the INT return, after all that hoopla about his tackle in the Indy game). And the other unanimous pre-game MVP, Suck-a-pole-amalu, was nowhere to be found all game. Not to mention Joey Porter’s play being much less visible than his midriff during warmups. Matt Hasselbeck, on the other hand, was money all day, even when he was being completely betrayed by the butterfingers of his teammates or the yellow flags raining down that might as well have had “terrible towel” written on them.
Dems da breaks
Through all that, the fact remains that the Seahawks shot themselves in the foot all night long. Dropping passes, missing field goals, and showing the worst two minute drill seen in the NFL since the last Super Bowl Holmgren tried to coach (Well, to anybody except us Ravens fans anyway). The Steelers took advantage of every opportunity given them, no matter how fairly it was given, and made just enough plays (3-no more no less) to earn the “one for the thumb.” I’m sick of hearing about that too-there are 2 other NFL franchises with 5 Super Bowl wins, you dont hear them crowing about thumbs. So enjoy it Steelers fans, you earned it. And NFL glory in this new era is nothing if not fleeting. Take that ring, place it ever so deservingly on your thumbs, and shove those thumbs straight up your….