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Bowled Over

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I fell asleep last night to the sound of police sirens, happy drunks, and a kid down the street playing "Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go," on a marching-band trombone. So this space may be even less coherent than usual.

Ordinarily, in fact, a column like this would try to sum up What It All Means for Pittsburgh that the Steelers have won a sixth Super Bowl. I might note that the Steelers' once-mighty running game has now been almost completely displaced by a passing attack, one led by the backfield improvisations of Ben Roethlisberger. And I'd note how this mirrors the city's own transformation from a blue-collar economy, based on muscle, to one that stresses innovation and blah blah blah.

But honestly, my head hurts a little, and probably someone at the Chamber of Commerce is working on that piece anyway. So I'll draw a few simpler conclusions below.

-- First, never take the Steelers by 7 points, no matter who they're playing. The Steelers will tap all their talent, every resource they have -- 10-yard punts, holding calls in the end zone, whatever -- to avoid a blowout.

-- Second, a word for the college kids in Oakland. It's about the team, and the city. It's not about you. Pittsburgh has become a college town, which means that for a lot of students, it's just a place to throw the beer cans. But you don't celebrate your connection to a place by crapping all over it. Get drunk, get happy, play "Here We Go Steelers" on the trombone. But if you're into car-flipping and window-smashing, consider a transfer to WVU.

-- There's been a lot of vaporing over at ESPN about whether Pittsburgh is "the greatest franchise in pro sports," or whether it deserves the title of "America's Team." But obviously, one thing that makes the Steelers among the greatest sports franchises is that they'd never think to call themselves "America's Team." You need to own the Cowboys to come up with something that self-aggrandizing.

-- In fact, any minute now somebody's going to do a bit of commentary pointing out that the Rooney family has avoided almost every business strategy that has brought this country to the brink of economic ruin. Family ownership that remains rooted in a single place ... investing for the long term ... avoiding a lot of self-referential hype ... what could be more out of step with American business strategy of the past 20 years? Yet the Steelers have one of the very few American brands that is stronger today than it was a year ago.

Like I say, somebody's going to do a commentary like that. But again, it will be someone who didn't have a kid playing "Here We Go Steelers" down the street after the game.

-- Before the game, Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers was telling NBC that he'd be crying whether the Steelers won or lost: His father's from here apparently, and Seth was raised as a fan. This made me feel a bit more charitable toward him. Not charitable enough to actually watch Saturday Night Live, but ...

-- A couple years back, my wife and I spent our honeymoon in Mexico, and we ended up talking about the Steelers with one of the performers in the hotel stage show. Wearing some sort of lamé Mayan-priest garb -- he looked like a disco-era disciple of the Hummingbird God -- he told us Neil O'Donnell must have been taking bribes to throw those interceptions in Super Bowl XXX. This guy had never been outside of the Yucatan peninsula, but he was a Pittsburgh man.

Whenever the Steelers do something great, I think about him. I think about how even the phrase "Steelers Nation," doesn't do justice to the community this team has attracted -- a community not even a nation's borders can contain. I hope he got Sunday night off, and instead of entertaining a bunch of norteamericanos with a Vegas version of his own cultural heritage, he got to watch James Harrison's 100-yard INT return just like I did.

And I hope he didn't pick the Steelers to win by 7.

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