Monday, February 06, 2006

One last football post from a baseball fan

As a quick warning, it's impossible for me to not write about yesterday, so hopefully you'll all let me indulge myself with one last football post, mostly because I don't want to forget what happened yesterday and feel the need to write it down, before I go headlong into spring training mode later this week. If you were in Pittsburgh yesterday, or in the 70s, you probably don't need to read this, but like I said, this is for me.

Freshman year at Duquesne, I remember standing in the hall meeting a bunch of other terrified kids, realizing that a bunch of us had one thing in common, the Steelers. Even the non-Steelers fans admitted they would love to be in Pittsburgh for the Steelers to win a Super Bowl (except my RA who was a Browns fan and was heard muttering last night "If hell is worse than this, I'm going to church every day for the rest of my life"). My friends and I were then forced to watch our friend from New England celebrate 2 Super Bowls and a World Series while we were left to ponder just what that felt like. Remember that the only 'Burgh titles that have come in the lifetime of people my age are the two Cups won by the Pens. I can't speak for everyone else, but my dad wasn't a hockey fan and so I never got into hockey until I started watching it on my own (during the baseball strike), thus those two Cups could've been won in LA as far as my 7 year old self was concerned.

Enter this weekend. My friends and I (or at least those of us of the 21 year old Steeler fan variety) woke up at noon and headed to the South Side. We did exactly what college students are supposed to do on Super Bowl Sunday in the 'Burgh with the Steelers in the Super Bowl, drank beer (instituting a strict Iron City or Rolling Rock only rule and giving dirty looks at the two kids that didn't follow the rule), ate Primanti's, screamed "HERE WE GO STEELERS, HERE WE GO!!!" at the top of our lungs every time someone drove by with a Terrible Towel hanging out of their window (this was quite often). Around four, we came back to my apartment to watch the game. If you know me, this is because I can't watch any important sporting event involving my team with a large group of people. I can barely handle being with myself. As the clock ticked on it slowly dawned on us (specifically after Fast Willie took off to start the third quarter was when it hit me) that the Pittsburgh Steelers were about to win the Super Bowl. The game ended, we popped a small bottle of champagne I found in my fridge (my 21st was two weeks ago and I had completely forgotten it was in there), took a couple swigs, grabbed a hat, my Terrible Towel (it sat on top of my TV even when I didn't watch the game in my apartment all year, you can't mess with stuff like that), and bolted for Carson Street.

As we ran over the bridge we called our friends who were already down there, with no luck (the circuits were busy). Every car that drove over the 10th Street Bridge met us with honks and waving Terrible Towels. We hit the intersection of Carson and 10th and all we could see were people. Even the cops were giving high fives. We finally found one of our friends outside of Jack's and just started going with the crowd. I waved my Terrible Towel until my arm hurt like it hadn't since my Senior League coach made me throw 170 pitches in one game. I high-fived and hugged hundreds of people I've never seen before and might not ever see again. My extremely drunk and delirious friend did the Joey Porter dance for anyone that would watch, riot police included. I've never seen anyone happier in my life, and I'm not kidding. You haven't lived until you've seen a short white kid with a mohawk repeatedly do the Joey Porter dance with scores of people watching "Here we, Steelers, here we go, PITTSBURGH JUST WON THE SU-UPER BOWL" (to the "Here We Go" beat, of course). I carried some girl that I've never met on my back for like a block and a half. People were hanging out of windows, screaming. My friends and I just kept repeating things like "WE DID IT!" or "OH MY GOD!" or "HOLY SHIT, THE STEELERS JUST WON THE SUPER BOWL!" We made it all the way from 10th Street to the Birmingham Bridge (12 blocks I think). It was solid people all the way, with the highest concentration being outside of places like Jack's and The Locker Room (Hines' bar). We then started making our way back towards Duquesne. There was a band playing "Here We Go" on the corner of a street. There were something like 5 duct-tape Lombardi Trophies (we stopped to touch most of them). Every time we looked, someone was missing from our group, invariably found to be hugging some random person or doing the Joey Porter dance. Even the non-Steelers fans were having a great time. In our small group alone, we had a Bills fan, an Eagles fan, and a Pats fan, all with huge smiles on their faces, taking the whole scene in. Once the circuits cleared up, phone calls starting getting placed to parents, mine just wanted to make sure I was out on the streets taking it all in. We slowly made our way back towards 10th Street, stopping with everyone else whenever a helicopter hovered over us to wave our towels.

Anyways, I know I'm cynical, but I finally get it. People always ask my why I'm a Pirates fan, and I say because I want to be there when they finally win a World Series, but I never understood what that actually meant. Sure, I heard my dad's stories about how the '79 Pirates caused everyone in State College with a Pirates hat to become friends in the fall of '79, or how the Steelers owned Pittsburgh in the 70s, but they were just that, stories. They're a lot more than that now, because I have a story of my own.