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February 2, 2009 - Bill Speer
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That Charles Dickens quote pretty much summarizes my National Football League experience this season. Yesterday as I celebrated a Pittsburgh Steelers' victory in the Super Bowl I thought back over the years to all the other Steeler victories I also had witnessed.
As a child growing up in Pittsburgh during the heyday of the Steel Curtain defense, Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw, it was the best of times. Interestingly, the style of football played back then 30 years ago is still the same as that played today - hard hitting defense and smash-mouth running.
Sunday's Super Bowl victory is all so sweet, but the fact is that since I moved to Michigan 21 years ago I adopted the Detroit Lions as my second "home" team. Thus, to be passionate about two teams and see one finish at the top of the hill while the other is dead last on the bottom and you can quickly see how emotionally rough this season was.
A co-worker who visited her daughter back in western Pennsylvania over the weekend told me Monday "You people are crazy back there" as she described the passion of Steelers fans. And she's right.
Everywhere you go, from a grocery store to a high-end department store, everyone sells Steelers items. On any neighborhood street in a 200-mile radius from downtown Pittsburgh you will come across at least two homes flying a Steelers flag on their front porch year-round. Parked on the street will be at least three cards with either a Steelers license plate holder, decal or car flag.
Steeler Nation is the most dedicated group of fans in professional football, if not all of sports. As a Pittsburgh native, I am proud of my charter membership into the tribe.
Yet I also wish for the day that I also can experience this same type of feeling for the Lions. It would be great to witness Calvin Johnson making the game-winning catch in the end zone the same as it was Santonia Holmes Sunday.
Who knows. I just hope it happens in my lifetime.
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