I’ll be rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers in tomorrow’s Super Bowl game.
The Packers are a very good team, and I can understand why the betting line has them around 3-point favorites. But, I still want the Steelers to win.
I’ve been a Steelers fan since I was a teenager, even though I’ve never been to Pittsburgh. It may be because my father had been a fan, but I don’t remember that. I think he was more of a Dallas Cowboys fan (but he was a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball fan, largely because of Roberto Clemente), until I decided to be a Steelers fan; and then we both started rooting for the Steelers.
I think part of it was my natural nonconformist tendency. If everybody else was rooting for the home team, I was inclined to root against them. I remember really liking the play of middle-linebacker Jack Lambert (and reading Sports Illustrated articles about him) and then getting to know more about the rest of the Steelers team (Lynn Swann, Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, etc.) in the 70’s. It didn’t hurt that they became very successful. I think it was also, partially, because they were (and are) the sort of team that most people are inclined to dislike. Their uniforms are (often) black, and they often defeat most people’s home teams, and they play very aggressively.
This year I think the league, unfairly, decided to make an example of linebacker James Harrison and single him out for large fines because of some hard hits he made (some did involve helmet-to-helmet contact, but that’s not completely under the defender’s control) partially because he’s a Steeler, and they’re easy for most of the fans to hate.
Another reason some people are inclined to root against the Steelers this year is that their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was accused of a sexual assault (a second time), and was suspended by the league (first for 6 games, then it was reduced to 4) for his conduct. Now, after investigation, he was never actually charged with a crime in either case. I don’t know exactly what happened, and neither do any of the other people who are assuming he’s guilty of something horrible. I think it’s very likely that he behaved badly, and stupidly, but I understand that he’s been trying very hard this year to change his behavior. I’ve never thought that athletes had an obligation to be role models, but I do think they should be careful to avoid situations that could lead to accusations of wrongdoing (they are obvious targets for false charges of this nature). As far as I know, Roethlisberger has learned from his mistakes and has been performing very well both on and off the field. So, as of now, I do admire him as an athlete. I also really admire Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, James Harrison, and many other Steelers (including coach Mike Tomlin).
So, I don’t care how many more people are rooting for the Packers.
I say: “GO STEELERS!!!”
Update: Well, the Steelers lost. Too many turnovers. Congratulations, Packers.