(Originally Published November 12, 2012)
started watching NFL Football in 1978 when I was 9 years old. At that
age, my bedtime was 9pm. We had two TVs in the house - the one in the
front room (or as I always though it was called - "the French Room")
that was connected to the antenna in the roof and a small TV on the back
porch that was not connected and got bad reception. My mom spent most
of her time watching the TV on the back porch - usually ironing or
sewing at the sewing machine or multitasking something else. My dad, of
course, was master of the front room TV.
watched football on Sundays, I generally was outside playing with
friends. But then there was Monday Night Football. I distinctly
remember lobbying my mom to stay up late on Mondays to watch the game.
Of course, I was usually doing something else during it - like sorting
through baseball or football cards - but dad had my back and suggested I
stay up way past 9. So, I became a fan of football mostly as a way to
stay up past my bedtime on Mondays.
A funny thing
happened with the Superbowl that year - the Dallas Cowboys played the
Pittsburgh Steelers, and my dad was rooting for the Steelers! Rooting
for a team other than the Bears was an odd concept to me at the time,
but my dad talked about Terry Bradshaw and John Stallworth and Mean Joe
Greene and how great they were.
By the time the 1979
season rolled around, I started to watch the Steelers when they were
on. Oh, sure, I was still a Bears fan - who would not be a Bears fan
with players like Mike Phipps, Rickey Watts, Brian Baschnagel and Len
Walterscheid on the team!
Oh, and also Sweetness.
The Steelers made it to their 4th Superbowl that year and it was the first year that I was REALLY excited for the game.
course, the hiring of Mike Ditka as Bears Head Coach starting with the
1982 season revitalized the team and turned my attention primarily on
the Bears. The 1980's Mark Malone-Bubby Brister era was a tough one for
Steeler fans anyway. 1992 was the last season for Mike Ditka as head
coach of the Bears but also the first for Bill Cowher as head coach of
the Steelers. When the villainous Mike McCaskey made the bad decision
to fire Mike Ditka and hire the personality-challenged Dave Wannstedt, I
turned my back on the Bears. They lost their heart and soul (no, not
Ditka) and felt soft.
Meanwhile, Bill Cowher's Steelers
dominated from 1992-1997 with a smash-mouth style that Chicagoans
love. Sure, they continually fell short of the Superbowl, but Neil
O'Donnell and this exciting new guy Kordell Stewart were fun to watch. I
became such a big Kordell fan that starting in 1999 until 2003 I made
sure he was always on my Fantasy Football team - the Montana
Lizard-Men. Unfortunately, Kordell was exciting but just not good
enough to captain the Steelers to the 'Bowl. In 1999 Dick Jauron
replaced Dave Wannstedt as Bears head coach. While Wanny had no
personality, Jauron sucked the life out of the room. It was like
painting a beige room over with another, more horrible, shade of beige.
Thank you, no.
A couple of great things for the
Bears and Steelers happened during the 2004 season - first, the Bears
finally got a good head coach in Lovie Smith. Now I could start to
enjoy the team again. For the Steelers, their rookie QB Ben
Roethlisberger came off the bench for an injured Tommy Maddox and ripped
off 14 straight wins until losing in the AFC Championship game. I
couldn't get a Big Ben Steelers jersey fast enough.
successful Cowher-era (Superbowl win in 2005) led right into the
successful Mike Tomlin-era (Superbowl win in 2008) and even though Lovie
Smith had the Bears playing "Bears football" again, it's the Steelers
that have been #1 in my heart most of the time. I could not sell my Big
Ben jerseys fast enough a couple years ago after he failed to heed the
phrase "No Means No", but just because I don't respect the QB doesn't
mean I don't love the team.