As I sit here days removed from an emotionally draining and improbable Steelers win In Cincinnati; and days away from the Divisional round matchup in Denver, I can’t help but contemplate all of the reasons the Steelers will lose on Sunday. Granted, the Steelers have an uphill climb (altitude pun intended) this week considering the injuries to Ben and DeAngelo, and the uncertainty of Antonio Brown’s status after that hideous shot he took from Vontaze Burfict last Saturday night. However, with that said, my pessimism isn’t isolated to this week or these circumstances. I have recurring and gut-wrenching internal dialogue every week, continuously toiling over the minutiae of each match-up. Juxtaposing the Steelers with their next foe, and always coming up with scenarios in which the Steelers will lose. Many who know me can vouch for this unending negative outlook because they hear it week in and week out during football season.
My passion for my hometown team runs deep. So deep in fact, that a result (win or lose) can effect my mood for days. The seed of this passion was planted in me by my family, and more specifically my grandfather and my father. I learned everything I know about football from spending endless weekends watching the games with them. There was nothing better than watching a Steeler game with my dad, as it was one of the few things that brought us together and made a mostly tumultuous childhood feel normal. Steeler Sundays were always special, and if I had the chance to watch with my dad or my pap, that made it even more special.
But somewhere, somehow my enthusiasm gradually morphed into a nervous and almost dreadful feeling as each Sunday approached. I would get angry with my Steeler brethren who were confident and optimistic about the prospect of a Steeler win. I couldn’t help but wonder where this pessimistic attitude came from. Then it donned on me!
I was born in 1976, smack dab in the middle of the ’70’s Steelers run of unprecedented success. However, by the time I was old enough to understand what was going on, all the glory of those championship teams was gone. My earliest memories of those heroes of the ’70’s teams were a battered and beaten Terry Bradshaw and Jack Lambert and Franco Harris as a Seattle Seahawk. It was the early ’80’s and save for a few fleeting playoff appearances, the run was over. During this stretch we were forced to watch the likes of Mark Malone and Bubby Brister lead the Steelers for a decade. This is where I believe my pessimism was born. It seemed year after year we were hoping that Coach Noll would take the Steelers back to those days of glory. But as we learned that type of success would be impossible to recapture. As the Bill Cowher era began in 1992, the playoff appearances would return, but we were again disappointed by one failure after another. Whether it was Neil O’Donnell throwing those interceptions in Super Bowl XXX or Kordell Stewart failing to come through in AFC Championship games, the disappointment continued. That all changed in 2005-06 when the Steelers finally reached the pinnacle of pro football by winning Super Bowl XL in Detroit. Since then, the Steelers have appeared in two more Super Bowls, winning one, bringing the organization’s league leading total to 6 championships.
Given the recent success of the Steelers one would think that my pessimism would turn to optimism. Unfortunately those feelings of doom and gloom that were born in the ’80’s when I was a young, impressionable kid, have remained even after 4 more Super bowl appearances and 2 more championships. At almost 40 years old those feelings will probably never change, but strangely enough I wouldn’t want it any other way.