Friday, February 03, 2006

Yes Virginia, there really is a Stiller Nation....

As I try to dodge all the Terrible Towels, flags, and black (yes, I'm serious) and gold flower arrangements in the house, and decide what food to serve on Sunday--the what ifs are important, (What if the Steelers are way ahead? What if they're not? [Perish the thought] What if the game goes into overtime? [Another perish the thought.] What if we run out of Rolling Rock? etc.....). I've been ruminating about why this is so very important to so many people in Pittsburgh and beyond. You'll see blogs and writings that make the pretense that it isn't all that important. That there are actually 'Burgh residents, all two of them, who can pretend the team(s) doesn't exist. But I can guarantee you that if the symphony were playing, the string section would all be using Terrible Towels for their instruments and game updates would be announced between pieces. They held the curtin on a ballet performance once when a playoff game went into overtime and gave patrons time to rush from the various taverns into their seats after the team won. That is Pittsburgh! If you're ignoring the Steeler hysteria, you're probably in a coma. I saw a notation somewhere that it is the "sacred game of my people", but no, in the 'Burgh it is way more than that.

My husband is a native Pittsburger......and the pride and excitement is just about overwhelming about now. There cannot be anywhere else like Pittsburgh-hard to explain, amazing to experience. Back in August we were sitting on a hillside of St. Vincent's College with, literally, thousands of other people, all dressed in some version of black and gold. Hines Ward had just come to a contract agreement, and was in camp for the first time. It was like he was Bono, fans and media just crowded around him and he took his time, and spoke to nearly everyone. He was on the field at least 30 minutes after the rest of the team had left. That in a nutshell is the portrait of this team. Not a bad egg among'em. (If there is a bad egg, it sure isn't evident.) This group of players epitomizes the city-proud, hard working, low key, community minded. Sometimes the stars align. It is rare.

Another rarity, Myron Cope, the beloved raspy (alternatively called squeeky) voiced color analyst (described recently as a "gnome in a trenchcoat") retired after 35 years. There is no other city on the planet, perhaps ANY planet, that would have embraced his voice and analysis. It is uniquely Pittsburgh. Yoi!

So rather than my words here is a piece that I think explains it better than I ever could.

Steeler Nation


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