Today is the day Steeler Nation, it’s time for round 3 of Hatefest 2010. Steelers vs Ravens, it sends chills down the spine of the devil himself. Nuns all over the world say an extra prayer before the game, lest the very foundations of our planet crumble. Players dawn their teams colors in preparation for a war unlike anything witnessed previously in the NFL. Team doctors & trainers for both sides are well aware they will be working overtime on this day. Fans by the millions gather all over the world to celebrate this bloodbath that is affectionately known the sports world over as one of the best rivalries in sports history.
There are no surprises, no special game plan, records go out the window, and intensity is turned up another couple notches on the hate meter once the whistle blows. The harder you hit and the more pain you can inflict will serve you well as you head into the 2nd half of just such a game. Players will tell the media, they genuinely don’t “hate” their opponent, but when the whistle blows any feelings other than that are long gone. Both teams know what’s at stake, they know in a setting like this in the post season, that it’s win or go home. Living with a loss in this game during the regular season is bad enough, eating at you realizing you let a golden opportunity slip away. However, in the post season it’s magnified one hundred times over, knowing how close a chance at another Lombardi trophy is and realizing how limited these opportunities are in ones career. Leave nothing to chance, leave it all on the field, you fight, kick, and scratch doing whatever humanly possible to win this game. Players love it, games like these are memories that will last a lifetime. Stories from this rivalry are told on NFL interviews well after retirement has come and gone for them. How many times do we hear interviews where a player or coach says they live to play in a game like this, to be a part of something this special. Each time they do, their face lights up as they remember what it took to play in a game like this.
We fans on the other hand, we make no bones about it. When you talk about Steelers vs. Ravens, it brings out the animosity in a person like no other game in the season can do. Browns week, Bengals week, both are intense but don’t hold a candle to this matchup. Steeler bars crowd hours before kickoff with crazy black ‘n gold faithful, tailgating begins well before most players are even on their way to the stadium. Iron City Beer is consumed in celebration of the steel city. Families all over the world hoist up Pittsburgh banners outside their homes, and flags on vehicles are displayed as we drive to the store for last minute game munchies. You see a fellow Steeler fan in the parking lot, the gas station, the grocery store, and you feel that instant connection to something that is much bigger than you are. High fives between total strangers or a random chat about the game from a new found comrade in the bar. Let’s not forget the rude stare of disdain or smart comment to a person wearing a Ravens jersey, this is what being a fan of a game like this is all about. There are no nice things to say about the other teams city, their team uniform, or even their families. You hate them, they hate you, and when the game is over no matter who wins you don’t back down from your black n gold pride, ever.
The day we wait for every NFL season, game day is here! What better way to celebrate the Steelers in the post season than to match up against our arch rival, the team you love to hate, the Raven! Wave your Terrible Towels loud and proud today Steeler fans, the time is now and losing it not an option.
Here We Go Steeler Nation!
Photo courtesy of espn.com