Citizens of the One and Only Sports Nation, we are in a time of mourning. Not only are our beloved Steelers making vacation plans which do not include saying the words “I’m going to Disney World!”, two teams that give us absolutely nothing to cheer for, are meeting in the Super Bowl.
If you are not familiar with my work, or who I am (Where have you been?), I live just outside of Baltimore. I would argue that there is no worse place to live for a guy who was raised in the mountains of western PA, who knows absolutely nothing about seafood, and who is a devoted and loyal Citizen of Steelers Nation than living in Baltimore.
It’s like a Cardinals fan living in the north side of Chicago. It’s like Ohio State fan living in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Except it’s much more intense because both the Steelers and the ravens (again, I refuse to capitalize their mascot) are so similar teams, and each is relevant almost every year.
I would argue that there is only one Super Bowl match-up that could be worse for a Steelers fan living in Baltimore (or any Citizen of The Nation), and that would be if the vile Dallas Cowboys were playing the ravens.
How would that be worse, you ask? Well, the Steelers and the 49ers have no real history against one another. They have never met in the Super Bowl and when one has been good, the other has been mediocre or worse.
The Steelers and Cowboys have met more times in the Super Bowl than any two teams, with the Steelers taking two out of three meetings. The Steelers and Cowboys have each been to eight Super Bowls, while the 49ers have been to six, counting this year.
And then there are their images. The Steelers are known as a run-first; play hard-hitting, aggressive defense; smash-mouth football team. This formula worked so well that when Art Modell broke the hearts of Clevelanders and moved his team to Baltimore, he began to build a team in the mold of the Steelers.
The Cowboys, and to a lesser degree the 49ers (until recent years), have been known as the white-collar, nuveau riche team who made a living passing the ball and trying not to get dirty.
Where the Steelers are old-money, the Cowboys were always new-money. The Steelers philosophy has always been “work hard and you will get what you earn.” It was this philosophy that the founder of the Steelers, Art “Chief” Rooney instilled in his family and his team. The Cowboys original ownership made their money the really old fashioned way: They inherited it.
As if that weren’t enough, there is the record for most Super Bowls won. The Steelers (as you well know if you are reading this article) are atop that list with six. Nipping at their heals, however, are the Cowboys, who have not even sniffed a Super Bowl in 17 years, and the suddenly hot and formidable San Francisco 49ers. Each of those teams has five Lombardi Trophies.
On the other side of the game, we have the Baltimore rat-birds. To say they are the Steelers most heated, hated rival is like saying falcons are good at flying. They say familiarity breeds contempt and in no arena is this more apropos than when you are talking Steelers-ravens. The teams are remarkably similar to each other, and that similarity makes for great football games, twice a year.
The teams simply do not like each other. The fans do not like each other. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Steely McBeam and that prancing, purple-clad, overstuffed, flying crap-house, Poe, get into fights. (And we all know who would win that, don’t we?)
Living in Baltimore is doubly painful when the ravens are doing well. You have the usual fans (“The NFL hates Baltimore, and the refs are always making calls against us.”), and then you have the band-wagon fans that come out of the woodwork. You know the type, the people who couldn’t name five players on the ravens’ roster who aren’t named Lewis, Reed, Suggs, or Flacco; and don’t know the difference between a first down and a touchdown; but who claim they have been lifelong ravens fans.
So, this year I find myself in a quandary. On the one hand, I have my most hated rival. If they win, because I live in their city, I will be subjected to at least a year’s worth of talk that the ravens won it all, and did so more recently than the Steelers. Having experienced that very thing 12 years ago, I can tell you it wasn’t and will not be fun.
On the other hand, I have a team that is trying to tie an historical record set by the mighty Black and Gold. They want to continue their streak of never having lost a Super Bowl while tying the Steelers for most Super Bowl wins.
So, I put it to you, Citizens of The Nation. You’ve heard my arguments. I want to hear from you. Whether you live in Pittsburgh, or Baltimore, or anywhere else, for whom are you rooting in this Super Bowl?