"You know how I used to tell you about Van Buren scoring that touchdown...That touchdown got me through 30 years at that factory. Got me through all those times your mother being sick." ~ Frank Papale
Hopefully, we are all familiar with that memorable quote from the football movie "Invincible". Times were hard in Philadelphia during that era, and right now, no matter where you come from, United States, Britain, or even where I am in Australasis, we are all being hurt by the state of the economy in one way or another.
I'm only 20. I have a lot of living left to do, well I hope I do at least. So my collection of memories is undersized compared to that of many of the older generation of Steeler fans on these boards. But here is a little story that I came across today.
Upper Hutt's main Street
Down in my little part of the world, New Zealand, I grew up in a relatively small city of Upper Hutt, slightly north of our capital, Wellington. When I left College (High School), I left to go to University in a place called Palmerston North, about 2 hours drive from my hometown.
Anyways, this weekend, I came home to visit my parents and what not, catch up with a few of the boys that I went to College with, and I cam across a sight that I would not have guessed. Cobb n Co, an old Australian originated family restaurant, had closed down.
Cobb n Co, graphite roofed building
Now there has been one of these restaurants in Upper Hutt for as long as I can remember. Always popular, always good food, always there. I had never really realised how bad the economy was hitting us until I saw this. Ignorant to the economy? No, just never thought I would see the day that all those windows in the picture were to be boarded up, and a large sign on its roof saying "For Lease".
I am lucky to have parents who will likely not be affected by the economy, they both have very stable jobs in the occupations where even as times get worse, the workload seems endless. We all complain about having a long day at work, or having an endless pile of paperwork to get through. Yet I guarantee there are a large number of people around the world who have been made redundant, and would give anything to have that pile of paperwork. To have that spillage in aisle 5. To have that bourbon and whiskey to get for the young man in the flash suit.
Our family has had Rugby season tickets since the new stadium opened in 2000. Last night was the first game of the national season, our team, losing finalists last season, won our opener 23-19. Yet, a stadium that seats 35,000 people (miniscule to your American stadiums), received only around 10,000 spectators. The national series has never been as appealing to the Southern Hemisphere series against teams from Australia and South Africa, but never thought I would see a crowd so empty. Maybe it has been like this for awhile without me noticing, but I noticed all the same. Rugby, our national game, seemed to give me the bitterweet taste of happiness, with an aftertaste of disappointment.
At least I have Football. I have loved the NFL game ever since I watched the Black and Gold of the Steelers, which matches the black and gold of my Wellington Lions. I have loved it ever since I picked up my first copy of Madden. I have loved NFL since it was like my little secret. Not many people I knew supported it like I did. It was something I had.
Wellington's Rugby Stadium
One week in January this year, I had a rough week. I tested positive for glandular fever, this meant no drinking alchohol, no energy, pretty much the inability to go out and muck around in the Summer sun, due to the constant feeling of exhaustedness. I was let go from my holiday job after they were not turning over enough profit. I was a shop floor employee, whos main job was to help customers with purchases, heavy lifting and so on. There were less customers than usual, and even less purchases.
At least I had football. That Monday (my time, Sunday US time), the Steelers bet the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. I got out of bed for that. I put my Steelers jersey on like I did every game, there in spirit.
The next day I found my energy. I got outside into the Summer air. I got my ass down to the city and handed in CV's.
I can only imagine, being at a football game is an incredible experience. For 60 minutes, there are no wealthy, middle class or poor. For 60 minutes, everyone is a football fan. For 60 minutes, all your problems seem small, as you strive for your favourite team to win. Winning the Superbowl this past season, gave many Pittsburgh natives a boost. It gave them strength. And as it did for Vince Papale's father, it gave him the willpower to keep at it, much the same as his heroes on the field did.
At least we have Football.