Like a lot of Steelers fans, I was a bit put-off by the NFL Network's Top 100 player list for 2011 as voted on by the players (supposedly). Naturally, I wasn't happy with where some of my favorite Steelers were placed on the list.
I mean, the Steelers have accomplished so much in the last six or seven seasons. How am I supposed to take a list seriously when it suggests that there are 40 players in the NFL better than Ben Roethlisberger and 1692 that are less talented than Ray Lewis?
It's a freakin joke, right? It's an absolute outrage!
But when I take a deep breath, I realize that years from now, I'm not going to remember some trivial player list from 2011. I'm going to remember all the excitement and joy these current Steelers have given me over the years.
I'm not going to remember that Ben Roethlisberger was ranked 21 spots below Michael Vick. Instead, I will remember Big Ben's legendary touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIII that helped bring the Steelers their record 6th Lombardi Trophy. I'll also remember Ben's clutch, Houdini-like touchdown pass to Santonio in Baltimore in late 2008 that helped clinch the AFC North, and his bomb to Antonio Brown on 3rd and 19 in the closing moments of Pittsburgh's come-from-behind win over the Ravens in the playoffs last season.
I won't remember that James Harrison finished 17 spots behind Ray Lewis on some list in 2011 despite being one of the most dominant defenders of his era.
Instead, I will get goosebumps as I think back to Harrison's thrilling 100 yard dash in Super Bowl XLIII. I'll also fondly remember that Monday Night game in 2007 when Harrison almost single-handedly demoralized the entire Ravens' offense, and the decleating tackle he put on Ed Reed during a punt return.
I probably won't remember that Troy Polamalu was listed one-spot behind Ed Reed despite being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.
I WILL remember Troy's karate chop on Joe Flacco in the waning-moments of that pivotal Sunday Night game last season that not only changed the complexion of that game against the Ravens, but maybe the complexion of the remainder of the season for the Steelers. I'll also joyfully remember that AFC Championship Game against the Ravens where Polamalu dove over the line to stop Flacco on 4th and short, and the 43 yard interception return later in the game that sealed another trip to the Super Bowl.
Lists like the one that came out the other day can be a little hard for Steelers fans to swallow when we see Ravens getting better representation than our team, but think of the Ravens as a thunderstorm.
Thunderstorms can be loud, menacing, and even a little scary. I remember when I was a kid, I was terrified of thunderstorms. However, when I got a little older and wiser, I realized that thunderstorms may be loud, but they normally don't do much damage.
The Ravens are kind of like that. They're loud, they're menacing, their players get ranked higher on lists, but when you look up at the end of the season, they really haven't done much damage.
Besides, after a scary thunderstorm, there's often a beautiful rainbow in the sky.
Much like a rainbow documented on a photograph for all to see, the Steelers' accomplishments in this current era of excellence have been captured on film and video-tape for future football fans to witness and judge.
Years from now, when we're reliving these awesome moments, we won't be worried about any silly lists, and we'll have long-forgotten about those scary thunderstorms.