Last Thursday night, I was talking to my mom about the Steelers first preseason game of the 2012 season, which just happened to be a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. About the loss, my mom said, "A lot of people will be unhappy tomorrow." I looked at her dumbfounded, and I asked her why people would be so upset about a preseason loss. However, it was just a rhetorical question, because I knew that there was no use in trying to explain to my mom why preseason games are so unimportant in terms of wins and loss. To my mom, every game is important--even games with two players from the same team who have identical numbers.
I'll give Mom a pass, however, as she is new to the sport, after all. And as I wrote in this piece last summer, during my early days of football fandom, I, too, put a lot of emotional stock in every Steelers game--even games played in August by guys who no doubt would be stocking shelves and bagging groceries come September and October. Speaking of bagging groceries, is that the only real career option for prospective football players who fail to catch on in the preseason? You hear experts and fans say it all the time: "Ah, I wouldn't put too much stock (get it?) in what happens in the 4th quarter of preseason games. Win or lose, these are the guys who will be bagging groceries in a couple of weeks." I know it's a dog-eat-dog world and times are kind of tough, but aren't most of these guys college educated? Don't they have degrees? Bagging groceries? I'd want to talk to my college adviser if I were them.
But I digress.
However, I can't say the same thing for other Steelers fans who were in attendance that night. The Steelers got up on Philadelphia early, and some guy a few seats down started screaming, "F*** the Dream Team! F*** the Dream Team!" Another guy was feverishly whipping his Terrible Towel, and he caught me right in the eye. There is no preseason for the Terrible Towel. It's always poised to strike--even after a play made by a guy who will be bagging groceries in a month.
My memory is a little vague, but I don't believe Michael Vick and Co. were in the game for more than a quarter or so. I doubt they left Heinz Field that evening too worried about the loss to Pittsburgh.
As for me, I didn't show any emotion at all (except for when I had to wait in line for 45 minutes to buy food). I was there to do some scouting for our very own Hombre, who needed some info for a blog he was going to write. I'm not saying I'm an expert on player evaluation--I'm pretty sure my assessments of Keenan Lewis and Marcus Gilbert were way off--but because I had the right mind-set for preseason football, I was able to calmly do my crappy evaluations.
To me, preseason football is for seeing the younger guys perform. I don't really get too worried about sub-par performances from the starters--I'm pretty sure they're not emotionally invested in their performances or the outcome of the game--I just want to see them escape unscathed..........yeah, anyway.
To me, a preseason football game is like finding a copy of season 2 of "Emergency!" at a yard sale. You're like, "Wow, I haven't seen this show in ages! I can't wait to get home and watch it!"
However, by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th episode, you realize that "Emergency!" was a nice show and all, but the production values are severely out-dated and lacking in quality compared to today's standards. You realize that you're not watching the show because you want to be entertained. You're watching more for nostalgia's sake.
That's how I feel about preseason football. I like it, but I'm really only watching it for sentimental value, and because I really love football. However, there is football, and then there is FOOTBALL! And the real show starts September 9th. Steelers vs. Broncos on Monday Night Football: The Director's Cut!