In late 2004 I was stationed on Fort Bragg preparing for a deployment overseas. Before I would go, I was assigned to go to Pittsburgh on a recruiting assignment with a fellow soldier named Mike. Mike was originally from Pittsburgh and was also a die hard Steelers fan.
We would arrive in town on Saturday, October 23rd, one day before the Steelers would take on the powerhouse New England Patriots in what was considered to be one of two games that was going to bring the streaking Steelers back down to earth (the other being the Eagles the following week). Mike tried to get in touch with people to get us some tickets to the game, but because of the magnitude of the game that proved impossible. We were staying in a hotel right along side the Grove City outlets, so we would end up looking for the closest Steelers bar. Though I can't recall the name, the bar was just down the road from the hotel driving away from 79. Looking at a map and trying to piece together what I can in the jumbled mess I call a memory, I believe it may have been "My Brother's Place". I'd have to step inside to be sure because I remember the inside better than the outside.
When we arrived for the game, the bar was fairly well packed but there were a couple of good seats available fairly close to the TV. It was definitely a good experience for me, as this was the first time I had been in what I considered a "real" Steelers bar. Sure, I had been in Steelers bars all over the country, but this was about as authentic as you can get short of being on the North Side itself. There were no Cowboys, Giants, or Eagles fans sprinkled in here. Anything not in black and gold was risking life and limb by merely stepping foot in the place.
The game started off with a bang, seeing a field goal from the Patriots followed by a touchdown from the Steelers. Things really seemed to be rolling for the Steelers when Ben threw his second touchdown to Plaxico Burress. It was shortly after the kickoff following that score that it happened. The Patriots were starting their drive on what many were sure would be one of Tom Brady's typical amazing drives to put the game back within range. Thinking out loud, I said: "What we need right here is an interception for a touchdown." Right after those words came across my lips, Deshea Townsend stepped in front of a Tom Brady throw and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. The whole bar went completely nuts and started treating me as if I had been the one that intercepted that pass. They quickly delcared that "You have to come back every Sunday and sit in that same seat.". They were really disappointed when I told them that my First Sergeant is a native of Baltimore and would not approve of me being AWOL for such things. Regardless, everyone believed in some crazy superstitious sense that I had somehow helped the Steelers score.
Now, I'm not a superstitious person myself, but if there's any chance at all, no matter how minute, that somehow my words sent a ripple through the space-time continuum that somehow allowed that play to happen, I can't let my team down, can I? Of course not. So here are my "predictions" for the 2013 season:
2. Jarvis Jones will wreak such havoc on opposing offenses that he will be declared the undisputed starter before week five and be strongly considered for DROTY.
3. Troy Polamalu will be considered for a second DPOTY award as he stacks up another pair of YouTube highlight clips that leave Giorgio Tsoukalos declaring that "Yes, it is possible..." that Troy Polamalu is some sort of hybrid alien-human, genetically engineered organism.
4. Steve McLendon will finish the season with at least three sacks and numerous tackles for a loss and leave everyone continuing to ask why he wasn't starting last year and contributing heavily to the leagues #1 defense.
5. Ike Taylor will have at least three interceptions, one of which he returns for a touchdown.
6. There will be a highlight video of Will Johnson thoroughly trucking a defender on a swing pass for a huge gain.
7. Le'Veon Bell will rush for more than 1200 yards, despite missing at least the first games and will get plenty of his own highlight videos.
8. Sharmarko Thomas and Jarvis Jones will each cause a turnover that is the difference in an otherwise close game.
9. The many reporters who have been criticizing so much will be scrambling to explain why they once again foolishly discounted the Steelers.
10. The Steelers will win one of the most memorable Super Bowls in recent memory against a heavily favored NFC West powerhouse.
So there you have it. Maybe if we all focus hard we can will it to happen. Feel free to offer your own. I'll be sure to say it out loud, just in case. I might even have to go up to Grove City and sit in the same seat and say it out loud, just in case.
Edit: It should also be noted that I only missed one and a half games in 2004. I missed the first half of the loss to Baltimore (which they almost came back to win) and I missed the entire AFC Championship game against New England as I was deploying to Iraq.