My late granddaddy, Eugene Mankowski, an oilman from Dallas, instilled in me his many beliefs and interests.
One day, when I was still a young boy, he instilled in me perhaps his strongest belief: "Son (my granddaddy called me "Son," even though I was his grandson), "we live in a town where you must conform in order to survive. In 1972, there was a playoff game between the Steelers and Raiders, a game in-which Oakland should have won, thanks to a rule that prohibited two offensive players from touching a pass consecutively. On this play, running back Frenchy Fuqua intentionally tipped a pass directly to rookie running back Franco Harris, who picked the bouncing football off the turf of old Three Rivers Stadium and scored an illegal touchdown. The game-day officials knew nothing that just happened was legit, but after Fred Swearingen, the head referee on this day, found out stadium officials could only surround him with six policemen, he exclaimed, 'That's six for Pittsburgh!" and an injustice was allowed to take place. But he made the right choice, Son, because Steelers fans are just crazy, and they will tear you apart if they find out you have a rooting interest other than their own. Therefore, even though you're not a fan of the Steelers, I want you to exclaim 'That's six for Pittsburgh' anytime you're near any of those hooligans when their team scores a touchdown."
That was my granddaddy. He was a good man, who had my best interest in mind when he gave me that sound advice. And truth be told, I have heeded it since the day he gave it to me, some 35 years ago.
But you know what? No offense to my late-granddaddy, but I'm a grown man now, a man who has spent years pretending he's something he's not, and wishing the world knew he was something he truly was.
And with that in mind, I'd like to boldly proclaim that I have been a Cowboys fan since before I was old enough to know what a great organization that was. I may be from Pittsburgh, but my granddaddy was from Dallas, born and raised, and he was fortunate enough to be in that great city in the 60s when the Cowboys first took up residence.
He was hooked from the beginning, and rightfully so. With legends such as Bob Lilly, Don Meredith and Bob Hayes leading the way on those great Cowboys teams of the 60s that were coached by an even greater legend, Tom Landry, nobody in his or her right mind would root for any other team but the one that would accurately come to be known as "America's Team."
And after a few years of frustration, my granddaddy's devout love for the Cowboys eventually paid off in the 70s, when they won two Super Bowl titles, thanks to the arm of quarterback Roger Staubauch and the legendary Doomsday Defense, led by Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Randy White, Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson and Cliff Harris.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys were robbed of being the team of the 70s, thanks to getting screwed out of Super Bowls X and XIII against Pittsburgh.
I didn't know this, initially, but my grandfather told me Art Rooney, the Steelers founder, won the team in a poker game in some basement back in the early 1930s. I also didn't know he was a crooked gambler with shady connections that he used in ensuing years to influence Super Bowls IX, X, XIII and XIV. (I might have been young and naive back in the 70s, but I was wise enough to know the fix was in as I watched Pittsburgh rob the Seahawks and Cardinals in Super Bowls XL and XLIII, respectively.)
When I was old enough to be aware of the NFL, I knew, right away, Dallas was the ONLY team to root for, but since I was born in Pittsburgh (my granddaddy had to move his entire family North for work), I realized cheering for the best team in the world would be dangerous.
Therefore, as I sat in my mom's kitchen in January of 1980 as a little seven year old and watched the Steelers take on the Rams in Super Bowl XIV, I outwardly cheered for Pittsburgh, even though, inside, I was dying a 1000 deaths because I knew Dallas should have been in that game, but the NFL wanted the Steelers to be the team of the 70s.
Why on Earth would the NFL want the Steelers to be the team of the 70s? It's like my granddaddy told me, old man Rooney had gambling debts to pay off. And besides that, Pittsburghers had nothing else to live for in their dreary lives, other than smoking cigarettes, working in the steel mills and cheering for their "Stillers," and the NFL just felt sorry for those people.
The past 35 years have been hard, pretending to cheer for a team I despised, and the past four years, as a contributor on BTSC, have made that journey downright sickening.
You might be asking, "Why on Earth would you write for a blog that represents a team you despise?" It's simple: I figured since Steelers fans have nothing better to do than sit on the Internet and smoke cigarettes in their Jack Lambert jerseys, choking on their chipped ham sandwiches as they complain about the lack of a running game, I would have a HUGE audience to show off my superior writing skills and get noticed by the Cowboys, who would then hire me to work for their glorious organization.
But as it turns out, despite my hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts, my google search status hasn't changed much at all, and I'm still behind the Anthony Defeo who swindled money from some casino.
I'm sick of it, and I'm sick of pretending to love some team that's represented by a stupid, yellow dish rag that's twirled by a bunch of yinzers, wafting their disgusting cigarette smoke in my general direction and polluting my standing in life.
Sorry, but enough is enough. I think it's time to do my late granddaddy proud by saying this Dallas boy from Lawrenceville is going home.