As the NFL offseason inches closer and closer to the dog days with very little news, I decided Sundays would be a great time for me to take a section of the page, and write about anything which is on my mind.
While this certainly leaves almost any topic on the table for me to discuss, know it will never veer to politics, religion or any other controversial topics of the kind. No, it will most likely revolve around the Steelers, Pittsburgh sports, or, like today’s article, a combination of several.
As a 35 year old father of 5, I often find myself thinking about my time as a kid. No, not when I was 10, the age of my oldest child, but when I was old enough to really remember things.
I have been blessed with an incredible memory, and the majority of my memories as a young man were based around Pittsburgh sports. Over the holidays on a trip back to my hometown of Wheeling, WV, I dug a toy chest out of my childhood room’s closet. What I found was an untouched glimpse into Jeff Hartman ages 8-13.
Those years were great. No stress, school wasn’t difficult yet, work was just mowing grass and shoveling snow, and girls weren’t really a part of the equation yet. You had great friends, the video games were basic, and you spent the vast majority of your time playing outside until the street lights came on. But who am I kidding, we pushed those limits every night until the booming voice of my father made all the neighborhood kids scatter.
While digging through this pre-adolescent treasure chest, I found box upon box of my childhood trading cards. There were NFL, MLB, NHL and even a couple packs of ‘Garbage Pale Kids’ and ‘Beavis and Butthead’ trading cards — I never said I was the perfect child growing up.
I looked through the cards and stared at awe of my vast collection of Andy Van Slyke, Mario Lemieux and Barry Foster cards. As a kid I loved these players, and I treasured these cards. In the summer when my friends and I sat around a picnic table bartering which cards we would potentially trade, there was no card outside of Honus Wagner that I would give up for any of those aforementioned players.
No chance. No way.
As I looked through the cards, I couldn’t help but realize my current job of running this wonderful, and large, website. At the time of me finding this chest my days were spent writing articles which seemingly were geared more towards TMZ than an NFL website. But there I was, writing about Antonio Brown skipping practices, and the fall out which ensued.
I found myself longing for the days of Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Jerome Bettis, Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown and Rod Woodson.
Those teams never won a title, but boy were they fun to watch.
For some reason my mind always flashes back to the 1994 AFC Championship game when Neil O’Donnell threw the fourth down pass intended for Barry Foster low, ending the Steelers’ season and sending the Chargers to the Super Bowl where they would get throttled by Steve Young and the 49ers.
I remembered the 1995 AFC Championship game when Harbaugh threw the hail mary pass into the endzone, and everyone’s heart stopped beating until they saw the official, and the replay, show the ball touch the turf. It sent Pittsburgh to Super Bowl XXX, only to have Mr. O’Donnell produce one of the most forgettable performances from a very memorable football game.
Longing for those days is fun, because for me it was pure. Were those players perfect? Absolutely not. Who can forget Greg Lloyed using some not-safe-for-work (NSFW) language in the post-game interview after winning the AFC Championship game? In case you don’t remember (WARNING: Video has explicit language)
Could you imagine if the internet, and sites like BTSC, were around during those times?
As I always say, can you imagine Joey Porter in his playing days with a Twitter account? He would make the most wild player accounts seem tame.
With the Steelers spending the majority of the past 3-4 years dealing with suspensions, drama and intrigue, I know I am not alone when I speak about thinking back to the glory days of black-and-gold football when all that seemingly mattered was tuning in on Sunday, and watching your beloved team. For some, this is thinking back to those 1970s team, but for me those 1990s team were the ones which infected me with the black-and-gold illness which still runs rampant through my veins each day.
You didn’t care about who said what on social media. You didn’t argue with other commenters on a website. You didn’t go on Twitter and say inappropriate things to a player who might have made a mistake. You just enjoyed the game — win, lose or draw.
While I love this site and the community it has become, I still miss those simpler days in both my life, and with my favorite football team.