If you’ve been reading my articles lately (at least the ones through Week 18 of the 2021/22 regular season), you know how jaded I’ve been about the current Steelers’ team.
Why even bother watching them? What enjoyment can be derived from viewing a professional football team whose performance will surely be flawed because the team is severely flawed?
These guys have lots of warts, per head coach Mike Tomlin.
He ain’t wrong.
What’s the point of making the playoffs? Who wants to see this team, one that will be going into Arrowhead Stadium where it got manhandled by the same Chiefs juggernaut that also did the same thing a few weeks earlier, go out like the proverbial sacrificial lamb?
What’s the point? Because the playoffs are always awesome, that’s why, especially the NFL variety and especially when my team is in them.
Who wants to see this performance on Sunday night? I do. I need it. Actually, I needed this whole postseason week in order to keep my sanity.
I never realized how much I needed my Pittsburgh Steelers until this past Sunday when I was out on the road delivering packages in the most tragic and flawed way. I had no clue how the Steelers were doing in their win-and-need-a-miracle final game of the regular season scenario, the same scenario they had been in a few times in the recent past.
I wanted to care, but my job just wouldn’t allow it. I wanted to check my phone for some updates from somewhere and/or someone—text messages from my family, the BTSC Slack channel, Twitter, etc.—but where was the time? I was overwhelmed with this thing called a new job.
I was like Joshua Dobbs that time he had to fill in for Ben Roethlisberger in the second half of a game against the Raiders—totally unprepared and caught off guard.
Tomlin seemed to mismanage that day with regard to Roethlisberger and a supposed rib injury.
My boss mismanaged my situation on Sunday by throwing me out there without so much as one of those wrist thingies quarterbacks—even the veterans—use to know which plays to call next.
I was lost. I was crying. I was failing both physically and emotionally.
Then, I got the word: The Steelers were in the playoffs! (Not officially, but everyone felt that way at the time.)
My brother called to tell me, but I was too hurried to enjoy his call and actually got choked up before hanging up. I wasn’t choked up about the Steelers' improbable playoff positioning. I was choked up about work. I was kind of ashamed but not really (when you gotta cry, you gotta cry).
Anyway, there was a brief moment after I abruptly hung up on my brother when everything suddenly felt okay. The Steelers were in the postseason. And, although my day would continue to be a disaster over the next few hours, knowing this realization (again, little did I know how unofficial this official playoff spot was until the final seconds of the Raiders/Chargers game began to unfold) became the rainbow in my dark and stormy day (and night).
That’s the thing about being a diehard fan of a particular sports team. You think you only need it for entertainment purposes. But the beauty of this kind of hobby is how many different ways it can affect your life.
My work situation hasn’t gotten much better, but I’ve had the Steelers and this Wild Card Playoff Game to look forward to on Sunday Night Football. Can Pittsburgh pull off the upset? Can we get a repeat of that 2005 Divisional Round upset of the Colts? Heck, can something happen on Sunday night that I’ll cherish for the next three decades? That’s what I’ve been doing all these years with that overtime victory over the Houston Oilers on Wild Card Weekend back on December 31, 1989—cherishing it.
One awesome moment by your favorite team can stay with you forever.
I don’t know if the Steelers will make it past 11 p.m. as Super Bowl contenders on Sunday night, but they’ve already come through for me in the clutch when I needed it the most.
For that, I’m truly thankful.
To paraphrase Vince Papale in Invincible: I’ll always have my Steelers.
And, more importantly, they’ll always have me...even when I say mean things about them.