I’m super jealous of Bengals fans, right now, Rams fans, too.
Why would I be jealous of two fanbases with one Super Bowl title, combined? Because they’re the fanbases of the two teams who are in this year’s Super Bowl and will be fighting for the very next Lombardi Trophy.
But it’s so much more than that for me. It’s more about this two-week celebration fans of each team are in the middle of, right now, with Super Bowl LVI set to kick off this Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
These fans have had over a week to soak it all in, and I’m sure it’s been one big party for the truly devoted.
I remember how it felt for me 26 years ago in the hours and days after the Steelers clinched their first Super Bowl berth in 16 seasons with that breathtaking 20-16 victory over the Colts in the AFC Championship Game at old Three Rivers Stadium.
Do you know how many times I’ve gotten into my car after a huge playoff win by one of my favorite teams and honked at bewildered strangers as I drove around in a euphoric state? I did that once, and that was right after that glorious victory mentioned in the previous paragraph. I can still see the amused look on this one man’s face as I honked my horn at him while he walked his dog. I even remember the street I was on: Ringgold Street in the Crafton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
I was still in a euphoric state later that night as I watched NFL Films features about the Steelers and the Cowboys from the 1970s. That’s right, not only were the Steelers in their first Super Bowl since the glory days of the 1970s, but they were taking on the team that they vanquished twice in the Big Game on the way to earning the title of Team of the Decade.
I couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream come true. The Steelers weren’t going to be playing the Falcons, Seahawks or some other rather-nondescript team in Super Bowl XXX. This was America’s Team, a franchise that, much like the Steelers, had fallen on hard times in the late-’80s before rising up again to be the NFL’s best, a two-time Super Bowl winner that was going for its third Lombardi in four seasons.
This dream-like state continued for me over the next two weeks, as I simply devoured every bit of Steelers news and purchased every piece of XXX memorabilia I could get my hands on.
If I could have, I would have flown to Phoenix, Arizona, to take in the proceedings in person, but I certainly didn’t have the money for that. I was there in spirit, however.
Yes, I realize how Super Bowl XXX turned out, but that’s not what this article is about. This is about celebrating something that no sports fan truly gets to experience on a frequent basis over the course of his or her life.
I’m glad the NFL has mostly always had a two-week build-up to the Super Bowl. Football is America’s pastime and the Super Bowl is its grand jewel. The entire world will be watching these two teams, while the cities they represent get to take center stage during the build-up to the big event.
How are the citizens of Cincinnati, who haven’t witnessed a Super Bowl in 33 years, enjoying their time in the sun? I’m sure there are yard signs everywhere. Joe Burrow could probably run for mayor and win. The Crying Bengals Lady, who became famous after she was seen sobbing uncontrollably after the Steelers' improbable last-second win in that wildcard game following the 2015 season, is going to the Super Bowl and will likely have the time of her life.
How are the citizens of Los Angeles responding to the Rams Super Bowl appearance? It’s a big city whose people enjoy a wide array of interests, but Rams fans, at least the ones in Los Angeles, have seen their team come up short many times throughout its complicated history that has included a few relocations.
Maybe this will be the time the Rams finally win a Lombardi Trophy for the City of Angels.
I know it’s popular to say that the two-week hype for the Super Bowl is too much and that you’d much rather see the thing played a week after the conference championship games. To that, I say, the NFL draft called and it wants me to tell you that the event is still almost three months away and that you should probably shut up about it for a little bit.
As a Steelers fan, I simply cannot wait for the next time the team makes it to the Super Bowl. Heck, even after the Steelers advanced to Super Bowl XLV, which was their third appearance in six years, I still soaked in all that I could during the two weeks leading up to the game.
Speaking of that two-week period, I remember purchasing a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade about a week before the Super Bowl (it doesn't matter why), and as the guy behind the counter handed me my change, he said, “You enjoy that game next week!”
We hadn’t even discussed the Super Bowl, but you could tell he was super-stoked about it even with a week to go before the coin toss.
He didn’t seem to mind the two-week buildup.
Hey, Bengals and Rams fans, you enjoy that game, next week, but don’t forget to keep on reveling in this two-week buildup. These things don't happen very often.
Damn, I’m so jealous.