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Joey Porter Jr., a new Steelers stadium, social media, and the passage of time

Time sure does seem to fly by when you get older, and social media certainly doesn’t help.

Super Bowl XL - Pittsburgh Steelers vs Seattle Seahawks Photo by G. N. Lowrance/NFLPhotoLibrary

Drafting Joey Porter Jr. is all fun and games until you realize that Joey Porter Sr. is younger than you and now has a kid who plays for the Steelers.

I’ll soon be 51 (any day now), but I had no plans on feeling old. To tell you the truth, I still feel youthful, and it freaks me out when younger people (for me, the ages of those people now include 30-somethings) refer to me as “sir.” I’m like, “They can tell how old I am by looking at me? I do yoga!”

Nope, nothing had ever made me feel old before—not my age, not my image when I looked in the mirror, not those jerks on Twitter who threw shade at my testosterone levels when I suggested that Diontae Johnson was a good receiver—until Pittsburgh selected Porter Jr. in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

It wasn’t so much that the Steelers selected Porter—I was preparing for that for months—or that he was Peezy’s kid, it was that now iconic image of Big Joey holding Little Joey in his right arm moments after Pittsburgh defeated the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

Like most fans of the Steelers, I had been seeing that image on my television screen and social media platforms for years. Joey Porter Jr. was always just a little tike to me. Now, he’s a 200-pound corner with the ideal length and size to play the position at the NFL level.

I could have beaten Porter Jr. up as recently as a decade ago (and gone to jail for many, many years); now if I tried to fight him, I’d wind up like one of those fans from the Malice at the Palace.

Speaking of a decade, it feels like 2013 happened a minute ago, same for Super Bowl XL.

Maybe that’s what it is. Time is just flying by, and I can’t keep up with it.

This could be why all of this speculation about the Steelers perhaps wanting a new stadium so soon after Heinz Field/Acrisure Stadium opened seems misplaced.

To reiterate, didn’t Heinz Field/Acrisure Stadium open up like nine minutes ago? I remember racing home to watch the first Steelers preseason game played there in the summer of 2001. I thought the place looked really cool compared to the recently-imploded Three Rivers Stadium. I attended a regular season game at Heinz Field in Week 2 of the 2002 campaign (Rich Gannon went off, and the Steelers fell to 0-2 after losing to the Raiders).

You mean to tell me that all happened over two decades ago, same for that epic comeback win over the Browns in a wildcard classic in January of 2003?

Back to Three Rivers Stadium.

I remember waking up on the morning of February 11, 2001, to see the implosion of this historic venue, a venue that produced so many great sports memories for hundreds of thousands of people after it opened in 1970.

TRS may have opened in 1970, but they were already calling for a new venue for both the Steelers and Pirates by the very-early ‘90s. I remember when Pittsburgh’s mayor at the time, the late Sophie Masloff, first suggested that each team have its own home. The citizens laughed at such a notion, but it wasn’t long before the owners of both organizations were essentially demanding that new places had to be built, or else.

I was only 18 or 19 in the early-’90s, and I remember thinking, “Well, 20 years is a long time.”

That’s because it was in those days.

Go back and watch highlights of the Steelers playing at Three Rivers Stadium in 1970 under head coach Chuck Noll. The world looked completely different by the time Bill Cowher came on the scene as the new head coach in 1992. In fact, it looked like a totally different planet.

Forrest Gregg was involved in the two coldest games in NFL history. He was an offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers in the 1967 NFL title game played on December 31, 1967—better known as The Ice Bowl—and he was the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1981 AFC title game played on January 10, 1982—better known as The Freezer Bowl.

These games took place 14 years apart, but if you go back and watch them, you may think the timespan was much greater.

Did 2008 look much different than 2022, however? Nope.

Troy Polamalu’s famous pick-six in the 2008 AFC Championship Game—played at Heinz Field in January of 2009—gets shown over and over again on social media; if you didn’t follow football at all, and someone told you that it happened this past January, you might believe them.

Why is that?

Maybe because the world hasn’t changed all that much since January 2009. Also, video quality hasn't evolved a lot over the past two decades but is still worlds better than it was in 1967 or even 1982.

But, also, social media.

I mean, how can anyone have dormant memories with social media?

You know how many times I’ve seen Troy Polamalu intercept Joe Flacco late in that AFC title game and then zig and zag his way 43 yards for a touchdown? Too many times to count. People just post that play on Facebook on a random Wednesday evening in July.

I went the first 25 years of my life never seeing the actual broadcast footage of The Immaculate Reception. The only footage one could see back then was from NFL Films. It was usually the end zone angle of Franco Harris reaching down and catching or “catching” the football just as it went out of view. You had John Facenda’s thundering voice describing the action with an iconic NFL Films score acting as a great backdrop.

NBC finally released never-before-seen (or not seen since 1972) footage of the play on December 23, 1997—the 25th anniversary of The Immaculate Reception—and I think I saw it a few more times over the next 10 or 20 years (usually on the anniversary). But I believe I've seen it 999,999 times since 2017, thanks to social media and Steelers Twitter.

Growing up, I may have seen one photo of the day Terry Bradshaw was selected first, overall, in the 1970 NFL Draft.

It’s been almost 20 years since the Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, but to continue a theme, it feels like it happened last year. Why? Because I see footage and pictures of that day like three times a month.

It’s so hard to miss the old days when all it takes is one Google search to find them.

I guess that’s the price you pay for living in the Information Age.

Maybe that’s why I’ve grown old over the past 15 or 20 years and can’t seem to grasp it.

When I was a kid, the thought of traveling back in time 10 or 15 years was fascinating to me—television shows and movies made even the recent past seem like a galaxy far, far away. But if I could actually do that, now, I’d say, “Hey, there’s my same apartment, computer desk and recliner!”

The end.