Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field in the annual preseason finale between the two clubs.
In his weekly press conference on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin said most "established starters" will not play Thursday night against Carolina (big shocker there). Thus, as was the case during most of the recent, final exhibition games, it may take a fair amount of commitment and loyalty to sit through most of Thursday's action and--in some cases--to even watch a second of it. However, some passionate fans out there likely will do so without batting an eye.
But just how passionate are you? What if you had a choice between the Steelers' final preseason game and another pleasurable event? Which would ultimately win out?
I present you with the following hypothetical scenarios:
Hypothetical scenario No. 1: A sneak peek of the new mega-blockbuster Star Wars movie that will be released in December vs. one final peek of Martavis Bryant before he makes his 2015 debut in October
If you're a Star Wars fanatic, this might be an easy choice. However, if you're also a Steelers fanatic, Martavis Bryant's immense talents might make things more difficult, and you may have to go with that final exhibition game instead.
But what if Star Wars creator George Lucas is set to unleash some crazy new special effects on the world? It would be awesome to get a sneak peek at that.
Yeah, but what about the special effect Bryant will have on Pittsburgh's offense when, you know, he finally makes his debut in Week 5? What Seelers fan wouldn't want a preview of that?
I'll give you that, but what if there are rumors that the latest Star Wars film will have some crazy plot twists, like Hans Solo being revealed as Luke Skywalker's father and Darth Vader admitting to Hans that he's really his father and Luke's grandfather? Mind=blown. (I know what you're going to say, "that would never happen. It's too far-fetched." Yeah, like a space soap opera is so realistic. Damn it, you Star Wars freaks, get a life, why don't you! Don't you people have jobs?)
Fair enough, but what about watching Bryant reveal to NFL cornerbacks that he will spend most of 2015 making them his punk b*** once, you know, he finally starts playing in October? Wouldn't that be an awesome sight to see before most of the football world gets to? Coverage=blown. I know you're going to say it's stupid to get suspended for weed. Yeah, like it's not stupid to smoke it when you're about to unleash your immense Randy Moss-like talent on helpless defensive backs all over the world. What's wrong with you, Martavis? Get your life together, why don't you? Put the stuff down! You have no clue how good you can be.
Hypothetical scenario No. 2: Playing poker with Arnold Palmer, one of the 4,000,000 fans who saw the Immaculate Reception in person and Bruce Gradkowski vs. watching Michael Vick make his Heinz Field debut against the Panthers
Say you get a call from Arnold Palmer, and he's sitting with a guy who was in the crowd at old Three Rivers Stadium when the Immaculate Reception took place and Bruce Gradkowski (65.8 career passer rating), and the three local heroes invite you over to play poker with them on Thursday night. Wouldn't that be awesome? Wouldn't you love to hear Arnie's old golf stories from back in the day? And what if the Immaculate Reception guy has a photo that puts to bed once and for all the myth that Frenchy touched the football before Franco? And who wouldn't want to try and take money from hometown boy Gradkowski (3-8 record as a starter for the Buccaneers in 2006) by going all in with a 2-7 and making him fold trip kings?
Yeah, but surely the debut of Michael Vick (52.9 completion % last season with the Jets) in Pittsburgh will be shrouded in controversy. What if one of those 20,000 fans who signed the petition to kick Vick (71 TD passes in six years in Atlanta) off the Steelers shows up at Heinz Field and plops it down in Art II's lap? That would be something to see in person.
Yeah, but what if Gradkowski (0/0 for 0 yards in one appearance last season for Pittsburgh) gets kind of buzzed and reveals to you how angry he is that his bosses signed Vick (131/87 TD to INT ratio for his career) to replace him after his finger injury and that he's going to cut up his Terrible Towel and mail it back to the team?
That would be great stuff, but how will the Heinz Field crowd greet Vick (20-20 as a starter in five seasons with the Eagles) once he finally takes the field? Will they welcome him with open arms or will they shower him with boos? Also, is Vick (80.4 career passer rating) capable of leading the offense in the unfortunate case of an injury to Ben Roethlisberger (7.9 yards per passing attempt for his career)? Should the Steelers have looked at someone else as a backup, like, say, Brady Quinn (12/17 career TD to INT ratio)?
I'll give you that, but what if Grad (54.7 completion % as a member of the Raiders in 2009) goes from buzzed to drunk and reveals that he has always been secretly jealous of fellow hometown quarterback Charlie Batch (11,085 career passing yards) and his enormous popularity? That would be a sight to behold.
Hypothetical scenario No. 3: Being at PNC Park to see the Pirates go for first place vs. being at Heinz Field to see the Steelers' not established players
It would be great to be at PNC Park, smack dab in the middle of an exciting pennant race.
True, but what about being at Heinz Field to watch Landry Jones "continue to try and grasp the offense," Cortez Allen "continue to make strides" and Kevin Fogg continue to bring it on special teams? That would be something.
Yes, but what if Andrew McCutchen wins it with a dramatic walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth and the Pirates take over first place?
That would be cool, but who is going to be the Steelers new punter this season? Brad Wing or Jordan Berry?
Hypothetical scenario No. 4: A chance to watch someone break down film for hours and hours vs. listening to Bob Pompeani make commercial announcements
Who doesn't love watching film or tape of football? I mean, when did the receiver establish that he was open? Let's rewind it and watch it again. You see Bryant fake inside and then head up field, leaving the defender flat-footed?
Yes, but who doesn't like listening to Bob Pompeani talk about the Heinz Field Kickoff and Rib Festival during preseason games? Ribs, barbecue sauce and some beer? My mouth is watering.
Fair enough, but what about X's, O's and diagrams? What about Cam Heyward staying low and using his awesome leverage to drive the offensive lineman into the backfield? Talk about mouth-watering.
Yeah, but what about The Arrow on CW? A new season is coming this fall, you know? Look at how attractive that cast is.
But what's more attractive than seeing GIFs of Le'Veon Bell and the Steelers offensive line successfully execute zone blocking? You can watch it over and over and over again.
Hypothetical scenario No. 5: Alone time with a hottie vs. a potential game-winning drive, led by Landry Jones
Your woman is standing at the bedroom door, wearing a two sizes too small pink Steelers jersey--and nothing else. She's motioning for you to join her for some......well, you know. (By the way, if you're a woman, you can have this same fantasy. Just picture your man standing at the bedroom door wearing a two sizes too small Jeff Reed speedo).
Sure, your woman looks great in that pink jersey---and nothing else. But there are only 47 seconds left in the game, the Steelers are trailing by four points and driving for the winning score. Landry Jones is on the sidelines after a timeout, huddled next to Jarrod West, Jawon Chisholm, Mitchell Van Dyk and B.J. Finney, as they listen to Todd Haley give them last second instructions.
Yes, but your woman just looks so good, and she's in the mood. How can you pass this up?
True, but if the Steelers can pull this game out with a Jones touchdown pass to Shakim Phillips, they'll finish with at least two preseason victories for the first time since 2012.
There you have it. You can see how difficult these choices would be. However, as a huge fan of the Steelers, I think I'll watch Kevin Fogg and Co. take on Carolina, even if one of those aforementioned hypothetical scenarios presents itself to me Thursday night.