Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Taking The Bus Home To Detroit

Steeler running back Franco Harris addresses the Super Bowl XIV victory rally at Point State Park, Pittsburgh, 1980
photo by Ben Razon
It's time to 'fess up' that ever since the Pittsburgh Steelers won their first Super Bowl in 1975 that i've been a diehard and avid fan of the black and gold, all throughout former head coach Chuck Noll's championship years during the 70s of quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, and the vaunted 'Steel Curtain' defense of Joe Greene and Jack Lambert that defeated the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, and the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV.

So with the past we now fast forward to the present team that's preparing to face down the Seattle Seahawks in this year's season-ending game of the NFL. And the story of Jerome Bettis a.k.a. 'The Bus', the veteran Steeler running back who's become the sentimental story of Super Bowl XL, as he winds down his career with Pittsburgh and has come back to his hometown of Detroit to play in what may well be the last game of his 13 years in pro football.

There's a mood and character about the many who've played for the Steeler organization that is unlike any other team in the National Football League, namely one of a certain undeniable loyalty, unity, and unabashed commitment to play one's heart out for the team and win games regardless of what happens on the field. These guys are family members who look out for each other and who have never felt an ounce of jealousy with one another regardless of position, ability and status within the team. And what a fanbase and following they have had over the years. The many ethnic immigrant communities of eastern Europe that make up the city of Pittsburgh are all rabid Steeler fans who speak of the team the way they would be proud of an elder brother or a son who's done good. I felt this when I was living and going to school there, and it's really a very down home, small community atmosphere in which the crucible of Pittsburgh's sports teams have been formed, whether it's the collegiate Pitt Panthers, the Pirates of baseball, or the Penguins in hockey. But on top of the hierarchy is definitely the Steeler flag and the legions of their fans waving the black and gold terrible towels for Coach Bill Cowher and company. With all due respect to the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks and the hope of a great classic confrontation in the Super Bowl, of course.

The shadow of past Steeler teams who've won four Vince Lombardi trophies for the City of Pittsburgh will be looming over this present-day outfit who are gunning to bring home the Fifth.


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