Thoughts from the "Sy'd Line"

Could it be worse? For much of the 2005 NFL season, Baltimore football fans were living in ubiquitous fear with the epicenter of our angst being the potential for an extremely negative historical event to occur. A certain team currently residing in Indianapolis (our version of Helen of Troy) had a better than average chance of finally becoming the winners of a Super Bowl. That, however, was only the tip of the iceberg!

As bad as it would be to see Jim Irsay hoisting the Lombardi trophy, the fact is one NFL owner does it every year. As special as it would be to win Super Bowl XL, it is only 1 out of 40. If, however, a team manages to go 16-0 in the regular season, that team will become the FIRST IN NFL HISTORY to accomplish that. Should that team then go on and win it all, it is now the FIRST TEAM IN NFL HISTORY to go a perfect 19-0. A team that could accomplish either would be immortalized. That team would ALWAYS be remembered as the one who did it first regardless of how many followed. In other words, Baltimore football fans were faced with the clear and present danger of the INDIANAPOLIS Colts forever being remembered for doing something special and truly historical.

If that happened, we of the Charm City football community would have to carry that fact to our graves.

But it DIDN'T HAPPEN. And with the loss to the San Diego Chargers, like the 1934 Bears and the 1998 Broncos before them, the team in Indianapolis became just another to go 13-0 only to get their first loss in game 14. Like the old soldier, their phenomenal season of 2005 just…faded away, to be remembered by few and cherished by none.

We felt as if the most enormous monkey of the season was off of our collective backs. We felt that we could return to the much less nerve racking ritual of watching our own season go down in flames without the fear of any further impending evil. We, of course, were wrong!

The Cornfield Kids, for one, still had a great shot of winning the Super Bowl and certainly had history on their side. Both teams that made it to 13-0 since the merger (the1998 Broncos and the 1972 Dolphins) went on to win the Super Bowl. This is also true for the one team who won their first 12 games in a row (the 1985 Bears). Realistically we know that one day we may have to live with the fact that they will be Super Bowl champions, if not this year, then sometime down the road. That realization need not to keep us from ROOTING LIKE HELL AGAINST that inevitability! But if that is the worst that could happen this year, it was still much better than the alternative!

As the playoffs commenced, another team we hate, the Steelers, managed to squeak in as the sixth seed. But they were no threat! They BARELY made it in as a sixth seed and had to cheat to beat Cincinnati in the wild card round. Still they represented the greater of two evils so when the two teams met in the AFC Divisional Finals I offered my support for the home team.

If I am to be totally honest, however, as the Steelers began to tear their hosts a new one, I was not disappointed. The 2005 Indy team was probably the best it will ever be. THIS YEAR was their year. THIS YEAR was their BEST chance to do it. If they didn't win Super Bowl XL, their window would not necessarily be closed, but it would definitely start to shut. And when Vanderjagt's kick went (WAY) wide right, I definitely got a sense, realistic or not, that their run was over. I sensed that the day when I would have to acknowledge the INDIANAPOLIS Colts as the champions of the NFL had been pushed back indefinitely.

So, I looked upon the Steelers win as a good thing because when they lost to Denver next week in the AFC championship (no sixth seed as EVER advanced to the Super Bowl) all would once again be right with the world.

But no sixth seed has ever advanced to the conference championship either! The winter of our discontent was agonizingly brief. The Steelers won so convincingly in the AFC championship game that the odds makers made them the favorite to win the Super Bowl. A #6 seed favored over a #1 seed!!!

And the ubiquitous fear returns!

We (or me at least) spent so much energy rooting against Indy that we had forgotten to worry about these bastards!

Every year since we won SBXXXV, there always seems to be one or two teams in the playoffs that represent the embodiment of true evil. Usually it's the Steelers and/or that team in Indianapolis, but other "special guest villains" get invited from time to time, like 2004 Philadelphia Eagles. (The idea of Owens with a ring still makes my skin crawl!) These Lex Luthors of the NFL cannot be allowed to win a Super Bowl!!! If we can't stop them ourselves, then we wait and hope for a super hero to come out of the sky and banish the evil doer.

Starting with the 2001 AFC championship game, that hero has almost always been the New England Patriots. Every year the Patriots have advanced to the Super Bowl it has meant that Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have not. The one year they missed the playoffs in their incredible run (the year Tampa won) was the one year neither Indy nor Pittsburgh was a threat. As long as New England was winning the world remained safe.

But this year, Bill Belechik was not around to protect us. And on the eve of Super Bowl XL we, once more, stared into the abyss. The only hope for salvation: the Seattle Seahawks. Will they be this year's Superman or Clark Kent? Or will they be the football version of The Blue Raja and just throw spoons at Jerome Bettis's mom?

Clark Kent did run into the phone booth. But when he ripped off his shirt, there was no capital "S", only the exposed belly button of an aging Rolling Stone. And the Pittsburgh Steelers are world champs!

There is a true and honest debate raging right now as to WHY the Steelers won, but I for one, have never argued the bottom line. Bad officiating or not, we as Ravens fans have to live with the undeniable verity that the Pittsburgh Steelers are world champs. We MUST proceed from this point with the acknowledgement (if not acceptance) of this simple fact or we will drive ourselves insane!

Let's instead, take pride in the fact that our recent Super Bowl victory was irrefutably earned. We should definitely anticipate an onrush of front-running plankton that will attempt to invade our football sanctuary next season. Let's start getting ready now to defend our house with honor and pride. And if some front-running slug ever mentions that they have "one for the thumb", promptly present the digit next to your wedding ring and defiantly declare, "That may be so, but we still have one for the finger!"

We will get through the aftermath of this 2005 Season in Hell if we stick together. We can make the world once again safe for the pursuit of truth, justice, and the Raven way if we wish to. Remember all glory is fleeting and that a Super Bowl glow lasts for only one season. And NEVER FORGET that it could have been worse. The INDIANAPOLIS Colts could have won SBXL after going a perfect 16–0 in the regular season.

Sy Saulynas teaches Information Systems at a crucible of higher learning somewhere in the Baltimore area. He is also a long-time member of Ravens Nest 1 where he runs rampant, forcing football pools and pickems on the unsuspecting membership. He hails from Bel Air via Catonsville and has a lifelong devotion to all Baltimore sports teams with an almost spiritual zeal for Baltimore NFL football. If you would like to comment on this edition of  'Thoughts from the Sy'd Line', email him at: sbxxxv@comcast.net

 


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