The Debate: Who Should We Hate?

They are done. It took one more game than most Ravens fans would have liked, but its over. No more having to watch them play. Everyone can relax now. No need to cancel that Super Bowl party. The Steelers have been eliminated from winning the NFL crown for the 23rd consecutive season. And while nothing quite compares to a Ravens victory, a Steelers loss is the next best thing. Especially a dagger-in-the-heart type loss like the one suffered Saturday evening in Tennessee.

If only we had known the fate that awaited the Steelers in Nashville, we all could have taken a lot more pleasure in Browns' serious need for a Heimlich specialist the previous week.  As much animosity that built up in this town because of the way Cleveland and its fans were treated after the franchise relocation, it is clear now that Ravens fans truly despise one team.  Who is it?

It's not Cleveland, though don't you want one more crack at Tim Couch in that Halloween costume before he is released.  It's not Tennessee either.  Jeff Fisher knows who owns his franchise and its not Bud Adams.  The Colts?  Maybe to those who really know how to carry a grudge. But they have lost for years in Indianapolis.  This town can celebrate a Lombardi trophy and they can celebrate 41-0 blowout losses in the playoffs.  The Redskins?  If you really need an NFC team to hate, they are it.

It's Pittsburgh (I'll avoid my favorite spellings).  Need reasons?  Glad you asked.

No.1, The Coach.  Yeah, Bill Cowher is a great winner.  But when it comes to losing, he's about as sore as a pulled hammy.  Even when things go his way he finds room to complain about officiating.  His post-game comments this weekend were laughable.  First, his description of the next-to-last play ("I saw the kicker take a couple steps, then I saw Washington sliding across the ground") was pure fabrication.  Nedney took no steps.  His kicking foot was on its way to the ground.  Washington, half falling, half diving, ran into the kicker.  Hence, running into the kicker.  Secondly, to whine about the official wanting to double check on a replay call makes me wonder what he wants.  A public apology?  Didn't he get the desired result?

No.2, The Kiss.  1997.  Ravens lead 21-3 at the half but the Steelers come all the way back.  A tremendous comeback, no doubt.  But the NFL sideline is no place for PDA's and that what Cowher felt appropriate to plant right on quarterback Kordell Stewart's lips after a 74-yard touchdown run.  And you wonder where rumors get started.

No.3, The Plaxico Push.  Where Michael Irvin left off, Plaxico Burress has picked right up.  He is the undisputed king of offensive interference.  Burress made a tremendous, juggling touchdown catch against Atlanta earlier this year.  The ball slipped through a defender's hands and Burress, falling himself, managed to haul it in.  Problem was, he gave the defender a good stiff shove in the middle of the back, causing him to miss the interception in the first place.  Burress has tremendous talent.  But he doesn't need free reign 15 yards downfield.

No. 4, The One-Sided Helmet decal.   Come on Dan Rooney, spring for the extra decals. And don't anyone try to pass it off as some copyright issue of the steel industry.  You can put a decal on one side but not the other?  It's the same darn picture.  Quick.  Draw some semblance of the emblem on a piece of paper.  Now flip the paper over and draw another one.  Looks the same, right?  What gives?

No.5, Omar Moreno's Wife.  Yeah, its baseball but its still Pittsburgh.  The Pirates double-whammied Baltimore in the 70's but we all could have done without that blasted whistle, not to mention the Pointer Sisters.

No.6,  Lee Flowers' Mouth.  His comments always seem to be flying around.  Much like his body after Eddie George ran him over on Saturday.  Hell, Ed Reed is already a better player than Flowers.  He talks like he is a main cog in the Steelers defense.  He is nearly the worst starter on the entire team.

No. 7, One For The Thumb Talk.  Its been 23 years people.  Any Steelers fan under the age of 30 has no idea what its like to root for a Super Bowl victory.  The Cincinnati Bengals have played in more Super Bowls than the Steelers since 1980.  19 teams have played in as many, or more, in those 23 years.  Exclude the 12-year football abyss here, and Baltimore has fielded 3 Super Bowl teams in 22 seasons.  It's been long enough.  I think its time to go back to "One for the ring finger."

No. 8, The Fall of Terry Bradshaw.  Hall of Famer, no doubt.  Insightful analyst alongside Vern Lundquist on CBS's telecasts in the early nineties, sure.  But now, Bradshaw has been reduced to Fox's real-life answer to the animated Krusty the Clown.  Thankfully, FOX does the NFC broadcast package.  And when an NFC team visits town, it sure helps to have a ticket to the game and miss his pointless circus act on the pre-game show.

No. 9, No.36.  When was the last time Jerome Bettis had an affect on any game other than the Bengals.   But the jerseys are everywhere.  I understand if you're eight and it's your first Steelers jersey handed down from your brother.  But half the Steelers jerseys out there have number 36 on them.  He ran for 1,341 yards in 2000 but the Ravens won the Super Bowl that year.  It sure was comical watching him stand on the sidelines the last two weeks.  At least he had time to brush up on his 4-yard run celebration dance.

And lastly, No.10.  Steelers Bars in Baltimore.  Sure, beer is beer and the Crab Pretzel at former Skipjack Gary Risling's joint is tasty, but there are no crabs in Pittsburgh (at least not the kind you catch in the water).  Are all these people originally from Western PA or are they the same people that root for Duke?  And they shouldn't get mad when they are treated rudely in a real bar.  It's our town.  They're just lucky to be here.

And the 6 straight home losses?   That may have something to do with it.


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