Not to sound boastful.
If you're jealous about missing out, don't be. A lot of this is staged. Not the outpouring of emotion from the Steeler Nation, but the televised hoopla. I watched them chanting on Sports Center this morning and had to go down and take a look because I got chills up and down my spine. But the crowd was smaller than it appeared on TV and they were being prompted. It had a pro wrestling feel to it.
So you're not missing much there. In fact, you're probably ready for a party, so that's the tradeoff. I'll miss my wife and friends at The Nest in Jeannette, where we laugh, catch up during the commercials, eat steak and lobster and try to win some money. Obviously, yinz'll have something to get crazy about besides conference loyalty or small side bets. So have a great blowout.
As for the game, it could be a blowout. While I respect the Seattle Seahawks at the line of scrimmage, everything else is pointed in the Pittsburgh Steelers' direction, including the fervor that will be on their side in that dome.
I talked to Len Pasquarelli last night and he said he did some extensive research, called some of his people and stuff, and learned that there are 15 Seahawks fans here.
A tad of an exaggeration, but you get the point.
The Steelers have the better quarterback and the better overall leadership. Also, why did Joey Porter go off when he knows he has a difficult assignment with Walter Jones today? Joey's feeling confident about something.
Everyone's telling their Jerome Bettis stories up here. My favorite is this: I asked Bettis if he could get me four tickets to that year's USC at Notre Dame game. I think it was Troy Polamalu's rookie year. Anyway, he called the day before and came through for me. He left them in the name of Nextell, but that was only a minor problem at Will Call.
So we get there and the seats are first row, 50-yard line. We were slightly obstructed since we were sitting level (and five feet back) with a row of fans in wheel chairs, but it was still fantastic for me, my wife, dad and uncle. We watched old stars like Joe Theismann and Anthony Munoz and the like walk past us and up and over, and we joked that we had better seats than them. I told Jerome that when we got back. I told him he still commanded that much respect and love at Notre Dame, that he could get better seats for acquaintances on 24 hours notice than Theismann could get for himself. Jerome was surprised and pleased.
On the Hall of Fame front, word is the voters wouldn't even listen to any talk about L.C. Greenwood. They just didn't want to hear it. And that helps explain the inclusion of Rayfield Wright. With all due respect to the 6-time Pro Bowler, the main reason Wright was voted in was all the whining from Cowboys backers about the large discrepancy between Steelers in the Hall from the 70s and Cowboys from the 70s. And you know what I like to say: Still the Cry-boys after all these years.
The other word is that Russ Grimm will get in some day. That's the flow. That was also the flow one day for the great L.C. Greenwood.
Word is that Bill Belichick loves Antwaan Randle El, whose contract expires in less than four weeks. Belichick should love Randle El. The guy is a threat short, deep and in the return game. The Steelers will be hard-pressed to match a big offer for him, and I believe Steelers fans will miss him Randle El more than they realize. If he isn't a nice longshot to win the MVP award today, Heath Miller is.
I expected this diary to be easier to write, but I just haven't been able to get it rolling the way I expected. Except for one extended prowl into packed Hockey Town, I've just walked around the corner to the City Fire Hall each night. They converted it, with Chrysler money, to a bar/restaurant for the media for this event. It wasn't until last night that everybody else seemed to find it. It had everything we needed, except interesting fodder for this diary.
When I traveled to Phoenix for the Super Bowl in 1996, I wrote a daily Hunter Thompson-esque column on the shenanigans at a Super Bowl, and it was my only worry. It was fun and it was easy and I was young and I was interesting. At least I thought so. But this time, it's all business. I wanted to prove I could cover the Super Bowl with the big boys. I've been too busy to compare, but I feel my best was good enough. Good enough for everything but an interesting diary.
Thing is, the Steelers were just like me the last time: All happy and stuff just to be there; let's soak it in. This time, it's all business; let's win it. This is their chance to prove they really belong.