Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Pittsburgh Steelers play on

I'm now convinced that I'm going to suffer a heart attack and die while watching a Steeler game. Not anytime soon, I hope, as I think I'm in good physical shape, but eventually, this team's going to kill me. During the 4th quarter of Sunday's playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, when the Steelers had the ball on the Colts' 2-yard line with less than two minutes to go, I turned to James and asked him if next week would be the first AFC championship game under Bill Cowher that the Steelers didn't play at home. A few seconds later, Jerome Bettis fumbled, Nate Harris picked it up, and it looked like a sure victory was about to become defeat. I screamed at the TV, threw my Steelers cap, and nearly choked on my drink. I even wondered if Bettis would come back next season and play again if that fumble ended up as his last play. But the Colts' comeback ended when Mike Vanderjagt missed a field goal that would have tied the game, and the Steelers move on to play the Denver Broncos next week for the conference title and a trip to the Super Bowl. And my heart goes on beating for another week.

Once again, I am forced to consider why I invest so much emotion and energy in football. It's one of those irrational things that I just don't understand, no matter how many times I suffer along with the team. Every season, I say I'm not going to get emotionally involved, but I let it happen every year anyway. If this were a relationship with a woman, I'd break up with her. But the Steelers are different, and I think I'm comfortable with that. One thing is different this season: with so many other larger issues on my mind, whatever happens with my team seems much less consequential than in previous years. I'm just going to continue to enjoy the ride.

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