My team won the Super Bowl yesterday – in a thrilling, hard- fought, back-and-forth battle with an underdog that played far better than anyone was expecting. It was an amazing day and in the end my Pittsburgh Steelers were triumphant.
So why I am not jumping for joy?
It’s because their victory, as far as I’m concerned, was badly tainted by their attitude and remarks during the trophy presentation, when nary a word of graciousness and acknowledgment was extended to the valiant Arizona Cardinals. I’ll have to go back and listen again, but I’m pretty sure that neither the owner nor coach nor quarterback nor star receiver uttered a single word of praise for their opponents. Maybe at the press conference afterwards (if they even do that after the Super Bowl) it occurred to them to say something about the opponents who very nearly defeated them.
In particular, it galled me that none of those players thought to say something about Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner’s incredible performance – which I believe is one of the best in Super Bowl history. The guy is 112 years old and one of the all-time best class acts in professional football. And what he did this season and in this game deserved acknowledgment, no matter how high Cloud Nine was for those delirious Steelers. But no, the only thing any of them could think to talk about was their own achievement- which in the end made that achievement seem quite a bit less impressive.
If anything, I’m even more bothered about the Steelers lack of graciousness after watching what occurred after Sunday’s championship match at the Australian Open – a titanic struggle between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal which ended with Nadal winning in five sets. These two represent everything good in sports, not only by their own competitive excellence but also by their wonderful sportsmanship. At the trophy presentation, the Aussie crowd gave Federer a gigantic ovation which finally moved him to tears and made it impossible for him to make his remarks. So they gave him a break while the winner’s trophy was presented to Nadal – who then said to his vanquished opponent, “ Roger, sorry for today. I really know how you feel right now. Remember, you are a great champion, you’re one of the best in history. You’re going to improve on the 14 of Sampras” (He was referring to the fact that Sampras has a record 14 grand slam singles titles- and Federer stands behind him at 13.) And what’s more, I think Nadal meant every word.
Now that’s a champion who knows what it means to be a real champion. And if he were to ever give lessons on the subject, I would want the Steelers to be the first to sign up.
pictured: Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes is mobbed after snagging a touchdown pass with 35 seconds left to play.
By the way, the Steelers have been my team since I was in sixth grade. I saw an ad one day in the Weekly Reader for pencil sharpeners – each one with a different NFL logo. The Steelers logo, with its bright colors (surprise, surprise) was my favorite, so they became my team. . . and later that year is when they made the playoffs for the first time in 40 years. I know how to pick ‘em!
And for some reason, I can still rattle off the names and jersey numbers of most of those champion Steelers. Here I go – no peaking: Terry Bradshaw, QB 12 …. Franco Harris, RB 32….. Rocky Bleier, RB 20….. Lynn Swann, WR 88…… John Stallworth, WR 82…… Larry Brown, TE 87…..
Joe Greene, DT 75……. Ernie Holmes, DT 63…… L.C. Greenwood, DE 68…….. Dwight White, DE 78……… Andy Russell, LB 34 …… Jack Lambert, MLB 58……. Jack Ham, LB 59……. Heck, I even remember that their punter, Bobby Walden, wore number 39. Aren’t you glad you asked?
Whaddy’a mean, you didn’t ask?!?!?!