Monday, January 24, 2011

ARE REX RYAN AND MARK SANCHEZ THE NEW ANDY REID AND DONOVAN F. MCNABB? My only comment on this weeekend's games is that I'm delighted that for the second straight year, we're getting a Super Bowl matchup of two damn good football teams who through both the regular season and the playoffs demonstrated their belonging in this game.  This, I have a feeling, is going to be a good one.


  1. girard3110:30 AM

    Being a Ravens fan, it's hard for me to admit it, but I begrudgingly respect the Steelers. I like Tomlin, and Roethlisberger, for all his off field shenanagins, is one tough SOB. The Packers could have packed it in after all those devastating injuries early on. I'm looking forward to the game as well.

  2. isaac_spaceman10:54 AM

    Yeah, apparently the statute of limitations for caring that Roethlisberger is a predator is apparently, what, one game?  Four games started by somebody who is not Roethlisberger?  A season of end-of-game grittiness?  One or two "God is greats" shouted into a microphone?  I haven't rooted for the Packers since Hasselbeck's "we want the ball and we're going to score," but I will now.

  3. I was hoping we'd repost your post next week.

  4. Joseph J. Finn10:59 AM

    Go Packers.

  5. isaac_spaceman11:23 AM

    By all means.

  6. Benner11:28 AM

    God forbid he commit crimes not directed at humans, though.  Or be not white.  Sanchez's evident free pass on his sexual assault arrest might complicate the latter point, though.  I like how 50% of Sanchez's press conferences involve him admitting he sucks.  Even when the Jets win. 

    For all the talk about how the Steelers organization is the "model for the league," they have more than their share of compleat jackasses -- Ben and James Harrison come to mind.  On the other hand, I love their safetys and Mendenhall had a beast of a game.

  7. Meghan11:52 AM

    Sometimes it's hard to be married to a Steelers' fan.

  8. isaac_spaceman11:58 AM

    I'm not saying white guys (or only white guys) get a free pass -- Kobe Bryant doesn't seem to have suffered either.  I'm just saying that Roethlisberger is a disgusting person and a discredit to everybody who roots for him. 

  9. Benner12:09 PM

    In terms of Kobe, he already had a bad reputation going into the incident, and my recollection was the accuser's allegations weren't nearly as strong as the most recent one against Roethlisberger.  I agree with what you're saying up to a point, but I want to carve out space to root for Mike Vick.  Is it enough that Vick (more than) paid for his crimes?  Subjective value judgments that raping humans is worse than killing dogs, even in gruesome fashion?  The fact that as an Eagles fan, I kind of enjoy the rest of the league hating my team?

    Brett Favre is also apparently a disgusting person, and a Packers' victory will make for sweet, sweet vindication.

  10. Jenn.1:25 PM

    True.  Before the Roethlisberger allegations, I probably would have chosen to root for Pittsburgh, given that my sister lives there, and I have witnessed Steeler-mania.  But I can't cheer for him to win, the awesomeness-that-is-former-Georgia-Bulldog-Hines-Ward notwithstanding.  And I despise Brett Favre, and kind of like the concept of him sullenly watching the team he abandoned win the Super Bowl, drowning his sorry in a bowl of cheese puffs and a bunch of cheap beers.

    Also:  I officially wish that Linda Holmes would post on every major sporting event.

  11. Jenn.1:29 PM

    Drowning his sorrow.

  12. Paul Tabachneck2:02 PM

    (This is gonna be long.  Apologies.)

    Naturall y, I was going to get vocal here, but particularly because of what just got said.  This is going to get a little long, but I want to get it out there, as a man, as a feminist, and as a Steelers fan.

    For my part, I came to love the Steelers during Kordell Stewart's rookie season -- the one where he was known as "Slash," because you never knew what position he was going to play.  I was blown away by how awesome football could be when it was unpredictable like that.  Once that faded, I hung on, blending ironic and authentic love for the traditions and overall mania:  Myron Cope, Terrible Towels, off-key fight songs that proclaimed we were going to the Super Bowl every year without fail.  My next taste of true player love was when Jeff Reed showed up and started turning games around -- such a strange cat, and one that came out of nowhere, into an open audition, straight into the NFL.  Fantastic.  That was my first jersey buy.

    When I moved to NYC, I left behind two-and-change decades of Pittsburgh.  That's a lot to walk away from, and I was pretty cavalier about it.  I had to put a brave face on it, because my friends were all pretty sure that I would wind up like our other friends that had tried moving -- broken down, and back in Pittsburgh in a year -- but the truth is, I missed Pittsburgh a hell of a lot.  Then I went to my first Steelers bar.

    You can meet people in NYC very easily -- it's finding friends and forming your adult family that forms the true challenge of surviving out here, at least emotionally.  I know how it sounds, but being in a room with several dozen people decked out in black and gold had such a healing effect for me -- both because I found myself reunited with barmates that had disappeared from Pittsburgh years ago, and because it felt like home could be wherever I wanted it to be, as long as I remembered where I was from.  That galvanized my fandom, and I love being a Steelers fan, no matter what.  It's important to note that the Steelers are a team, not a player.  I'm still a fan now that Jeff Reed is gone (and I could rant for an hour about how many people are still willing to make paper towel dispenser jokes and yet won't discuss Roethlisberger's indiscretions with anything but "No criminal charge -- stay focused.")

  13. Paul Tabachneck2:02 PM

    Isaac, I want you to know that many of us never stopped caring. "Ben's Back -- Stay Focused" as a motto brought bile to my tongue in a way I hadn't felt since the yellow ribbon magnets started showing up all over the place. 

    I don't make friends with men very easily.  I hate the way they compete over everything, I hate the fronts they put up to seem butch -- you have to be willing to show your cards for me to want to hang out with you, and I've always been rigid on that point.  More than anything, I can't stand how much they get away with, particularly when it comes down to sexual assault.  The system wasn't working in that girl's favor, and I feel for her -- she should have been able to pursue the charge in private, as far as I'm concerned,  Just because Roethlisberger had the right to face his accuser doesn't mean the public did, and I can totally understand not wanting to have your name dragged through the mud, only to lose the case.

    Those first four games (three of which we won, one of which we almost had) were amazing for true Steelers fans -- especially when Charlie Batch got to step up and show everyone what he was capable of.  I'd like to think that if we hadn't had a bye week before the Browns game, Ben might have had to stay on  the sidelines for another week while he got reacclimated to the team, and that maybe we would find out what a star Batch has always had the potential to be.  It didn't happen, and when Ben came back, I was more upset than I expected.  I stopped going to the Steelers bar altogether -- I couldn't bear to watch him come out triumphant and soaking in the adulation of a city in such need, both spiritually and economically, of a hero that they were willing to drink the sand.

    After a heart-to-heart with Robin about Steelers fandom independent of Ben fandom, when I went back, I found myself switching Steelers bars until I found a crowd I could identify with better, that weren't ready to forget what had happened, because I couldn't deal with people saying things like, "Maybe he's a rapist, but he sure can throw a football," without dying a little. 

    I'm glad I did, though, because the Steelers have been amazing this year, independently of Roethlisberger's efforts.  For what it's worth, I've never really liked his tendency to put himself in dangerous spots -- It feels to me like he doesn't memorize his secondaries, so when his intended receiver isn't available, he has to read the scene fresh, and that's why he holds onto the ball so long -- but it works for him, so my annoyance usually gets drowned out.  For real, though -- Rashard Mendenhall, slipping through defensive clusterfucks like mercury!  Heath Miller, coming through in every clinch!  Hines Ward, smiling his way through every moment of adversity!  Troy Polamalu, existing at all points in space and time!  Suisham, showing a remarkable capacity for smashmouth kicking!  Mike Tomlin, so cool and calm that he calls timeouts from the corner of his mouth!  I could go on all day about reasons to love this team despite Roethlisberger. 

    I hear about his rehabilitation from a lot of different people, with different brews of skepticism and earnest hope in the possibility that people can change, and while I don't think I'd ever fix him up with my friend Megan, I'm willing to accept that he hit bottom and may be trying to become a better person out of it.  It doesn't excuse what he did, no matter what the extent of the breach of etiquette actually was -- nothing I can think of could -- but I also don't know that guy, and am not authorized to make decisions on how his life plays [...]

  14. Maggie2:17 PM

    Co-sign. That picture of Jay Cutler's "sad" hat cracked me up...

  15. Stevie2:21 PM

    I've been a Packers fan since before I can remember. I am super excited about our team making it to the Super Bowl -- just, the amount of injuries, the way all these guys stepped up when it mattered (mostly; where was the offense in the second half of yesterday's game?), and the united pride of my home state...I can't even finish that sentence in a grammatically correct way! I'm thrilled and looking forward to a great game. May BJ Raji dance exuberantly all our days.

    I have a number of good friends who are Steelers fans, and I really feel for them (and Eagles fans too). Because you can follow a team that you learned to love before you learned to walk, and sometimes, for whatever reason, they stick behind a terrible, selfish person who does terrible, hurtful things.

    I can't imagine not rooting for the Packers, probably the way some of you can't imagine not rooting for the Eagles or Steelers. I'm not trying to excuse it, if it were up to me, Roethlisberger would never play again and Kobe would still be in prison. But it's not, and I know football fandom is a nice thing that we all choose (or choose not) to be part of, but it's still hard to turn it off or to forgive your team for standing behind the wrong man.

  16. Stevie2:31 PM

    That Linda Holmes piece was genius.

  17. Benner2:48 PM

    I have no love for Jay Cutler, and have no idea the severity of his injury, but I'll take Urlacher's word over Deion Sanders's in terms of his toughness.  The only game he ever missed in his career was because a doctor didn't clear him to play after a concussion, he plays every game with diabetes, and he gets sacked a LOT.  Now, maybe he did whimp out, but the fact that he was crying after the game is not evidence of that.  What it is, is evidence that he cares either about the game, his reputation, or both.  Anyway, I don't remember Deion Sanders being exactly Jack Tatum or Brian Dawkins out there.

  18. Robin4:36 PM

    I would like to add, as someone still living in Pittsburgh, I have been exposed to refreshingly little rape apology regarding Roethlisberger.  I agree there should be even less—I would have rather seen Roethlisberger fired, and I'm far from alone in the city. But compared to the way I've seen people react to other rape accusations against famous men this year... let's just say I'm happily surprised that Pittsburgh had more in the way fans burning their 7 jerseys than fans starting misinformation campaigns about how Georgia law defines rape. 

  19. littleredyarn4:42 PM

    As an Eagles fan, I found myself rooting for the team this season instead of Mike Vick. I just can't put what he did behind me. One look at my cats tells me never to do that. 

    Was I the only one who found the whole Steelers and Jets game just icky on a whole lot of levels? Should you cheer on the Romans or the lions?

  20. Adam C.4:51 PM

    "...but <span>it's still hard to turn it off or to forgive your team for standing behind the wrong man."</span>

    I agree with that, but the approximate number of NFL (and I dare say other pro) teams you could say that about is...all of them. 

  21. isaac_spaceman4:53 PM

    It's really not the fans.  My distaste for the whole situation just got reinvigorated as the booth crew heaped praise on Roethlisberger at the end of the game, comparing him to Brady at the same stage of Brady's career, etc. 

  22. isaac_spaceman4:55 PM

    By the way, Jenn, I liked "drowning his sorry" better than "drowning his sorrow," because it suggested that the typo was a whole dropped word.  I was imagining exactly what sorry thing Favre was drowning in a bowl of cheese puffs, and I thought it was fitting.

  23. Adam C.5:16 PM

    Roethlisberger has done horrible things to women.  Period.  But the fact that Ben Roethlisberger has been a shitty excuse for a human being to this point can't erase my memory of running up a Tampa hotel stairwell with Lynn Swann 30+ years ago, getting his autograph as he raced to make bed-check the night before they were playing the Bucs.  Could have blown a pesky kid off - but he didn't.  And it won't erase my memory of the year I asked my mom for a Franco Harris birthday cake, and she took a cover of Pro Magazine and damn well delivered an awesome Franco Frickin Harris sheet cake.  And it won't erase the memory of the year a babysitter gave me a Terry Bradshaw #12 jersey for Hanukkah.  It won't erase the infectious joy of a Jerome Bettis run or a Hines Ward anything, the magic of those first couple of seasons of Slash Stewart, or the beauty of a Stallworth, or Swann, or Lipps catch in stride.  It won't erase the furtive joy of the Jackie Smith drop or the Mike Renfro no-TD call.  Or even as SOME people continue to suggest, Super Bowl XL.

    Your team is your team, and it's more than the horrible conduct of any one individual player (or even multiple players - am I right, Portland Trailblazer fans?) can ever impact.

  24. Adam C.5:24 PM

    Well, I probably tuned a lot of that out, but I did also hear Nantz and Simms talking about the incidents and the allegations and saying he still had a lot of work to do.  So there's that - where the balance is, and to what degree you go into details when you know kids are watching (even though that still doesn't seem to impact the tone of the damn commercials - hey, got my first "Dad, what does Viagra DO, anyway?" last week!), I leave to smarter analysts of sports broadcasting than I.

  25. Stevie8:01 PM

    Yep, you're totally right. Doesn't make it easy though.

  26. Stevie8:03 PM

    Benner, I really don't care for Jay Cutler at all and agree with you. I'll admit to my first thought, seeing him on teh sidelines, as being of Jamie from Top Chef this season. But this is the biggest game of his career and I suspect only significant injury would keep him from being out there.

  27. Stevie8:03 PM

    Benner, I really don't care for Jay Cutler at all and agree with you. I'll admit to my first thought, seeing him on teh sidelines, as being of Jamie from Top Chef this season. But this is the biggest game of his career and I suspect only significant injury would keep him from being out there.