World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers!

February 5th, 2006

World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers!

Super Bowl Sunday.
Detroit. February 5, 2006.

The moment was right before kickoff. The moment I realized the significance of the event. It was when Franco Harris walked onto Ford Field with the previous Super Bowl MVP’s, waving a Terrible Towel. That was the moment I teared up. I was at THE Super Bowl! It was all coming full circle. From a 6-10 season to a 15-1 AFC championship loss to a wild card wonder win.

Rewind 12 hours and you would have found me as anxious as a child on Christmas, unable to sleep yet unable to understand what the day had in store. At 7:00 AM I rose and called my compatriots. Ring Ring Ring. No answer. So I decided to walk down the motel hallway to bang on their door. Knock knock. No answer. Bang, Bang, BANG. “Time to wake up #@*!! It’s gameday!”

Rewind another 8 hours. By all accounts the two places to be in Detroit on the night before the Super Bowl was either the Playboy party or the Maxim party. Both touted sexy women, hip bands and endless celeb watching. I’d like to say that the only thing that kept us from party hopping in Detroit was the heavy snow, but that wouldn’t be the truth. The real party happened to be across the street from our motel at the Bennigan’s. The local restaurant was full of Steelers fans. Some of whom we knew from home. So the stories ran as much as the beer taps, and we compared our Sunday hopes with new and old friends.

Back to Super Bowl Sunday again. I was lucky enough to have four tickets to the Super Bowl, two I had to buy from a broker and two I got from a family connection. Two pairs, different levels, four people, but who sits in which seats? Normally this would be an easy decision – take the best seats – but I decided to be a team player and share the seats. For the first half my wife and I sat in good seats in the club level. Great view of the field, no good pictures. Then we switched at half-time, just in time to see Willie Parker’s 75 yard run. The second pair of seats was down right by the tunnel, four rows from the field. Not a great view, but deep in roar of black and gold.

As the game progressed I rode the spectatorial roller coaster of feelings that cranked up to a kickoff roar, dipped into a first quarter nausea, turned into a hard doubt, but then ripped through a exciting yet unbelievable second quarter touchdown. Then as we cranked up for the second half, a little time to rock out with the Rolling Stones. The second time through the roller coaster I had lost my fear but still had doubts until witnessing Willie’s XL run. But no words or pictures could describe the thrill of seeing Randel El take the reverse and know the outcome before the ball touched Hines Ward’s hands. It was truely an adrenaline rush. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

The man sitting next to me in section 101 was something of a key player in the Super Bowl ceremony. When Franco Harris was preparing to take the field during the pre-game ceremonies, the man sitting next to me said, “Hey Franco, where’s your Towel? You gotta have a Terrible Towel!” And threw his own towel down to Franco. Franco waved the towel while being introduced as a previous Super Bowl MVP, and when he left the field, he autographed the towel and threw it back up to the man who donated it. Yes. I sat next to THAT guy!

Since the majority of people watched the game on television, I’d like to describe a little bit about what it was like to be at Ford Field on the day the Steelers won their fifth Lombardi trophy. One word describes it: tiresome. Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome to be there, but it took triple the effort to make it happen. Driving through snow storms; searching for parking; walking all over town looking for a restaurant without a long wait. We waited in line for two hours just to get through the security perimeter, even though Snoop Dogg walked right to the front and slipped past us in a stylish leather Steelers jacket. By the time I was in my seat inside the stadium, I was exhausted. And there were no million dollar commercials, no free dip, and very few replays. Not anything like watching at home where you know everything happening. And sadly there were lots of people attending the game, who didn’t care about the game. All dressed up for a night on the town, they were just there to see the half-time show, trying to prove they were somebody by going to a big-ticket event. The kind of people who ask you to sit down and stop yelling because they think it’s the theater; having never been to a real football game before.

But my adrenaline picked me back up in the second half, when the score showed the Steelers ahead 21-10 with the clock running down. And then utter elation. As the confetti dropped I grabbed my wife and gave her a huge kiss. Twenty-six years of waiting for the one for the thumb was over. Two-years of taking photographs was almost complete. The feather in my cap came after the trophy was awarded. When James Farrior was leaving the field, I called out to congratulate him. I reached down, and he looked up and gave me a high five. That one picture made the whole project worth it for me.

I stayed until I was forced to leave the stadium. At the top of the stairs, we each looked back and soaked up the scent of victory left in the stadium. On our way out we stopped and said hi to Mel Blount, getting his autograph on our terrible towel. Then out into the cold night air. When we finally reached our car, we celebrated it all with a bottle of champagne, “Cheers to the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers!”

Final Outcome:
Steelers defeat Seattle Seahawks 21-10
Winning Super Bowl XL

Congratulations World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers

Also see the Photos from the Super Bowl XL Victory Parade in Pittsburgh

World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers!

View the Photo Gallery for this post

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