Say hello to our newest blogger Eric – his first post is about the people you meet at Steelers games and that big yellow duck. I’d like to include more essays about Pittsburgh here on the blog. Let us know what you think of this post in the comments! – Lindsay
If there’s anything that we all know and love, it’s a good sports rivalry. Be it our reputable distaste for anything orange and black, our disdain for the color purple, or even my purposeful exclusion of the names of these cities and teams in this anecdote.
I had the fortune of attending the Steelers game in which they played host to the Baltimore Ravens. On those crisp autumn evenings when droves of people funnel into the stadium, one by one, recalling the last time they had attended a rivalry match such as this. My memory always goes back to my first Steelers/Ravens clash, back in December 2009, when the Steelers won on a Jeff Reed kick, a dropped Derek Mason touchdown, and a lot of penalty help to keep their playoff hopes alive. This day’s game found us in dire straits as well, entering the game losing four of our first five games and not really looking very good during any part of it.
My friend Justin took me to the game, and once we got into the stadium, we split up, agreeing to meet at the seats. I went straight to them, and found myself sitting next to a family of four. The woman directly to my right introduced herself as Susan, and we immediately struck up a conversation.
“It’s a great day, isn’t it?” I opened with.
“Actually, not so much.” She returned.
She went on to explain to me that her family had lost her father-in-law that morning and that they only came to the game today because they were states away. While I made an attempt to console her, our conversation shifted to travel and wine. She told me of the time she had spent in California visiting prevalent American vineyards and the beautiful valleys and mountains that made them up. She told me of her trips to Spain and France and sitting at sidewalk cafes enjoying the best Burgundies and Riojas that each had to offer. After properly, or more than likely improperly stating my jealousy of her experiences compared to mine, I had begun to realize that it was the second quarter, and Justin hadn’t arrived to our seats. Mid-conversation, I turned around and saw that I was in the wrong seats, one section over.
“I hate to cut this short, Susan, but it appears that I’m in the wrong seats.”
“Oh, well that’s okay. The guy who owns these seats never shows up to these games, so you’re welcome to stay.” She replied.
“I appreciate that, but my friend, is somewhere here, and I may or may not have given him a few 11% beers before we came.” I countered.
“However Susan, I think that awesome things happen for awesome people, so the boys on the field are probably going to win this one for you guys” I added.
We said our goodbyes, and I walked around from section 235 to section 236, where Justin was settled, giving me the most baffled of looks. I explained to him that what had happened and after a few minutes of slow recanting, we settled in and began watching the second half of the game. The two of us sat on the edges of our respective seats as the Steelers had a lead, and let it dwindle to nothing as contest receded into its final moments.
As the Steelers began their final drive, I felt the urge to return to my original, incorrect seats. The next thing I knew, I was talking to the usher in 235 and then I was back sitting next to Susan and her family. As I sat down, the field goal unit began to set up. The tension in the crowd was palpable. There wasn’t a cheer as much as there was a low rumble that overtook the entire stadium. The visible hands of everyone around me clenched and released as play was resumed. The snap was clean and the hold was down. Everyone’s arms began swinging upward as the ball cleared right between the uprights. After stopping a brief drive by the Ravens, the whistle blew and there was an eruption that could only be measured on a Richter scale.
Absolute pandemonium for a fan base that has watched its team stumble out of the gates. The pure joy of a win, any win was fantastic. But to get it at home against the Ravens in scintillating fashion made this one feel so damn good. I turned to my right and hugged Susan on my way out to the exits as I joined droves of people funneling up the steps, fists firmly placed in the air, chins held high. The Black and Gold family all-walking in stride down the spiral, in the shadow of that giant duck on the river.
There isn’t anything like the pride of a victory on a Steelers Sunday in Pittsburgh. And certainly nothing brings us together like one either.