Even when you spend some time with family members, you don't always know everything there is to know about them. When suddenly thrust into the proper environment, you may discover all sorts of disturbing facts about those you love. Such was the case last Sunday afternoon when my sister's family gathered at the home of one of her daughters who was celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary.
As family members trickled in, we gathered in the living room of her Albuquerque home where the flatscreen was tuned into Dish TV's RedZone. For the uninitiated, RedZone is a Dish TV channel that selectively shows only high-action plays from that Sunday afternoon's games. Dish bills the content as plays within a team's scoring Red Zone, but the action I saw encompassed a good deal more of the field. In any event, that's what was on the tube, er, flatscreen.
As people became involved in the ever-changing gridiron battles, talk turned to the impact -- or lack thereof -- these games had on favorite teams. The variety of favorite teams within my family, and even within households, was staggering. That my Steelers weren't universally embraced by this gathering was shocking, appalling and, dare I say, distressing.
Two of the non-Steelers fans there married into the family; so I can look upon them with a sadness something akin to the way you might view a refugee from some third-world backwater, who runs around naked because he has never seen a pair of pants. One roots for the Bears and the other for the Giants. There is another husband who married into the family who was absent; he cheers for the Cowboys. I feel sorry for all three.
For the others, however, I can't muster similar ecumenical feelings. This is a family with its roots firmly in western Pennsylvania. My sister and I were born in Erie, and my brother-in-law hails from Greenville, PA. That's Steelers country, period.
Counting noses revealed that Steelers fans far outnumbered the fans of any other team: six in all. In fact, only the Cowboys managed to draw more than one fan out of the remaining nine relatives. The Packers picked up a vote, too. My niece whose anniversary we were celebrating is a Steelers fan, but she is the only one in the house. Her husband is the Bears fan; while the two girls are split between the Eagles and the Vikings. The Eagles and the Vikings! Where did that come from? What has happened to competent child rearing in this country?
Some of the family seems to have no NFL ties. Of course one of these is 8 months old. His mom rolls her eyes and sighs whenever football is mentioned; so I see a golden opportunity to swell the family's Steelers ranks by one more as this Polamalu wannabe grows a little older. I'll make it my mission. If the parents aren't going to do it, putting these kids on the right track falls to Uncle Russ.