I'm all fired up about the Steelers in the playoffs; not because they did such a great job soundly defeating the Browns last week -- they, of course barely outscored them -- but because today I received a new Steelers jersey from my friend Amy.
It's one of the really nice jerseys with stitched-on numbers and letters. I am stoked!
Amy and I had a conversation about jerseys in early December when I tacked on a few days at her house to a Scion car event I had in Palm Beach. I was wearing one of the old, dying jerseys that I had purchased at least 12 or 15 years ago for that week's game. I have three of them. The numbers and names are screen-printed. They have each been washed 30 or 40 times over the years, and the numbers are all cracked and fading.
Amy asked why I didn't buy a new jersey -- a logical question. I told her I'd love to buy a new jersey, but every time I bought one, it didn't matter the player represented, it was that player's last season with the Steelers. Injury, free agency or a trade would exit them from the Steelers lineup.
I have a Lloyd, Woodson and Greene -- Kevin, not Mean Joe -- jersey and the year after I bought their jerseys, they were gone.
I'd love to buy a new jersey with Ward, Miller or Polamalu's number, but in so doing, I might as well hit whichever one I chose with a truck. The career of the unlucky player would be over, at least at Pittsburgh.
I've often thought that I could have saved every Steelers fan a lot of aggravation had I purchased a Kordell Stewart jersey when Bill Cowher first attempted to turn him into the starting quarterback. What a debacle. It was like watching someone try to push a rope up a hill.
Feeling the pain of my superstition, Amy suggested I buy the jersey of a former Steelers great. A fine idea, I thought. I mean, what else could happen to them, right? Already they were no longer playing for the Steelers.
When I returned home from the gym today, a FedEx package waited for me on my back stoop. Opening it, I found a new black retro jersey with #75 stitched on it -- yep, Mean Joe Greene.
Now I am fired up to wear it for a game. I hope it's more than one game this season.
Here are a few thoughts on this week's Wild Card game with Denver:
Whatever formula the NFL uses to determine home field advantage needs revision. That the 12 and 4 Steelers have to travel to play the 8 and 8 Broncos is baloney. The Steelers play better on the road than the Broncos play at home, so it isn't all bad; but there is still something amiss with the way these things are determined. It's bad enough that a mediocre team is rewarded because it's in a division of mediocre teams; a good team shouldn't be penalized because it comes from a tough division. The Steelers, though, won the 2005-06 playoffs on the road and went on to win the Super Bowl. So it can be done.
A lot of backup players will have to step up and fill some big shoes. Steelers will be playing the Broncos without a number of key personnel, such as Mendenhall, Moore, Legursky, Clark and Woodley.
The Steelers don't appear to be peaking. It was all they could do to beat one of the three worst teams in the NFL last week when they squared off against the Browns. Sure the Steelers got 8 more first downs, gained 120 more yards and had the ball twice as long as the Browns, but in four trips to the Red Zone, Steelers only scored one touchdown -- against the Browns!
If you struggle against the Browns, I don't know if you have the offensive steam required to beat teams like the Ravens, Patriots and Saints.
In any event, I'll be hunkered down in front of a TV watching the Steelers/Broncos this Sunday in my snazzy new jersey.