We got some blowback from GTOG Nation regarding Sunday night's post-AFC Championship podcast. It seems some of you found our perceived lack of enthusiasm over Pittsburgh's eighth trip to the Super Bowl offputting. We have heard your criticism and, like Ben Roethlisberger after getting smacked in the nose by Haloti Ngata, we're ignoring it. We are newsmen, not cheerleaders. We are truth-tellers. Think Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Finesse is not Myron Cope (may he rest in peace). We're going enjoy the ride to Dallas - our love of Pittsburgh sports is the engine that drives this publication - but we'll also continue to call it like we see it. Band of brothers.
Still with us? Good. Now here's the message this morning: it's time for everybody to develop a thicker skin as we enter the Super Bowl hype machine. It isn't going to be easy, and we want you to be prepared. Here are a few tips to handle what you will surely experience in the coming two weeks:
1) The Roethlisberger Referendum. ESPN is going to take a camera into the bathroom at that Georgia bar as Sal Palantonio intones, "10 months ago, Ben Roethlisberger was here, his pants, allegedly, down..." Do yourself a favor, and don't take the bait. There will be about 200 news stories like this, there may be a protest or two, and blog commenters and pundits will talk ad nauseum about the terrible guilt gnawing at the collective conscience of Steeler Nation. How can we root for a team with an alleged rapist at quarterback? How can we live with ourselves? Here's how you answer: I can live with myself just fine. Believe it or not, I do not consider the Steelers' quarterback to be an extension of me. I already lived through the Roethlisberger scandal, felt disgust, wished we would trade him, watched him genuinely - if, at times, laughably - try to be a better person, and came around to realizing that, however flawed he is as a human being, as long as he stays clean going forward, I'm really happy he's still on the team. I don't need to live through it all again, and I won't. Go Steelers.
|"God is Great."|
3) The Coronation of Aaron Rodgers. Look, the guy is great. There are moments where he looks like the best in the game. He'll be playing in perfect conditions in Dallas, similar to what he saw when he put up all-universe numbers under the dome in Atlanta a couple weeks back. He's got five wide receivers he can rely on to get open, and the Steelers have only two guys in the secondary - Taylor and Polamalu - who can really cover with any consistency. The media will tell you this is a recipe for a Super Bowl MVP award for Rodgers. To which I would respond, you might want to hold off on handing Green Bay that trophy, because Aaron Rodgers almost got beat by Caleb Heine on Sunday. Caleb Heine, someone so obscure that I'm not at all sure if I'm spelling his name right. Someone so inconsequential that, apparently, he played the game with a mustache, shaved it before the postgame press conference, and no one noticed. Besides, great quarterbacks who look invincible can always be had with the right gameplan. Ask Tom Brady.
Now you should have the tools you need to face the doubters, the cynics, and the jagoffs. Go forward with confidence. HWGS. GTOG.
Later today: The Black Swan takes it to another level. We'll have your "Bachelor" recap coming up in a few.