ONE THE EVE of the tectonic eruption popularly called the Super Bowl, I must tell you something: I am a frantic Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Your response to this mini-WikiLeak will be expressed in three ways: Hooray for our side, How could you?, and Who cares?
Well, I care. You couldn't have lived in the apron of small towns around Pittsburgh for 20 years without intense loyalty to a team that everybody beyond the steel and coal country borders either loves today - or hates. But the haters are a small price for us loyalists to pay for Eight Super Bowls and all that goes with them.
Still, the two-week layoff between the last playoff game and the big night in Dallas left the sports analysts little to add to their commentary after a few days - which is when I dozed off.
Even before the experts started to repeat themselves to fill up the next 12 days, we were less than spellbound by those who told us that the outcome could be decided by blunders, penalties and injuries. Or they might not. Would Big Ben's Roethlisberger's pre-season romps, for which he was suspended four games,weigh heavily on the mule of a quarterback who is known to lumber and barrel his way through a half-dozen gruesome attackers? Then there is James Harrison, the all-pro linebacker from Kent State who somehow escaped the Browns' payroll. Is he so mean and brutal that the NFL had every right to fine him $100,000? His disposition to sometimes maul quarterbacks, his critics insist, is something only the Steeler fans could love.
Will the Steelers succumb to the Packers' West Coast offense? Will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's ghost bewitch the team? And having lost four of their five starters on the offensive line to injuries, could the backups keep Big Ben from getting flattened a dozen times? Will the Rooney family's winning tradition through the years be enough save these guys? Is hating the Steelers enough to cause them to lose?
You know something? I don't think any these will really matter after the opening kickoff.
Linus has his blanket to serve his pleasure. And near by desk is the magical Terrible Towel. You may not think so, but it can empower the Steelers to make us diehards happy one more time. If we sulk in defeat, it simply means that we are a spoiled bunch who must give the towel a temporary rest. At least, until next season.
No, it won't be the end of he world if the Steelers lose. But for me, it will be hellishly close.