I will tell you this, something I would never tell one of the locals. Pittsburgh is one butt-ugly town.
It is precisely the type of town that would name its professional football team the Steelers. Old mills, long stilled, dot the town. Weeds spill from smokestacks.
Across the Ohio River from where I write this rises downtown Pittsburgh, as dark and forbidding a skyline as you will ever encounter.
Sure you're in the right city, Bill? Because that's not my city your talking about.
For Donkey fans looking to start a fight with Pittsburgh, here's a clue to the truth: We don't care about you.
No one in Pittsburgh thinks that Pittsburgh is a better or nicer or more successful city than Denver is. But no one in Pittsburgh cares.
No one in Pittsburgh thinks that Denver is a lousy football team. Anyone with a sober moment to spare knows that Denver has had a hell of a season. Sunday's game is going to be brutal -- regardless of the outcome. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine Hines Ward hitting John Lynch coming over the middle. (That's right: Hines, the wideout, hitting John, one of the most fearsome hitters in the game.) Imagining that collision is painful. But no one in Pittsburgh cares.
Pittsburgh fans don't sit around agonizing over the talent on the other side of the line or the hits that our guys are going to take. Steeler fans -- and this includes Steeler fans everywhere, even in Denver -- are Steeler fans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, world-wide, win or lose. Steeler fans believe that the Steelers are going to win every game, every season, regardless of the opponent. Oh, we walked around last week trying to keep our expectations low. The Colts were the best team in football this season. But beating them wasn't a miracle. The heart attacks provoked by the last two minutes of that game notwithstanding, we always knew that we could play with the Colts. Get the running game going, get the blitz working, and we'll be OK.
We're proud of our guys -- Ben, Jerome, Willie, Troy, Hines, Joey, Alan, Aaron, Kimo, and I could go on, but I've got only a typical Pittsburgher's take on the team; I'm not a real fan -- and we'll still be proud of them, and we'll still be fans whether or not they go on to the Super Bowl. Real Steeler fans don't hate the other team -- unless the other team is Cleveland, including old Cleveland and new Cleveland -- and they don't go around perpetuating old stereotypes about other cities.
Because the game isn't won in the newspaper columns. Steelers by 4.