Holly Brubach, Gridiron City:
The Steelers have historically gone about football the way people in Pittsburgh have gone about their lives. It occurs to me that what may appear to be a lack of pride is, more precisely, an acknowledgment that the city simply can't compete when it comes to the things American culture calls important: celebrity, fashion, fancy cars. Not because Pittsburgh has tried for all that and failed, but because here those aren't the things that matter. This may not be a popular position we've inherited, but we're sticking to it, and looking to the Super Bowl for vindication.
John Tierney, Smells Like Team Spirit:
Die-hard sports fans tend to be less lonely and depressed than average, presumably because they're satisfying their inner Stone Age warrior. Fake wars are a healthy outlet for those yearnings to unite and vanquish the enemy clan. But turning politics into a war between good and evil is not so satisfying, because neither side ever wins and the public grows tired of the spectacle. . . . Most Americans aren't wildly partisan, but they're stuck with a national political debate led by the new tribes at the extreme of each party . . . . As those extremists have come to dominate Congress, the State of the Union address has been looking more and more like the Super Bowl. . . . So next year we should have more T-shirts and more innovations [at the State of the Union] -- maybe team hats, which the Capitol police told me would be acceptable. The police spokeswoman wasn't sure about Terrible Towels, but after the Steelers win the Super Bowl, look for red and blue rags waving during next year's speech. Just don't expect either side to be as happy as the Steeler fans tomorrow.