Sunday, January 23, 2011

Football: A Personal History

Despite the Packers fervor that surrounded me, I never watched football growing up. I was this kind of punk/smart girl hybrid who read Bukowski, smoked cigarettes on my lunch break, and thought I was way too cool to go to prom (nevermind that no one actually asked me -- I was too punk rock for formals anyway). I watched exactly one Packer game in my youth -- It was Superbowl XXXI in 1996. I was a senior in high school. My dad and my uncle Tom were at the game in New Orleans. Brett Favre was in the prime of his career and Desmond Howard made a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Packers won.

Fast forward ten years. I move from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh, and it's the first time I've lived in a city with an NFL team. Everyone in Pittsburgh is obsessed with football. Everywhere you look it's black and gold. At first I ignored the terrible towels and the football potlucks at work. I saw Troy Polamalu at the airport once and didn't know what all the fuss was about. Brad and I took to calling Ben Roethlisberger "Toothlessberger." I met some friends who also didn't watch football, and I planned my weekly grocery store trips for when the Steelers were playing. The shops were always dead.

At some point during the 3.5 years we lived in Pittsburgh, though, something changed. It started when I realized what a great player Troy Polamalu actually was. I would watch the game, if it was on, when I was home. Then, the Steelers started doing very well. Then they were in the playoffs. Then they went to Superbowl XLIII, which was an awesome game, and they won. Students set sofas on fire in Oakland, and there were near riots on the streets of Pittsburgh. I discovered Casey Hampton, who may be my very favorite Steeler simply because he was given the nickname "Big Snack" by his teammates.

In Pittsburgh, with short hair; Ilsa in her makeshift
Big Snack jersey. Superbowl 2009.

It was official. I was a Steeler fan. My father was understandably disappointed.

Superbowl half time with friends, 2009. DORKS!

But after Brett Favre moved from the Jets to the Vikings, there were rumblings of this new Packers quarterback who was as good as Favre had been in the nineties. So I watched a Packer game, if it was on, when I was home. And the Vikings too, if I happened to catch a game. And before I knew what was happening, I full-fledged cared about football. I have a new favorite defensive player -- Clay Matthews -- although I still love Polamalu and of course, Big Snack.

I whip my hair back and forth! (Image Source)

Today, the Steelers will play the Jets and the Packers will play the Bears. The possibility of a Packers - Steelers Superbowl is imminent. It would be simultaneously the best and worst game for Brad and I: our two favorite teams! Who to root for? Of course there is a possibility that both of our favorite teams will lose today, making it the worst day in NFL football history. But I'm a glass-half-full kind of girl.

Somewhere inside of my psyche, that 17-year-old punk girl's head just exploded.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like it'll be a tough year for all of us! I was also the punk girl who never cared. Then, Chad Pennington started playing for Marshall (my alma mater - years after I graduated, but still!) and then, I was hooked. LOL.