Nothing Special, Really

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

After finishing the half-marathon, I was certainly sore but surprisingly not very tired. One would figure that the events of the past 48+ hours (lack of sleep, running 13.1 miles in the Phoenix Sun, etc.) would drain me but I still had a lot of energy left. Not enough to run even another three feet, but enough that I was pretty sure I was going to last long enough to catch the Cardinals & Steelers games that night.

I don't see a need to go into details about the rest of the day, I'm pretty sure anyone reading this knows what happened. Suffice to say that Sunday the 18th was a day that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. If someone would have told me, even a month ago, that on the same day I would finally achieve my on-again, off-again goal over the past 5 years of running a half-marathon, not only would the Arizona Cardinals make it to the Super Bowl, but they would also be playing the Steelers, I would have labeled you crazy or thought you were Daniel Faraday from Lost.

I mentioned a couple posts ago about how a Cardinals-Steelers Super Bowl was a potential conflict for me. One is a team that I have cheered on for as long as I've known what a football was, the other is a team that I follow more closely than any other NFL team. One team has been our family's team for arguably three generations, the other is my hometown's team. I've managed to maintain my loyalties for each team because there's never been a conflict before. They're in different conferences, only one could be considered a winning team over the past 20 years, and even in the rare seasons where they played a regular season game against each other, the two teams were headed in opposite directions so the outcome really didn't have much impact on either team. Now, I'm forced to make a choice.

I'm not going to wuss out and take the easy road, "Oh, I win either way because it's my two favorite teams." That's chicken shit. I won't be able to just sit there and cheer for every play the whole game because, either way, it's good for me. Some will argue that you can't be loyal to two different teams, but I think it depends on the teams. You can't be loyal to, say, the Suns and the Spurs, or the Yankees and the Mets. They can't be despised rivals of each other. But in my case, I think it's fine to maintain loyalties, but when it counts, you have to pick a side. And, honestly, it didn't take long for me to understand who I would be rooting for. In fact, it was pretty much a no-brainer.

































I know of a couple readers will probably call "Blasphemy!" on this, but I doubt there's many of you that can understand my position on this. The other Steeler fans in my family are probably also sentimental to the Cardinals, but they didn't have the experience that I had. They've had years to develop their loyalty to Pittsburgh before even having to think about a football team in AZ; they were Steelers fans before they even moved to Phoenix. I grew up to be a Steelers fan at a wee young age, but I was maybe only a fan for 2-3 years tops before Phoenix got a team. All of us may be both Steelers & Cardinals fans, but for me, especially considering Phoenix is my hometown, the disparity between my loyalties is a lot slimmer than anyone else's.

Furthermore, I've been lucky enough to see the Steelers win a Super Bowl in my lifetime. Those fans only loyal to the Steelers certainly want to see them win every year no matter what, but for me, I rather see the Cardinals win the Super Bowl for the first time ever than to see the Steelers win for the second time in three years. The way each organization is run, I think it's a stronger possibility to see the Steelers make multiple trips to the SB, but this may be Arizona's only chance. I'd much rather root for a once in a lifetime event than a twice in a decade event.

Finally, as an Arizona native, I understand what a Cardinals victory represents. Validation of those 20+ years of being the laughingstock of the league. A championship that feels earned, not rented like the Diamondbacks' World Series win. As sweet as that was, the D-Backs were only around for 5 years, hardly long enough to feel a strong connection with the team. On the other hand, the Cardinals are essentially synonymous with losing, but for 20 years, there have been thousands of fans agonizing over each season, wondering when it was going to end. For Steelers fans, the playoffs are an expectation every year, but for Cardinals fans, getting to the playoffs surpasses our expectations. Cardinals fans need something to make the past 20 years of misery worth it.

So, on Sunday, even though I don't have a single piece of Cardinals attire, I'll be wherever I'm going to watch the Super Bowl rooting as hard as I can for them to shock the world one more time. I'm sure that some day down the road, if the Steelers should win, I'll be able to find solace in that, but on Sunday, a Steelers win is going to sting a lot more then a Steelers loss would. I've had my moment as a Steelers fan, and I'm sure I'll have another chance in the future. And no matter what, I'll continue to be a Steelers fan first, even if it's by the slightest of margins. But this Sunday, I've only got room in my heart for one team (wow, that sounds kinda gay but I'll leave it anyways).

Go Cardinals!

5 Comments:

  • Nice.

    By Anonymous mark, At January 30, 2009 at 1:58 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger mberenis, At January 30, 2009 at 3:04 PM  

  • I like the Cardinals. If it weren't my Steelers playing against them, I would certainly root for them. Whiz/Grimm coaching, I always like Fitz/Boldin, I also liked Kurt Warner, Hightower went to UR (which I went to), and I like Al Wilson. So, I was very happy for AZ to make it to the Superbowl. I don't blame you for your choice but I will obviously be rooting for the Steelers. But my god, if you're gonna root for them, go buy a jersey dude!!!!

    By Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage, At January 30, 2009 at 11:17 PM  

  • Matt...my dear brother. I so know what you are talking about. I inherited the Steelers when I married your brother but in my heart I have been a Cardinal fan since I moved here in 1992. As a former season ticket holder, I am so glad that I can now hold my head high and say...I LOVE THE CARDINALS!!

    By Anonymous Cathy, At January 31, 2009 at 12:08 PM  

  • It was an easy choice for me!

    I'll root for the opponent of the team you're going for... so can I borrow your steelers pancho tomorrow?

    By Blogger wac, At January 31, 2009 at 5:15 PM  

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