A Letter From the Editor: Championship weekend, how I’ve missed thee
I can’t speak for you, the reader, but only for myself. As the football world prepares for Championship Weekend for both the AFC and NFC, I think back to some tremendous, and heart-breaking, moments in Pittsburgh Steelers history.
Who could forget the horrendous 1994 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Three Rivers Stadium.
While that gut punch certainly set the lives of fans back years, the 1995 heart attack of a game vs. the Indianapolis Colts with Jim Harbaugh at the helm might have given every black-and-gold fan watching a coronary.
The 1997 and 2001 AFC Championship losses had fans ready to cut ties with Bill Cowher. Screw the team’s dedication to their coach, the guy can’t win the big game, or so they said at the time.
Of all those AFC Championship games, the 2004 contest at Heinz Field with the 15-1 Steelers and rookie Ben Roethlisberger might have been the ultimate slap in the face moment. It all came crashing down so abruptly.
2005 was certainly a nice rebound, and I still swear the Super Bowl that year wasn’t against the Seattle Seahawks, or the Denver Broncos, but the Divisional Round win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
More fun was had in 2008-2009 when Troy Polamalu sealed the deal with his pick-six of Joe Flacco which sent Heinz Field into earthquake mode, my cousin was at the game in the upper deck and said you could feel the stadium shaking during Polamalu’s interception with everyone jumping up-and-down at the same time.
The 2010 win over the Jets to punch their ticket to Super Bowl 45 was special, but there haven’t been many special moments since. In fact, the only other time the Steelers have made it to the AFC Championship game was in 2016 when they traveled to New England to play the Patriots, and get their doors blown off.
Say what you want about the current state of the Steelers, and trust me there is plenty to say, but I sure to do miss the days of being in the Championship game with some sort of regularity. The mid-to-late 90s had their trips, as did the mid-to-late 2000s. Since the trip to Super Bowl 45 the AFC Championship Game has been a barren landscape devoid of hypocycloids.
It makes me wonder when the Steelers will get back there. When will they find their way back to being one step away from the Super Bowl? With the team in such a state of flux, especially at the most important position in professional sports (quarterback), that would be anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, as I sit down to watch the Baltimore Ravens (I just threw up in my mouth) and the Kansas City Chiefs (am I the only one with Chiefs fatigue?) play in the AFC Championship, I will wonder if/when the Steelers will be in this position again?
Will it be with Mike Tomlin at the helm?
Will it be before I turn 50? (I’m 40)
Will my kids get to see it before they leave the nest? (They are 15, 13, 10, 8, and 5)
Damnit, I just want to see the Steelers be in these positions again, not just barely punching their ticket to the playoffs and being thankful for doing so. Call me spoiled…sure. Call me fickle…fine. Call me crazy…I’m okay with that. But all of us Steelers fans have something in common — we want the team to win. That’s it.
So, here’s to today’s AFC Championship Game…can both teams lose? Asking for a friend…