Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Black n' white issues

Like just about everybody else in the Steel City, one of the first thoughts that popped into my head almost immediately following the victory over the Broncos was, “Good … it’s the AFC’s year to wear the home jerseys in the Super Bowl, so the Steelers will be wearin’ black. Bring it on!”
It’s the law of the jungle … every January of an even-numbered year, the AFC team has the option of getting’ all decked out in the home darks for the Super Bowl.
It seemed reasonable to assume that just like in Jan. ’76, Jan. ’80, and Jan. ’96, the Steelers would make Super Sunday a black-jersey affair (not counting Jan. ’79 when the Cowboys opted for their traditional home whites when they tangled with the Steelers in Miami).
Then, on Tuesday, the announcement was made that the Steelers will be wearing their white road jerseys.
That decision, it seems, was solely that of Bill Cowher who said that since it wasn’t a game at Heinz Field, his team should wear the road whites.
It’s unclear whether Cowher Power has a God complex or if he just wants to keep the road warrior mojo hummin’ along after those playoff victories at Cincy, Indy and Denvy.
No doubt, citizens of the Steel City will toss around words they don’t normally use – such as “audacity” and “unmitigated gall” – because it’s been years since they’ve spent a Game Day breaking out the white #6 BRISTER jersey or the white #83 LIPPS jersey ever since they went to Sports Authority and snatched up a black #7 ROETHLISBERGER jersey.
The uproar could intensify.

Game Day jersey-wearin’ is serious stuff for the 79 percent of the populace who wear their black #7 ROETHLISBERGER jerseys and the point-56 percent of us who traded in our white #10 STEWART jersey for a black #85 RIEMERSMA jersey.
Cowher Power is messing with forces which he quite possibly doesn’t understand.
I mean, when former Iowa coach Hayden Fry updated the Hawkeyes’ look in the late ‘70s, he didn’t copycat the Steelers because of the mystique and charisma of the white jerseys.

And now that Cowher has a chance to wear the black, it seems as though he may've yielded to superstition.

Here's my testimonial: Although I don’t currently own a Steelers jersey (if I did, I’d probably opt for the #63 DAWSON version … which would, naturally, have most fans scratching their heads), it was the Steelers' BLACK jerseys which so mightily seduced me as a pre-teen growing up in suburban SoCal (I appointed myself as director of West Coast operations .. y'know, the SteelTown West Bureau).

And, I still vividly recall that Steelers-Chiefs game in ’72 and submitting to one of the ultimate boyhood crushes of all-time.
The black-n’-gold combo really knocked me flat on the seat of my Toughskins. Some of that romance, though, was tempered somewhat by the Franco Harris poster which hanged on my bedroom wall during those formative years. Franco was wearing his WHITE #32 jersey and black cleats – and, if you’re my age, you remember that poster.
Luckily, thee current Mrs. PF-7 righted the wrong-coloured jersey memory a few years ago when she encountered Franco at a non-football-related function and had him autograph my 8x10 color glossy.

It's the standard "Good luck" wishes ... and the photo is matted and framed.
And he's wearin' a black jersey.
Yet ... there is one problem.
What's the deal with his outdated, gray facemask?

... which leads us to my SECOND boyhood crush -- the night when the Steelers debuted for America the new black facemasks.
On Monday Night Football … opening the ’77 season with a 27-0 win over the Niners.
Just about everybody connected to Steeler Country, USA remembers where he/she was when those black facemasks were unveiled.

And, after watching that first game, it was easy to assume that that's how life would continue - - with bad-ass black facemasks and 27-0 wins every week … and Super Bowl titles every January …
When you’re the only kid in a SoCal school wearing a black t-shirt with yellow block letters “STEELERS” across the chest, well … that’s real, tangible cache.
Or a dork with a cool t-shirt, I dunno.

Well, if this matter is not open for debate – and if Cowher feels as though it’s well within his discretion to reject all petitions from the people and to circumvent the appeals process (wait a sec … this is starting to read like an “affidavit” or a “decree” … and that’s why I just lost my train of thought … )

In some ways, maybe it’s better that the Steelers will be in white so that Seattle can wear their all-metallic-blue gear, rather than their road gear (which looks weak).
That is … unless Holmgren’s gonna cross up everyone and go retro with his Seahawks outfitted with the royal blue jerseys and the silver helmets.
That’s not going to happen, especially since the big-beaked hawk on the old helmet wasn’t as fierce and as demonic-looking as the modified bird you see nowadays.
That spooky bird with the angry green eye looks as though it’s prepared to tear at flesh … flesh that would be better protected by a black jersey than a white one (hint, hint).

Funny how our thoughts should turn to hostile birds because I still remember when it was announced during Super Bowl Week last year that the Arizona Cardinals would be changing their official look for the ’05 season – that the cardinal logo which had remained unchanged on the helmet from 1960 thru 2004 would look “meaner” and “tougher” in ’05.
Sadly for Cardinal season-ticket holders (and for Cardinal fans too disgusted to fork over money for season tickets), the Cardinals – with their “angrier” redbird profile on the helmet and the new, slick racing stripes on their jerseys – were still the same ol’ crappy Cardinals.
Seems as though the only way to toughen up that team’s image is to have a Cardinal logo with a redbird holding an AK-47.
It would help with those losses to the Satanic Seahawk logo.

Well, I guess we'll just have to see if Cowher's ploy has merit. He might be thinking that the only time he coached in a Super Bowl, his team's black jerseys didn't do the trick against Dallas. Of course, that was back in the days when the Steelers jerseys still had the big, block numerals rather than the rounded numerals that we see today.
And, that was back in the days when Cowher had a big, black man named Levon Kirkland wearing a big, block #99 as opposed to the modern-day version of a large, white guy named Brett Keisel wearing a large, round #99.

Looks as though I have nine days or so to track down a white #67 von OELHOFFEN jersey.
Or a white #16 BATCH.
Or a white #29 IWUOMA.
And, as long as it's an XXL or an XXXL (not an "XL," ha ha), we're cool ...


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