"Jinxing the Steelers' 2006 season."
As they say on the legal-TV shows ... "amend the indictment."
Solely based on her last name, Marilyn Devine should've known that she was messin' with forces more-divine than mere mortal crimes.
Simply stated, she doomed Steeler Nation last March 6 when she jacked the National City Bank in the Century Square shopping center on Lebanon Church Road in West Mifflin.
SOME OF US didn't need to wait around 'til the autumn to read the writing on the wall in a typical read-it-n'-weep scenario.
The sad truth is this:
"NO NFL TEAM HAS EVER REPEATED AS SUPER BOWL CHAMPION THE SEASON AFTER A 75-YEAR-OLD WOMAN FROM THAT SUPER BOWL CITY HAS COMMITTED A BANK ROBBERY WHILE WEARING A KNIT CAP WITH THAT TEAM'S COLORS AND EYE HOLES CUT OUT OF IT."
Following today's 27-0, prison-cell, spooning-session in Baltimore, many fans/observers are declaring that now (albeit practially-but-not-officially) the Steelers are finished in their attempt to earn at least the No. 6 seed for the AFC playoffs.
Given the way that Pittsburgh had pissed off the bank-robbin' gods, it was merely a matter of time.
(Note: If it's any consolation for citizens of The 'Burgh, at least there's not a statue of Bradshaw outside the stadium wherein the Hall of Fame QB has a "package" the size of a canteloupe/volleyball as a sculptor defamed/mocked Unitas on the statue of Johnny U. outside M&T Bank Stadium ... "Johnny's got a lotta junk")
Some people are likely to claim that THE portent of a bumpy '07 for the Steelers was when safety Chris Hope signed with the Tennessee Titans. In some people's minds, the headlines screamed, "STEELERS WILL HAVE NO HOPE IN '07."
Right .. blame it on Chris Hope when it was not HE who wore the black-n'gold knit STEELERS cap pulled over his face (with tufts of gray hair sticking out) while using a 9mm handgun and ordering two different tellers to fill the white garbage bag with money.
As if that wasn't crazy enough, Marilyn's escape (with the $5,300 and the UNLOADED 9mm tossed into the back seat of her tan Ford Escort) reached the break-neck speeds of 45 MPH as she went across Lebanon Church Road, onto Delwar Road and across railroad tracks onto Streets Run Road into Baldwin Burrough.
When she was finally boxed in at the intersection of Joseph and Agnew Streets, it's probably a good thing that she didn't pull a Larry Phillips/Emil Matasareanu (nine years earlier, almost to the day, in North Hollywood) and keep police at bay by firing off hundreds of rounds from an AK-47 she had in the trunk.
Since there exist no diary entries, it's unclear as to when Phillips/Matasareanu went on their shooting spree on the last day of Feb. '97, if the plain black knit caps they wore were a sign were a sign of protest against the NFL Establishment from sins committed two years earlier (when the silver-n'-BLACK Raiders were allowed to move from L.A. back to Oakland; when the Rams left Anaheim for St. Louis; and with two expansion teams -- Carolina and Jacksonville -- permitted to have BLACK as a team color.
These are the issues which clutter the mind once a Steeler team is realistically-but-not-mathematically removed from the wild-card playoff equation.
The questions abound, such as: Why is the OL blocking like shit? Why is the front seven kinda harmless? Did they really think they could get away with having three exploitable cornerbacks (sorry, Deshea, Ike and Bryant) for the third year in a row? Did anyone expect success when Cowher cannot decide what to do with that sloppy, unmanicured quasi-goatee? Can we all get over the fact that the "power running" of The Bus and his "locker room leadership" might've been a little overrated the past two years? What's the deal with all the fumbles? Should they tank the rest of their games to move into prime position to draft the exciting Calvin Johnson? Should we believe it when an offensive lineman says, "We probably shouldn't go out drinking three nights a week?"
Jeez, even the fans are goin' soft. Usually, games against he Ravens in Baltimore are usually bad-blood affairs with the stadium filled with a 50-50 ratio of fans. This time, the buzz was almost totally pro-Raven, which is a credit to the charisma/magnetism one-two punch which is Prof. Billick and God's Linebacker (according to a recent SI cover story ... but, according to an animated SNL sketch fresh from the Cobalt Lounge aftermath, a cartoon Ray sang, "I didn't kill no motherf---ing lion!").
Back on the field, Steeler fans need to decide for themselves where this 27-0 shellacking ranks in the Browns/Ravens/Art Modell series. The leading candidates seem to be the '00 season opener (when the Steelers and new QB Kent Graham were worked over, 16-0, by the eventual Super Bowl champs -- a game which was so rotten that when Kordell came in to run the goal-line offense, he was soundly booed by the Three Rivers fans ... oh, and that 51-0 loss at home to the Brownies in the '89 season opener, that was some brutal, sadistic crapola ...).
So, how odd was it that this playoff "elimination" defeat occurred on the same day that the he North Carolina State head job suddenly had a vacancy once it became official that the barrel-chested, squeaky-voiced Chuck Amato had been fired?
Will Cowher take that job at his alma mater? Or will it go to Lispy McMushmouth (read: Holtz), the guy who recruited Cowher to play at NCSU?
Even though Lispy McMushmouth (read: Holtz) was a magnet for NCAA sanctions when he was at Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina, it's a perfect fit for the guy who will turn 70 the first week of February.
By "perfect fit," we mean "getting his unprofessional lispy, mushmouth nonsense off of TV."
Please hire Lispy Lou, please hire Lispy Lou. please hire Lispy Lou, please hire Lispy Lou, please hire Lispy Lou, please hire Lispy Lou ...
Anyway, for the next two months, the Steelers can still put that "defending Super Bowl champion" tag before their name. And, if nothing else, at least now they've ascended to the realm of "now, there's a team no one wants to play, Steve!"
Some of us are not about to fret over the '06 developments, notwithstanding Marilyn Devine's mental state and the whereabouts of her unloaded 9mm and the black-n'-gold knit cap.
The Steelers will be back. There are scads n' scads of NFL teams who didn't play in Super Bowl XL and won't be participating in Super Bowls XLI (41) thru LVIII (58) -- yeah, that means you, Jets, Chiefs, Saints, Vikings, Browns and Lions.
In the end, no doubt the current state of the Steelers reminds some of us of and earlier era when, minutes before game time against Tigris of Gaul, a certain gladiator made a bold statement.
"Marcus Aurelius had a dream that was Rome. This is not it! THIS! IS! NOT! IT!"
It might help to localize the story if you substitute "Marcus Aurelius" with "the Rooney Family" and substitute "Rome" with "the Steel Curtain."
Then, pretend that it's Cowher, not Proximo, yelling, "We mortals are but shadows and dust, Maximus! Shadows and dust!"
And then imagine that he's shouting to the gladiators known as Chukky Okobi (#56) or Clint Kriewaldt (#57).
This season's over in Pittsburgh. So, now it's time to start hurtin' some people and turn their playoff futures to shadows and dust ...