Inside Conditions…Thrash of the Titans

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The recent contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans was supposed to be for all intents and purposes, a “clash” of the two Titans, not just the boys from Tennessee.

The game or event, whichever name that you prefer to call the competition, was the kick-off for the 2009 NFL season, was billed as a bloodbath waiting to happen, and a war in cleats.

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AUBREY BRUCE

However, it turned out to be anything but. There was supposed to be a high level of intrigue attached because of the way that the Titans who earned the No. 1 seed going into the 2008 post-season, easily handled the Steelers and “desecrated” the flag of the Steelers nation when the Black and Gold visited Tennessee as the regular season drew to a close.

 

Instead, the team from south of the Mason Dixon line couldn’t stop the team from the steel city when it counted. It was a great contest but Pittsburgh appeared to be concentrating on rolling down to Dolphin Stadium in Miami to play a contest on Feb. 7, 2010 as opposed to exerting energy over the battering of a “Terrible Towel” that a few Titans performers decided to profile as a demonstration to top off their victory over the boys of steel to seal their place as the numero uno seeded team in 2008.

I really think that the players get it. What good is a terrible towel or any other towel if it cannot be used to polish a Lombardi Trophy after the Super Bowl has been played and won? Symbolism will never win a championship.

The Green Bay Packers are honored enough to have the NFL Championship trophy named after their legendary and innovative coach. That symbol is not nearly enough of a motivating factor that the team from the Wisconsin consistently hoists the Lombardi trophy year after year celebrating NFL supremacy.

If symbols were such a motivator, couldn’t the Packers make cardboard replicas of the Lombardi Trophy, and pass them out to the Packers nation to use as a rallying point for their team?

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REPEAT PERFORMANCE—Big Ben Roethlisberger congratulates Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes after they connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass.

Men who are paid millions of dollars to perform on the gridiron should use their frequent visits to the ATM machines and bank tellers as a valid motivator and inspiration to play and be the best that they can be as opposed to getting hyped over a towel that for all intents and purposes is symbolic and should remain as such. I loved and respected the founder of the “Terrible Towel,” the late Myron Cope, probably more than most. Mr. Cope was a former writer with the New Pittsburgh Courier, (then known as the Pittsburgh Courier). He is an indelible part of the historical fabric of the Courier and none of us will ever forget his broadcast contributions to the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But let’s take a look back. Remember the invention of the late Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince called the “Green Weenie?” Well, for those of you who are not as long in the tooth as I am I am going to take you back a little.

The Green Weenie was a gimmick from the impish mind of Mr. Prince and Pirates’ trainer Danny Whelan in the mid-1960s. However, it started to gain popularity during the 1966 Pirates season. It was a plastic rattle made in the shape of a hot dog and when it was waved at the opposition it allegedly was supposed to put a hex or curse on them but when it was waved at the Pirates players it was supposed to bring them good luck.

Now the way that the Pirates have performed for the past 17 years it might be a good idea to resurrect the “Weenie” for the 2010 season.

The Pirates did not win the pennant in 1966 but the Weenie seemed to still have a positive effect on the team. Roberto Clemente won the National League MVP award and his fellow outfielder Matty Alou won the NL batting title. Second baseman Bill Mazeroski led the league in double plays, so the Green Weenie still had its mojo working, or did it?

There were even some theories that the hex still affected players even when they were not on the baseball diamond. According to the Aug. 12, 1966 issue of Time magazine; “When the Pirates played the Giants two weeks ago, Prince pointed a Weenie at [Giants pitcher] Juan Marichal. Marichal won the game, 2-1 but the next day he caught the third finger of his pitching hand in a car door and missed two scheduled turns on the mound. In Pittsburgh, the Pirates were trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 in the seventh inning when Mr. Prince’s broadcast partner, Don Hoak, implored him to use the Weenie. “Not yet,” said Prince. In the eighth inning with the Pirates still trailing by two runs, Bob Prince gave in and waved the Weenie. The Pirates scored four runs and won the game 5-3. “Remember,” Prince said to Hoak, “never waste the power of the Weenie.” Bob Prince also failed to mention that a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

If curses, hexes, spells, ghouls and goblins were effective, the ghosts of Steelers past would be roaming around the line of scrimmage helping current players put a few more sacks up on the NFL leader board and the late Vince Lombardi would be guiding the Packers of 2009 toward another championship but that is not how it works.

The Titans were beaten by Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, James Harrison, Heath Miller, James Farrior and Ike Taylor. The Titans were not defeated by the Terrible Towel or the people waving them. Just remember that symbols and past history does not win games. What have you done for me lately, baby?

 

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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