Super Bowl XLV brought back eerie reminders of Super Bowl XXX, the first loss for the Pittsburgh Steelers. That was the first Super Bowl that Pittsburgh participated in, post “steel curtain” era. That was also the game that seriously questioned the optometrist of Neil O’Donnell, the ex-Steelers quarterback who believed in the art of gift giving.
Well darned if we did not hit rewind baby. O’Donnell threw two interceptions to Dallas Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown in Super Bowl XXX to set up short touchdown drives in the second half.
But wait, there are scary similarities to O’Donnell and Ben Roethlisberger in regards to their game changing gaffes; the difference is O’Donnell seemed to have expected (at least on one of his picks) the receiver to be in a specific area. Big Ben just put on his Kenny Rogers “gamblin” hat and threw the ball up for grabs into double coverage on his first pick as he usually does and on his second he threw into double coverage again as he generally does. Who told him that he had the arm strength to attempt such feats? Maybe on his first errantly thrown ball he thought that if the pass was not caught by wide receiver Mike Wallace, the subsequent pick would be as good as a punt, just like he thought in the Ravens divisional playoff game. But lo and behold, when you take too many risks at the craps table you are bound to roll snake eyes. See Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, whose salaries pale in comparison to Roethlisberger, could have really used that $142,000. Big Ben did not seem to care because hey, he is already paid.
Roethlisberger was the main culprit in Green Bay’s victory over the Steelers. When you keep throwing the ball up for grabs, eventually only bad things can happen. From henceforth there must be a certain mode of discipline established and maintained in order for the Steelers to again position themselves as a legitimate power in the NFL. Freelancing on both sides of the ball became the death sentence for the Lombardi trophy aspirations of the Black and Gold.
The other prime time gambler was safety Troy Polamalu. Everyone bragged about how he could read offenses and be in the right place at the right time. Well I don’t care how good of a “card counter” you are, the man dealing the cards for “the house” knows a few of your tendencies too. The Packers waited patiently for the Steelers offense and defense to take that fatal risk. They both did and lost. Troy and Ben, two of the Steelers most famous gambling men, gambled away the chances of victory for the Steelers, but again they were both well paid whether they won or lost.
In hindsight, Super Bowl XLV seemed destined for failure from the outset. I was waiting for a cab at the airport to take me to the hotel. The concierge told the cabbie as I was loading my luggage into his car; “go ahead and make that Yankee money.”
Judging by the look in her eyes, I really think she wanted to say something else but she sized me up correctly. Yes I did have enough money to make bail if she had uttered the “N” word. I still would have been in the press box at 6:29 p.m. in time to witness the most rousing, mistake laden version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ in the history of the Super Bowl rendered by none other than Pittsburgh’s own Christina Aguilera.
Super Bowl XLV will now be known for all eternity as ‘The Confederacy Revenge Bowl’. This event was about the Texas sized ego of Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones. Cab drivers were turning off their meters and charging unsuspecting patrons $150 one way from Dallas to Arlington, a trip less than 20 miles. They said these were “special event” rates. I heartily disagree because these were countdown to “the invasion of the Yankees sucker” prices. Jones and the NFL had their “Barnum and Bailey” show going on, sort of like attracting flies into a Venus flytrap.
Logistically this was the most horrible Super Bowl I have ever attended or covered. This was about making “Yankee” money. Jones bullied and cajoled his subordinate, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell, into staging this debacle because Jones is a cold and astute business person who had to recover a portion of the 1.2 billion invested building his ego-toy. Super Bowl XLV was the ultimate Jones pocket feeder. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in his organization received kick backs from the cabbies and private drivers. Did any of you notice that during the weather beaten Super Bowl XLV week that Jones was almost nowhere to been seen? See folks Jerry Jones, like Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu is a gambler too but as we all should know; Jerry Jones is the “house” and the “house never loses.”
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)