by Aubrey Bruce
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains, within the sounds of silence. And in the naked light I saw, ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening, people writing songs that voices never share. And no one dared disturb the sounds of silence.
“Fools said I, You do not know, Silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you, take my arms that I might reach you. But my words like silent raindrops fell and echoed in the wells of silence.” (From the soundtrack of the movie “The Graduate” by Simon and Garfunkel)
Last Friday I ventured out and had a few, too, too, many, many, Coronas with lime and one too many shots of Grand Marnier. While carousing about town, I happened to feel a few hunger pangs and decided to stop and get a few victuals to “feed” the alcohol. They say a nice fat piece of cheese works, uh, negative. I happened to pass a cold, empty Heinz Field on my way to get the “peck.” This always happens to me when the Steelers miss the playoffs. Somehow, I always seem to end up somewhere in the vicinity of “The Great Hall” in a semi-inebriated state. Ya see boys and girls, I have been spoiled in regards to covering and chronicling at least one playoff game per season. After I “grubbed” and began to end the grieving process I took my drunken “butt” home. As I entered the crib, I attempted and succeeded to disarm the security system through my foggy inebriated vision and I was about 2 seconds away from horns and sirens blaring within and without the “crib.” That situation would definitely not have been associated with “the sounds of silence.” As I removed my shoes and shirt, (I awoke the next morning with my trousers and socks still on) I laid my head on an “un-fluffed” pillow and with the room swirling the dream began. Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains, within the sounds of silence. In the dream, now keep in mind this episode was substance induced, I was in the press box doing my usual, eating a few servings of lamb chops or pieces of prime rib, whatever was on the menu for that game, waiting for the media assistants to pass out the lineups and lineup changes.
When the lineup cards are placed in the “box” usually there are offensive and defensive changes and updates. In the case of an injury, the name of the second team player that substituted for the starter is printed on the lineup sheet. I was aghast when I glanced at the staring lineup; the name of Ben Roethlisberger was placed as the starter for every position offensively and defensively. Number seven was at inside and outside linebacker. He also was the starting running back, tight end and wide receiver. He was even the starting nose tackle and offensive guard. No one else had to even suit up. There were no coaches on the sidelines, none up in the booth; this was the Ben Roethlisberger show complete with cheerleaders and ‘Steely McBeam” in “max” mode. And in the naked light I saw 10,000 people, maybe more. People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening, people writing songs that voices never share. I looked out at the fans and they seemed to be in a state of shock. They were nodding their heads but gazing straight ahead almost as if they were in a zombie-like trance, wanting to wake up but too weak to do anything about the fix they were in. They were singing, “here we go Steelers, here we go,” even after Roethlisberger threw a season ending interception sentencing the fans and his team to the purgatory of the sports world, “couch-a-tory.”
There is also a non fatal but chronic mental condition associated with a team and its fan base not being post season eligible. This illness is formally referred to as “sermo ostendo ites” or “talk show-itis.” Czech historian and diplomat Konstantin Josef Jirecek had a different definition of those who blindly follow and listen to shallow and biased voices to the end of the world deaf to any other external viewpoints. He once wrote, “We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.” Just a few years ago, the media talking heads and the fans were calling for the Steelers not to sign their best player in the secondary, cornerback Ike Taylor. Several years before that they were insisting that Pittsburgh sign the extraordinary but often injured safety, Troy Polamalu, let me see, umm, you figure it out. The fans and the media breathed a sigh of relief when just a few years ago QB Ben Roethlisberger was given his “justified” dough. Somebody, somewhere my friends are missing something, yep-per.
In the end, regardless of the amount of alcohol ingested by me, I am going to quote my grandfather Thomas Warren Bruce who from what I was told would always defend my brother Tommy, his namesake after one of Tom’s ‘Mad Dog Twenty Twenty’ verbal assaults on the family, which allegedly, according to him, originated from a perspective of truth only known to Tom. Grandpap would say, “a drunk speaks a sober mind.” Well in regards to my allegations of the Steelers placing all of their eggs in the Roethlisberger basket; maybe, just maybe I wasn’t so drunk after all.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)