The Curse Of Steely McBeam

Hey, can you keep a secret? I don’t want to get everybody too fired up, but there is a playoff game at Heinz Field between the Steelers and Jaguars. Just thought I would let you know.

I’m semi-serious about this. The NFL Playoffs are back at Heinz Field for the first time since 2004 … and it’s Pittsburgh’s first postseason game since winning Super Bowl XL. However, you would not know it by the atmosphere surrounding the city this week.

Have you seen any of those “Go Steelers” signs that usually hang outside businesses and homes? I don’t see “NFL Playoff” banners and I have not heard much in the way of Steelers talk on the radio. Sure, there is a pep rally today – but that is being organized by the city and county. What makes Steeler playoff runs so much fun is the grass roots rooting for the team – and I’m not seeing that this week.

Need more proof? Head over to eBay where tickets can be found en masse. I know more than a few folks who are season ticket holders and they have decided to sell their seats, assuring all of us slated to be at the game that it will be amateur hour.

Why the malaise? A combination of high expectations and a bad football team. Is it the knowledge that Jacksonville beat them already … and even if they do win, the New England Patriots are waiting in the wings?

I know why Steeler Nation is not fired up for this game: Steely McBeam. The team’s new mascot was the start of this downward spiral. Looking less like a fearsome symbol of Steeler might and more like a cartoonish caricature of Bill Cowher, the mascot has been ridiculed by fan and foe alike. They used to say during the glory days that there was one league for the Steelers and another for the rest of the NFL. With Steely McBeam and his foam beam strolling the sidelines, the Steelers have been brought down to the level of the rest of the league.

Of course, this could all be cured if the Steelers somehow win the game. Then again, expectations would be sky-high, only to be pummeled by the Patriots … and let me be the first to go on the record and say the Steelers will not beat the New England Patriots if they somehow get past the Jaguars.

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