5 Stories That Shaped My 2009: #2

It’s the closing moments of the greatest sporting event in the world. The Steelers are driving down the field towards what could be the winning touchdown and where am I to see this moment in Super Bowl history? Under the stands t at Raymond James Stadium … watching it on TV.

I’ll explain how I got there in a moment.

I have covered three Steeler Super Bowls and there is nothing like being in the city where the game is being played that morning. You know the whole world is watching and most of the planet would give their right arm to have the access you do during Super Bowl week.

Channel 4 Action News photographer Dan Pratt helping Steeler punter Mitch Berger scoop up confetti off the field at Raymond James Stadium.

While I seen the Steelers in the Super Bowl before, this one was different. It wasn’t the first after a long drought like Super Bowl XXX in Arizona and it wasn’t the “one for the thumb” like Super Bowl XL in frigid Detroit. This was a Steeler team that had a new head coach, a completely different identity and an opponent which failed to strike fear in the heart of Steeler Nation. The Arizona Cardinals had been a punchline for most of their existence until reaching Super Bowl XLIII.

For me, I have to admit there were mixed emotions. As a news anchor, I no longer go to Steeler practices and the locker room on a regular basis. I didn’t personally know many of the younger players while I was very familiar with some members of the Arizona Cardinals. I knew head coach ken Whisenhunt so well that I was the first to let him know about Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident because I had his cell phone number. Receiver Steve Breaston and defender Reggie Wells were players I first covered when the played high school football in these parts. Russ Grimm and Larry Fitzgerald were people who played or coached here who I knew very well. No matter who won, I would have had reason to be happy for the victors.

As for the game, Guy Junker, Sally Wiggin and myself were seated at the highest most seats in the grandstand at the Stadium. We had  bird’s-eye view of  the 100-yard return by James Harrison and the spectacular halftime show. However, we were supposed to be on the air, broadcasting live back to Pittsburgh, as soon as the game concluded … so we followed the media horde down to the tunnel under the stadium with five minutes to go.

Of course, it wound up being the best part of the game … and we were stuck watching it on TV as we waited to take the field. I will say that Sally and myself rode the roller coaster in that time, watching the Cardinals take the lead, then seeing the Steelers comeback and win on Santonio Holmes end zone grab.

As soon as the clock hit zero, Sally and I grabbed each other’s hand and made a mad dash for the field. We stayed close so we weren’t run over by the mass of media descending upon the field. Once in place, we had players come join us for live interviews. They were like little kids, especially offensive lineman Max Starks who hugged both of us … and nearly squeezed us to death in the process.

However, one moment from that post-game celebration stays with me. The team’s punter, Mitch Berger, joined us for an interview. So what do you ask the punter? Well the simple question is to ask “how do you feel?”. His answer said it all. He was signed to replace the team’s regular punter who was injured. Mitch said after many years in the league, he never expected to have this chance. He pointed to his dad in the stands and said how much it mean that his dad was there. Berger then said he would grab handfuls of confetti on the ground and take them home to remember this moment.

The Super Bowl means different things to different people. For me, it’s the greatest sporting event in the world … and one of the greatest displays of passion and pure emotion you will ever see. Hopefully, I won’t have to wait long for another chance to take part in “Super Sunday”.

 

 

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