There’s a famous picture of Rob Lowe, the legendary and ageless actor, wearing an NFL baseball cap while in attendance at the 2019/2020 NFC Championship Game.
And when I say an NFL baseball cap, I mean Lowe wore a hat that simply had the letters N.F.L. on it and not a logo of a particular team he was rooting for.
Social media being what it is, Lowe immediately got roasted for this hat, and, naturally, a meme was quickly generated because of it.
But maybe Lowe was just there to cheer on the NFL playoffs. Maybe he just appreciated the fact that two teams were fighting for the right to play on professional football’s grandest stage.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m now 50 years old, but these days, I find myself watching the NFL playoffs without having a Steelers agenda, without needing to see a particular team win or–let’s be honest–lose just so I can stomach the fact that Pittsburgh isn’t the one who will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy when all is said and done.
I’ve done that in the past, of course. I cheered for the Giants when they took on the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, and I acted as if New York showed up clad in black-and-gold attire. In fact, when Plaxico Burress, a former Steelers receiver, was about to reel in the game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning with just seconds to go, I stood up and screamed, “Come on, Plaxico!”
I was so satisfied when the Giants upset New England. It shielded me from the horror of watching the Patriots win a fourth Super Bowl in six seasons. I mean, how could I have lived my life after that?
- Actually, I think I would have been just fine.
I know I’ll be okay if the Bengals, who just advanced to the AFC title game for the second year in a row — and will be taking on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium for the second year in a row — once again make it to the Super Bowl and actually win it this time.
- It’s not going to ruin my mood. It’s not going to make me super-jealous of Bengals fans.
I honestly think it would be a good story. The Bengals, with their long history of either coming up short in the Big Game–they are zero for three in Super Bowls — as well as their 30-plus year drought of not even winning a postseason game? Imagine what capturing their first Lombardi Trophy would do for the psyche of their fans. Imagine would it would do for the perception of the Bengals organization.
What if the Eagles, who play in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh’s cross-state rival, win a second Super Bowl in six seasons, and they do so with Jalen Hurts, a 2020 second-round pick who was feared to be a bust as recently as last offseason, leading the way at quarterback? What a story that would be.
What if rookie quarterback, Brock Purdy, the last player picked in the 2022 NFL Draft (Mr. Irrelevant), leads the 49ers to the Super Bowl and actually helps them win it? San Francisco entered the regular season with veteran Jimmy Garoppolo and youngster Trey Lance, the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, at the top of the quarterback depth chart.
- Unfortunately, both players got hurt, which put the 49ers’ season in peril. It was Purdy to the rescue.
You can’t write fictional stories as good as Purdy’s rookie season has already been. A Lombardi Trophy (the sixth in 49ers history) would be the cherry on top.
Even the Chiefs, a team that will be playing in the AFC title game for the fifth-straight season, would make for a great story if they advanced to their third Super Bowl in four seasons and captured their second Lombardi of the Andy Reid/Patrick Mahomes era.
- No outcome is going to affect me one bit.
I just love the NFL, and I love a good story, even if the Steelers aren’t a part of it.
Even if the Steelers’ legacy takes a hit because of it.