On the Ravens and Other Steelers Rivals

I want to make something very clear: I am a Steelers fan, and I am a blogger for a Steelers blog. You will often find that my articles are slanted in favor of Pittsburgh players and Pittsburgh fans. That’s just the way it is. Go to a Ravens blog, and you will find the same thing.  Too often I have found that people are missing the point of my articles because all they see is Steelers bias, when in actuality my claims are often backed in fact (statistics and logical arguments). I would hardly say on the grand scheme of things that I am “rude and unintelligent,” as one of my readers has suggested on my previous article.

Before you read articles on this site, you must understand something: Ravens fans and Steelers fans make fun of each others’ teams. That’s just what we do. We’ve been doing the same things with the Browns since they used to spank us all the time back in the day. I don’t claim to be perfect or even “fair and balanced,” but I am not, nor have I ever been, a sore loser, or disrespectful to other teams. My statements on this site are well thought out and well-researched. I have been a Steelers fan my whole life, and I’ve been a football fan for just as long. My dad’s favorite team has always been the Steelers. He died one of the biggest Steelers fans I’ve ever known, but my dad’s favorite player was always Walter Payton. Don’t ask me why, but it always was. So from a young age, and as an athlete myself, I have always learned to respect my opponents, win humbly, and lose graciously.

It’s how I was raised.

SO, when I make fun of Flacco’s eyebrows, or joke that Ravens’ Linebacker Ray Lewis might stab me, it’s in good fun. It’s nothing Ravens fans haven’t said about Big Ben or Hines Ward.

In the end, I am a football fan, and I have a great amount of respect for every player that goes out on that field and busts their ass week in and week out to win football games. In my previous article I pointed out how Ravens’ Flacco has improved over the last few years, and the obstacles I believe he will have to overcome in order to become an elite quarterback. I say all this, knowing that the status of Ben Roethlisberger’s “elite-ness” is still in question among many sports fans and columnists.

I love to talk shit because I’ve always been an athlete and it’s part of what athletes do. But I always walk up to my opponents and offer a hand after the game, regardless of the scenario or outcome. One of my best friends is a Patriots fan and we watch football together and bull-shit about our teams. I really don’t like the Patriots, he knows that. I make fun of Tom Brady, and he hears that. He’s confident enough in his team to take it, and he knows how much I respect Tom Brady as a football player. His skills cannot be denied, and it’s part of the reason I despise him so much. I’m man enough to admit that.

So when you’re ready to post a comment on one of my blog posts that is going to read something like “you’re a dick” or “you’re unintelligent and rude” take a step back from the situation and realize what you are reading here. If I someday become a writer for a major newspaper, or for some sort of professional sports company like Sports Illustrated or ESPN, I won’t be making jokes about Joe Flacco. That’s one of the great things about bloggers. Bloggers are hated by many, and loved by many for the same reason: we have the freedom to say what we want about our rivals, even if that makes you think I’m being rude and lack some kind of sportsmanship.

When the Steelers lost the SB to the Green Bay Packers, I had just moved away from Wisconsin after having lived there for 5 years. All of my best friends are Packers fans. Even a huge percentage of my family are Packers fans. They were nothing but respectful and humble in the win, and I was nothing but complimentary to the Packers as a fan of the losing team. Yes, we gave each other shit before the game, yes some people jabbed me after, but it was all in good fun.

Isn’t that what this is all about? Enjoying your team and razzing your rivals? That’s why I love sports so much. The great games like game one against the Ravens is sure to be in the 2011 season, and all the trash talk that is sure to surround it, won’t take away from the fact that these two teams respect each other, and always take weeks to recover after playing one another. Any Steelers fan that says they don’t respect the Ravens as a football team doesn’t understand what it takes to win in sports. The second you stop respecting your opponent is the moment that they sneak up and knock you out of the playoffs.

You can be sure, even with my joking comments about the Ravens, that I understand them and respect them as a team.

Just don’t expect me to be civil all the time.

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