Sunday, December 17, 2006

That Feeling...

By Jared Trexler

I was never really sure it would come.

Mugs, plaques, pictures all facilitated memories that weren't mine. Stories that had no beginning or end.

The 1970s, the decade personified in pigskin by a great defense and an opportunistic offense -- mostly built through the draft.

The Steel Curtain had no relevance in my passion other than highlights courtesy of NFL Films. And while I trusted the knowledge of Steve Sabol and The Phanatic's very own John McMullen -- wasn't he in college at the time -- it wasn't the same.

Growing up in the Trexler household, Sunday's went like this. Mom shopping. Brother sleeping. Pop, I and Steeler football.

Gregg Lloyd and Kevin Greene coming off the edge. A young, inexperienced head coach with an enormous chin and the passion of a player.

Moments provided hope. Al Del Greco's "wide left" left my father's knuckles gashed and a noticeable dent in the ceiling. A Super Bowl second-half onside kick left sugar plums and Super Bowl rings dancing in our heads.

Yet, the end result always brought pain. Larry Brown. Dennis Gibson's right arm and three more yards against San Diego. Elway's magic. Kordell's collapse. Big Ben being rookie.

It would never happen. Tears and anger, my father counseling me on the adage that football, "is just a game."

Then, sitting at 7-5 last season, following a third straight loss (38-31 at home against Cincinnati) it seemed like another year of disappointment.

But, a funny thing happened the following week, and repeated seven more times in the most improbable of improbable events.

The Steelers won.

It ended with a Super Bowl title that meant a lot as a fan. It meant even more as a son.

While a defeat that ended a season hurt, it always struck a blow at an even more personal hope.

I wanted to witness a championship with Dad.

It happened when we least expected it. When expectations were low. It tasted just as sweet.

Young Eagle fans will sit with Pop, watching an important NFC East matchup with the New York Giants later this afternoon.

It could go as many prognosticators have predicted. The Eagles aren't as talented, they can't stop the run, Jeff Garcia is due for a bad game.

Or, after years of high hopes and drastic falls, it could be the beginning of something special.

Championships can happen when you least expect them.

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