2004 Steelers R.I.P.

I originally wrote this in MS Word the night of the Steelers loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. I couldn't post it because I lacked Internet access at the hotel:

It’s frustrating to become emotionally dejected because of the outcome of an NFL football game. I guess my hope got in the way of reason, but I really thought the Steelers were going to win tonight. The problem with losing a playoff game, especially a championship game at home, is that you understand how hard it was to get to this point, to put yourself into this position to advance to the super bowl. All of the sudden, the ultimate goal is out of reach, and all of the season seems for naught. It seems improbable that you will be able to repeat the success of this season so quickly again next year. The wait until the next season seems imbearable. You want next season to be here right now, for another shot at the title. But, rationality informs you that you will unlikely be in such a great position again so soon to achieve what you just missed out on achieving. The thought of playing an entire season again just to get to another opportunity is painful. It’s not the work of the season that is unsettling. It is the waiting. You realize that, in the best case scenario, it will take an entire year to get back to this point. How much better of a season can you have? It is hard to improve on being 15-1. Maybe next year I will have a policy that I watch only the Steelers games that are broadcast on national TV, like the Monday Night Football games, or the occasional Saturday or Sunday night game. It’s interesting to contemplate the number of people in the world for which this game, or any game, has any significance. Indeed, what significance does it have for me? For some reason, it always feels like it has more significance after a loss than after a win. To be honest, I am worn out with watching football. It seems like I was getting a cheap addiction high out of watching the Steelers this year instead of actual joy or fun. On the drive over to St. Louis today I listened to the NFC Championship game, even though I really didn’t care who won. Listening to the game seems like a waste of time (not that there was much else to do on a four hour car ride.)

I’m not nearly as bothered by Steelers losses as I used to be. If anything, I have become increasingly dispassionate over the years regarding both wins and losses. During losses, this lower level of passion is handy. Alternatively, I don’t enjoy wins nearly as much as I used to. I guess the price of a less painful loss is a less exuberant win. I’m not sure I’d label this as maturity. It doesn’t quite seem the right word. I think I have become less of a pessimist, less superstitious and I have realized that the outcome of a football game, good or bad, is absolutely out of my control. Thus, it is no major achievement for me if the Steelers win and no fault of mine if they lose. I’m not sure that there is anything wrong with being passionate about sports, but it increasingly seems rational to me to attempt to become more of a casual spectator. I had subscribed to The Sporting News last year as part of a promotion. I have little desire to read it when it comes in the mail. Some issues I have thrown directly into the trash can. I don’t think I’ll be renewing this subscription. Of course, that didn’t stop me from watching all but one of the Steelers games this year. On the other hand, I don’t know every player, their number and the stats of nearly every NFL player like I did in my younger days. I don’t feel like investing the time in following the NFL too closely. This holds true even for the Steelers, especially if they are having an unsuccessful season. Does this make me a fair weather fan? I don’t think so. I still root for them. I am just not so heavily emotionally invested in them. I’m sure I would be happy tonight if they had won to advance to the super bowl. However, I doubt I would have been jubilant. There are hundreds of thousands of Steelers fans. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities and ages. Some are wonderful people, while others are jerks. It’s not like I have some type of brotherhood with worldwide Steelers fans. The thought of Steelers Nation is nostalgiac. To come to think of it, nostalgia is a big reason that I follow the Steelers even as closely as I do.

Unfortunately, especially lately, I have nickled and dimed some precious hours of my life on the Internet reading story after story about the Steelers. I had trouble pulling myself away. I wrote earlier that this addiction reminded me of following the presidential election of 2004. Most of what I read offered little new news, and I either disagreed with or was annoyed by half of the analysis. If I would have invested this time in pursuit of some of my goals, I’d probably feel a better sense of achievement. The million dollar question is whether I will be able to pull myself away from reading analyses of the game just lost. I’ve already been craving listening to Cowher’s reaction. Why? It’s not like I will gain any additional value from listening to any of the Steelers explain their feelings about the game. Yet, the urge to look and listen is there. Once again, it’s akin to an addiction. In fact, my mom just came down and told me that she listened to Roethisberger’s and Ward’s reactions last night. Roethisberger said that he felt like he let the city of Pittsburgh down, and Ward said that he was angry that he has now been through two losses at home in the AFC Championship game. I’m going to try to not get caught up in researching the reaction of every player, listening to press conferences and dissecting reasons why the game was lost.

I’d like to throw myself into reaching some personal goals. These are things over which I have control, such as gaining and maintaining a healthy weight, getting in great shape and becoming stronger. More importantly, I’d like to begin spending some quality time with Dominic. Often, it feels like I am playing with him only half-heartedly, like I’m trying simply to put in my time. I want to truly engage with him. He is at an impressionable age right now, and I want to set a good example for him to follow. This is my chance to be a leader. It is my task. My job. At times, it feels like it is my calling, but not nearly enough. I want to become passionate about reaching my goals. It is the passion that I strive for even more than the achievement. Thinking back over the past week, I spent cumulative hours reading and thinking about the Steelers. I desperately wanted Sunday to arrive so that the game could be played. If I could have fast forwarded through the actual days of the week, I would have. This is beyond the cliché of wishing my life away, or perhaps it is the very manifestation of it, but no doubt it is sinful.

If I develop these habits, I think it would improve my life satisfaction and health:
Going to be early each night, i.e. 10:00, asleep by 11:00.
Doing push-ups every day.
Do 30 minutes of intense cardio exercise at least 4 times per week.
Lift weights 4 times per week.
Awake at 7:00, arrive at work by 8:00.
Don’t stay up late or sleep in on the weekends.
Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Eat out only once per week.
Drink 8 glasses of water per day.
Set priorities regularly, and stick to them.
Stay cognizant of what is most important to me, after discovering it.


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