Liguori: The Blue Collar Bowl
By Ann Liguori
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Football fans who appreciate the game’s tradition will savor this year’s Super Bowl match-up between two of the most legendary teams in the NFL: the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When you think of the Packers, you think of their iconic coach, Vince Lombardi. You think of tradition and class. You think of football history and the legacy of a coach who poured his heart and soul into a franchise that won five league championships in the nine years that he coached the team. You think of Lombardi’s drive, dedication and commitment to winning. You think of the game’s ultimate prize named after him: the Lombardi Trophy.
When you think of the Steelers, you also think of tradition and class.
The Rooney family, who have owned and operated the Steelers since the formation of the franchise in 1933, are the epitome of class. The Rooneys are considered among the very best owners of any team in sports. They are known for their philanthropy and their support of the city of Pittsburgh. And of course, their legacy revolves around winning. The Steelers have won six Lombardi Trophies, more than any other team in NFL history!
Both cities have fiercely loyal, far-reaching fan bases. You could be anywhere in the country and run into fans of the Steeler Nation and Cheese Heads. It was always fascinating to me that my dear friend in Augusta, Georgia, radio talk show host Austin Rhodes, is one of the biggest Pittsburgh Steelers fan in the country!
Austin, deeply rooted in the southern town of Augusta, bleeds gold and black! The basement of his house is a shrine to the Steelers with memorabilia scattered throughout his entire house. He travels to every Steelers game he can get to. He even arranged for Rocky Bleier to get involved when he proposed to his wife! He is as connected to the Steelers as any huge fan is who grew up in Pittsburgh their entire life and Austin rarely goes north of the Georgia state line unless it is to watch a Steelers game!
I’ve spent a lot of time in Pittsburgh. My Dad is from there and used to teach at the University of Pittsburgh. He met my Mom there when she was a student at Pitt. I remember the city when smoke from the steel mills blackened the skies. They cleaned up the town years ago, closing a lot of the steel mills. The downtown area is a very cool place to visit. And Pittsburgh has one of the toughest golf courses in the world – Oakmont.
When I covered the US Open there in 2007, I was very impressed with how clean and beautiful the downtown area has become. Of course, all of my relatives are Steelers fans. And even though I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, it was tough not to become a Steelers fan as both of my parents grew up near Pittsburgh and all of my cousins are from there and are diehard Steelers fans.
This is going to be a war between two blue collar teams oozing with tradition and intense, passionate fan bases. Two, hard-hitting teams with tough defenses, rugged quarterbacks and enough hair – between Troy Polamalu’s thick mop and Clay Matthews’ wavy locks – to fill Jerry Jones’ massive new stadium. The match-up has all the elements the NFL could hope for.
Be sure to visit Ann’s web site at www.annliguori.com to order DVD copies of her interviews with your favorite sports personalities and a copy of her book, A Passion for Golf, Celebrity Musings About the Game.