Other than being able to engender the occasional false start penalty, there's little we fans can do to shape the outcome of any given football game. And that's only if you're Kingshit McBigshot and can afford to go in the stadium. That, of course, doesn't stop the rest of us from sublimating our maniacal fandom in ways we think put our team over the top. It gets to the point that we're (okay, I'm) wracked by guilt following a loss because there was some bad juju shit that was done before the game that arrayed the cosmic forces of football against them.
Everyone has their bizarre superstition with their favorite team, be it some rank unwashed underwear you wear every game day to a ritual meal beforehand. With the Steelers in full-on freefall, there's a lot of soul-searching and hand-wringing on my part. And it starts with my moronic fan rituals.
Full Contact Fandom: This is probably the dumbest of them all but it's the tic I've followed most religiously over the years. Basically, (I have to pay Drew royalties now) I have to jab/punch/kick objects that I come across with the opposing team's colors in the days leading up to a game. We're not talking about a haymaker, but still harder than a love tap. It's very Tourette's-like. And the more significant the game, the more I do it. Before the Super Bowl last year I was going after everything with the Seahawks' mix of not-so naturally occurring colors. All in all, it's not an easy thing to finesse without looking crazy. There are some short cuts, mind you. It can be something with the colors of the opposing team or just something that clearly represents that team. For instance, the Steelers play the Browns on Thursday and I would be excused for kicking pieces of shit. Playing the Colts? Punch a fetus. In two weeks, when the Steelers travel to Carolina, I can always hit my cat. Problem is, she fights back.
And usually wins.
Location, Location, uh, Furburger: The Steeler bar I go to is on Capitol Hill in D.C. It's three floors of displaced Yinzers and it's frequently packed from top to bottom. During big games, the bar has to turn people away. Sen. Arlen Specter came in during the playoffs last year. It's quite the scene. The funniest aspect of it is that there's palpable tension between floors in the bar. The regulars on the ground floor often accuse those on the top floor of being snooty and less than passionate. They're right, of course. I was actually told I was being too loud by someone up there during a game once. Well, I had to deal with their half-hearted fandom and sidelong stares, because the place was damn lucky. Starting with the Vikings game through the Super Bowl, I sat up on the top floor and the Steelers won. The magic, sadly, now is gone. All three games I've watched on the top floor this year, the Steelers have lost, including the Raiders game. Apparently, I wore that bitch out.
Betting: I never bet on a Steelers game under any circumstance, UM and his parlays be damned. The last time I did was Super Bowl XXX and that was traumatizing enough for me to swear off it for life (Nevermind the fact the Cowgirls didn't cover in that contest. However I bet on a straight up win with a huge underdog. Ah, the life of a dipshit 13-year-old). HOWEVAH, drunk with hubris earlier this year, I bet my former roommate on the fortunes of the team this season, so I take fully responsibility for the horrific collapse.
Those are just the big ones, though. When dealing with obsessiveness of this sort, even the most miniscule of factors take on huge import. I took Italian language in college as an elective* and decided to take it back up with classes on Sunday mornings last winter. When was the first class? The Wild Card game against the Bengals. There was even no class in the week break between the conference title game and the Super Bowl, I shit you not. Kizmet, I tells ya. I stopped during the summer. I also moved before the season started. And bought new shoes. And banged a gypsy. Any of these things could be responsible.
I'm nuts, I know.
*I realize cat ownership and speaking-ah dee Eye-talian makes me the gayest member of the KSK Gay Mafia. This I can live with, especially if it involves going for a mani-pedi on Friday with Jeff Garcia and Chris Simms, then going to see The Holiday and having a tickle fight afterwards. Y'know, real manly shit.