On the eve of the NFL playoffs, I bunker down into my superstitious rituals to prepare for the Steelers run. Had you asked me what I would be doing for this year’s playoffs, back in October, I would have told you rooting for anyone playing the Pats, since Pittsburgh looked out of sync and it appeared to be a year of rebuilding. I’m a realist, always a fan, good years or bad, but I will also assess the reality of the situation and although still continued to root for what might happen, I knew a playoff run was a long shot.
Part of my neurosis for the playoffs is making sure the wife, daughter, and dogs are in their gear at least 15 minutes prior to kickoff. I have all my collectibles along the buffet under the tv, and hold my lucky mini football and a yellow replica penalty flag I got during my years of bartending from Miller Light that is embroidered with the statement “That’s a good call” – which I use during the appropriate times, throwing across the living room and mimicking the phrase. Nachos are for just before the kickoff, and some type of crock-pot dish for halftime. I must drink a shot and beer chaser before the game begins and when things don’t go well, I adjust my hat, for my nerves, and for luck. I will text during commercials, but will not accept phone calls during a game. A gallon of distilled water sits chilled in the fridge next to the beer, to keep hydrated. I’m very open about being set in my ways, and a little obsessive compulsive, but that’s how I do. I keep a cigar and bottle of champagne on hand if there is victory, the second of which I regret the next morning but will never learn. Sports mean a lot to me and I am naturally very competitive, plus its just fun to dig in and enjoy the moment; here in Pittsburgh we have been very fortunate to have many playoff runs in 3 sports. And I have many memories of those, some one and done, others last second heroics that bring home the hardware.
So fans, enjoy however you do, but remember to start some tradition to build on and have to look back on as your team(s) move forward in their attempts to become part of history. What I love about sports, especially playoffs, is you never know what can happen, through the course of a game, things occur that change the outcome that you may not have seen coming. Take for example the Michigan St. vs. Baylor playoff game, Cook couldn’t hit the side of a barn for most of the afternoon and the Spartan’s defense was frozen, letting Baylor air it out as they pleased…until something happened and things turned around, and despite the stats and the ebb/flow of the game, the Spartans pulled out a win they looked completely incapable of in the earlier quarters. That’s what keeps a fan hoping, for what might happen, and when it does, grab that cigar and champagne and go to town!