Apologies for being late to the party with this but I’ve been battling a hellacious cold this week.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced the Pittsburgh Steelers will play in London next season. You lucky bastards with season tickets need not worry, the game is being considered a home game for their opponent, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes, in case you’ve forgotten the roof-collapsing debacle a couple winters ago, hate their home stadium and will do anything to avoid playing there. Even fleeing to other countries, apparently.
When this news was announced, I saw a bunch of Steeler fans on twitter bitching about how unfair it was to ask our boys to travel all the way to England right smack in the middle of the season. If the Steelers go on a four game losing skid after coming home, I’m sure those cries will only increase. The Patriots are playing in London this year so we’ll see how a good team handles the trip. Personally, I don’t see it as that much different than having to travel out to California or Seattle.
Besides, if you wan to blame anybody for the Steelers being chosen for this “honor,” blame Dan Rooney. The Ambassador to Ireland has stated on several occasions one of his dreams is to see his team play in his home land. When reporters questioned him, he quickly backed down by saying he meant an “exhibition” game but let’s be real. The NFL isn’t exporting an exhibition game, if they send the Steelers overseas, it’ll be for a game that counts.
The NFL’s attempt to teach Europeans that football means a manly game full of exciting action and not a sissy sport where dudes in short shorts fall on the ground pretending to be hurt every two minutes have thus far fallen flat. The World League has long since folded and the annual London game has struggled to sell tickets. What’s more, the crowds that have shown up have been largely apathetic.
If you’ve ever watched World Cup soccer, you know soccer fans are among the rowdiest crowds in sports. For those of you who don’t keep abreast of your international politics, the Irish and English don’t particularly like each other. The violence has mostly subsided but they still love to beat the shit out of each other in athletic contests.
No doubt the Steelers were chosen with the hope they bring their Irish connection to the game. Steeler Nation is the most passionate fan base in sports but if that happens, you’ll see things taken to whole new level.
And we’ll also be treated to roughly 532 “Big Ben” jokes in the week leading up to the game. My only regret is the game won’t be carried by ESPN. Resident clown Chris Berman’s head would likely explode from all the lame puns he could belch forth. And if that happened, well, I’d almost be willing to trade some jet lag for the chance to get that goof off the air.