I grew up on the late 1960s but mostly the 1970s NFL when the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and to a lesser degree (certainly in the playoffs where the Dolphins or Steelers usually beat them) Oakland Raiders ruled. (I think I threw the Raiders in for alliteration purposes, good team though they were, they didn't measure up and got lucky a few times vs. Miami, Pittsburgh and others - more at bottom of post***).
(As for the wonderful, always interesting and terribly under-rated by those who never played the game CFL, grew up on the Montreal Alouettes 1970s teams)
But we're gearing up for the Super Bowl Feb. 6 so NFL it is in this post.
And while I'm obviously aware of and respect the history of the Green Bay Packers, given my 'watching' history with the Steelers, I'm hoping they win another Super Bowl. I like their coach (Mike Tomlin), their coaching continuity (three coaches - Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, Tomlin) since 1970 and the way they've always played the game: Tough running, good passing, great defence.
Though he is reportedly reformed, I still have difficulty countenancing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (recent allegations of sexual assault). But overall, I like the Steelers.
Yet, in this Super Bowl, I wouldn't mind so much mind if the Packers won. For one thing, I have a journalism friend in Ohio I met four years ago at a conference and who remains a Facebook friend who lives and dies with the Packers, and I can't help but hope his ongoing loyalty is rewarded.
But most of all, I want Aaron Rodgers to lead the Packers to a title (and more), which would tie him with the annoying Brett Favre in terms of Super Bowl wins with Green Bay. (And I cheered for the Packers when they, under Favre's direction, beat the pre-Tom Brady-Bill Belichick New England Patriots in the Super Bowl).
So, go Steelers. And Packers. I have little rooting interest in all sports as I age, I just hope for and enjoy good games. But both of these historically important 'name' teams have always had an impact on me in varioius ways.
So I guess I can't lose on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6.
*** Now, as for those 1970s Raiders. They were blown out various times by the Dolphins (27-10 in 1973 in the AFC title game) and Steelers in AFC championship games.
When they did beat the Dolphins or Steelers of that era, MASSIVE asterisks were in order in my view.
1974 NFL season: Two-time defending Super Bowl champion Dolphins, ripped apart by the signings of Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield by the new World Football League, STILL nearly beat the Raiders, who won an AFC divisional playoff game 28-26 over Miami on a last-minute desperation pass.
The Raiders were then thumped, at home, 24-13 by the Steelers, who were en route to their first Super Bowl title and granted Oakland 29 (!!!) yards rushing in the AFC championship game. Pittsburgh permitted the Minnesota Vikings 17 yards rushing on 21 carries in a 16-6 Super Bowl win. I watched these games. I saw it happen.
1976 NFL season: I also saw the best team, arguably, ever, lose to the lucky Raiders in the 1976 AFC championship game. That would be the 1976 Steelers, who started the year 1-4 (won-lost), lost quarterback Terry Bradshaw to injury and rode an amazing defence (five shutouts and just 28 points - yes, total - allowed over the last nine regular season games - to a 10-4 record only to see it all fall to the Raiders 24-7 in the AFC championship game when the Steelers had to play WITHOUT their two top running backs, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, who had been injured earlier in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 1976 season. Many of the members of the Steeler dynasty of the 1970s term this team, which DID NOT win the Super Bowl, as (arguably) the best Pittsburgh team ever. I saw this team. Injury-ravaged, the defence just TOOK OVER. Check out the results: 28 points allowed over the last nine regular season games. A blowout 40-14 playoff win during which key injuries occurred and benefited Oakland.
Arguably, the best team ever. Beyond argument: The best team that never won a league championship.
And the Raiders of that era (check out linebacker Phil Villapiano and/or defensive back George Atkinson on NFL network) continue to gloat/disparage reality - which is, they never beat a fully healthy Steelers dynasty team of the 1970s).
Injuries are part of the game, obviously. But the Raider also benefited that season - which they continue to brag about if you watch NFL Films/Network - from a terrible call in an earlier playoff game against the New England Patriots. Which is ironic, given that 20 years later the Raiders lost a playoff game to the Patriots and argue forevermore about the vagaries of the 'tuck' rule. What goes around, comes around as the saying goes.