Super Sunday is finally here — the day that National Football League fans (along with aficionados of Lil' Smokies and all things junk food) anxiously await every year.
And this one should be well worth the wait.
In a matchup of old-school, tradition-rich franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers, with more Super Bowl championships (6) than any other team, tackle the Green Bay Packers, who swept the first two Super Bowl titles back in the '60s and then had to wait almost 30 years before finally winning another one — and their last one — in 1997.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Packers — who were only the No. 6 seed in the NFC when this season's NFL playoffs began — have been installed as a 21/2-point favorite over the Steelers, the AFC's second-seeded team which no doubt took great delight (as many of us did) in seeing the No. 1 seed, the New England Patriots, falter in second round of this year's playoffs.
It's true that, in some years past, this over-hyped game hasn't turned out to be nearly as good as that seven-layer dip that somebody's wife or girlfriend brought to the party.
But, by all indications, this year's duel should be a dandy, following in the footsteps of some other great games during the last decade like the Steelers-Cardinals classic (27-23 Pittsburgh) from two years ago, the Giants-Patriots stunner in 2008 (when New York knocked off previously undefeated New England 17-14), the Patriots-Panthers matchup (32-29 New England) in 2004 and the Patriots' last-gasp, 20-17 victory over the Rams in 2002.
Boy, it's really tough to pick between this year's teams. You know, kinda like choosing between Doritos and Fritos.
They both have an outstanding quarterback whose last name stars with an "R" — Rodgers and Roethlisberger — and they both have fierce defenses and several tremendous playmakers on both sides of the ball. It should make for an intense matchup.
I've been a Steelers fan for the last 40 years, but I originally became one for a somewhat goofy reason — their uniforms reminded me so much of those worn by my high school, Roy High, back in the day. Ah, yes, the good ol' Black 'n Gold.
Six Super Bowl titles later, it's awfully tough to pick against those rugged guys from Pittsburgh. Time after time, they've certainly shown they know how to win in the postseason.
And, back in the '60s when I was growing up (no, it wasn't the leather helmet era), I absolutely despised the Packers, mainly because they always seemed to win the NFL championship, often at the expense of my then-favorite team, the Baltimore (yes, Baltimore) Colts and their legendary quarterback, Johnny Unitas.
Back then, the Packers always had these terrific teams featuring future Hall of Fame players like Bart Starr (what a great name for a star quarterback), Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Willie Wood, Willie Davis, Herb Adderley and so many others.
And their fortunes were guided by this gap-toothed, bespectacled coach named Vince Lombardi. Heck, he won so much they wound up naming the Super Bowl championship trophy after him.
My dislike for the Packers and Coach Lombardi subsided over the years, especially when I grew up to be a gap-toothed, bespectacled guy myself.
And now — what's this? — I find myself actually pulling for the Packers to win today. Based on the way I hated that team forty-something years ago, it's sorta hard to believe.
But I've always been one to pull for the underdog. Or, in this case, root for the team that hasn't won a championship for awhile. And while I wouldn't bet my last Cheeto on it, I'll make a prediction:
Packers 24, Steelers 21.
And if I'm wrong? Well, it's not the first time, and it certainly won't be the last time.
So please be kind — and pass the clam dip.
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