View Full Version : Oh, we got by with a little help from our friends

01-24-2010, 07:47 AM
Oh, we got by with a little help from our friends
Mike Burke
Cumberland Times-News

I  received an impassioned communique that bordered on poetry from my friend Daggett last Saturday evening as the final moments of the Baltimore Ravens season ticked away:

“(Bleep) the Colts,” Daggett wrote. “They are an illegitimate invention of the NFL and deserve our scorn. I’m not over it. I had to go to school after Super Bowl III.”

Therein lies the quandary for the Baltimore football fan today when the Indianapolis Colts play the New York Jets for the AFC championship. Which one to root for? More to the heart, which one to root against, because both teams surely broke all of our hearts.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans who are inclined to feel their favorite football team is the most hated football team in Baltimore are wrong to feel that way. Today’s Colts-Jets game is to the Baltimore football fan what a Duke-North Carolina game is to the Maryland basketball fan. You never root for either team to win; you consider which team losing will be more advantageous to your own spiteful needs. But under no circumstance do you root for either one of them to win; if you do, you’re liable to get a rash.

The Steelers more likely are to the Baltimore football fan what the Georgetown Hoyas are to the Maryland basketball fan in that you’d rather walk three miles on broken glass in your bare feet than openly compliment either one; yet as it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers at least, a silent begrudging respect exists for all they have accomplished.

Used to be the Colts — the Baltimore Colts — owned the Steelers. Heck, everybody owned the Steelers. Not only were they the second-class citizens of the NFL but in the city of Pittsburgh as well. The Steelers stunk to high heaven in those days, but all of that changed, and when they began to beat the Baltimore Colts, they beat them like a drum — every time.

Now of course, that didn’t play over well in Baltimore, but what could you say? The Steelers had just become that good — that great, because the Bert Jones Colts were still pretty darn good themselves. Conversely, when the Johnny U. Colts were whipping the Steelers the way they were, Steelers fans didn’t argue about it. But of course, there weren’t too many Steelers fans to be found — even in Pittsburgh — before 1972.

So while the Ravens and the Steelers are heated division rivals, and while the days on which they play each other are never for the faint of heart, everybody in Baltimore would have to admit, if only to themselves, the Steelers are the standard by which all successes are measured — not only in the AFC North, but in the entire NFL.

As for the nightmare I am certain CBS will go out of its way to remind us of today, the idea of the Colts playing the Jets in a championship game brings nothing but anguish and pent-up anger for the Baltimore football fan.

Yes, we established last week, at least to ourselves, that while Baltimore has not forgotten, it has learned to cope with and move on from the Colts’ middle-of-the-night departure. Still, there’s no need to ever root for them no matter how many Oreos Peyton Manning moves in Baltimore.

As for the Jets, you just would have had to be here to understand how bad it was when the Colts lost to the Jets in Super Bowl III. My uncle Mort, for instance, was at the game in Miami and says to this day he has no idea why he didn’t jump off the top of the Orange Bowl.

Hijacking airplanes to Cuba was the rage in 1969, and when I worried out loud about the possibility of Mort’s plane being hijacked in Miami, my aunt Sue told me, “After that game, if Mort’s plane is hijacked and he’s on it, the hijacker is the one we should pray for.”

My parents had a Super Bowl party that day that ended up being about as much fun as a trip to the funeral home. You can ask Joe Wolfe if you don’t believe me. He was one of the mourners in attendance. Once Earl Morral couldn’t find Jimmy Orr and threw the interception to former Colt Johnny Sample (Oh, and right, nothing at all suspicious about that pass, or the whole game for that matter. Nah.), a pall was cast on the remainder of the day, and really, on the remainder of the Colts’ time in Baltimore, despite the Super Bowl win over Dallas two years later. For that play not to work as horribly as it didn’t work, every Baltimore Colts fan alive knew something had gone awry; perhaps not everything was on the up and up.

Then, of course, as Daggett pointed out, there was the little matter of having to go to school the next day, which was pure hell, because every classroom had a wiseguy in it who had adopted Joe Namath and the Jets just to torture us. To truly appreciate how bad it was, picture an episode of “The Wonder Years” that, from the outset, goes terribly wrong.

I’ve long said if there is such a thing as a perfect television show it is “The Wonder Years,” because the writers, producers, director and cast just nailed that era spot on. But as much as I love that show, I understand there is no such thing as a perfect anything, and the reason “The Wonder Years” wasn’t perfect should be, as none other than our president during “The Wonder Years” years would say, perfectly clear.

Kevin Arnold was a Jets fan.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Contact Mike Burke

Angus Burgher
01-25-2010, 04:14 PM
LOL, that was a great read.

Damn, I used to love The Wonder Years. Such a great show until Giovanni Ribisi showed up. Then it sucked.