This post is to Steeler fans, from a Steeler fan.
It is not a premature declaration of victory.
After the lessons "learned" following Superbowl XL, the fans of Steeler Country need to prepare for the fallout of a possible Superbowl XLIII victory.
I'm sure most Steeler fans think, "Who cares what Seattle fans and other folks who don't know the game think about the result of XL? We have the Lombardi. They don't."
While there's something to be said for that, we don't do ourselves any favors as a fan base by being classless. Steeler fans are probably the most hated in the football world, and that doesn't include our division rivals. We're probably a main reason that a lot of the Know-Nothings jumped on the "Seattle got robbed" bandwagon so readily.
We, as Steeler fans, really need to chill, root for our team, and not root against the other team.
All that said, here is a quick guide on how to handle the result of Superbowl XLIII:
IF PITTSBURGH WINS...
1) Talk about how impressive the Cardinals run to the Superbowl was, not how they "suck" because they couldn't beat a defense that has given up very little all year (or, possibly, an offense that has had to fight top defenses all season before facing a middle-of-the-road D in Arizona).
2) If it's a close game, regardless of whether the Know-Nothings say the refs gave it to Pittsburgh or "it's what the league wanted", comments more along the lines of "They gave us a run" or "They definitely deserved to be in the Superbowl" will carry more weight with the indifferent crowd.
But, if worse comes to worst, a comment like, "Champions overcome those penalties/bad (non)calls/etc" will suffice. In any event, if you're chatting on a message board, TRY NOT TO TYPE IN ALL CAPS! IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE YOU HAVE A SHOE-SIZED IQ. Especially if you don't punctuate.
3) Tying in with No. 2, the louder you get, the dumber you seem, and the fewer friends you're going to make. Football fans already dislike teams that are "too successful". Consider how much most fans wanted the Patriots to lose by the end of their run. Pittsburgh folks were cheering for a New York team last year, for crying out loud. An NFC team, to boot! And, most of the disdain for New England was already there before the videotaping allegations came to light.
4) Don't gloat. Better to smile and keep a level tone when challenged by a member of another fan base. They already know you have 6 Lombardi Trophies. You don't have to tell them. Let them feel worse on their own and keep your own blood pressure down. Besides, it's probably that neither you nor them had anything to do with the outcome.
IF ARIZONA WINS...
1) Do not whine. Even if the game ends like the "Nedney Dive" in Tennessee in January 2003, or the Cardinals appear to be psychic like the January 2005 Patriots, Do. Not. Whine. Consider how much Steeler fans dislike Seattle fans because they continue to remain cloaked in denial. And the more time that passes where they still bellyache, the more infantile it all seems.
I think we've done pretty well with losses as a fan base, honestly. I don't see much complaining about the Chargers win in January 1995, Denver's win in January 1998, the aforementioned Tennessee game, or either Patriots win. The most complaining I've seen is the occasional claim that Neil O'Donnell took a bribe to throw Superbowl XXX. That's ridiculous. A ring is priceless.
While some of us may have our suspicions, we realize we can't change the past. Whatever the case, especially considering the franchise will still have 5 Lombardi trophies, whining about losing out on a sixth, A) will change nothing, and B) will draw more disdain.
2) Credit their effort. "Warner was solid. He was never phased." Or, perhaps, "I didn't think Edgerrin could get it done against our D." In the course of conversation, it would be acceptable to say, "If only Ike hadn't dropped that interception", as long as it's followed up by a shrug as if to say, "but he didn't." The point: an approach more along the lines of "they wanted it more", will go a lot further than, "we didn't do enough."
3) Do not try to kick anyone's ass. It changes nothing, and it could result in a criminal record. Plus, it has the same effect as whining.
The Steelers are a model franchise. They have some weak links, like questionable drafting (our D-line and O-line are aging and incompetent, respectively, while we draft wide receivers), but I don't think any team has taken the Steelers lightly in a long time.
We should work to build our fan base, not alienate those who aren't on our side today. Respectful conduct will go along way toward that.
Whether the Steelers win or lose.