Now that the Steelers are no longer playing, Steeler Nation is left watching other teams battle in the playoffs (am I the only one who finds himself thinking “we could have beaten that team?”).
In discussing the playoffs with fellow Steelers fans, an interesting topic has come up. I have had disagreements with several fans over which teams it is okay for Steelers fans to support in the playoffs.
I always assumed that Steeler Nation was pretty united about who our enemies are. But now I see that that is not true.
For example, I said on my Facebook page that I was happy to see the Colts destroying the hated Baltimore Ravens in this past weekend’s playoff game. But to my surprise, quite a few fans came back at me and told me that they hated the Colts more than the Ravens.
Personally, I was shocked by this. How could any Steelers fan hate any team more than they hate the Ravens? Steelers and Ravens are like Superman and Lex Luthor, or Spiderman and the Green Goblin, or Casey Hampton and Nutrisystem; they’re natural enemies.
Not only did I think that it was inappropriate to hate any team more than the Ratbirds, I also questioned whether the Colts are even a natural enemy to the Steelers.
So I started assembling a list of the teams that I believe are natural rivals to our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
Firstly, I believe that all of the other teams in the AFC North are our natural enemies. Thus, the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns have to be on the list of the Steelers’ natural rivals. Among these division opponents, I believe that the Ravens have earned a spot at the top of the hate list.
The Ravens are brash and arrogant. They have historically had a very strong defense, just like the Steelers, so there is a natural rivalry each season to see which team has the best defense. The two teams play one another twice each season (sometimes more). Moreover, over the past decade (with a few notable exceptions), it has always been the Steelers and Ravens who have fought for AFC North supremacy. I’m not sure if there is any rivalry in football that is as physical as Steelers versus Ravens. When you add in the fact that the Ravens actually put out a bounty on Hines Ward, I don’t think that there is any question that the Baltimore Ravens are enemy #1.
After the AFC North opponents, I think most Steelers fans will agree that the New England Patriots are a natural enemy of the Steelers. The Steelers and Patriots may not be in the same division, but they have had some classic battles in the playoffs. Too often, it was the Patriots who knocked the Steelers out of the AFC Championship picture. Twice they did it right in our own stadium. Belichick’s cheatin’ ways probably cost the Steelers a Super Bowl trophy.
In truth, the Patriots may rank higher on the “hate list” than the Bengals or Browns. Personally, I rank them at #2 behind the Ravens. After all, which team prevented the Steelers from being the team of the decade? And they didn’t even do it fair and square. I hate them!
Next on the hate list is the Dallas Cowboys. Like the Patriots, I rank the Cowboys higher on my hate list than either the Bengals or Browns. The Cowboys are like the anti-Steelers. They are glitzy and glamorous while the Steelers are blue collar and down to Earth. The Cowboys have the title of “America’s team”, even though everyone knows that the Steelers are really America’s team.
No two teams have met more often in the Super Bowl than the Steelers and Cowboys. The Steelers have won twice, while the Cowboys won once. Of course the Steelers would have actually won all 3 times if it hadn’t been for a certain former quarterback whose name shall not be mentioned. His untimely interceptions cost the Steelers yet another Lombardi Trophy.
The historic nature of the Steelers-Cowboys rivalry puts them high on my hate list, even though we don’t play them very often. Moreover, the Cowboys are the team that is most likely to match the Steelers’ total of 6 Super Bowl championship. More than anything else, that is reason for Steeler Nation to want the Cowboys to lose every game they play. We all want the Steeler to stand alone in their number of Super Bowl championships for a very long time. Frankly, I hope the Cowboys will still be stuck at 5 Lombardi Trophies in the year 4078.
Upon further review, maybe I hate the Cowboys more than I hate the Patriots. They’re at least tied. Maybe one is 2A and the other is 2B. Regardless, I hate them both.
Some would argue that the Raiders are a natural enemy of the Steelers. I tend to disagree. There was a time when this was clearly true. But Ken Stabler, Dave Casper, Otis Sistrunk, Art Shell, Ray Guy and Fred Biletnikoff are a distant memory. The Raiders have been so bad for so long that it’s hard to hate them. In fact, it’s hard to do anything but pity the poor Raiders fans who have had to deal with Al Davis for all of these years.
Several fans argued that the Colts are also a natural rival for the Steelers. I just don’t see it. We don’t play the Colts very often. We haven’t had many games of historic proportions against them (like Super Bowls or AFC Championship games). They’re not in our division. I just can’t count them as a natural rival. That doesn’t mean that you can’t hate them. You can hate any team you like. But I don’t think the majority of Steeler Nation feels that the Colts are in the same category as the teams that I listed above.
Some have even argued that the reason we should all hate the Colts is that they intentionally lost their last regular season game and prevented the Steelers from making the playoffs. Well if you use that logic, then do you hate the team that lost to the Jets in week 3? How about the team that lost to them in week 7? They each had as much to do with the Jets making the playoffs as the Colts did.
In my opinion, the only team that is responsible for the Steelers not making the playoffs is the Steelers. If they had won just one of the gimme games against the Chiefs, Raiders, or Browns, they’d be in the playoffs. So casting blame elsewhere is unfounded. So in my opinion, the Colts do not qualify as a natural rival to the Steelers.
So now that all of the natural enemies are officially out of the playoffs, the remaining teams are neutral territory for Steeler Nation. Feel free to pull for any team that you like. Besides, no matter which team wins, we all know that the Steelers probably could have beaten them.
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