Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Tale of Two Cities

Part One:

I grew up watching football in the seventies and eighties. We would meet Sundays at the house of one of my relatives and a room crowded with people would exalt the greats of the gridiron with roars of delight or groans of disgust. As a young child the euphoric jubilee that escalated within me with each burst of cheer that filled the room and every smile that spread across ecstatic faces filled me with a genuine sense of familial comfort. It was a rite of passage many of us experience in this country.

Coming from San Diego, I obviously rooted enthusiastically for the Chargers and hated the Raiders but my favorite player was Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Swann and the Steelers went on to win four super bowls during the seventies, the last one coming in January 1980 following the 1979 season. That season also became the year that the San Diego Chargers began to elevate their game. With an offensive attack called “Air Coryell” they went to the playoffs four years in a row, falling just short of the big game during the 1980 and 1981 seasons. Unfortunately, Alex Spanos bought the team shortly after that and everything went to hell.

It's interesting that these were the two teams that I followed in my youth when I was a passionate spectator. My interest in football began to wane with the Chargers fall from grace. Rarely did the family meet anymore on Sundays, for obvious reasons (who truly wants to watch their team constantly lose?). I entered my teenage years and my interests changed in life, watching football rapidly fell on my priority list. Over the years, my interest peaked at times for various reasons (drinking and watching football is another rite of passage for most young adult males in this country) and dissipated for other more obvious reasons (met the woman of my dreams and spent all of my time with her). But now, I find myself in my mid-thirties and my football acumen has reached new heights. Also, it's an era when both the San Diego Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are once again among the elite in football.

The year is 2007 and I'm going to tell a tale of two cities, two franchises that find themselves at the top of their game but each heading in a new direction. The path is before them and the way is cloudy, the end cannot be seen. Only one will find its way through the darkness.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...



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