Anybody who has already put the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in their rear view and moved on to other things has a certain privilege in that regard that is not shared by all. The deadly outburst was a shocking disruption to life as the Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburgh knew it, and a life-changing experience for many.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had to play just a short time after the game and were able to provide that necessary distraction for those at Heinz Field and all over the city with an easy victory over the Cleveland Browns. They took the show on the road yesterday to Baltimore, where their rivals showed them a level of respect that was appreciated by all who got a chance to see it, holding a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting before the game started, and the message, “Baltimore stands with Pittsburgh”.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked for his thoughts about that and reflected on his and every team’s role within their own cities. “We in this NFL community, this is a brotherhood, and we understand the roles that we play within our community and we embrace that”, he said.
“We want to be leaders within our community, and for this nation, and when we can entertain our fans on a Sunday and maybe forget some of the realities for a moment of the world, we embrace an opportunity to contribute in that way”, Tomlin continued. “We want to show respect for those that are hurting. We want to continue to entertain people. I appreciate that from the Ravens. Not that that was unexpected. They’re a class organization”.
The wounds that hit the Squirrel Hill community and the broader Pittsburgh area at large will take a long time to heal, certainly far beyond a couple of weeks of the football season. For those who knew the 11 lost, it will be for the rest of their lives, and that includes a former member of the Steelers family directly, who lost two family members.
“I thought it was a very class act by Baltimore with a moment of silence”, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after the game. “Just because we’re a week or whatever removed doesn’t mean the pain is any less for a lot of people. I said to the guys just like last week, ‘we gave Pittsburghers, people that are in pain, three hours not necessarily to forget but to take your mind off of it. And I’m glad we could do that with a win here in Baltimore”.
I should have said this last week, but I hope for peace of mind for any of you readers who may have been directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy. I know that football and the Steelers in particular are an at times all too necessary respite from the daily grind.