The most important thing that we all have to keep and mind when it comes to football and the Pittsburgh Steelers is that it is, first and foremost, and above all, an entertainment product. The only reason that football games are played and televised is because they are entertaining to an audience. They serve no broader function that justifies multimillion-dollar salaries.
There are, of course, other values within that, particularly for those who are a part of a group, but when people watch a football game, they do so because they want to be entertained for three hours, or to lose five years off of their life expectancy due to stress.
And it’s a beautiful thing when you can be a professional who is a part of that and still be able to appreciate it as it is unfolding. It doesn’t get much bigger in the regular season in an afternoon game than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ battle in Maryland for the AFC North lead against the Baltimore Ravens, and everyone in that game felt it.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked after the game if competing in such games is fun. “You better believe it”, he said. “It is an honor. It is a humbling experience. But man, this is what we signed up for”. “This is why we do what we do at this level”, he went on. “To be a coach, a player, a trainer, or anybody, you want to be in these stadiums. You want to have [Jim] Nantz and [Tony] Romo calling your game. You know you are in the right building. We’ve got respect for that, we appreciate it, and we are honored to be a part of it”.
It’s even better, of course, when you can go into those stadiums and leave them with a win. The Steelers have left every stadium they have played in with a win, even if that has only been four through seven games since they have played at Heinz Field four times already. But they have just scored big road wins in consecutive weeks to the Ravens and the Tennessee Titans.
And you know what? It’s been damn fun, albeit stressful, to watch. Yesterday’s game was great entertainment. The Steelers may not have functioned at a highly efficient level, but they sure fought like hell, and that was enough to win. And sometimes that’s more fun to watch.
They didn’t need an Immaculate Extension, but the game did come down to the final seconds, and only after the lead changed hands three times in the second half. This was a ‘by any means necessary’ game. And it made for great television.