Colts vs Steelers Goes Deeper Than Football


The Colts and Steelers will face off in Pittsburgh this coming Sunday night. The match-up holds Playoff implications for both squads.

I decided to forgo writing my weekly fantasy piece for something a little more, well,  personal. This Colts and Steelers game has a lot more meaning for me compared to other games(yes even including the Patriots game).

As a warning, if you’re looking for a piece solely about football, you’ve maybe come to the wrong page. However, if you’re looking for a good story, mixed with a little football then you’re in the right place.

I grew up in a household that loved football, and that mainly came from my father. He had been a Steelers fan ever since Pittsburgh won their first Super Bowl in 1974. And yes before you call him a bandwagoner, I had already done it a million a times.

Regardless of if he was a bandwagoner or not, my father still stuck with the Steelers through thick and thin. He was there for the good times like the Terry Bradshaw era, which saw Pittsburgh win four Super Bowls. He was there when Ben Roethlisberger lead the Steelers to two Super Bowl wins in 2005 and 2008.

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He was also there in the bad times, like when Tommy Maddox suffered a concussion in 2003 and the Steelers ended up going 6-10. He may have been a bandwagon fan to begin with, but I have to credit to him sticking with them for so long.

I’ve stated in previous articles that I have been a Colts fan since I was in kindergarten, which would be since roughly 1999. I grew up in an area of the country that worships the Minnesota Vikings or Green Bay Packers, and I wanted to be different. So when my mother purchased a 20 dollar Peyton Manning jersey at K-Mart, I was more than reluctant to christen myself as a Colts fan.

This came to as a bit of a disappointment to my dad, who I’m sure was grooming me to join him in Steelers fandom one day. Regardless, my father accepted that fact, and a great rivalry ensued.

The two team do not face each other all that often, being as though they play in different divisions. However, the first real taste of me and my father’s rivalry came in 2006. It was the AFC Championship, and the Colts were poised for a Super Bowl birth, as they had gone 14-2 during the regular season.

That game is still crystal clear in my brain. I remember the Colts falling behind 21-3 in the third quarter. I remember my father talking some major smack about that. As the fourth quarter started, I thought all hope was lost, and I thought the Steelers(and my dad) had won. Leaving me defeated in the truest sense of the word.

However, the Colts were able to make a comeback in the fourth, as they brought the Steeler lead down to three. The Steelers were knocking on the door of another touchdown, which would have sealed the game. Then this happened:

Now, on the surface this looks like a huge play for the Colts. What we don’t realize is that if Roethlisberger doesn’t make that tackle, Nick Harper scores. Which would give the Colts the lead, and presumably the game, and Super Bowl birth. Well Big Ben made the tackled, which led to this:

That idiot missed, and I could say a whole lot more about what a waste Mike Vanderjagt is, but that’s not what I’m here for. Anyway, my dad never let me live this game down, ever, and he’d never let me forget Big Ben’s “shoestring tackle”. It was one of the most stinging losses I can remember, but it’s one of the clearest memories I have to this day.

Whenever the two teams weren’t playing each other me and my dad would cheer for the other. That is something that I think is quite rare, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Steelers, because of my dad.

The Colts and Steelers haven’t met in the Playoffs since, and since then the Steelers lead the series 2-1. One of those Colts losses came in 2011 when they went 2-14.

That 2011 game would be the last match-up I got to watch with my dad. As he succumbed to liver complications in January of 2014, just a few days after the Colts miraculous comeback victory against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last year’s game was the first without my dad, and it resulted in a Steelers rout of the Colts 51-34. I know that my dad would have had something to say about that blowout. I also know that he would have a whole lot of trash talk for me this week as well.

So as Sunday night looms large for both of these teams, it will be a bittersweet game for me, as it will be for the rest of my life. As usual, I’ll be wearing a Colts sweatshirt, but underneath I’ll be wearing my dad’s oldest Steelers shirt.

I just wanted to share personal connection to this game with you. It’s a reminder for me(and maybe you too), that football is more than just a game sometimes, and that is just extraordinary.

So thanks for reading, and go Colts!