Starkey: Pats-Ravens a no-win proposition
Haven't you suffered enough?
You saw scatter-armed Tim Tebow shred the Steelers' secondary (not even Lennay Kekua could have imagined it) to end one season. You saw the Cincinnati Bungles bust into your backyard and steal the patio furniture to end another.
Now you have to watch the two teams you despise most — the Ravens and Patriots — play a second consecutive AFC title game?
I feel terrible.
I'm here to help.
First, we're going to adjust the lens a little bit. Your abhorrence of both teams runs so deep that it might be hard to remember the origins. We'll explore that.
We'll also help you identify, through a reasoned analysis, which team you should root for. Or at least which you should root harder against.
Here goes …
• Why You Hate Them: Ray Lewis. John Harbaugh. … They own the Steelers lately. … They have a certain arrogance about them even though they haven't won anything in 12 years. … In some ways, they're the spitting image of the Steelers — and you know it's not just familiarity but similarity that breeds contempt.
• Why You Want Them to Lose: Your Joe Flacco jokes would still work. ... No more Lewis dances. ... You gain much pleasure in watching them lose, especially in tortuous fashion like last year. … The notion of an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl is too much to bear.
• Desperately Manufactured Reasons to Root for Them: Secondary coach Teryl Austin played at Pitt. So did Flacco, sort of. Harbaugh coached there (more on that below). … Your life won't be complete until Ryan (Steely) McBean wins a ring. … Defensive coordinator Dean Pees coached James Harrison at Kent State. … Dennis Dixon's on the practice squad. … Deep in your heart of hearts, you admire the Ravens' resolve.
Harbaugh was a graduate assistant on Mike Gottfried's 1987 Pitt staff that included John Fox, Sal Sunseri, Jack Harbaugh and 76-year-old Sid Gillman.
The younger Harbaugh's tasks included delivering Pitt's media guide to high schools. I asked him about that once. He smiled at the memory of getting lost every time he got into his car.
“I had a Datsun 210, I think it was, persimmon orange, all rusted out, about 15 years old with a clutch, going up and down those hills in Western PA in my coat and tie,” Harbaugh recalled. “You just can't find your way around. I mean, I can see it — I can see the school right there on that hill — and I have no idea how to get to there.”
A little more likeable, right?
New England Patriots
• Why You Hate Them: They cheated. Belichick. Brady.
The cheating thing will never go away. Members of the 2001 and '04 Steelers will always wonder if they were robbed in the AFC title games.
I asked Dick LeBeau about that once — about whether the Patriots would have gained an advantage by stealing the Steelers' signals.
“I don't see how it could hurt 'em,” LeBeau said.
• Why You Want Them to Lose: To deprive Belichick (who cheated, by the way) of a chance to join Chuck Noll atop the NFL coaching mountain with four Super Bowl wins. … To deprive Brady the chance to double Ben's two rings. … To deprive obnoxious Boston sports fans of another reason to celebrate.
• Desperately Manufactured Reasons to Root for Them: Rob Gronkowski played at Woodland Hills. ... Their owner has never made a public pronouncement that his quarterback needed to “tweak” his game … Special teams coach Scott O'Brien — whose unit wasn't fooled twice by fake punts this season — had the same job at Pitt from 1987-90. Oh, and he is married to the former Shawn Kinney, who earned her doctorate degree in psychology from Pitt. So there's that. … You have to respect their year-in, year-out excellence.
Hey, I tried.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 “The Fan.” His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.