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A crestfallen Steelers Nation returns to its normal routine

| Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011

Tim Donovan was so depressed about the Steelers' Super Bowl loss that he went to work yesterday.

Originally scheduled off, Donovan, 45, of Bon Air said he couldn't bear to stay home and listen to sports analysts repeat game highlights.

"It's not like I was laying on the floor in tears or anything," said Donovan, a videographer at West Penn Allegheny Health System. "I just knew if I was off today, I'd be sitting home watching ESPN and reliving the game."

A crestfallen Steelers Nation returned to work, schools and daily routines, trying to remain upbeat a day after the Green Bay Packers crushed dreams of a seventh Super Bowl title.

"I'm heartbroken. This is going to take some time to get over," Matt McVicker, 35, of Canonsburg said upon landing at Pittsburgh International Airport. McVicker went to the game in Arlington, Texas, as did Jim Spagnolo, 53, of Shaler.

"I'm definitely depressed," Spagnolo said.

Employers and schools across Western Pennsylvania reported people's spirits were down, but most showed up for work or classes.

"I haven't really noticed any change in mood, to be honest," said Wendy Zellner, a spokeswoman at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "I haven't seen anyone sobbing at their desks or anything. I think people enjoyed the game but were sad that the Steelers lost."

Attendance at North Hills Senior High School of 86 percent was below the norm of about 95 percent, said spokeswoman Tina Vojtko.

"It's probably about what I expected," Vojtko said. "We also have a number of students who came in late."

Staff at Highlands School District had an in-service day starting at 7:30 a.m., and most showed up on time, wearing Steelers gear as part of a fundraiser for an ill graduate, said district spokeswoman Misty Chybrzynski.

Dr. Kurt Ackerman, medical director of adult mood and anxiety services at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland, said people who identify with the Steelers will be the worst affected by the loss. The more loyal the fan, the more he or she will be down, he said.

"I think it's more grief than depression," he said. "What I expect for the great majority of people is that this is something that we'll see at its worst immediately after the game and perhaps for a day or two after, but it will soon get better as people start investing in other activities."

Fans returning from Texas said bad weather, difficulties getting around the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and problems at the stadium on game day compounded the pain.

Rita Polansky of North Strabane was among 1,200 fans affected by a seating foul-up. After waiting four hours in line to get in the stadium, she was directed to a media lounge, where she had to watch the game on a monitor.

"You can't believe my stress level right now," she said.

The Steelers arrived at the Findlay airport on a chartered Boeing 767 about 3:40 p.m. The hulking, 204-seat US Airways jet taxied to a hangar behind Atlantic Aviation with a Steelers flag and Terrible Towel flying out of a cockpit window.

There wasn't a throng of fans to greet them.

"Win or lose, we'd be here. They've done some great things," said Di Mance, 65, of Moon. She and her husband, Jim, were among three fans in a parking lot at the airport's cargo area who caught a glimpse of the Steelers through a fence as they got off the plane about 100 yards away.

Additional Information:

Mass call-off at jail

Eighty guards at the Allegheny County Jail -- about 21 percent of those scheduled to work -- called off Super Bowl Sunday, costing the county $24,141 in overtime to fill shifts, an official said.

'We're completely incensed about this,' county spokesman Kevin Evanto said. 'It's frustrating because it happens every time the Steelers go to the Super Bowl. We understand people are excited and want to watch the game, but people need to show up and do their jobs.'

Chuck Mandarino, president of Allegheny County Independent Prison Employees Union, declined to comment. Interim Warden Daniel Burns did not return a call.

Evanto said 85 guards called off for the Steelers' Super Bowl appearance in 2009 and 80 guards called off in 2006.

An audit released last month by County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty said sick-day abuse is one reason overtime costs doubled to $4.1 million in 2009. Call-offs during Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 cost the jail $23,031 in overtime pay, the audit found.

Evanto said guards must produce written medical excuses for missing work Sunday. Jail policy requires excuses on holidays and special occasions. Violators could be subject to discipline, he said.

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