It's been nearly a week since the Steelers lost in the Super Bowl, and you might say it's just a game, but I'm not quite ready to give up on finding out precisely where to lay some serious blame.
On Feb. 4, we of Steeler Nation were full of optimism. With tickets purchased from StubHub for $3,500 apiece for upper level seats on the 40-yard line, my wife and I were on a flight to Dallas.
I admit I was nervous about the game from the time I knew we would be facing the Packers. But knowing our Super Bowl XLV Terrible Towels were safely packed in our suitcases, I felt empowered .
When you tell people you are going to the Super Bowl, they convey their "good lucks," tell you to "bring home a winner," instruct you to "cheer loudly for me" and then, finally, "go Steelers!" So going there to witness the game firsthand, you feel a certain responsibility to produce. Now it's personal.
We arrived in Dallas to five inches of snow and slick road conditions. Dallas has neither snow plows nor salt to treat the roads, and from the friends we stayed with we learned that no one owns a snow shovel.
We were soon to learn that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gets blamed for just about everything that goes wrong in Dallas, so why not blame him for that once-in-50-years freak snowstorm?
On game day we got to the security check point three hours ahead of kick-off. That's when they told my wife she couldn't bring in her umbrella (rain was forecasted) or her binoculars case. In the process of stashing them under a tree near the entrance, her lucky Steeler hat with black and yellow spikes vanished.
My wife hung her head and said if we lost the game it was going to be all her fault.
The loss of the lucky hat was just the start of more losses.
Christina Aguilera lost her place in the fourth line of the Star Spangled Banner. The Steelers lost the coin toss. My wife got lost on the way back to her seat after going to the restroom.
Around this time 1,200 displaced fans were yelling their displeasure at Jerry Jones for stranding them without seats because temporary stands had not been completed (even though it was the NFL's responsibility).
The Steelers held their own for a while, but with 3:46 to go in the first quarter my Terrible Towel stopped working. Talk about a wardrobe malfunction. I was waving my towel furiously, so how did Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for a 29-yard pass and Green Bay's first TD? Adding insult to injury, Howard Green then penetrated far enough to disrupt Big Ben's throw to Mike Wallace.
Had my official Myron Cope Terrible Towels lost their super powers?
I began to think that maybe I shouldn't have washed them after the victories in Detroit and Tampa.
Now, with the black and gold down 14 to zip, Steeler fans went numb.
And the gigantic video screen wasn't helping matters.
As first time visitors to JerryWorld, as Dallasites call it, we had never seen a screen that size. Almost five times the size of ours at Heinz field, the $40 million high-definition monitor is the world's largest and could lull you into forgetting to scream when the Packers had the ball. Bombarding spectators with replays and flashbacks and shots of celebs in Jerry Jones' private box, it was mesmerizing.
As were the margaritas. I couldn't believe my good fortune when I discovered they were serving margaritas, my refreshing beverage of choice. Even at $19 (served in a plastic Super Bowl XLV commemorative cup, mind you) they were worth it. It was the Super Bowl for heaven's sake!
So by halftime I'm semi-deaf from the video screen, anesthetized with margaritas and asking the young couple in front of me how to crack the glow stick I'm going to wave during the performance by The Black Eyed Peas.
Just before the second half began, a fellow Steelers fan passed me on the aisle and said calmly, "Keep the faith."
He was right. I gained newfound energy. So every time the Packers huddle broke, we yelled as loudly as we could.
But in the process of spending $1.2 billion on a monument to himself, Jerry Jones had erected a building that was just too immense for crowd noise to have much impact. From our seats, the 6-foot-tall players were a mere quarter-inch tall, so how was our yelling and carrying on going to bother Aaron Rodgers' play-calling?
Try as we might, though, in the end the seconds ticked down to a shocking reality.
I know we let everyone down back home by not bringing home a winner. And we apologize for that.
Still, one has to wonder, "What if?"
What if my wife hadn't lost her lucky hat?
What if Mendenhall hadn't fumbled?
What if Suisham hadn't missed that 52-yarder?
What if I hadn't washed my Terrible Towels after their previous Super Bowl victories?
What if Jerry Jones hadn't been born?