Sunday, February 5, 2006

Mike Holmgren, 1-2 in Super Bowls

There are basically two ways a Packer fan can react to the fact that Mike Holmgren took the Seahawks to the Super Bowl this year. Some Packer fans I know take a generous attitude, and wish him well. They say, Mike Holmgren was a great coach for the Packers. He left Green Bay for his own reasons, and while many of them would have preferred it if he stayed, they harbor no ill will toward him. Therefore, these fans were happy for Holmgren to take the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, and they were rooting for the Seahawks today. They were also rooting for Holmgren to become the first head coach ever to win the Super Bowl with two different teams.

Then there are those with a more vindictive point of view. They too believe that Holmgren was a great coach for the Packers, but they can never forgive him for abandoning the Packers at a time when they had much more talent than they do right now, which led (at least arguably) to some wasted years and wasted chances for the Packers. While the more generous fan might say that Holmgren left so that he could satisfy his desire to try his hand at running the whole show, the more vindictive fan would say that he left the Packers to fuel his personal ego and ambition, at the expense of the team he had built with Ron Wolf.

Me? I am a vindictive SoB. I had no mixed feelings about rooting for the Steelers today. Oh, I like Matt Hasselbeck as a player, and he has improved to the point where he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league. And I am a fan of Shaun Alexander, and think he is a real star. But everything else had me pulling for the Steelers. The Steelers are an old-time NFL team with a long and glorious history, even though they were switched to the AFC at the time of the NFL-AFL merger. Pittsburgh, like Cleveland and Green Bay, represent (at least in my mind) the "regular Joes" of football fans, people who care about the tradition and history of the game. People who show up in good weather and bad. Seattle, like San Francisco and Los Angeles (when they had a team) have fans that (again, to me) are closer to the "fair weather fan" mentality. Certainly in San Francisco this is true.

The 49ers didn't even sell out their stadium when we moved to the San Francisco area in 1980. And most 49er fans seem to think that the NFL must have been founded around 1981, when the 49ers started winning.

Plus, the Steelers had a coach who was hired at the same time as the Packers hired Mike Holmgren, but who had the loyalty to stick with his team even in years when they were not at the top of the league, and who was not driven by personal ambition in the same way Mike Holmgren was. So, without any hesitation, I salute the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight, and offer congratulations to Bill Cowher, Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, Willie Parker, and the rest of the Steelers.