With the field of NFL Superbowl contenders getting smaller each week, I am finding it harder and harder to keep rechoosing a team that I want to pick to win it all. Being a good Nashvillian, I started the year hoping that my Titans would defy the odds and make another run. That was evident early on to be an exercise in great futility.
But happily, the team of my father's hometown was making great strides this season and so I got behind the Cincinnati "No Longer Hapless" Bengals. Having rooted for them for years and years as they continued to be dismal, this seemed like a year for rewarding the ever faithful. It was a year that I spent remembering the Ben-Gals, the Ickey Shuffle, the two Superbowl appearances in the '80s (both losses), and most importantly, the games I attended at their Riverfront Stadium with my pop, hearing the popular chant, "Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey Think They Beat Them Bengals?!"
Well, this year, after a huge year of regular season success, the Steelers beat them Bengals in the first round of the playoffs. And with that, my two favorite teams were off of the board and I was left not really caring about the rest. But I love football and I can't be left out of the post-season not rooting for someone. Who was left? The Colts? If I can't be rooting for my Titans, then I don't want anyone in the AFC South to have success. I'm glad they lost last night. The Steelers? Well, I'm glad that they beat the Colts, but I've had too many years knowing them as a rival to both the Titans and the Bengals to wish them well.
Yesterday, still not sure who I wanted to win it all, I saw an interview with Jake Plummer (Do we still call him Jake the Snake?). And like the stereotypical girl from an earlier generation, I picked a team because I liked a guy's hair. It's true. Jake has let his thick, black locks grow out and has grown out a beard to match. I would make a Charles Manson comparison but it wouldn't be quite accurate. Close, but not quite.
What I thought of while watching Jake speak (watching but not listening, because I was listening to Springsteen's 1975 masterpiece, Born To Run at the time), was that he seemed to invoke the image of the mid '70s NFL quarterback. I half expect to see him finish a game, strut to the stadium parking lot where his El Camino awaits, pop in an 8-track of Foghat or The Doobie Brothers, burn rubber down the highway. Maybe it's just me.
And so I have picked my horse (or horses), and they are the Denver Broncos. I'm just not sure if anyone can beat the Steelers right now. But I'm hoping.