From the stands: One Superbowl too many

Christian Fatoohi

For Superbowl XLIII I rooted for the Cardinals only because I opposed the Steelers.

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The Superbowl did not go in my favor. I wanted the Arizona Cardinals to win. They lost.

There was only one reason I wanted the Cardinals to win. It had nothing to do with any support for the Cardinals as a franchise, but rather my opposition to the Pittsburgh Steelers. My favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, was tied for the most Superbowl rings in the league with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys at five going into Superbowl XLIII. Of course I wanted the Niners to be the first to hit six. This was the primary reason I cheered for the Cardinals—actually my only reason.

I had a Superbowl party at my house and there were fans of both teams there, but none of them seemed as passionate about the game as me. Ironically, I wasn't even exactly supporting either team, but instead rooting against the Steelers. Although I had somewhat lost my voice from screaming days before at the MVHS vs. Lynbrook basketball game, it seemed to find its way back into my throat just for this. I was excited to see a good football game, and of course the anticipated commercials to go along with it.

It was a disappointing game from the very beginning. To add to this disappointment, I also had a friendly wager with a friend for lunch if the Cardinals won. The Steelers seemed to have complete control over the game early and this left me feeling hopeless for my team. I quietly sat in my seat praying that the game would at least be close and exciting. And that's what I got. Unfortunately that made it even more painful.

The Cardinals began to show some signs of life going into halftime as they were only down by three and threatening to take the lead in the Steelers red zone. Before the very last play of the half, my friend, a Steelers fan, jokingly suggested the Steelers would intercept the ball and run it all the way back for a touchdown.

And then it happened. Steelers linebacker James Harrison intercepted the ball in his own end zone. I was disappointed at first because this prevented the Cardinals from scoring, but I didn't think it would turn into anything. He started running it back and breaking through tackles, and then it hit me that it was actually possible that he would run it back and score. Every step he took made my heart sink further and further back into my chest, until finally he scored a touchdown with no time remaining in the half. My friend had correctly predicted it.

 

The game continued in favor of the Steelers until near the very end. I sensed a comeback and the Cardinals did just that.

They finally took their first lead of the game with a couple minutes left in the fourth and everyone in my house was screaming. Half in support of the touchdown, half in opposition. I don't think it helped my throat, but I screamed as loud as I could to cheer for the Cardinals. I then high-fived everyone in celebration, even to the Steelers fans to mock them. I texted some of my friends in excitement, but all these celebrations were premature.

What I feared most then happened. The Steelers came right back down the field and with hardly any time left, QB Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass to the corner of the end zone. I thought he had just thrown the ball away, but after the ball flew past several Cardinals defenders I saw a guy jump out of the corner of the screen. Unfortunately this was Santonio Holmes of the Steelers who leapt up out of nowhere in the corner of the end zone and made the catch. I was shocked by the play and was hoping he had stepped out of bounds or bobbled the ball or anything to reverse the call. I quickly moved to a foot from the TV, closely watching for anything that would make it an incomplete pass. After watching the replay multiple times, I realized he had made the catch and I just gave up.

I wasn't at all attached to the Cardinals. The only reason the results of this game had any meaning to me was because of the only team I support—the 49ers. I didn't want their rivals to surpass them in Superbowls, but that's exactly what happened.

The Cardinals lost. I lost my bet. But most importantly, the Niners now need two more rings to pass the Steelers.