The Dallas Super Bowl gets its villain: Hello Steelers and Big Lout
Every good drama needs a worthy villain and Super Bowl XLV certainly received one when Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers came barging through Jerry Jones' fancy door.
If there's anything worse for Dallas fans than seeing the Cowboys eliminated from contention for the Super Bowl in its stadium in about October, it's realizing that the hated Steelers will be there now. And Pittsburgh won't just be there (having tied Dallas for the most Super Bowl appearances ever at eight with their 24-19 AFC Championship win over the New York Jets Sunday). Big Ben and company will be gunning to just about erase any notion that the Cowboys remain the NFL's signature franchise.
So much for the idea of a neutral field.
Sure, it's not like the Green Bay Packers are loved in Big D either, but at least they're not the Steelers. At least, they're not trying to add to their already record total and collect a seventh Lombardi Trophy, which would pretty much obliterate the Cowboys chances of ever catching up (Dallas has been stuck on five titles since 1995, back when E.R. was the most dominant TV show in the land and Alanis Morissette ruled the pop charts — and now the Boys are stuck with Jason Garrett as coach).
By winning its third Super Bowl in six years (including the one the referees gifted Bill Cowher against the Seattle Seahawks in 2006), Pittsburgh would all but stomp out the imprint of "America's Team."
How could any Dallas fan of sound mind (or not) root for the Steelers on Feb. 6? Even those who weren't alive for it should at least be aware of the absolute hatred that existed between these two franchises in the 1970s, producing two unforgettable Super Bowl matchups, including the game most often called The Greatest Super Bowl of all time and Jack Lambert leveling taunting Cowboys defensive back Cliff Harris in another nailbiter.
Sure, Cowboys-Packers fight dates back to The Ice Bowl, but Mike Tomlin is a much more real threat than Bart Starr these days. The Packers were more like Jimmy Johnson's little brother in the 1990s, an interesting foil that was easy to topple when push came to shove (Brett Favre needed to switch teams to finally beat Dallas in a playoff game). It may not be easy for a Cowboys fan to yell for Green Bay, but it beats the alternative.
If you care about the Cowboys, you cannot cheer for Pittsburgh first. Which would give everyone else in America at least one good reason to pull for the Steelers. If only Ben Roethlisberger wasn't on the team. Because the idea of Roethlisberger — who's been accused of two sexual assaults since his last Super Bowl (which was only in 2009), including a particularly stomach-sickening incident in Georgia this summer — claiming trophy redemption cannot sit well with any thinking fan.
Almost every neutral fan in Jerry Jones' World — otherwise known as the most talked-about stadium of all time — a week from this Sunday has to be pulling for the Packers. It figures to make for one interesting dynamic in Arlington.
Luckily for the Steelers, they have almost as many blind bandwagon backers as the Cowboys do. Still, "homefield" advantage in the big game ... it's Packers all the way.