During an email conversation with my brother last week, I mentioned that I was going to call our mom later that day. I told him that I felt bad that I hadn’t wished her a Merry Christmas on Christmas, but that the one-hour time difference and the fact that the Steelers needed every second but four of their Christmas day game to beat The Ravens, kept me from calling. I mentioned that I didn’t want to call her during the game, lest that count as letting her watch, albeit vicariously through the connection.
He put me at ease by saying:
“I didn’t talk to her during the game and she was in the living room watching a movie.”
The well-accepted understanding is that if my mom watches the Steelers play, the Steelers lose. I’m guessing that this notion originated with my father, who was famous for having us move to the “defensive end of the couch” when necessary. I’ve tried to explain to my wife that we’re not superstitious, but that there are some coincidental patterns that aren’t to be trifled with. I don’t move around on the couch, but I don’t mess with the mom-curse.
Once, while I was visiting my brother, the Steelers were playing in the Sunday Night Football game. Mom understood that that meant an early dinner and that we would be dropping her at her apartment by 8:30.
It’s not just family thing, members of the general public are on board with this. Several years ago, while Faith and I were in Pittsburgh, we went to church with my mom. Hers is a small Methodist church that offers a somewhat “interactive” service. When we got to the “what have you got to praise” portion of the service, my mother stood up and praised the fact that her son and granddaughter were visiting. The preacher welcomed us and asked what brought us to Pittsburgh. When I mentioned that we were going to the Sunday Night Football game, he interrupted and said: “you’re not taking her with you, are you?”
The congregation breathed a collective sigh of relief when I assured them that we were not. It was only a pre-season game, but after the service ended, one man suggested that actually taking her to the stadium would likely affect the entire season.
Note: There’s a photo in the gallery of Rocky Bleier (number 20) presenting a medal to a Viet Nam Veteran. We attended the game on NFL’s Veterans Recognition Weekend. Rocky was severely wounded in Viet Nam, and was initially told he would never play football again. Art Rooney wanted him back with the Steelers. He spent a year on the injured reserved list, and he was waived a couple of times, but he made it back to the starting lineup. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1976 and he earned four Super Bowl rings before retiring from football. Perhaps a little known fact, he was born and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin. I remember reading about Appleton a couple of times. I wonder if Rocky ever went to Octoberfest?