ROAD TRIP TO PITTSBURGH – Day Four – Pittsburgh Steelers 38 San Diego Chargers 28

Waking up at a reasonable hour for a change – this is the day we’re going to get breakfast! A real breakfast too – not some odd German dish that happens to include an egg.Checking the local listings, seems the 1PM Giants-Chiefs game is going to be shown locally on FOX, since the Steelers are playing the national night game – seems to be a score. We’ve asked the local bars if they’ll be showing out of town games, just so we know where to go to see the Giants game, but for some reason, none of them knew the answer to that question. No matter, if we’re going to be in Pittsburgh on a Sunday wearing New York Giants jerseys, better if we can stay in the relative safety of our hotel bar. A fact driven home when we headed into the restaurant for breakfast wearing the aforementioned Giants jerseys. Everyone, and I mean everyone in the place was wearing Steeler jerseys or logo attire. No Tiki Barber or Bob Costas to help us there. Normally we enjoy the feeling of a roomful of eyes upon us, this was just uncomfortable. Fortunately, some California dude showed up in a Chargers jersey and everyone immediately forgot about us.It was nice to have an actual breakfast for a change. You know they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Again, I ask – who the fuck “they” are?A quick walk, a check of e-mail and we head to the lobby bar to catch the Giants game. Oops, no Giants game on the local FOX channel. Wrong Manning – they were showing the Colts game. Now what? We decided to finish our Fat Gary Brown Ales and get our shit together to walk across the bridge to find the game at one of the sports bars near PNC Park.Our plan was to head to Heinz Field as soon as the Giants game was over – to see if we could scam some free beer from Steelers tailgaters in the parking lots. So we put on some black and gold – grab the game tickets and our jackets and head over the river. Soho is a very nice bar-restaurant across from Mullens where we hung out for awhile on Saturday. The Giants game was being shown on a corner TV – and we got two perfect seats at the bar. Being we’re in Pittsburgh – the game on the huge TV’s and pumped through the sound system is the Browns-Bengals, so we have to watch the Giants with no sound. It was all cool though, we had beer, wings, good seats – plus the Giants crushed the Chiefs – so it was a great start to the day.We set out of Soho and headed over to Heinz Field. Four hours prior to kickoff and the parking lot is packed with tailgaters, and Jerome Bettis’ Steakhouse has a long line for the beer cooler. This is going to be fun! But wait. After we purchase two terrible towels, Chrissy informs me that she needs the necessary room. Well, it’s too early to go into the stadium…so now what? I suggest we just keep walking, we haven’t seen any facilities prior to our arrival at the terrible towel booth so since we know that there’s none where we’ve been, might as well journey to where we haven’t been.

Bonehead move on my part.

We still had to circle three quarters of the stadium, all of which, much like the first quarter we’d already seen, did not feature a relaxation area for a tired bladder.

We had walked almost completely around, when I sensed the unmistakable glare of an angry black woman suddenly grip me in it’s claws. I’d neglected to listen to my wife’s earlier suggestion to double back a block or so and visit the fine restrooms at Jerome Bettis’ Steakhouse. So now we’ve encircled Heinz Field and essentially where we had started out ten minutes earlier, and all we had to do was shimmy over to Jerome’s joint.

I can assure you, if she had an extra shoe she would have smacked me in the head at this point. Again, I wonder, why do black woman always throw shoes? Seething, she eventually makes a successful visit to the powder room at the steakhouse which was by now packed tighter than Kathleen Turners bloomers. Thank goodness.

Somehow we manage to wade through the crowd and grab a couple of beers, then head back to the Stadium. Having fancy club level seats, we get to enter through Gate B earlier to check out the Steelers Hall of Fame. Very nice, all of their six Super Bowl trophies are displayed. Soon, the gates are open to everyone, and we can head up to our seats on the club level.

Word of advice – if you’re going to see a football game at Heinz Field, see it from Club Level. Huge concourse for a limited amount of fans, nice leather couches in the lobby area, as well as plenty of table seating to enjoy your pulled pork sandwiches and cheeseburgers. We’re at about the goal line on the visitors side, we’ve got aisle seats in the first row of the second section. In other words, almost perfect.

Our section is of course filled with Steeler fans – except for one rather obnoxious prick and his girlfriend wearing Charger jerseys. Don’t get me wrong – I like the Chargers and I like the Steelers, but we’re in the Steelers home – so we wore black and gold and cheered for the home team. It’s not like they’re playing the Giants for crying out loud. Even if they were – I’d like to think we’d at least be respectful to the home fans, not start shouting and goading them on like an asshole. Then again, I have been known to regress rather quickly into full blown asshole mode, so it’s probably not a lock.

The Steelers marched down the field on their first drive and scored quickly. Then a touchdown on their second possession made it a fast 14-0 lead. Happy Steeler fans with the lead and nothing much for the big mouthed Charger fan to trash talk about probably helped him avoid getting beer dumped on his head. We waved our terrible towelsat appropriate times, although it must be stated that there is a definite skill to twirling the dishrags properly. It’s difficult to do without having them wrap around your wrist, oftentimes we simply flapped them up and down like a couple of spastic pinheads.

The Steelers led comfortably 21-0 at halftime, and since we were both pretty cold from the wind coming in off the river – we went inside to get some coffee. Yes, coffee, at a football game – damn we’re getting old. At least on the club level we had opportunity to spend the time inside in an enclosed warm area – so that was nice, and all the lines moved pretty fast.

The lead was increased to 28-7 by the close of the third quarter – and Mewelde Moore’s 4th quarter – halfback option touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller looked to put the game out of reach, but San Diego suddenly cam storming back with 21 fourth quarter points. A surprising amount of Steeler fans headed out early – no doubt many had to get up for work the next day (unlike us!) but before you knew it, the score was 35-28 and the Chargers were trying an onside kick – making for a vast sense of nervousness to permeate the stadium. Even the dickhead in the Chargers jersey began flapping his pie hole once again. Fortunately for Steeler nation, they recovered the kick and Ben Roethlisberger led them downfield where they kicked a late field goal to put the game out of reach.  

One side note, we did not find a single Roethlis-Burger on any menu we looked at during our visit. Really sort of expected to find that pretty much everywhere. Lots of chopped ham and strudel however.

The game concluded with the Steelers winning 38-28, the 14th straight loss for the Chargers in Pittsburgh. Walking back to the hotel over the 6th street bridge, we encountered a local musician playing 1970’s sitcom themes on a saxophone for tips. Oh sure, we’re big Vic Tayback fans here, so hearing an acoustic saxophone version of “There’s a New Girl in Town” is always great – but thinking about our recent brush with death in the back seat of Crazy Ray’s cab, the sax players version of “Taxi” seemed to be the perfect close to our visit to the Golden Triangle in the Steel City.

On Monday we traveled home – nothing much happened – but at a the Grover Cleveland rest stop, we pulled up next to a big red pickup truck. I’m not sure, but I could have sworn the guy riding shotgun was Bob Costas.

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