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Fly Eagles Fly…

Well, January is in the rearview mirror, and that’s a good thing. February is the shortest month of the year, which means March and spring will soon follow! I used to love the winter when I was younger. I couldn’t wait to sled ride and snowmobile in the newly fallen snow. We lived at the top of Kane Street back then, and it ran all the way up to 8th Avenue. What a sled ride that was from there down to Mountain Avenue. I don’t know if I’d do that today, and I’d be happy to set the outside thermometer at 70 and above year round.

February now also means the Super Bowl, which still sounds a little funny in a sentence. Back when I was crashing that Flexible Flyer into a snow bank, the Super Bowl would have been done and over by now. Today the Super Bowl is giving the Daytona 500 a run for its money timing-wise, along with that groundhog in Western Pennsylvania. That is one long season! With all the health concerns following the NFL — beginning with concussions, they don’t seem very concerned with the preseason beginning in early August and the Super Bowl taking place about six months later.

Also, back when I was running that sled down Kane Street, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the dynasty of the day. I like the sounds of that a whole lot better than the New England Patriots. You have to give owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and Quarterback Tom Brady a tip of the cap, or should I say helmet. What they’ve accomplished in today’s economically driven National Football League is amazing. For my money, Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever. Other than the QB position, the names seem to change on the back of the jerseys on a regular basis. However, the results on the field remain the same. That also holds true for Coach Belichick’s assistant coaches. They move on due to the success of the Patriots to head coaching jobs, and the next guy up seems to be better. Truly remarkable, especially in a game like football when injuries are always a possibility.

Back to those great Steeler teams. Their strength was a core group of players that stayed together for their entire career. Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Rocky Bleier. And, of course, on defense it was Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mel Blount — I could still list the whole starting lineup for you if you wanted me to. It was fun just writing those names. What a special time that was. Pittsburgh was the City of Champions.

The one thing I’ve always wanted to see, along with most in the Keystone State, is the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Philadelphia Eagles in a Super Bowl. It had a chance of happening this year until Carson Wentz, Eagles starting quarterback, and Steeler Ryan Shazier, their best defensive player, were lost for the season due to injury. At the time I remember telling anybody that would listen that Shazier was a bigger hit to the Steelers than Wentz was to the Eagles. I knew from watching the Steelers their defense was a little suspect without him. While I also knew the Eagles had Nick Foles in the bullpen. I guess I should also mention that whole Tom Brady/Bill Belichick thing the Steelers have to overcome in the AFC.

Well, the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, and Nick Foles had the highest quarterback rating in the history of the NFC playoffs. Pittsburgh gave up 45 to Jacksonville and didn’t even make it to the Patriots. I know everyone wanted to blame a couple of terrible fourth down calls on the Steeler loss — and they were terrible. However, when you score 42 points, you should win. They sure weren’t the Steel Curtain!

Maybe next year we’ll get that Steelers/Eagles matchup in the Super Bowl. This year I will be rooting for Philadelphia, my second favorite team and I’m overjoyed for bird fans everywhere! My son Jimmy is one. Hunter favors the Black and Gold like his father.

The best part of the Super Bowl Sunday is getting everybody together. That has been a Webb family tradition as long as I can remember. I hope it is that way in your home. It’s hard to believe they’re bringing Justin Timberlake back for halftime entertainment after that wardrobe malfunction with Janet Jackson.

As far as my prediction, you’ll have to read Steph’s column; she has it. But I’ll give you a little hint; I think the Eagles defense is amazing. Keep your eye on linebacker Nigel Bradham. He’s one of the best in the game for my money.

So enjoy the American tradition of Super Bowl Sunday and the party that accompanies it. Please don’t have too many Dilly Dillys, and safe travels if the party is not at your house.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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