It's nearly time for kickoff of the NFL's biggest game. And while your beloved Patriots won't be in it this year, that doesn't mean you won't be pulling for one team or the other this Sunday. But you might be conflicted about which team, the Pittsburgh Steelers or Arizona Cardinals, is more deserving of your support.
This Debate Friday,* Patriots Football Weekly's *Andy Hartand Erik Scalavinogo head-to-head (an unfair fight, however, as Andy's head is larger than Jupiter) to answer the following question:
As a Patriots fan, for whom should you be rooting in Super Bowl XLIII?
]()Andy Hart says the Steelers …**
As a fan of the greatest sport there is, I, like Bill Belichick, appreciate NFL greatness. This year's Cardinals, my friends, are about as far from greatness as any Super Bowl participant has ever been. History has shown us that the Steelers are one of the great franchises of all time. Dominance in the 1970s, a return to title contention in the mid-'90s and Super Bowl glory again in the 2000s. Some have been put off over the years by Pittsburgh's players and fans propensity at times for trash talking. But say what they will, the Steelers have always played the game in a way that any fan should be able to appreciate – defense, running game, physical play on both sides of the ball and a workman-like approach.
This year's Steel City team is no different. It's not always pretty but they get the job done. They play the game the way it's supposed to be played. I can't say the same about Arizona. Kurt Warner and Co. laid down in the snow and rolled over in the 47-7 loss at Gillette Stadium barley more than a month ago. They treated the final month of the season like an exhibition schedule. In my eyes they are a fraudulent team, right down to a fan base that struggled to sell out an initial home playoff game only to jump on the bandwagon with reckless abandon when the team hosted the NFC title game. Fraud players rooted on by fraud fans. I just can't root for that. If the Cardinals win on Sunday they'll be the worst Super Bowl winner of my lifetime. They'll render the entire 2008 season a disgrace. They'll be a permanent black mark on the record books. That's why I'll be pulling for Big Ben, James Harrison and the rest of the Steelers Sunday night.
]()Erik Scalavino says the Cardinals …**
Please. With no due respect to my juvenile colleague, do you, as a tried-and-true blue Patriots fan, really want to cheer for Pittsburgh this weekend? Of course, not! Think about it, if the Steelers win, they'll become the first team in NFL history with six Lombardi Trophies. The "greatest franchise ever" talk will be deafening. And Ben Roethlisberger, who, three years ago, summarily bumped Tom Brady from the record books by becoming the youngest starting QB to win the big game, will then have two Super Bowl rings – just one behind Brady. An already overrated player, Big Ben will suddenly start being mentioned in the same breath as No. 12. You know you're not going to want to hear even a minute of that rubbish.
Besides, you remember 2001, right? Super Bowl XXXVI was the game the Patriots had no chance of winning, according to the so-called experts. Kurt Warner and his Greatest Show on Turf were going to roll over the supposedly hapless Pats. Well, you know what happened. The story is very similar this year, only Warner has been transformed, going from villain (in Pats fans' eyes) to hero. He's now the over-the-hill underdog, and Roethlisberger is the young gun on whom an inordinate amount of undeserving praise is being heaped. It's good for the NFL when teams that have never won a championship finally do so, just like the Patriots did in '01 after decades of futility and disappointment. A win by Arizona would be an equally amazing story.
As a fan of the greatest sport there is, I, like Bill Belichick, always respect both the dog in the fight and the fight in the dog – or, in this case, the underdog. Go Cards.