The top two teams in American football will meet this Sunday at the Super Bowl in Detroit, Michigan. This year's contest pits the Seattle Seahawks against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and football fever has infected fans in both cities. Troy Oppie reports that Seattle fans can't wait for 'Super Sunday'? while Katherine Fink tells us it's impossible to walk around Pittsburgh these days without seeing something sporting the team colors, black and gold.
Lighted displays on Pittsburgh buses flash the words 'Go Steelers.' Banners hang from downtown light posts. What was once the city's Christmas tree is now the 'Steelers' Tree.' And everywhere you go, there is music. An accordion wheezes out the Pittsburgh Steelers Polka. There's also Here We Go, the Steelers' fight song? the Steelers Anthem. You'll hear them all at any Steelers rally. And there have been rallies almost every day this week downtown.
At a lunchtime rally outside a bank, Lori Harding shows off her Steelers earrings. If you want to be a true Pittsburgh Steelers fan, she says, you have to look the part. "I went against the work policies and wore Steelers clothes all week!" she admits.
She's not the only one with enough Steelers jerseys, hats, socks and other clothes to last all week. Some fans say they wear the same outfit every game-day to bring the team luck. But Karen Shrefler says there's some disagreement over whether it's okay to wash those clothes between games. "I didn't until the last game," she explains, "only because there was so much nacho cheese and other stuff on there. I had no choice but to wash my shirt."
Lots of Americans who live in football towns think their fans are the craziest ones. But Robin Smargle says there's really no comparison, pointing out "We don't have other teams' bars in Pittsburgh, but there's Steelers bars all over the country."
That's why Pittsburgh fans call themselves the 'Steeler Nation.' Many people who used to live here moved away after the steel industry collapsed in the 1970s. But enough of them retain their loyalty to the home team that pubs and restaurants catering to Steelers fans have popped up in other cities - and even other countries - to give them a place to watch the games each weekend. There are Steelers bars in Ireland, Iraq, and China. There are even a few in Seattle.
But come Super Sunday, it's going to be hard to find a pub without a crush of blue and green-clad Seahawk fans? and impossible to find a seat even if you manage to get inside.
At the King Street Bar and Grill, just across the street from where the Seahawks play, bartender Jeramiah White says every table is reserved and has been for days. "[It's] just a lot more business than we anticipated for a televised game, a lot more excitement than we've ever had before."
That excitement is because it's been 26 years since any major Seattle professional sports team captured a championship. According to Frank Yoshida, 26, to say the city is hungry for another one is an understatement. "We've waited so long for this, you know. We've got the team, and it's nice for things to go right. It's an entirely new and different feeling, it's incredible!
Yoshida was one of the 15,000 fans who arrived at the team's stadium as early as 5 a.m. Sunday to help send the Seahawks off to Detroit. That was about half the size of a similar rally in Pittsburgh, but Portland, Oregon native Tom Smith says they came from all across the northwest. He explains that's because the Seahawks are actually a regional team. "All the Portland people are into Seahawks, and they've always been, they feel like the Seahawks are their team."
Mick McHugh, who runs F-X McCrory's, the city's most popular sports bar, agrees, pointing out "They come from Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Eastern Washington? it's a wonderful, large demographic area that they come from."
He says most Seattleites seem to be waiting until Sunday's game before letting themselves believe it's really true ? The Seahawks in the Super Bowl still seems like it could be a desert mirage.
But if the Hawks do finish on top, he predicts a big celebration. "There's going to be so much joy," he laughs, "and there's not going to be many folks working on Monday, I'll tell you that!"