February 2, 2005

Steelers Fans: Don't Blame Belichick, Blame Nike

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The past week and a half has been less than enjoyable for me — in between being frozen and going to class, I’ve spent my relative paucity of free time sulking, kicking my wall and cursing God. Watching the Pittsburgh Steelers fold faster than the Polish cavalry and get thoroughly throttled by the New England Patriots was one of the most painful experiences of my life, providing me with the effervescent pleasure of having my genitals crushed in a spiked vise. Now, if I wanted to act like a reasonable person, I could ascribe the horrific defeat to a basic lapse in fundamentals, citing the team’s multiple turnovers and obstinate refusal to tackle the Patriots. But this is the Steelers we’re talking about — the Iron City, Blitzburgh, the very epitome of badass. Teams like this don’t get blown out by pretty boy quarterbacks and monotone, monastic coaches. Just as New Englanders had claimed supernatural forces to be at work against their baseball team, I too am led to believe that Pittsburgh was dealt a raw metaphysical hand.

Roughly two hours before game time, I was watching ESPN when Pittsburgh’s stud quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appeared on the screen. Ben, clad in a skin-tight Nike shirt, was apparently panhandling the company’s latest product, NikeGear. Along with five other athletes, Ben dropped back to pass in an apocalyptic torture hall against Brian Urlacher when suddenly his head transformed into a bizarre, gladiatorial helmet with an axe blade on its crest. The tagline, “For Warriors,” flashed as the advertisement ended.

And I suddenly had an awful premonition of cataclysmic, soul-crushing doom sweep over me.

Now, to its credit, the Nike ad is highly creative. As far as sports product commercials go, it is by far the best one I’ve ever seen, and probably the only one that could have been directed by Luis Bu