Image via WikipediaLast night officially started the 2009 NFL season when the Tennessee Titans fell to my Steelers 13-10 in overtime. Some of you may already know that yours truly was among the 65,110 fans in attendance. It was a game I'm glad I was able to attend.
My hubby and I played it smart from the outset. Instead of paying an outrageous amount of money to park next to Heinz Field, we decided to park in the parking garage at Station Square and shuttle over to the stadium via the Gateway Clipper river fleet. Much less traffic headaches and about $10 total cheaper.
Before boarding the shuttle, we grabbed dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square. I LOVE the HRC because of all the memorabilia enshrined within its walls. The food is a little pricey, but definitely tasty. I snapped pictures of a schoolboy outfit worn by Angus Young, Kurt Cobain's guitar, and numerous other relics. My hubby never understood this quirk of mine, but I guess rock and roll makes some people do odd things.
We arrived at Heinz Field about half an hour before kickoff and quickly found our seats. May I just say that if I could've permanently stayed in that seat, I would've. We were 15 rows off the field behind the Steeler bench on approximately the 40-yard line nearest the Steeler end zone.
Those are the kind of seats that only come along once in a lifetime. Twice if you're extremely lucky.
As we sat waiting for opening festivities, I happened to notice about 10 people in Steeler jerseys standing along the sideline. The names on the jerseys sounded familiar, but, in going through my years of team rosters in my head, none really set off the lightbulb. Where had I heard those names? Oh well...just chill until the game is ready to start.
We sat and watched the Sony Jumbotron flash us images of past Steelers historical moments and stats. My mind kept wandering back to those 10 people. It started to border on obsession. You know...one of those moments where you think of something that you KNOW you have the answer to but just can't retrieve it from your memory bank. I hate when that happens because I usually can't focus until I remember.
Fans filed into their seats more and more as the minutes passed. Up and down...up and down...(we had seats at the end of the row). Okay. I see the military honor guard ready to take the field for the National Anthem. It's getting close. Then, the lightbulb lit up.
I happened to notice that all of the jerseys worn by the 10 sideline spectators sported the number 93. As in Flight 93. Family members of the brave men and women who were on that fateful flight had been invited to the game to honor their loved ones and all who died that day. Flash to a memory of watching the movie "Flight 93." The names were listed at the end of the movie. Obsession over.
I need to premise this next thought with this: I don't care for chick flicks. Give me a good thriller or action movie and I'm happy. I do, however, like the movie "Hope Floats" with Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr. Well, Harry the Hottie sang the National Anthem while the Flight 93 families stood on the field with our military. Zambelli fireworks exploded from the river, the top of the stadium, and the field as I cried numerous tears in what was a very moving moment for me.
The game itself was a hard-fought nail-biter that eventually went into overtime. During the halftime show, Rod Woodson, former Steeler defensive back, was presented with his ring as part of his induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Dan Rooney even flew in from Dublin to attend. When former Steeler Craig Wolfley announced him as "Mr. Ambassador," the crowd went wild...except for me. I have issues with that whole Dan Rooney/Obama lovefest. Nonetheless, it was nice to hear Woodson talk about his days in da 'burgh. He still loves the fans here.
The ride back to the car was chilly as there was a brisk breeze blowing across the river. Traffic wasn't as bad as we had anticipated when we left, and we made good time in getting back home. I haven't come dragging in at 2 a.m. for a loooong time, but it was well worth every second and every memory.
Thanks to The Emporer (my hubby's boss and cousin) for giving me and my hubby a night to remember. We won't forget our magical night...or the families in attendance.