For those of you that don't know, I was born and raised in Baltimore and have been a Ravens fan since they came here in 1996. I, like many others around me, am not happy that one of the Patriots or Steelers will be representing the AFC in Houston on February 5, 2017.
Generally, I have pretty confident feelings about who will win football games in the NFL, but this was a game that I truly couldn't process. Most games are two sets of 52 football players that I can view as just that: football players. I know the stats. I can appreciate the game situation. Sometimes expectations are easy to come by.
That's not the case here.
I've developed so much sentiment towards these two teams throughout my 24 years in Baltimore that I truly struggled to separate fact from opinion. I've experienced hatred (though that's probably a strong word choice), frustration, anger, and often times, fascination. I honestly think sometimes the emotion toward the Steelers and Patriots may be more intense than my emotion toward the purple and black.
Part of my job (term used loosely) here at Fantasy Fusion is to tell you who I think will win, and you can find that here.
Who I want to win is a completely different story.
The Ravens-Patriots "relationship" is almost a rivalry, and there's plenty of justification if you wanted to call it that.
It's no surprise that the Patriots are the least-liked team in the NFL, and for good reason. There have been more than enough scandals and accusations and deflated balls. Probably the biggest contributing factor to the widespread disdain for them is that they're very, very good. Tom Brady is incredible.
Aside from their talent, the Patriots occasionally try to win by finding loopholes in the rule book, and plenty would argue that they "get all the calls." There's really nothing wrong with that, but it's a surefire way to lose the respect of the league outside of New England.
Ravens-Steelers is the best rivalry in football, but the days of "hating" the Steelers can be found more in the past than the present. After the departures of guys like Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, and, to me at least, Ryan Clark, I think the rivalry has cooled off a little bit in terms of passion and outright desire to smash the other team into the ground. P.S. any Steelers fan can give their Ravens that contributed to that part of our history; I can't be unbiased here. They've all been dapper, upstanding, incredible young men.
The Steelers' new playmakers in Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have incredible skill sets to say the least, and they're generally likeable guys. It's becoming increasingly difficult to root against them.
On Sunday January 22, 2017 at 6:40 pm, my heart and the heart of Baltimore will be torn. Do we root for Tom Brady - the most polarizing player in the NFL who has broken our city so many times? Or do we support the Steelers - the team that has relentlessly buried us and been buried by us since our inception?
As much as it pains me to say this:
(choking back vomit)
Let's. Go. Steelers.