“You remember it well,” presumes the Seattle Times’ Jerry Brewer. “The sketchy pass-interference call on Darrell Jackson in the end zone? The iffy holding penalty on Sean Locklear? The inexplicable illegal-block call on Matt Hasselbeck when he was trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception?” Suffice to say the columnist and much of his readership can’t quite bring themselves to root for Pittsburgh today while the events of Super Bowl XL loom so large in their memories.
“I don’t think many fans ever will get over it,” said Mike Gastineau, a talk-show host on KJR-AM. “I used to say on the air, ‘You gotta get over it.’ I don’t say that anymore. After thinking about it, after remembering the preposterously bad calls, I think, ‘You know what? You don’t have to get over it.’ The bad calls were so egregious that fans have a right to still be ticked off.’ ”
Should Etric Pruitt really have been whistled for holding on Peter Warrick’s 34-yard punt return? Did Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger really get in the end zone late in the second quarter? The list of complaints goes on and on.
But in 2009, the rest of the sports world doesn’t care. National sports columnists mentioned the lousy officiating three years ago, but today, it won’t even come up as the Steelers try to make history.
Around here, they’re mockingly referred to as the Stealers. The sting persists.
Hasselbeck was asked about his rooting interests on the radio last week. It’s an interesting conundrum for those in a Seahawks-centric world. Do you go for Arizona, an NFC West rival? Or the Steelers, the recipients of a 21-10 victory that you consider a hosing?
“You cannot root for Darth Vader,” Hasselbeck said on KJR. “The Steelers are Darth Vader.”
The Seahawks are left to wonder when they’ll get so close to a championship again. As they’ve regressed the past three years, the lost opportunity has grown even more unbearable.
“The distance has only made you realize how precious a Super Bowl appearance is,” Gastineau said. “It might be another 40 years before they get back. For some people, they might never see the Seahawks in a Super Bowl again in their lifetime.”