Grandma is endemic of so much of what Pittsburgh is. She is a tough lady. She's a busy-body. She tells stories, usually interrupting our conversation to do so. And she tells it like it is. But, she loves each and every one of us in her family. Fiercely.
Growing up, she refused to come see me play football, only baseball (that's her favorite sports and she watches the Buccos on TV whenever she can) because she didn't like, "seeing all of those boys hit into each other."
But, in her golden, hell, platinum years, she's taken to entering her assisted living center's weekly Steeler block pool. It's given us something to bond over. This week, I hoped to solicit her "picks" for the upcoming NFL Wild Card Weekend. Once I dangled the idea of going to lunch at Atria's out there, she quickly agreed. Hey, I figured we had my cat do it previously, so why not? Anyway, here's the first go 'round:
Grandma likes the Steelers, which is sort of surprising actually. She obviously expresses some doubt, but as I said, she used to have a real problem with tackle football. When I was younger, any mention of them and she would immediately say "Bah humbug! Football stinks! Let's Go Buccos!" I suppose this matches the overall sentiment of SteelerNation this week. With all of the injuries and nagging concerns I think most fans will simply be relieved by a win. While we are the better team in nearly every facet on paper...well...Grandma heard they might lose SOMEWHERE, right?
As you can hear, her pick of the Bengals is simple: she knows people in Cincinnati (my in-laws...don't worry, they're Steeler fans). With Andy Dalton's health being a surprise quesiton mark, it's no wonder she took her time to decide/swallow the cheese dip she was eating. This game is likely the most indeterminate of the weekend. If you're like me, pausing to decide who to root for (and ostensibly pull for as an opponent for next week) is a thought, but it has been restricted to a passing one at that. Cannot allow for the 'ole "Thinking Ahead" jinx. She's also a bit confused by the playoff format in the NFL. And I'm not sure I really did much to clear that up...
She goes with the Saints in a matter-of-fact fashion, as have most of the pundits and experts. I suppose that makes sense, especially considering the game is in New Orleans. But, it's worth noting that a healthy Lions defense could easily, yes easily, swing this game the other direction. But, Grandma isn't buying that "rubbish" - she knows the Saints have too many weapons to succumb to what amounts to a leveraged pass-rush. Ok, time for the final segment, a review of her picks and the final one, Falcons/Giants:
So, it's Giants. I actually deleted the story she told me about how her first ever plane ride was to NYC with some of her fellow cashiers from The Federal Reserve Bank she used to work with. They saw a show. It was "delightful"
I'll be back next week with more picks...