MOTOR CITY QUICKLY TURNS TO STEEL CITY

Not to rush things, but we’ve already picked our team.

In fact, less than five minutes after the Super Bowl foes were determined, Detroit had its mind made up.

We’re going with Pittsburgh,

We like Pittsburgh.

We are Pittsburgh.

“Who do you think is gonna win?” fans here ask me.

“Pittsburgh,” I say.

“YES!” they say.

That is not a normal reaction for the Motor City, which, last time I looked, was not located in Pennsylvania.

But the Steelers are clearly Detroit’s choice, and if you pushed me to give you one good reason, I’d hem and I’d haw, then I’d give you 100.

The first 50 are Jerome Bettis. He is from Detroit. He went to school in Detroit. His parents live in Detroit. He eats. He smiles. He knocks people over.

He’s as close as we get to a Lion in the Super Bowl. Besides, Bettis cemented his favorite son status on the sidelines Sunday, when he screamed, “We’re going home!” We are not used to people being that excited about a trip to Detroit. Usually, it’s, “Aw, do we have to?”

We like Jerome Bettis.

We are Jerome Bettis.

But there’s more.

We’re for facial hair and a prominent chin

Ben Roethlisberger is our kind of quarterback. He grew up in the Midwest, he played in the MAC, and he looks like a hockey enforcer. He’s big, the way we grow ’em around here, and he’s shaggy, the way we like ’em around here.

Ben’s beard? We like Ben’s beard. Remember unshaven Kirk Gibson during the 1984 World Series? Remember the bearded Red Wings when they finally won the Stanley Cup?

We like Ben’s beard.

We are Ben’s beard.

Then there’s Bill Cowher. Are you kidding me? He’s the football coach this town has been coveting for the last 30 years. We want them tough. We want them angry. We want Bill Cowher, but we keep getting Marty Mornhinweg, which makes us want Bill Cowher even more.

No offense, but if kidnapping were legal, we’d lock Cowher in Ford Field and force him to coach the Lions this year.

Then there’s the city.

Pittsburgh is a blue-collar town. Detroit is a blue collar-town. Pittsburgh is a union town. Detroit is a union town. Pittsburgh makes steel. Detroit makes cars that are made of steel.

They’re on three rivers. We’re on a river and a lake.

It snows there. It snows here.

No offense, Seattle, but we can’t get a city that doesn’t have a hockey team.

We’re against colors with funny names

Did we mention ownership? The Steelers have the kind of ownership Detroit fans dream about. One family. One name. One old man passing it down to his kids.

That’s the way we do it. Only when Pittsburgh does it, the name is Rooney, and it produces four Super Bowl championships. When Detroit does it, the name is Ford, and it produces squat.

We like Pittsburgh’s ownership.

We want Pittsburgh’s ownership.

Seattle’s ownership baffles us. A computer billionaire? That’s a Pacific Northwest thing. So are Seattle’s colors. We like Pittsburgh’s colors, yellow and black. The colors of a traffic sign. Seattle wears teal, or sea green, or some shade belonging to the marine world. That works for them. But we don’t know from the marine world. We don’t know from Seahawks. We named one of our franchises after a car part (Pistons). So we can relate to a team named after a building material.

The Steelers are our choice. We have adopted them as if they were our own. Come next week, Detroit will feel like a home game for Pittsburgh.

But Seattle fans shouldn’t feel bad.

After all, it’s not as if the home team at Ford Field has done a lot of winning.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com.

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