Until I got to college, football was something other people watched (related: beer was something other people drank). The Superbowl was an excuse to get together and eat junk food and laugh at the new commercials.
That all changed in early 1996, with Superbowl XXX. The Steelers and Cowboys met in Tempe, Arizona. The Steelers were down by ten, and Cowher took a gamble. He called for a surprise onside kick, caught the Cowboys off-guard, and minutes later it was a three-point game. The commentators couldn't believe it, the crowd was going nuts, and the fans I was watching with were blown away.
And I was hooked.
The Steelers lost that game, but the NFL won a convert. I became a fan just in time to watch The Pats make a run at the title and lose to Green Bay, sealing my fate as a lifelong football and Patriots junkie.
Last night, we came full circle. In Detroit, Cowher's team again squared off against the best the NFC had to offer, and this time they didn't need the onside kick: they got the lead and held it.
It won't go down as the best Superbowl in history, or even in the past few years, but it was special to me. Thanks, Steelers, for showing a young geek what football was really about, and saving me from countless Sundays spent with nothing to watch on TV :).