All told, I'm not quite as sad as Sad Vader here. This seems like the only way it could have happened.
The thing is, you, I and everyone else on earth thought this game was over midway through the third quarter, and, all told, probably at halftime. That would have been much worse than this, I think. If the Buzzsaw's one Super Bowl appearance had ended in irrelevance, and pointlessness, and obvious inferiority, it would have justified what everyone else had said. The Charles Pierces of the world would have been right. We shouldn't have been here in the first place. We were just some dumb fluke that everyone could forget about. We were not like you, like your pain. Like everybody's pain.
See, in a way, losing this way — in the most soul-crushing, sweet-God-what-a-game-holy-frack-where's-something-tall-to-jump-off? fashion possible — justifies it all. The Buzzsaw were not going to lose a Super Bowl the way the Falcons did, or the Chargers. That would be pedestrian. That would be dumb. That would make the whole thing seem silly.
No, losing like this makes it all worthwhile. This was not a 27-7 shellacking, the Steelers simply piddling out the clock as everyone prepares for work tomorrow. Losing like this, after a shocking comeback, after a Yes This Team Is What We Had Hoped For And Dreamed About After All fourth quarter, lends gravitas to it. Now, the Buzzsaw is not the obvious doormat of the professional sports industrial complex. We now have some tragedy. We now have some pain. Real pain.
It feels all right. It feels raw, and throbbing, and palpable. It feels what it feels like to be a sports fan. It feels like I cheer for a team that matters. It feels like we've got some hair on our chest now. We couldn't really compare ourselves to the Bills before, or the Browns, those franchises who have come close enough to taste the nectar. Now we can. Now we've had some actual suffering. It's not just a dull slow ache. We've actually bled.
And you know what? I'm grateful. I'm grateful for Kurt Warner, and Ken Whisenhunt, and Anquan Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald. I'm grateful for Aeneas Williams, and Jake Plummer, and Adrian Wilson. I'm grateful that, tonight, being a fan of the Arizona Cardinals actually meant something. I'm grateful that we did not fade. I'm grateful that it didn't just fizzle out. I'm grateful that it really hurt.