Super Bowl XLVII is a nightmare for Steelers fans. Those who bleed black and gold have legitimate reasons not to root for either the 49ers or Ravens. Under normal circumstances, the answer would be obvious: No self-respecting Steelers fan would ever support the Ravens. But the rooting interests here are a bit more complicated.
It’s no secret that Pittsburgh and Baltimore don’t like each other. That’s actually putting it mildly: The rivalry is a mutual hatred built on a foundation of respect. Still, a Steelers fan rooting for the Ravens is like a Celtics fan pulling for the Lakers to win another NBA title. It just doesn’t happen except under extraordinary circumstances.
Then there are the 49ers. Pittsburgh and San Francisco have no real animosity toward each other. Here’s the thing though: If the 49ers win the Super Bowl, it will be the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl. That will put them one ahead of the Cowboys and tie them with, you guessed it, the Steelers for the franchise with the most rings.
This falls under that extraordinary circumstances category. It’s a no-win situation for the disgruntled Steelers fan who has already had a tough season. If the Ravens win, they get bragging rights over the Steelers until the end of next season. If the 49ers win, they have to share the title of Sixburgh with another city. What’s a Pittsburgher to do?
Steelers nation, listen up: This might be hard to hear, but you guys should hope the Ravens get the underdog victory over the 49ers. It might go against every fiber of your being, but no matter what history is going to be made in this Super Bowl. The difference is that a Ravens win will just be annoying. A 49ers victory should offend your pride as a black and gold representative.
Sure, a Ravens win is a slap to the face of Steelers nation. But slaps heal. It would only be the young franchise’s second ring. Just let them have it. The Steelers will still have three times as many rings as the Ravens. In the grand scheme of things, another Baltimore win is just a blip on the radar of NFL history.
A 49ers win, on the other hand, is like a punch to the face that knocks out a tooth or two. Steelers nation has had a certain justifiable swagger since the Noll-Bradshaw combo started winning Super Bowls. After the Tomlin-Roethlisberger duo brought the franchise ring number six and broke the three-way tie with the 49ers and Cowboys, Steelers fans could reasonably claim their franchise was the NFL’s best.
If the 49ers get that sixth ring, the conversation switches. From: “Does any NFL team’s history rival the Steelers?” To: “Do the Steelers or 49ers have the best franchise?” No Steelers fan ever wants to turn on SportsCenter to hear Herm Edwards arguing for San Francisco while Merrill Hodge tries to defend his Steelers.
Let’s also not forget how bright the future is for the young, talented 49ers and how bleak the landscape currently looks for this older, slower Steelers squad. The Steelers and their fans should really be rooting for any other team (except the Cowboys) to take out the 49ers and preserve their record.
Unless you’re a Steelers fan living in the Baltimore-Washington area (in which case, stay safe), swap your black and gold for scarlet and gold for one day. A Ravens victory may be painful, but a 49ers one will be so much worse.