20
Jan
09

8 gold medals vs. Heinz Field

So I heard a curious little story from a friend of mine who was at the Steelers-Ravens game on Sunday. First, he posted this status on his Facebook:

[Friend] watched Michael Phelps almost get thrown out of Heinz Field..Jerome Bettis was the only reason he was allowed to stay…Don’t mess with the Steeler Nation.

That’s a pretty unusual status, and one that chipped away at my curiousity. Was he drunk? Rowdy? Spitting on children? What could he possibly have done to almost get the boot from Heinz Field?

So, he filled us in:

Phelps was 5 rows in front of us. During the Ravens first drive he and his two buddies stood to cheer. He was chastized by a few Steeler fans. (none of us knew who he was at the time) He said Hey, you cheer for your team, I’ll cheer for mine. Fans told him to sit down. So, to piss off those fans, he remained standing through several plays, blocking everyones view. So the guy sitting next to [other friend] texted security. They showed up 5 minutes later and had a long discussion with him. The one head of security telling him he needed to shut his mouth. Security remained eying him to make sure. He sat pouting for the remainder of the half. About 5 minutes left in the half Jerome shows up to talk to him. (I assume the tickets came from him) Michael sat pouting to Jerome unapologetic. The half ended and we headed in to the Club Lounge. At that point we found out it was Phelps (but I had suspected it was him the whole time). Phelps didn’t return for the 2nd half.

As we laughed and chuckled over his tale, he said:

8 gold medals ranks you one step beneath the peanut vender in Heinz Field.

I just lost it laughing. I mean, yeah, in reality, he probably just went up the luxury box seats with Jerome, hung out, cheered on his boys and ate and drank for free. But the whole story reminded me of yet another reason why I love Pittsburgh.

See, unless you are a Steelers player from the 70s, celebrity status means relatively little here. Ask Sienna Miller or maybe even Carrie Underwood (I’ll have to share that story from a different friend one of these days). I think it’s because a lot of our local celebs were also our friends and neighbors — like Stevie from Chiller Theater, who not only was well known from his TV days, but apparently ran a great auto-repair business in the South Hills. Hammer has a great blog about meeting Mr. McFeely from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. For me, I knew Bob Trow — the actor who played Bob Dog and Robert Troll on the same show. And he was a fantastic guy and a tremendous artist. But pretension, pretension doesn’t really fly in our neck of the woods. Expecting the average yinzer to kiss your ass “because you are someone” will likely result in someone planting a foot in it.

But Phelp’s story is a bit different than the other celebrities I mentioned. He was here to root for his team, in enemy territory. I’ve been in his situation — I saw a Steelers-Dolphin game back in the ’90s — walking in, you KNOW you’re going to get abuse — so cheer on your boys but don’t make an ass out of yourself, and you’ll be fine. Heck, after we won the game I was at, several Dolphin fans turned to me and said, “Hey, thanks for not being a jerk.”

So, I mailed the friend that reported this story to me, and asked if I could use it for my blog. His reply cracked me up:

Actually, I was on Phelps’ side til he decided to go the immature “I’m gonna stand in your way just to prove my idiotic point” route. But the pouting after security came was the best part of it all. He sat there the rest of the half, didn’t applaud his team, didn’t stand again, just sat there like a kid whose parents just grounded him for staying out late.
Fuckin’ Baby!
Good swimmer, bad sport!

Ain’t that the truth, my friend. Ain’t that the truth.

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8 Responses to “8 gold medals vs. Heinz Field”


  1. January 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    What do you expect from someone with the last name of Phelps?

    GOD HATES SWIMMERS!

  2. 2 Three
    January 20, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Is that why we always had to wear Speedos?

  3. 3 Tina
    January 20, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Michael has A LOT of growing up to do. He needs to pull his head out of his own ass. It’s sad really. He’d be so respected if he could practice integrity. His image has fallen so far so fast.

  4. 4 Keri
    January 21, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I’m sure that the fact that the Steelers were kicking butt pretty early on had something to do with the pouting 🙂

  5. 5 Liz
    January 21, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Michael Phelps has become a bit of a joke. Kuddos to Jerome Bettis in that he kept Phelps from making a complete ass of himself.

  6. January 22, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    was there any confirmation that it was indeed him? the SI man of the year cover story makes him out very different…..shy and unsure of himself unless he’s in the pool. also, he went to a charity banquet and had security with him. weird that he would go to enemy territory in regular seats with no security and didnt draw any attention?

  7. January 25, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    man, so my daughter’s hero is a stinkin ravens fan. i knew he owned baltimore, but thought maybe he had a different team.


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