By David Fleming
Page 2

PART I | PART II | PART III

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Marrrrry Chrithhhmus to, uh, yurp, all ... and twuu all a goooood flight, sight, no, wait, night, night, yeah, BELCH, twuuu all a gooooob night. Santa has a drinking problem? Yeah, right. The next thing you'll tell me is basketball fans have gone nuts in Detroit, Barry Bonds is on the juice and the NHL is on strike.

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Yes, this is former Steeler great Kevin Greene, the renknowned outside linebacker and member of the Blitzburgh crew that led the Stillers to their last Super Bowl in 1995. And, yes, if you look closely, that is a man purse he's carrying.

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This is me, taking a picture of a guy taking a picture. Deep.

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So this is where they're hiding the Stanley Cup during the NHL lockout. As you can see none of the dipping material (the pretzels, marshmallows or fruit) have been used which means, just as I feared, most sportswriters just used their fingers.

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In a late-game frenzy, this guy dropped his Terrible Towel. Oh, he held onto the beer, but the Terrible Towel floated helplessly to the ground where I kindly retrieved it for him. "Ynz have a good night here in dontawn Jacksonville," I said, trying to speak his language.

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An extraordinary moment at the end of Pittsburgh's Thursday practice: As Steelers kicker Jeff Reed lines up to boot a 35-yard field goal to end the workday, a clairvoyant coach Cowher walks up and stands directly over the ball. Then he begins to taunt his kicker. "This is it, right here," growls the coach. "Game on the line ... no more chances ... let's see what you've got." As I watched this unfold I thought, 'No way this kid will ever face this kind of pressure.' At least not for a few more days. On Thursday Reed split the uprights and Cowher's chin beamed with pride. Three days later they repeat the drill--for real. Still, even after kicking the winning field goal to give the Steelers their 10th win in a row, keeping them on pace with the Pats for crucial homefield advantage in the playoffs, Reed still has to pack his own bag after the game.

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The Steelers bus pulls out of ALLTEL Stadium at 12:30 Monday morning, driving right past a countdown clock on the wall for Super Bowl XXXIX, which reads: 62 days, 16 hours, 59 minutes and point something-something seconds to go. WE'LL BE BACK, says one sign out on the street. I'm not so sure. Maybe it's fatigue. Maybe its Skycam. Maybe it was Kevin Greene's European carry-all. Or the chocolate Stanley Cup. But I worry that yet another Bill Cowher team (1-for-4 in AFC title games) has peaked too soon.

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A nice cold one sure would've tasted great on the way to my car outside the stadium. Too bad Santa drank all the beer.


Congratulations, you're done and can tell your grandchildren you were a part of dot com journalistic history. Which, when you think about, carries about as much weight as telling people you did "Hands Across America" back in 1986.

CLICK HERE for Part I.

(Editor's Note: This page built while listening to "Picture Book" by The Kinks ... you know, the one from those HP commercials.)

David Fleming is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. His book, "Noah's Rainbow," a father's emotional journey from the death of his son to the birth of his daughter, will be published in 2005 by Baywood. Contact him at Dave.Fleming@espn3.com.




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