The NFL notebook …
PITTSBURGH ó You see it all around town these days. The ěBig Benî signs gradually returning to the windows in working-class hillside neighborhoods. The Number Seven jerseys on the backs of suburban convenience-store clerks, grade-school teachers, even, strikingly, children.
Most prominently, you see it in how the discussion unfolds when talk turns to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Instead of phrases like ěcriminal investigation,î ěNFL suspensionî and ěbad example,î the words today are back to what they were a couple years ago: Completed passes. Makes things happen. Leader.
With the Steelers one green-and-white obstacle away from reaching their latest Super Bowl, the NFL star turned hero in free fall is, in the eyes of Pittsburgh fans, on the rise again.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. ó Don’t let anyone tell you New York Jets fans aren’t loyal.
Not when 7,500 of them turned out on a Saturday morning to give coach Rex Ryan’s crew one last boost before leaving for Pittsburgh. It was early. It was freezing. It didn’t matter.
The raucous rally and send-off was held from 9 a.m.-noon at their training facility.
The Jets (13-5) meet the Steelers (13-4) in the AFC Championship game today and an optimistic sea of green and white feels this might just be their year.
Bill Martino, a Long Island native, has been a Jets fan since Jan. 12, 1969. That was the day, of course, the Jets defeated the Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III. He was listening to the game while serving in the Army in Vietnam. He’s never wavered since.
“I’ve been waiting for this to happen to the Jets,” he said, “for an awfully long time.”
AN LSU FLAVOR
BATON ROUGE, La. ó LSU fans may have a hard time deciding who to cheer for in this weekend’s NFL playoffs. There will be six former Tigers on the field for the conference championship games.
Five former LSU players will take part in the NFC Championship Game when Green Bay travels to Chicago to face the Bears. Green Bay has three former LSU players, including backup quarterback Matt Flynn, backup fullback Quinn Johnson and backup defensive lineman Howard Green. Two LSU All-Americans are on the Bears roster ó backup safety Craig Steltz and offensive guard Herman Johnson.
The Steelers-Jets AFC Championship game, features former LSU standout Ryan Clark, the free safety for Pittsburgh.
HARRISBURG, Pa. ó The governor of Pennsylvania is betting jams and wine and his counterpart in New York is offering Nathan’s hot dogs and apple cider on the outcome of the AFC championship game.
The game features the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. The winner at Heinz Field advances to the Super Bowl.
The office of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett says that if the Steelers win, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will send Corbett a basket including hot dogs, chicken wings from Buffalo, Hudson Valley apple cider as well as cheese and maple syrup.
If the Jets win, Corbett will send Cuomo a gift basket with Pennsylvania-made foods and beverages.