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The Zak Zone

August 10, 2011

All right, last week, I said that even though I should have been ready to talk football, I just wasn't up to it yet. Well, in the past week, things have changed.

Maybe it had something to do with the conclusion of the baseball and softball seasons, culminating with the Little League softball tournament last weekend and the Teener League states.

Or, maybe it had something to do with my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates plummeting from first to third in their division — now nine and 1/2-games behind the first-place Brewers.

Whatever the reason, I can finally say I'm starting to get excited for football.

Now, just because I'm getting excited for football doesn't mean I'm giving up on baseball for the year.

Of course, I'll still be following the Bucs, with fingers crossed that they make a miraculous run at the division title — or at least at the coveted .500 mark — but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

And, I will most certainly be following every move of Devin Mesoraco as he, the entire Punxsutawney community and the Cincinnati hopeful await his call-up to the major leagues. (By the way, the Reds play a weekend series in Pittsburgh Sept. 23-25, if anyone wants to take the chance at guessing which day, if any, he may be in the lineup if he does get the call).

Punxsy native Nick Gillung is also playing minor league baseball, so my eye will be on him, as well.

But, in all honesty, the excitement of the hometown Buccos is starting to fade, and it's just about time to start getting excited for the Steelers.

It really is a win-win situation for me. If you ask me my favorite sport during baseball season, I'll most likely tell you it is baseball. If you ask me my favorite sport after the World Series, my likely answer is football.

I follow my teams and hold tight allegiances to them, but when it comes to what sport I like most, I'm quite the fair-weather fan.

Last football season ended in disappointment, perhaps in the most difficult of ways to go out, when the Steelers lost the Super Bowl to the Green Bay Packers.

Sure, it was great to see my team reach the pinnacle of all football games, but a loss in the Super Bowl is deflating for fans.

We were so close to grasping that seventh championship — and when your team wins a title, you really can almost feel that trophy in your hands — but instead we had to watch as Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers kissed what we saw as our Lombardi trophy.

Along with the Steelers, I'll also admit that I pull for the Philadelphia Eagles, too.

And before any Steelers fans consider writing nasty hate-mail to The Spirit, allow me to say that my reasoning for that allegiance is founded in my late grandfather's love for the Eagles. Besides, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are in different conferences in football, unlike in hockey and baseball.

And if professional football isn't your thing, maybe you're looking forward to seeing if Penn State can improve its No. 25 preseason coaches poll ranking or the Pittsburgh Panthers can overcome the loss of several key players to compete for the Big East title.

If none of those things pique your interest, I hope we can all, at least, get excited for Punxsutawney Chucks football, as they look to follow up an undefeated season with another impressive performance.

There truly is no rest for the most dedicated of sports fan, is there?

And so, I ask you Punxsutawney: Are you ready for some football?

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