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The Steelers, a familiar enemy

"Crab cakes and football, that's what Maryland does!"

After seeing the movie Wedding Crashers, I've heard that quote from my friends countless times. I love this quote because of the genuine pride encompassed by a simple sentence. People from Maryland take football more seriously than others give us credit for, and we hold a passion for the game that rivals the intensity of any other state. In the extravagant realm of hard hits and big plays, the single most satisfying emotional release comes from the defeat of a long-time rival.

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Ever since the beginning of time, the existence of rivalries has driven counterparts across various spectrums to achieve more than they thought possible. From the competition between Athens and Sparta to an ongoing competition that someone has with their next-door neighbor, rivalries span various times and magnitudes to give us an external fuel that cannot be generated through self-motivation. Sports rivalries stand among the most prevalent and consistent forms of competition in the modern world, and nothing creates more excitement than when your team faces off against its long-time foe.

I was raised in Baltimore, and was bred as a die-hard Ravens fan who bleeds black and purple. The mere mention of the word "Steelers," no matter the context, burns my ears and lights a fire in my stomach. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, just think of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as synonymous with Lord Voldemort. I've attended multiple Ravens vs. Steelers games, offered my fair share of criticism and slander toward the Steelers fans who show their faces at M&T Bank Stadium, shouted at Troy Polamalu until I lost my voice, rejoiced in the Ravens' sweet victories and cried over their heart-wrenching defeats. The series between these two teams holds a special place in my heart, with an exclusive corner reserved for Torrey Smith's game-winning touchdown catch to give us a 23 to 20 win in 2011. It's true when people say that Ravens fans love to hate the Steelers and vice versa, but the real question here is: Where does that glorified hatred come from?

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In the so-called rivalries of old, (Athens and Sparta, Britain and France, the United States and the Soviet Union), these actors have always been complete counterparts, with varying ideologies and opposite societal structures. Even the "old" sports rivalries, like that of the Celtics and the Lakers, encompass completely different teams in terms of location, ethnicity and style of play. But with the Steelers, I now realize the hatred stems from their eerie similarities to my beloved Ravens — a nauseating discovery. Both teams are hard-nosed, defensive-oriented, tough as hell and have run and gun offenses. They are located on the East Coast, have dark colors, have intense fans and are consistent playoff contenders. Not to mention both teams thrive on the leadership of their defense.

As much as I don't like the Steelers, I have to respect their style of play and the culture of their fans. In the big picture, the Ravens wouldn't be who they are without the Steelers constantly nipping at their heels and making them pursue greatness. It all seems like some kind of sick joke orchestrated by a divine football god, where an unstoppable force and an immovable object will clash over and over again until their legacies fade into eternity, leaving only the memories of emotions from each unique matchup. It's a strange feeling hating a group so much like yourself, and I guess the old saying rings true: "This town ain't big enough for the both of us."

Devin Tucker is a student at Johns Hopkins University. His email is dtucke22@jhu.edu.

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