Opposites are said to attract, and in this year’s Super Bowl, it seems they’ve found each other. From the dry heat of the southwestern desert, Arizona, and from the city of steel and torrid winters, Pittsburgh. They’ll meet on Raymond James Stadium at Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, but their cultures, topography and ideas of quirkiness could hardly be different.
The Cardinal vs. the Steeler The Cardinal, although a robust and aesthetic bird, is but a seed-eating creature with a strong bill. The real steelers of Pittsburgh, some of whom have houses scattered about the mills along the rivers and clinging to bluffs, tap tons of molten steel. In terms of mascot power, this is a no brainer. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Weather With an average high of 37 degrees in January, you won’t seem many Pittsburgh-types in shorts and sandals. Abundant precipitating and relatively harsh winter makes Pittsburgh seem like a tough place to battle the weather. Over in the southwest, during the monsoon, Arizona has perhaps the most severe weather in the nation with its severe thunderstorms, flash floods and maybe a rare tornado. Combine that with the dry heat that can sap you and give you dehydration cramps and headaches, this one is suddenly a toss-up. But which climate has pounded and conditioned a football player the most for a 60-minute grind in Tampa? Advantage: Arizona
State animals In one corner, we have the whitetail deer, state animal of Pennsylvania, gobbling twigs, grasses and fungi, and bolting from anything that looks like a gun. In the other, hailing from Arizona, we present … the ringtail? Adopted in 1986, this little known, raccoon-looking creature naturally inhabits the woods, brush and rocky areas from Oregon to Texas and throughout the southwest. Oh, add this to Arizona’s resume: In 1998, Arizona legislature entertained Arizonians by spending time trying to name an official state dinosaur. Pick a dinosaur, any dinosaur. (Did someone mention T-Rex?) The legislature never did come to a decision, and Arizona is left to be represented by a mouse-eater. Let’s hope Arizona doesn’t have problems being decisive on a last-minute drive, or, even worse, the coin flip. Advantage: Pittsburgh
Sports Arizona’s ”Valley of the Sun” has more golf courses, per capita, than any state west of the Mississippi. In Pittsburgh, and throughout Pennsylvania, football seemingly reigns as the top sport of choice. Now, which sport are they playing in the Super Bowl, again? Advantage: Pittsburgh
Workout facilities When it comes to chugging stairs, Pittsburgh has 712 sets of stairs (total of 44,645 steps), according to Bob Regan’s “The Steps of Pittsburgh.” While residents likely view them as exercise, visitors who may not be used to the stairs could become annoyed. Arizona, on the other hand, has the Grand Canyon, likely the most underrated workout facility in the nation with its options for rigorous rock climbing, hiking and bridge-jumping. The difference? Stair-steppers can be found in gyms. Arizona boasts the largest gorge in the world. Advantage: Arizona
Quirkiness Supposedly, in Pittsburgh, everything you eat has meat, fries and cheese — even the salads! And good luck finding the restaurant of your choice. It apparently is difficult to find your way around the Steel City because of its topography, which dips and bows between cliffs, mountains, hills, rivers and valleys. The streets are a mix of narrow and wide and often change directions from one block to the next. But when it comes to quirkiness, Arizona is downright Pauly Shore. It’s peculiarities range from claiming the London Bridge, which was transplanted in 1968 and has a small English village at its base, a monster crater that makes its residence near Flagstaff, and Bedrock City, home of the Flintstone Theme Park. But really, how can you top the fact that the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral went down in Tombstone in southern Arizona? Advantage: Arizona
So there you have it. After examining some of the quirks and features of these Super Bowl teams, quite opposite in every category, it’s a bust. Let them decide the rest on the field.