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Super Bowl not so super for this fan

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I should be excited.

My favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is playing in its seventh Super Bowl. This is the same team that I watched grow from NFL obscurity to the stuff of legend.

I'm well versed in their legendary leap because it happened in my lifetime as I watched the Steelers from my family's season tickets in Three Rivers Stadium.

Yes, I was there when Franco Harris made the Immaculate Reception back in 1972. I was only 5 years old, but I could tell something remarkable had just happened, not just to the Steelers but to all of Western Pennsylvania.

I've attended two Super Bowls - X in Miami and XIV in Pasadena, Calif. I watched as the Steelers of the 1970s cemented their legacy as one of the best teams in NFL history.

In fact, I'm proud to say I've seen games in legendary venues like the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl. And I'll say this, there is no more beautiful place in the world to watch a sporting event than the Rose Bowl. The mountains rising in the distance are spectacular, especially when the sun sets.

Of course, the Super Bowl is a much bigger spectacle now.

Back then, the tickets were a bargain compared to today's prices. I pulled out the ticket stubs the other day - in 1976 the cost was $20 and in 1980 the cost was $30.

The prices for today's game were $1,000, $800 and $500.

And back then, we didn't have Bruce Springsteen playing at halftime.

In 1976, I know the halftime show was a performance by a singing and dancing group with colorful costumes called Up With People. I really don't remember the halftime show from 1980, so it must not have been noteworthy.

As I said earlier, I should be excited. Truth be told, I am not.

Don't get me wrong, I'll watch the game and be thrilled if the Steelers win, but what's on my mind has nothing to do with the game.

On Monday morning about nine or so hours after the Super Bowl finishes, I'll undergo surgery at Emory University Hospital. Surgery to remove the same cancer I've been battling since last May.

Chemotherapy hasn't done the job, so now it's time to go with another option.

Nearly three years ago, I went through the same thing, a surgery for another kind of cancer.

At that time, I chose not to let our readers know what was happening in my life.

Later on, I found out that was a terrible mistake as my e-mail here at the Citizen filled up with get-well greetings from our readers as the word got out.

So this time you'll know why I won't be around for, hopefully, a short while.

For our sports department, this could not come at worse time.

Winter sports are winding down. Basketball playoffs, wrestling tournaments and the state swim meet are all on the horizon.

In a week or so, the 2009 soccer season will kick off. The rest of spring sports will follow in short order.

Needless to say, our short-handed staff will be busy.

A coach asked me earlier this week if there was anything he could do for me.

I told him there were two things.

First, pray for me and my well-being. You can never have enough prayers at a time like this.

Second, please give my staff (Manny and Jason) a large dose of patience and understanding. Their task will not be easy, but I know they are up to the challenge.

So, in case you missed it, today is Super Bowl Sunday

Enjoy the parties, the 10-hour long pregame festitivities, the game, the commercials, Springsteen's performance and everything else that goes along with the world's biggest game.

And, by the way: Go Steelers!!!!!!

One more thing, thanks in advance for all your thoughts and prayers. They all mean a lot.

I'll be back as soon as possible.

You can count on that.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.