Collier: For seven's sake, let's give it all a rest
Maybe sometime before the Steelers have landed and settled themselves where the stars at night are big and bright, the rest of us can flush from our systems this sudden and stubborn compulsion to invoke this oh-thank-heaven-for-7 (but not 11) word play.
Apparently, and I mean very apparently, the Steelers have come upon the opportunity to win their seventh Super Bowl a week from Sunday in Texas, so the first burst of seventh heaven cleverness and spontaneous wit was perhaps inevitable and even inspired in the hours after the AFC championship game grounding of Rex Ryan's deafening Jets.
"At the gates of seven" was certainly a solid, worthy and playful headline on Monday of this week, but by Monday of next, let's hope that the next four thousand usages of classic rock imagery unleashed by "Stairway to Seven" and "Knock knock knockin' on Seven's door" haven't led us over the edge of an even slipperier slope.
I bumped into Steelers personnel chief Kevin Colbert upstairs near the club's executive offices on the South Side Wednesday, for example, but it didn't occur to me that I'd gotten there by climbing the Stairway to Kevin.
Oh, like you could resist it.
As it happens, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" do not merely provide the seven-rhyming capacity required as the jumping off point for all these constructions, but actually provide a cultural link between the pantheonic Steelers teams of the '70s and this new dynasty in waiting.
"Stairway" was written in 1971, which is deep in the Old Testament, or B.F. -- before Franco. By the time Zeppelin began performing one of the greatest rock songs of all time to initially lukewarm receptions, the Emperor Charles Henry Noll had finally begun rolling out the Hall of Fame icons of Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV. Lyrically, there's plenty of symbolism available in "Stairway" that can be converted for the truly Steeler-centric in multiple generations.
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll ...
Obviously a Robert Plant reference to Rocky Bleier right there, and it's worth pointing out that you never had to play it backward to know that the Rock didn't roll for anybody.
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" is of that same era, written for a 1973 film called Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, but this knock-knock-knockin' is hard-as-concrete elemental Dylan, nothing terribly allegorical but rather the uncomplicated dying words of a deputy asking his mother to take off his badge. The Seven represented by this Heaven and the Seven you take the Stairway to seem diametrically opposed, so unless you feel like the Steelers are going to be down 21-0 at half, you might want to lean hard toward Zeppelin on this issue.
After that, of course, is where things get tricky, because you need some fairly convoluted modern story lines to make the whole heaven/seven technique work for your purposes in the cultural backwoods. The most popular slogan in Wisconsin by week's end will doubtless be Seven Can Wait. (If that's not the headline over a Packers win in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the morning of Feb. 7, well, they're just not trying.)
The remaining heaven/seven book and film and song titles aren't terribly promising.
I suppose if one team or another loses in some circumstance traced directly to the officiating, you could present that story under Seven Angry Men, or if the Steelers littered Super Bowl 45 with the right number of mistakes, four penalties, two turnovers, and a touchdown-causing special teams breakdown, we could give you the Seven Deadly Sins.
Look, I told you this wouldn't go well.
I suppose any number of ramp-up stories having to do with Ben Roethlisberger could fall under Seven Help Us, or that a final score of 77-7 might bring you Sevens to Betsy, but the best case narrative along these lines remains for the Steelers to beat the Packers, secure Lombardi Trophy No. 7, only to find upon their arrival at the postgame celebration that a massive shipment of Iron City bound for North Texas had been inexplicably intercepted.
Somewhere, there's someone who just can't wait to pull the trigger on that headline:
In Seven there is no beer.
First Published January 27, 2011 12:00 am