America's Team is hosting the Super Bowl. Which will match America's teams.
Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. Football's most popular franchises.
Sorry, Dallas Cowboys. Your reign is long gone. No one remembers who shot J.R. Ewing. Every team has cheerleaders dressed for the beach. Americans no longer trust their car or their football fortunes to the men who wear the star.
The Packers and Steelers, that's where true football fanaticism can be found in the 21st century. Geography remains primary factor in NFL devotion. But discounting mailing addresses, the 'Pack and the Steel Men are the teams that inspire passion.
In sleepy Southern towns and New England villages, Northern gothams and coastal hamlets, Rocky Mountain outposts and Oklahoma county seats, fans of the Packers and Steelers abound.
You can thank the Packers' glorious '60s and Brett Favre, the Steelers' dominant '70s and Troy Polamalu. These are epic franchises that followed their salad days with renaissance eras.
And now they meet Feb. 6 in Arlington, in the best matchup we could have asked for, maybe the most tradition-rich Super Bowl ever, or least since Barry Switzer's Dallas-Pittsburgh showdown in the desert 15 years ago.
Did you catch the phrase? Tradition. We don't use it much in pro football vernacular. It's a college term. But it fits here.
The Packers, the franchise of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. The Steelers, the franchise of Art Rooney and Chuck Noll. That's tradition.
And they come from real football towns, too. No roofs on the stadiums in Green Bay or Pittsburgh. No pretty boys on the roster.
These teams qualified for JerryWorld with conference championship victories Sunday, the Packers in 18-degree weather in Chicago, the Steelers in 15-degree weather in Pittsburgh. No climate-control football for these franchises. Climate-out-of-control is perfectly fine with them.
Which is more of their charm. Two unassuming cities, Green Bay and Pittsburgh.
Green Bay is America's smallest major league market, with barely more than 300,000 people. It's a little bit bigger than Lubbock.
And Pittsburgh might be the least-pretentious major American city.
We haven't even gotten to this particular football matchup -- Aaron Rodgers vs. James Harrison; Ben Roethlisberger vs. Charles Woodson -- which is what the next two weeks are for.
For now, Super Bowl 45 should be celebrated for its historic matchup.
Pittsburgh's 24-19 survival of the Jets on Sunday gave the Steelers 33 playoff victories, matching the Cowboys for the most in league history. Green Bay is third, with 28.
The Steelers, the Packers, the Cowboys. Together again. But only two get to play in this Super Bowl.