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The game is on

September 13, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - "Yeah! No!"

Sunday marked the return of regular-season games for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins and the return of angst-ridden moments and playoff prognostications from their fans.

For Dave Pittman, the "Yeah! No!" moment came early as Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught and then dropped a pass from quarterback Tommy Maddox as he was hit hard by two Oakland Raiders.

Pittman, 31, of Hagerstown, was one of about 75 people packed on the deck and inside the lounge at the Colonial Restaurant & Lounge at 14130 Pennsylvania Ave. north of Hagerstown.

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All three local games were on television at the Colonial, though it was obvious which game was the favorite.

The Steelers game was featured on two of the three 54-inch screens and several smaller screens, while the Ravens game got one big screen and the Redskins were relegated to a 19-inch television over the bar.

Dave Leazier, the Colonial's owner, said the Colonial's Steelers' following began after pro football returned to Baltimore and local television coverage no longer regularly included Steelers games. Leazier gets Steelers games via DIRECTV.

On the deck, Chris Myers, 32, of Williamsport, claimed he was a 'Skins fan. He said he was watching the Steelers game because he was hanging out with his buddy, Steelers fan Sean Schaeffer.

"Division champs, 10 and 6," Schaeffer, 30, of Halfway, predicted for the Steelers. However, Schaeffer thinks the Indianapolis Colts will prevent the Steelers from getting to the Super Bowl.

Pittman predicts the Steelers go 13-3. "We have high hopes for this year," he said.

Dressed in Steelers shirts and caps, Pittman and his brother, Mike, 23, could at least agree on a team.

Inside the lounge, brothers Eric and Troy Miller were rooting for division opponents with Eric Miller saying the Ravens have "a good chance" this year and Troy Miller claming the Steelers will win the AFC North.

"We get into it once in awhile. He thinks his (team) will win. I know mine will," said Troy Miller, 36, of Hagerstown.

Eric Miller, 39, of Hagerstown, said he hopes the return of cornerback Deion Sanders will help the Ravens, but Sanders could be stale after being out of football for three seasons.

Steelers fans were optimistic about the addition of running back Duce Staley, the return of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and the team's No. 1 draft pick, Ben Roethlisberger.

Joe Stickell, 47, of Chambersburg, Pa., was wearing a Roethlisberger jersey, but even he doesn't think the young quarterback will start a game this season unless Maddox gets hurt or slumps.

"He's a big, intelligent quarterback with good stats in college. He's very mobile for his size," Stickell said of Roethlisberger.

Redskins fan Tony Rubino III was hopeful about the Redskins' season with the addition of veteran quarterback Mark Brunell and the return of Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.

"As long as they keep Mark Brunell healthy and protect him, I think they'll do real good," said Rubino, 53, of Hagerstown. He said the team could win its division, but the chance for a Redskins' Super Bowl is slim.

Rubino was sitting in the corner of the lounge, in front of a big screen showing the Ravens game and near another big TV showing the Steelers game. Keeping tabs on all three games, he was leaning back to watch the 'Skins on the small screen over the bar.

He was accompanied by his date, Doris Buccigrossi, 64, of Hagerstown.

"He said, 'This is like Christmas,' to be able to watch the Steelers, the Redskins and Baltimore Ravens," Buccigrossi said.

On this particular Sunday, summer Santa left Ravens' fans coal, while the Redskins and Steelers got victories.

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