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Schefter Pumps UP the Volume!


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Adam Schefter's "Around the League" reports and commentaries can be seen regularly on NFL Total Access.

(Sept. 21, 2006) -- At a time of year when the playoffs are still possible for all 32 teams, the weather is heaven sent, and football saturates TV, no one should be bitter about anything.

And yet, for some reason, ill will seems to permeate the world of football.

Eagles kicker David Akers is still sore at the Giants sideline for the ungracious and unsportsmanlike manner in which they treated him. Giants receiver Plaxico Burress and his teammate, offensive tackle Luke Petitgout, acted like they played for different teams rather than the same one, exchanging heated words. And Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini would have been better off not shaking hands rather than doing it only because they had to and raising the questions about their relationship and the Patriots and Jets Border War.

But these are just the warm-up acts to the primary one, this Sunday, 1 p.m., in Pittsburgh. Let one of the protagonists, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, expound.

"I am not a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers," Palmer said this summer. "I do not cheer for them. I do not root for them. I have friends on the team I root for -- Troy Polamalu every time he steps on the field other than the times I am playing against him. But it is a rivalry. I don't like those guys when we step on the field.

"I don't like their colors, their fans. I don't like anything about them because it is a football game. And because there is so much history and so much past, you need to walk on that field when you play against a phenomenal team like them, when you step on the field to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense you respect them, but you need a little anger in you because you need a little extra to get over the top to be successful against them."

Now, after a long and cold winter, the Bengals get another chance at the team that wrecked their 2005 season along with Palmer's knee. Last postseason, the Steelers went into the Bengals' house, ate their food, littered their place, and even mocked Cincinnati's "Who-Dey" chant with a revised "We-Dey" Steelers' version.

And don't think Bengals coach Marvin Lewis forgot. When the Bengals assembled for team meetings Wednesday, Lewis replayed the video that incensed much of Cincinnati last winter.

Fans crave this rematch the way they do Cincinnati's Skyline Chili. Before last Sunday's win over Cleveland was even finished, Bengals fans were chanting, "We want Pittsburgh!" A week before the big game, and Cincinnati had already begun its countdown.

The sight of Pittsburgh celebrating on their home turf remains fresh in the Bengals' minds.

And here's a statement more accurate than Roy Williams ' guarantee that the Lions would beat the Bears last Sunday: Pittsburgh is just as sick of Cincinnati.

It's tired of hearing about Cincinnati's hate, about Palmer's knee, about how the Bengals feel like they would have beaten the Steelers if only Palmer had stayed upright and healthy. Just the thought of finally getting a chance to shut up Chad Johnson is enough to make Joey Porter salivate.

The Steelers are coming home off their Monday night disappointment, the Bengals are coming off their postseason crusher, and now the two franchises, like Porter and Bengals running back Rudi Johnson, are on a collision course that could wind up determining who finishes first in the AFC North.

It's another rivalry week in the NFL, with Chicago at Minnesota, Carolina at Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville at Indianapolis. For a few hours Sunday, anger management will be worthless.

This is what everyone in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and around the league wants. The big day is approaching. Sunday is Who-Dey.

Whoa Nellie!

Who Dey! :bengal:

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