Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tommy Tobin, Superfan

As the Pittsburgh Steelers get ready to do battle at Detroit's Ford Field 24 hours before Super Bowl XL's kickoff, the Primate of Episcopal Steelers Nation tells all in an interview with the Providence Journal

Since being named nearly a year ago as the leader of Rhode Island's Catholics, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has made no secret of his allegiance to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

His office in Providence and his residence at Gate of Heaven Cemetery are both replete with posters, Steelers bobble-head dolls, scale models of the team's old and new stadiums, and even one of the footballs that would have been used for the Steelers' inaugural game at Heinz Field in 2001 had that game not been postponed in the wake of 9/11.

So it came as no surprise when the bishop came into the chancery one day wearing a Steelers jacket.

True, he says, it was sometimes a challenge proclaiming his loyalty to the Steelers when he knew that nearly everyone else roots for the Patriots -- which, he is careful to add, has become his "second-favorite" team.

Still, he wants to make it clear that this is an issue on which he will never convert. "I will never give up my Steelers faith," he says.

As you can see above, the bishop (yes, Daughters of Wojtyla, he is still a bishop even when no pectoral cross is in sight) is photographed outside his house.... Note the Terrible Towel on the door.

We've seen pictures of the joint already, haven't we, Loggiaheads?

Perhaps the first big test for Rhode Island's top Catholic leader came in September, when the Steelers played the Patriots. Days before the showdown, he unfurled a huge Steelers banner on the railing of his front porch. It continues to draw curious looks from passersby. One day, he returned from Mass to find that the banner had been covered with a Patriots banner. The bishop quickly removed it.
And then there was the 8 foot inflatable Pats' doll placed on the porch which, I'm told, Tobin took a photo with -- after he crushed it.

From this end, suffice it to say that I've got my Terrible Towel and am good to go. A Happy and Safe Super Bowl to our party crowd.

PHOTO: Providence Journal/Gretchen Ertl