On Sunday, November 14, 2021, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions played at Heinz Field to a 16-16 tie, a display of “terrible football” for both teams. For a longtime Steelers fan, the game – and perhaps overtime in particular – was literally the last straw.
According to the obituary by Wayne Olexa of Crafton, Pennsylvania, the 76-year-old died “after a long battle with the Steelers. He was at home with his family when (the Steelers) went to overtime against the 0-8 Detroit Lions, and that was all he could take. “
In fact, the final stages of this game were particularly difficult to watch. The overtime session was a comedy of mistakes on the part of the Steelers, with receivers losing fumbles on two drives and Pittsburgh’s other drive ending in a punt thanks to rookie center Kendrick Green snapping the ball path over the head of quarterback Mason Rudolph.
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According to his obituary, Olexa was an eminent athlete in high school and received a scholarship to Oklahoma State University, the same school attended by Rudolph and Steeler’s wide receiver James Washington, the former who was at the Lions controls. Olexa visited West Virginia Wesleyan where he co-captained the Bobcats soccer team. Eventually he was inducted into the West Virginia Wesleyan Hall of Fame for three sports; Baseball, soccer and basketball.
“He was invited to try out with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966, and after playing semi-professionally, he eventually married his 45-year-old wife, Jolie Vogel Olexa,” the obituary reads.
Of course, this isn’t the first time an obituary has made reference to an NFL team’s fights. One of the most famous examples came in the summer of 2017 when a Philadelphia Eagles fan named Jeffrey Clayton Riegel announced his final wish to have eight Eagles players pallbearers “so the Eagles can abandon him one last time.”
Notably, the Eagles won 13-3 in 2017 before beating the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings on their way to a 41:33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
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Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s draw with Detroit looks no better today than it did 11 days ago. On Thanksgiving Day, the Lions lost 16-14 to the Chicago Bears at Ford Field, falling to 0-10-1. The Lions are the only team in the NFL without a win and have not won a game since December 6, 2020. Above all, there was a bizarre coin toss in the prelude, vaguely reminiscent of the infamous coin toss before the November 26 overtime. 1998 before the Steelers lost to the Lions.
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