Steelers Fan’s Obituary Says Lions Game ‘All He Could Take’

James Washington

Emilee Chinn/Getty Images James Washington of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after failing to catch against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field on November 14, 2021.

On Sunday November 14, 2021, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions played to a 16-16 tie at Heinz Field, a display of “awful football” on the part of both teams. For one longtime Steelers fan, the game—and perhaps the overtime period in particular—was literally the last straw.

According to the obituary of Wayne Olexa of Crafton, Pa., the 76-year-old died “after a long bout with the Steelers. He was at his home with family when (the Steelers) went into overtime against the 0-8 Detroit Lions and that was all he could take.”

Indeed the latter stages of that game were particularly hard to watch. The overtime session was a comedy of errors 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 way over the head of quarterback Mason Rudolph.

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According to his obituary, Olexa was a standout athlete in high school and went on to receive a scholarship at Oklahoma State University, the same school attended by Rudolph and Steelers wide receiver James Washington, the former of whom was at the controls against the Lions. Olexa went on to attend West Virginia Wesleyan, where he became co-captain of the Bobcats football team. Ultimately, he was inducted into West Virginia Wesleyan’s Hall of Fame for three sports; baseball, football, and basketball.

“He was invited to try out for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1966, and after playing semi-professional baseball, he eventually married his wife of 45 years Jolie Vogel Olexa,” notes the obituary.

A Philly Fan Wanted Eagles Players to Serve as Pallbearers

Of course, this isn’t the first time that an obituary has referenced the struggles of an NFL team. One of the more famous examples came in the summer of 2017, when a Philadelphia Eagles fan named Jeffrey Clayton Riegel indicated that his last wish was to have eight Eagles players serve as pallbearers, “so the Eagles can let him down one last time.”

Notably, the Eagles went on to go 13-3 in 2017 before beating the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings en route to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

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The Lions Lost on Thanksgiving Day

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s tie against Detroit doesn’t look any better today than it did 11 days ago. On Thanksgiving Day, the Lions lost to the Chicago Bears 16-14 at Ford Field to fall to 0-10-1. The Lions are the NFL’s only winless team and have not won a game since Decemeber 6, 2020. More notably, still, the pre-game featured a bizarre coin toss, one vaguely reminiscent of the infamous coin toss prior to overtime on November 26, 1998, before the Steelers lost to the Lions.

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