l Far-flung football fans prepare to cheer their teams through the Super Bowl

By Tony Parra

Robert Montoya, Jr. a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan from Portales, in a friendly, gesture extended an invitation to John Vestal Jr. an excited Seattle Seahawk fan from Clovis, to watch Super Bowl XL with the Montoya family on Feb. 8.

However, Vesal said he’s going to devote Super Bowl Sunday to his dad and fellow Seahawk fan, John Vestal, Sr., and friends in Clovis and watch the game there.

“I’m excited about the Super Bowl,” Montoya said. “We’ve gone to the (American Football Conference) championship games and lost the last few years. I’ve never been able to see them win a Super Bowl.”

Montoya and many of his family and friends are Pittsburgh Steeler fans. They will be cheering Pittsburgh on while the Vestals root for the Seattle Seahawks.

Montoya has a room next to his house dedicated to the Steelers. He has Steelers’ jerseys, caps, magazine covers, banners, an authentic helmet and a hockey-table decorated with the Pittsburgh logo and colors. But the grand display of Steeler pride is his pickup. Montoya’s pick-up is yellow and black, has a Steeler license plate and the Steeler emblem in the black and yellow interior of the truck.

Both men had similar paths when it comes to the love for their teams. Montoya’s mother, Lupe, is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan and Montoya grew to love the team watching the football games with her.

Vestal’s love for the Seahawks was because of his father’s love for the team. John Sr. lived in the Seattle area before he joined the air force. He was later stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, where he retired in 1974 and stayed to live in the area.

“I’m going to sit at home with my dad and enjoy the fact that they’re in the Super Bowl,” Vestal said. “I was so happy when they finally made it.”

Vestal, an Eastern New Mexico University student who graduated from Clovis High School, said his father used to talk about the Seahawks all the time and about how beautiful Seattle is. Vestal still has many relatives in the Seattle area. While Vestal was living in Seattle as a kid he can remember how excited the people of Seattle were when they first got the Seahawk franchise in 1976.

Montoya said he was born the year the Steelers last won the Super Bowl, in 1975.

Montoya said Lupe was crushed when she saw Pittsburgh’s Jerome Bettis fumble the ball deep in Indianapolis territory and the Colts drove the football to within field goal range. Mike Vanderjagt’s missed field goal that would have tied the game, bailed Bettis out.

Montoya’s younger brother, Gabriel, is also a die-hard Steeler fan. Montoya has another brother, Sammy, who is a Dallas Cowboys fan and Mario, who is a Chicago Bears fan, while Robert Sr. is a Denver fan. Montoya and his brother Sammy watched Super Bowl XXX together when the Cowboys defeated Pittsburgh 27-17, something Montoya said Sammy has not let him forget.

Vestal has not been able to watch the Super Bowl for the last nine years because he’s had to work on that day. Vestal, who works at Domino’s, had an agreement with another co-worker before the start of the conference championship game between Carolina and Seattle. If Carolina won, Vestal would have to work on one of the busiest days of the year for Domino’s. If Seattle won, she would have to work.

Montoya said he knows many Steeler fans who live in Portales and Clovis, such as Fry Urioste, Ernie Pena and Mark Aranda.

Vestal has a tougher time finding Seattle fans in the area, but he knew of at least one more. Katherine Combs, who lives in Portales and graduated from ENMU, will be cheering for Seattle on Super Bowl Sunday.

Combs grew up in Spokane and her family still lives in Spokane and they are big Seahawk fans. Combs said she will be calling her family during the game.

“I’m so pumped about the game, I can’t wait,” Combs said. She said she will probably watch the game with her sorority sisters. One of her friends will be rooting for Pittsburgh. “I’ve been a Seahawk fan since I was 10 years old (and I) have a friend Yvette, who is a Denver Broncos’ fan, who is going to be cheering for Pittsburgh.”

Montoya said he likes the Pittsburgh defense, but he likes Bettis the most on the team.

“It’s probably going to be his last year, so I’d be nice to see him win the Super Bowl,” Montoya said.

Vestal was a huge fan of Dave Krieg, Steve Largent and Chris Warren when they played for Seattle. He said Shaun Alexander is a player he really admires.

“He’s one of the nicest players, he doesn’t do crazy celebrations like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson when he scores a touchdown,” Vestal said. “He’s the kind of player you would want to root for.”