It's a snowy and cold morning here in the Rockies so I wanted to post something that warms my heart and gives me goose bumps while being read. It was sent to me a while back. I just stumbled upon it in my email inbox randomly while searching for something else. It reminded me just how unique the Steeler Nation is and how awesome it is to be a part of it. Enjoy.
January 18, 2006
Think about this the next time someone argues that a professional sports
franchise is not important to a city's identity:
In the 1980's, as the steel mills and their supporting factories shut
down from Homestead to Midland, Pittsburghers, faced for the first time
in their lives with the specter of unemployment, were forced to pick up
their families, leave their home towns and move to more profitable parts
of the country. The steel workers were not ready for this. They had
planned to stay in the 'burgh their entire lives. It was home.
Everyone I know can tell the same story about how Dad, Uncle Bob or
their brother-in-law packed a U-Haul and headed down to Tampa to build
houses or up to Boston for an office job or out to California to star in
pornographic videos. All right. Maybe that last one just happened in my family.
At this same time, during the early to mid-eighties, the
Pittsburgh Steelers were at the peak of their popularity. Following the
Super Bowl dynasty years, the power of the Steelers was strong. Every
man, woman, boy and girl from parts of four states were Pittsburgh
faithful, living and breathing day to day on the news of their favorite
team. Then, as now, it seemed to be all anyone talked about.
Who do you think the Steelers will take in the draft this
Is Bradshaw done?
Can you believe they won't give Franco the money - what's
he doing going to Seattle?
The last memories most unemployed steel workers had of
their towns had a black and gold tinge. The good times remembered all
seemed to revolve, somehow, around a football game. Sneaking away from
your sister's wedding reception to go downstairs to the bar and watch
the game against Earl Campbell and the Oilers - going to midnight mass,
still half in the bag after Pittsburgh beat Oakland - you and your
grandfather, both crying at the sight of The Chief, finally holding his
Vince Lombardi Trophy.
And then, the mills closed.
Damn the mills.
One of the unseen benefits of the collapse of the value
systems our families believed in - that the mill would look after you
through thick and thin - was that now, decades later, there is not a
town in America where a Pittsburgher cannot feel at home. Nearly every
city in the United States has a designated "Black and Gold"
establishment. From Bangor, Maine to Honolulu, Hawaii, and every town in
between can be found an oasis of Iron City, chipped ham and yinzers.
It's great to know that no matter what happened in the lives of our
Steel City refugees, they never forgot the things that held us together
as a city - families, food, and Steelers football.
It's what we call the Steeler Nation.
You see it every football season. And when the Steelers
have a great year, as they have had this season, the power of the
Steeler Nation rises to show itself stronger than ever. This week, as
the Pittsburgh team of Roethlisberger, Polamalu, Bettis and Porter head
to Denver, the fans of Greenwood, Lambert, Bleier and Blount, the
generation who followed Lloyd, Thigpen, Woodson and Kirkland will be
watching from Dallas to Chicago, from an Air Force base in Minot, North
Dakota, to a tent stuck in the sand near Fallujah, Iraq.
I have received more e-mail from displaced Pittsburgh
Steelers fans this week than Christmas cards this holiday season.
We are the Steeler Nation.
And now, it's passing from one generation to the next. The
children of displaced Pittsburghers, who have never lived in the Steel
City, are growing up Steelers fans. When they come back to their
parents' hometowns to visit the grandparents, they hope, above all, to
be blessed enough to get to see the Steelers in person.
Heinz Field is their football Mecca.
And if a ticket isn't available, that's okay, too. There's
nothing better than sitting in Grandpa's living room, just like Dad did,
eating Grandma's cooking and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Just like Dad did.
So, to you, Steeler Nation, I send best wishes and a fond
wave of the Terrible Towel. To Tom, who emailed from Massachusetts to
say how great it was to watch the Patriots lose and the Steelers win in
one glorious weekend. To Michelle, from Milwaukee, who wrote to let me
know it was she who hexed Mike Vanderjagt last Sunday by chanting
"boogity, boogity, boogity" and giving him the "maloik". To Jack, who
will somehow pull himself away from the beach bar he tends in Hilo,
Hawaii, to once again root for the black and gold in the middle of the
night (his time), I say, thanks for giving power to the great Steeler
All around the NFL, the word is out that the Pittsburgh
Steeler fans "travel well", meaning they will fly or drive from
Pittsburgh to anywhere the Steelers play, just to see their team. The
one aspect about that situation the rest of the NFL fails to grasp is
that, sometimes, the Steeler Nation does not have to travel. Sometimes,
we're already there.
Yes, the short sighted steel mills screwed our families
But they did, in a completely unintended way, create
something new and perhaps more powerful than an industry.
They helped created a nation.
A Steeler Nation.