by John Cihon
As we near Pennsylvania’s primary election, an unprecedented number of former Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as team chairman Dan Rooney, have chosen to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. The two most surprising endorsements come from Jerome Bettis, who donated to George W. Bush’s campaign in 2004, and Dan Rooney, who has largely resisted offering political opinions in public before now. Other former Steelers Obama supporters include Franco Harris, Dwight “Mad Dog” White, J.T. Thomas, Robin Cole, Larry Brown and Edmund Nelson. No current Steelers players, possibly due to fear of NFL reprisals, have publicly endorsed Obama or any other candidate.
Obama, for his part, has positively received his Steelers endorsements and noted that the Steelers were his favorite team growing up. Clearly, reaching out to the Steelers’ large fanbase of blue collar, small town Pennsylvanians would help Obama achieve a crucial victory in Pennsylvania. The question is, has Obama already alienated the same voters he’s trying to attract with his earlier remarks about small town Pennsylvanians?
We’ll have a better idea as to the answer to that question tomorrow.