The Day You Became A Steelers Fan


I was first going to title this post “When did you Fall in Love with the Steelers”, and perhaps that would be a more apt title, but I went with something a little simpler. Some of us can remember our first kiss, our first date, the day we graduated High School, etc. However, when it comes to identifying the moment we started following a particular sports team, most of us have a crystal clear memory of that day.
My favorite baseball team has always been the Cardinals, mainly because it was my favorite bird and they wore my favorite color (red). Over the years, I’ve grown apart from those simpler reasons for being a Cardinals fan. In the early 80′s I rooted for the Islanders in the NHL but now I am a Rangers fan but can’t remember why. I have no NBA team I root for, although in college basketball I have rooted for Duke since the mid 80′s, again with no clear reason why. In college football, it’s always been Penn State for me, ever since the 1981 Fiesta Bowl. However, all of those teams take a backseat to my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
I remember very clearly the moment I fell in love with the Steelers and why. It was January 4th, 1975, eight months shy of my 4th birthday. The Steelers were playing their arch rivals, the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship game. The game was at Three Rivers and it was cold and a blanket of ice covered the field. Typical of their usual contests, the game was hard-hitting, tense and close for most of the four quarters. The, Steelers WR Lynn Swann went over the middle to catch a pass and was leveled by the Raiders’ George Atkinson. I remember the announcers (Curt Gowdy and Don Meredith) remarking how that was a vicious, even dirty hit. I remember my mom remarking the same thing, saying “that was bad”. Well, being three and never wanting to be bad or have anything to do with being bad, I decided I wasn’t going to root for the bad team, I was going to root for the Steelers, the good team. And simple as that, I was a Steelers fan. And I have never wavered since.
As my childhood progressed so did my love for the black and gold. I dreamed about lining up next to Mean Joe and Lambert or catching a pass from Terry Bradshaw.For Halloween 1978 there is a picture of me in a Bradshaw uniform, complete with helmet and shoulder pads (designed naturally for kids), and for that brief moment captured in that photo I thought I was Terry. I lived and died with every Steelers game on TV. When the Steelers played the Rams in Superbowl XIV, my mom snuck me downstairs after putting my sister and I to bed so I could watch the rest of the game and then hid me under a blanket when my sister came into the living room (thankfully she went right back to bed or I would’ve missed the game). And then when the Steelers won the game, my mom and I (silently) cheered and jumped around the room. Being a Steelers fan in the 70′s made for some of the happiest days of my life.
Like all things we love, besides joy there is an element of sadness too. As the 1980′s came things changed that diminished the joys of the previous decade. I cried when Terry hurt his elbow and retired. I cried when the Steelers cut Franco Harris. I began to understand and read how football was a business and cutting Harris was a business move. As Mark Malone, Scott Campbell, Todd Blackledge, and Bubby Brister took turns taking snaps under center I longed for the days of Bradshaw winging bombs to Swann and Stallworth. I just couldn’t find the same enthusiasm for Walter Abercrombie as I could for Franco. Edmund Nelson and Keith Gary were no Mean Joe and L.C. And as the Chuck Noll years came to their dismal close, I felt a chapter in my life came to a close as well. I was graduating high school, uncertain the direction my life was taking, and unsure about the future of my favorite team.
And like all things we love, something comes along and rekindles it, ignites it and sends it to new and exciting places. For me, it was the Bill Cowher Steelers years. I loved Cowher, he was the perfect person to re-ignite the team and the fans. When Neil O’Donnell’s pass fell short in the end zone in the 1994 AFC Championship, I flung myself off the couch and landed on the floor crying. Yes, at 23 years old I was crying for the Steelers all over again. It was great.
From that day to today, I’ve broken many TV remotes after hurling them against the TV after a Ben interception, and I nearly had a coronary cheering James Harrison on as he ran back and INT against the Cardinals in Superbowl XLIII(that whole season in particular was a roller coaster for my blood pressure). And through the madness and the joy I realize I will never love, can never love any football team other than the Steelers. It’s like being a kid all over again.
So, I want to hear from you! When did you become a Steeler fan?

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  • Leonardo

    I live in Brazil , here the ppopulation don’t like football , they don’t know football , they just like soccer , but the ESPN start to trasnmit football since years 2000, but only one game week , i’m only 20 years old now, i started to watch NFL in 2008 but i didn’t have a team . The SUPER BOWL XLIII has came, and i watched the black and yellow team , against the cardinals , at that point i didn’t have a preference , but that James Harrison’s INTERCEPTION was sensational , i started to be a steelers fan , and fall in lovewith steelers, when santonio holmes catched that ball at the end of the game . It was sensational ! Since this game i’m a steeler forever ! A STEELER FAN FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY , FROM BRAZIL I’M REPRESETATING THIS NATION ! sorry about my english , it’s not very good

  • skyfire322

    I was jumping back and forth from NY to Pittsburgh for the first 16 years of my life while my sister was at the Childrens Hospital. I was a huge Giants fan (mainly because of LT), but one day in 1991 when I was visiting my sister at the hospital, a few Steelers (Carnell, Merril, and Bubby) came in for a meet and greet with all of the patients, and also gave out a few tickets to the Redskins game! I distinctly remember telling my parents “Who are these guys? They’re really cool!”

    Even though they lost 41-14, that was the day I became a die hard Steelers fan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/chad.weaver.3705 Chad Weaver

    I was born one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jhbinaz Jason Brooks

    I was given a Steelers letter-man jacket (black torso, gold sleeves) for my 4th birthday in 1980…my whole family was Raiders/49ers fans at the time and my senile Great Grandpa thought it would be funny…still have the jacket in a box in the garage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peter.kennedy.5209 Peter Kennedy

    The Immaculate Reception was when I became a Steeler fan at age 9. After that I was hooked for life. The ’70′s were an amazing time to be a fan. So many amazing players with big personalities to love. And then when Harrison returned the interception for a TD my 4 year started to cry because me, my 7 year old son and wife were cheering so loudly. And then the catch to end the game. I love being a Steeler fan. I have Franco’s rookie playing card, as well as Woodson, Ham, Bradshaw, Lambert, Polamalu and Hines Ward’s cards on the wall at my home office. And now both son’s are fans with a Polamalu Fat Head, shrits and hats.

  • Michael

    I watched my first complete football game in 1984, at the tender age of 20. It was no NFL game, but one of the German Football League, semi pro at best.

    Back then, there was no NFL coverage in the German media whatsoever, except for a 10 minute highlight film of the Super Bowl on TV. The one notable exception was a bimonthly magazine devoted to this wonderful sport. Needless to say, there was no NFL merchandize to speak of – except for some team emblem posters that were sold by the same company that published the afore mentioned magazine.

    And so, I made the choice of my favourite team based upon these posters, and the one I liked most was the Steelers. It featured Bradshaw and Swann in front of a bessemer converter, just releasing some molted steel. I liked that industrial type image – though I had no steel workers in my ancestry, some of my both maternal and paternal family had moved to our region to work as coal miners.

    Imagine how delighted I was to find out that my favourite team did not only have a great poster, but was also bloody successful. And years later, in 1993, I would also learn that it was based in a beautiful city with lovely people.

    Best regards,

    Michael

  • VRWC

    I may actually be the luckiest NFL fan on earth. I started out as a Jets fan living in New Jersey and I still remeber watching them beat the Colts in SB III when I was 9 years old…. we moved to Pittsburgh a few months later, during Noll’s first season.
    Took me a year or so, but I eventually shifted to a fan of all the Pittsburgh teams… starting with the Pirates in their 1971 title year. We got Steeler season tickets in 1972 and that just sealed the deal.
    So I got the Jets one shining moment and then avoided the misery of their next 40 years thanks to our move to the ‘Burgh….still grateful about that……