I have actually discovered something in this country that crosses all political, religious, socio-economic class, ethnic, age and gender lines.
It’s a little thing called Steeler Nation.
And although we are in the midst of the MLB season, the Stanley Cup Finals, the NBA Playoffs and I’ll Have Another’s quest for horse racing’s Triple Crown, I thought it would it would be fun to look at 25 famous people who are fans of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
Let’s do it.
I have actually discovered something in this country that crosses all political, religious, socio-economic class, ethnic, age and gender lines.
It’s hard not to be a football fan when your mother’s family founded the Pittsburgh Steelers and her father's family founded the New York Giants.
Although the Mara sisters probably can’t be classified as “die-hard“ Steelers fans because of their links to the G-Men, their attachment to the team is good enough for me for to squeeze them onto my Top 25 list.
Rooney Mara is a actress who starred in The Social Network and made her claim to fame in 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, where she starred as the title character, Lisbeth Salander.
For her performance she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture in a Drama.
Rooney’s sister Kate Mara starred in the movie Brokeback Mountain and the FX television series American Horror Story.
On CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman last year, Rooney Mara said she resented football growing up but told Letterman, "Now I appreciate it. It's a very unique part of my family."
When asked by the king of late night television which team she prefers to watch on Sundays, she said, "The Giants. I mean, I like the Steelers, too, but my dad works for the Giants."
That's not much of an endorsement for the black and gold. But when your first name’s Rooney, you and your sister are the great-granddaughters of team founder Art Rooney and your great-uncle (Dan Rooney) is the team’s chairman, I feel I am forced to include these two by bloodline.
Both families have maintained at least partial ownership of both teams since they were founded.
Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson may be a new-found Steelers fan, but he’s a fan nonetheless.
Johnson told SportsIllustrated.com how he became a member of Steelers Nation when asked to make a pick in Super Bowl XLV: "For me, I'm Steelers all the way,” he said. “When Madden Football first came out, my friends picked their teams and I picked the Steelers, so that is how I became a fan, because I worked my friends over as the Steelers.
“I was at the Super Bowl when they beat the Arizona Cardinals in the last minute with that touchdown pass, pulling for them like crazy. I had my Steelers hat on when they played the New York Jets last week and I'm going to have my Steelers hat on Sunday, cheering for them.”
So he’s maybe not as die-hard a fan as some face-painting, Primanti Bros.-eating, Terrible Towel-waving Pittsburghers, but he certainly is on board.
Works for me.
His movies may not exactly be high-brow, but his taste in NFL teams certainly is.
Actor and Saturday Night Live alum Adam Sandler is a big a fan of the black and gold, so much so that he lured former head coach Bill Cowher to perform in his famous football-comedy The Waterboy.
And his character in the remake of The Longest Yard was even a quarterback for the Steelers.
But Sandler may not deem the Steelers as his favorite team, as most forums, message boards and pictures indicate he is a bigger fan of the New York Jets.
Maybe that’s how the Jets got Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.
American rapper Wiz Khalifa—government name Cameron Jibril Thomaz— busted onto the mainstream scene with his hit “Black and Yellow” last year, an homage of sorts to the famous colors of his favorite team, the Steelers.
In the video for "Black and Yellow," Khalifa can be seen waving the team’s famous Terrible Towel while wearing a T-shirt bearing a Steelers Super Bowl ring.
The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Khalifa was named 2012 Billboard Music Awards Best New Artist winner in large part because of the success of that catchy song.
Part of a military family, Khalifa lived in Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan before moving to the Steel City and settling down.
There he attended Pittsburgh’s Taylor Allderdice High School and his love for the hometown gridiron legends grew.
Khalifa told MTV he hoped the song would become the team’s de facto anthem.
"We got two or three records that we're tossing around; it's just the order of which ones we're gonna put out," Khalifa said. "Right now, there's one that's gonna be real big for Pittsburgh. It's gonna be the Steelers' anthem: It's called 'Black and Yellow.' "
Well, it worked and a hometown star was born. And apparently the anthem appealed to more than just Pittsburghers.
Here are some appropriate lyrics from it:
Repping my town when you see me you know everything
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
And if you’re confused, you’ll have to just ask Wiz himself why “black and yellow” and not black and gold. And while you’re at it, you might want to ask him why he chose to go with the name Wiz.
The host of the nation’s most-listened to radio show, Rush Limbaugh has always been a big football fan. For a short time he was a member of ESPN's NFL Countdown and was also part of a group that made an attempt to buy the St. Louis Rams a couple of years ago.
A devout Steelers fan, Limbaugh was recently urged by a caller to abandon his love for the black and gold because the team had presented President Obama with a game ball.
I’d better move on to No. 20 on my list. Writing about Limbaugh or President Obama is sure to alienate half of the readers either way, and I really don’t to like to mix my dislike for politics with my love for football.
And god would I love to see Wiz Khalifa (No. 22), Limbaugh and the guy I have listed next at No. 20 sitting back-to-back-to-back in the stands at Heinz Field.
I’m sure Kim Kardashian will be single for a year straight before that ever happens.
Better known in pop culture as Mini-Me from the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Verne Troyer is a big follower of the Steelers.
As seen here in this YouTube clip in a goofy nightclub interview by a dweeb who refers to Ben Roethlisberger as “Ratzenberger,” Troyer says his favorite Steeler of all time is Jack Lambert and his favorite memory is their last Super Bowl win (against the Cardinals).
Troyer may have been higher on my list, but if you check out the clip carefully, it looks like he is wearing a jersey from some other NFL team, quite possibly the Lions.
Flag on the play, Mini-Me.
Best known for her role as Betty Draper-Francis on the television show Mad Men on AMC, January Jones makes no bones about it: she is a black-and-gold bleeding Steelers fan and knows her football.
The beautiful blonde told USA Today in an interview before the 2011 Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals, "They're [the Steelers] my favorite team," before rushing “over to my sister's when I'm done. She's cooking and having some people over, which should be fun."
And Jones really takes the game football seriously. "I just don't like it when people are running around and being too animated, not caring about the game," she opined.
"I like to sit and actually watch the game. I'm like, 'Please stop talking about Lea Michele's performance!' When halftime's over, let's get back to the game.”
A woman after my heart.
How does a baseball pitcher who rose to prominence in Philadelphia for the Phillies become a Steelers fan? I guess good taste knows no boundaries.
Actually, Schilling considers his family’s metro Pittsburgh area home and has always been a fan of the black and gold.
Schilling has gone as far as defending his beloved Steelers in an interview in Boston while he played for the Red Sox. In another interview, he said that Swann's famous catch against the Cowboys in Super Bowl X was his most memorable play in team history.
Way more than good enough for me, brother.
Paul Rudd is an actor who has starred in a variety of famous comedies like Clueless, Anchorman, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Although he grew up outside of Kansas City, Rudd told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he has always had a huge spot in his heart for the six-time Super Bowl champions.
"I used to go to Pittsburgh a lot when I was a kid. I was a die-hard Steelers fan," he said. "Huge. More than comedies or movies or anything like that, it was the main thing in my life [his Steelers fandom] that I cared about the most."
Rudd admittedly has grown to also become a fan of his hometown Chiefs over the years. But once a Steelers fan, always a Steelers fan in my book, Frenchy.
Some have doubted country music legend Hank Williams, Jr.’s devotion to the Steelers (because he was wearing a Tennessee Titans jersey while singing the Monday Night Football theme), but it doesn’t take much research to see he’s a huge fan.
Born in same Louisiana hospital less than a year apart from legendary Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Williams was part of the Steelers’ 75th anniversary celebration and even sang the national anthem before the Baltimore Ravens game.
In an interview with the website PittsburghSteelers.com, Williams said, “The Rooney’s are great. “They have done so many special things for me. They know that my love for the team comes from inside my heart. I’ve worn so many Steelers things in so many auditoriums in my life. It doesn’t matter what city I am in.”
”I talk to people in the Steelers office almost every week,” he continued. “We speak a lot. I went to training camp a few years ago. I don’t get to see all of the games, but I do watch a lot of them on tape because of my schedule."
If Williams Jr., who also performed at Heinz Field during the 2009 AFC Championship game, isn’t considered at least a part-time Steelers fan with all that, then I don’t know who is.
Maybe not a die-hard Steelers fan, but Christina Aguilera grew up with her mother at her grandmother's home in Rochester, Pa., outside of Pittsburgh.
As a child, Aguilera, who now stars on NBC’s reality singing show The Voice, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Steelers (as well as Pirates and Penguins) games.
And before Super Bowl XLV in 2011 when the Steelers played the Green Bay Packers, Aguilera also sang the national anthem.
So, she grew up in Pittsburgh? Check. She sang before Steelers games? Check. And she sang before the last Steelers Super Bowl game? Check.
If that doesn’t qualify as a Steelers fan, than I should stop right now and start working on a Philadelphia Eagles Top 25 famous-fan list or something.
How does a basketball player who grew up in Dallas become a Steelers fan? Just ask New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams.
This YouTube clip is proof enough for me and all of you Steelers fans. When asked what it was like growing up in Big D and being a Steelers fan, Williams calmly said, “You get a lot of crap from people.”
Watch it and make up your own mind.
The star of the television comedy Mike & Molly, Billy Gardell, is certainly a Steelers fan.
So much so that the subject comes up in many of his interviews. During the AFC Championship game two season ago, he was shown wearing a customized Steelers home jersey and waving a Terrible Towel.
I’d have to say I’ve never met anyone who has a customized Steelers jersey and a Terrible Towel in his or her possession that wasn’t a Steelers fan.
Jeff Goldblum has made a number of incredible movies, including The Fly (pictured above) and has always made celebrity lists of famous Steelers fans.
Goldblum was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Homestead, making it virtually impossible for him to be a fan of any other NFL team.
Wrestling legend Kurt Angle takes down the No. 11 spot on my list.
The former five-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion is the only Olympic gold medalist in the history of professional wrestling, and he makes no bones about it in interviews that he has always been a massive black and gold guy.
Angle was born the city of Mt. Lebanon, Pa. in 1968, an affluent suburb of Pittsburgh.
Professional boxer Roy Jones won numerous world titles in his career in the middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, but when it comes to football, he’s a Pittsburgh Steelers guy all the way.
Jones told steelers.com how he became a fan:.
“Way back in the day when Franco Harris and Lynn Swann were on the team, as a kid I knew who they were. Everybody around where I was liked Dallas,” he said. “ liked (Terry) Bradshaw, Swann, all of those guys.
“My godmother asked me who was my favorite team and I didn’t have one then. She wanted to send me a belt buckle for Christmas. I was like, 'I like Pittsburgh’s colors better, so send me one of theirs.' Since that day, I was a Steelers fan.”
So there you have it.
Chalk up one for Madden Football (Jimmie Johnson) and another one for a belt buckle bought by grandma as the links between two celebrity Steelers fans and their allegiances.
Country star Toby Keith cracks the Top 10 on my famous fan list and is another long-time black and gold backer.
Keith, who once played played tight end with a semipro team, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about some issues that arose for a show of his in the Steel City:
"The last time we tried to play one night in Pittsburgh we had to refund a lot of money to people who couldn't get in [because of long traffic lines], Keith said.
“I'm a lifetime Steeler fan—a Terrible Towel-waving cat and as blue collar as it comes. I've always felt that sense of 'this is your town' when I'm there. It's so blue collar there, so hard hat, they've just kind of adopted me as theirs."
Known for his roles in such films as Batman, Pacific Heights, Beetlejuice and many others, Michael Keaton is a well-known Steelers backer from way back.
Keaton grew up in suburban Pittsburgh and follows all the city's teams.
He is pictured above on the sidelines before Pittsburgh's win over Seattle in Super Bowl XL.
Mr. October is a Steelers fan? Of course, he is.
Reggie Jackson has been a Steelers fan for more than four decades since he and legendary running back Franco Harris developed a close friendship.
The Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and 1973 American League MVP is shown in the above picture with former Steelers defensive back Donnie Shell.
The former lead singer of the rock group Poison, Brett Michaels is one of the more well-known Steelers celebrity fans.
He hails from Butler, Pa. and showed his black and gold colors on the reality TV show Rock of Love and even has a guitar with the Steelers logo on it.
Michaels, who was the winner of the 2010 reality television show The Celebrity Apprentice, was once a member of a group of Steelers fans called "Lambert's Lunatics," a human homage to one of the greatest middle linebackers in NFL history, Jack Lambert.
Good taste there, Brett.
Trust me, no one on the list knows more about the Pittsburgh Steelers and would be a better fan to talk with about the black and gold than Scott Ferrall.
The Pittsburgh-born, gravelly-voiced, speedy-talking host of The Scott Ferrall Show (Monday-Friday, 8 p.m.-12 a.m. ET) on SiriusXM Radio (channel Howard 101) is one of the most intelligent and honest voices in the history of sports radio. Trust me.
Ferrall's broadcasting career began at all-news KQV radio in his hometown of Pittsburgh. During their inaugural season, he was the play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers.
Although he is huge hockey (and Pittsburgh Penguins) fan, Ferrall—who was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1999—knows more and talks in-depth about a wider variety sports than anyone to ever grace the airwaves. Plus, he is as die-hard a Steelers fan as you will ever find.
Once Calvin Broadus, then Snoop Doggy Dogg and now just Snoop Dogg, this marijuana-loving West Coast rapper has been a member of the Steelers Nation since 1970 when he used to watched games with his grandfather.
The “Smooth Macadamia” has attended Pittsburgh’s last three Super Bowl appearances and is a huge football fan. He coaches a team in and promotes youth football and founded the Snoop Dogg Youth Football League.
And I dare you to try to find another list on the planet on which Rush Limbaugh and Snoop Dogg are both members.
The head writer for Saturday Night Live and host of the show's Weekend Update segment, Seth Myers has so much black in gold in his blood he felt the need to wave a Terrible Towel during the show on March 1, 2008, at the end of the Weekend Update segment in honor of the late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope.
Although Myers hails from the state of New Hampshire and is a big fan of the NBA’s Boston Celtics and MLB’s Boston Red Sox, his father is from Pittsburgh, and, according to the funnyman, being a fan of the Steelers was a "not negotiable" thing.
Pretty smart dad there, Seth.
Best-selling author John Grisham (“The Pelican Brief,” “A Time To Kill,” “The Firm”) is another very famous member of Steeler Nation who isn’t afraid to hide his love for his Steelers.
Grisham’s novel “The Associate,” is set in the Steel City and he has said, "I chose Pittsburgh because I am a big fan of the Steelers and Pirates. Franco Harris and Roberto Clemente are two of my all-time favorite stars. And I have enjoyed many games in Pittsburgh."
He is pictured above before a Steelers game talking to head coach Mike Tomlin.
One of the greatest golfers in the history of the game, none other than Arnold Palmer gets the top spot in my “25 Famous Fans of the Black and Gold” list.
Palmer was born in football-rich western Pennsylvania and lives in Latrobe, home of the Steelers training camp.
He was also extremely close friends with Steelers founder Art Rooney and is pictured above with Pittsburgh running back extraordinaire Jerome Bettis.
Scouring the Internet, message boards and chat rooms, I came across enough famous names linked to the Pittsburgh Steelers that this very well could have grown into a Top 50 or Top 100 slideshow.
The two biggest names I found with even the remotest connection to the team were Frank Sinatra (pictured above with Franco Harris wearing a “Franco’s Army” helmet after being inducted as a “One-Star General) and, Elvis Presley, who according to one poster on steelersforum.com said to his nurse while watching Super Bowl X, “You know I'm not pulling for the Cowboys—I'm a Steelers fan".
How do you like them apples, Bubba?
Also deemed a Steelers fan, although I couldn’t find enough real proof to justify his inclusion on this list was Burt Reynolds, who played college football at Florida State and was actually drafted by the Baltimore Colts.
Reynolds is well-known for his role as Paul Crewe in the original The Longest Yard, where he plays a former Steelers quarterback. He also starred as another former Steelers player in the television series Evening Shade.
Married With Children star Ed O'Neill was an undrafted free agent of the Steelers in the summer of 1969 and is also rumored to be a member of the Steeler Nation.
Some of the many other famous folks whom I saw claims of being Steelers fans but could not confirm include musicians Charlie Daniels, Kid Rock (Detroit die-hard), Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins, P!nk, Chris Kirkpatrick (‘N Sync), Mac Miller (rapper) and Billy Talent (Canadian punk rock band).
Also, Hollywood types Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt, David Boreanaz, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Costner, Bruce Willis, Dennis Miller, Julie Benz (Dexter), Gwyneth Paltrow, Alyssa Milano, Sharon Stone, Zachary Quinto and Mr. T have all been rumored to be fans of the Steelers.
And you can add Thomas Tobin (the Diocese of Providence), Michael Hayden (former CIA director), Jim Furyk (golfer), Rocco Mediate (golfer), Lucas Glover (golfer), Shawn Johnson (Olympic gymnast), Teresa Heinz (philanthropist and wife of John Kerry), and, believe it or not, girlfriend of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen (model).
And wouldn’t that just be the bee’s knees if Gisele came out publicly and admitted she was a member of Steeler Nation?
So there you have it. That is almost everyone I could find—I kept a couple of controversial names out so as not to taint the Steelers name or stir up nasty debate in the comment section below—who is confirmed to be or even remotely linked to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If you have any others you know of, or have heard of, feel free to leave them below.
And it’s never too early to get your Terrible Towels ready for the 2012 season.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11