Everyone has a story that led them to be a fan of their favorite team. Some are created out of loyalty to a certain player or city/state. Some are due to geographic reasons or being able to see every game of the local team. Perhaps the majority of us can trace our allegiance back to our family.
That is how my story begins with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Being the son of a steelworker, who was the son of a steelworker, it just seems fitting. When I was old enough to ask these important questions, I remember saying, "Dad, why do we root for the Steelers if we live closer to Philadelphia?"
The stern response was, "I work in a steel mill, who else would I root for?" It was a blunt response that really didn't need any more clarification. It was a question from a 5-year-old that got a response a 5-year-old wouldn't question.
I never questioned our fanhood from that day forward.
I was brought up a Steelers fan from day one. The baby pictures hanging in my parents' houses to this day have me in my little Steelers outfit holding a plastic football.
When I was old enough to play catch in the front yard with my dad, I was Louis Lipps going long. It's all of these memories that you get growing up that turn the choice of which team to root for into a foregone conclusion.
Of course, there were many things that have cemented my dedication to the team over the course of my life. Once you start unconditionally following a team, your allegiance starts to grow exponentially. It starts to be a part of the fabric of your life.
When my wife and I were pondering the question of whether to move to Michigan, my first demand was, "I need to order the NFL Sunday Ticket if we do." She said yes, and hasn't questioned my loyalty since.
I don't know what I would do if I didn't have the Steelers to follow through the year. It's just been part of my life as long as I can remember.
A number of Steelers fans probably have a similar story, and perhaps this is what makes Steelers nation so strong. Maybe that's why we've been able to turn two recent Super Bowls into virtual home games.
When you're in Pittsburgh on a fall Sunday, you see it everywhere. You wake up and the neighbors have a couple kids running around the yard in their jerseys. You go out to breakfast and the waitresses have on jerseys. Whether it's a player from this year, or 1978, it doesn't matter: It's black and gold.
When you're in "Steelers Country," people are always talking football. High school, college, or pro, it doesn't matter. Football rules the area, and that makes the Steelers the talk of any bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or anywhere else people gather.
The Steelers have always embodied that often overused cliche of a blue collar town. The fierce, attacking defense, the pound-it-out running game, the hard-nosed coach, have all worked to help the city embrace its franchise.
This is a city that developed the Primanti Brothers sandwich shop, serving coleslaw and fries right on the sandwich to help people eat a whole meal on their short break from the factory. It seems history has led the team and city hand-in-hand.
Then, the great day came when I had a son of my own. He had a Terrible Toddler Towel before he was born. We dressed him in all sorts of Steelers clothes on game days. I'm doing my best to start him out on the same path my dad started me on.
One day when he asks why we're Steelers fans, maybe I'll direct him to his grandfather, so he only has to ask once. The funny part is that the Steelers won the first Super Bowl of my life and the first Super Bowl of my son's.
Maybe we were born to be Steelers fans.
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