Being a member of the Steeler Nation means being a part of one of the biggest fan bases in the world. It means you are part of a brotherhood, a family. If there is one thing I learned growing up in Pittsburgh, it is that loyalty and family come first.
Next time you are at a game, take a moment and close your eyes while the fans chant and twirl the towel. Cherish the moment, just like other generations of Steeler fans have over the years.
Walk around the city of Pittsburgh and its suburbs on a game day. Everyone is wearing their black and gold. Men, women, children, pets—everyone.
This brotherhood is something that is passed on from generation to generation. I remember watching Steeler games with my father when I was growing up. He would teach me all about the penalties, and what went right and wrong on the plays.
I will become a father in January, and I already envision the day when I’ll be holding my son and watching Steeler games with him. I’ve already gotten a head start on teaching him about rivals. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but I love whispering into her belly and telling him that Cleveland and Baltimore suck. Believe me, I will be a proud father if his first words to me repeat that phrase.
I can’t wait to see him twirl the Terrible Towel and scream “TOUCHDOWN STEELERS!!!” I can’t wait to teach him everything I know about the game, and hopefully someday he will choose to play the game I love so dearly.
Being a part of the Steeler Nation also means you subscribe to the notion that it’s us versus the world. When you have the kind of success that the Steelers or the New York Yankees have, it’s easy to see all the hatred pour out towards your team. People just want you to lose. They’ll revel in the slightest mistake by your franchise, because they want to believe it gives their own team hope.
Steeler Nation stretches all over the world. Dallas wants you to believe they are America’s Team, but they are dead wrong. I don’t see their fans filling opponent’s stadiums. I don’t hear their battle cries on the road.
Watch a Steeler road game and just listen to the chants of “Here we go Steelers here we go!” Observe the Terrible Towel, the flag of the Steeler Nation, fly proudly. I’ve been on the road in Buffalo and Cincinnati. It was a Black and Gold Invasion. The stadiums were almost half full with Steeler fans. Look back and remember how 90 percent of the stadium for Super Bowl XL in Detroit was Pittsburgh fans. We came, we saw, we conquered.
There are Steeler bars in every major city in America. I can guarantee you there aren’t any Dallas Cowboys bars in Pittsburgh.
I don’t know many other fan bases that can lay claim to knowing how this feels. I just know I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Sally Wiggin, a local news anchor in Pittsburgh, appearing in a NFL Films documentary about Steeler Nation, said it best: “Steeler Nation means having one foot firmly planted in tradition, and the other foot planted in the future.”
I couldn’t have spoken it any truer.