For the most passionate Steelers fans, each season has a distinct identity. Every journey has a slightly different cast of characters, unique feel, and a timeless storyline that is forever etched into the annals of team history.
From hearing Myron's call of "Yoi and double yoi!" during the radio broadcast to carrying on with other fans at the local sports bar, any loyalist can tell you where they were during some of the most key moments.
As I write these words, I look up at the wall to view my first Terrible Towel. The letters are faded and the cloth is slightly worn, but the cheers that I screamed as it swung rampantly in the circling wind of Three Rivers Stadium during my first ever live game maintain their vibrancy. My grandfather gave me this yellow badge of honor, commemorative of my first live game day experience, in 1994.
The Steelers lost that day as Neil O'Donnell's last minute pass to Barry Foster fell incomplete.
The most loyal fans also know where they were during the heartaches.
Beauty, a noun defined by the eye of the beholder, is the Lombardi Trophy for any proud Pittsburgh fan. Whether hoisted by Art Rooney himself or son Dan, these seasons, which the real fans can name out loud without missing a beat—1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008—were the most beautiful. The Steelers achieved their goal, fanatics adorned in black and gold reveled in the glory, making new memories became wonderful moments in team history.
To ask the fans about the best Steelers season in history is to formally ask for a ranking of the six campaigns listed above.
Steelers history spans generations, however. Even to only date back to the start of the Super Bowl era would be to cross years and years of a tradition of excellence. Sometimes, we achieved our biggest goal—we, I say, for the loyal fans and team that create this phenomenon that is Steelers Country.
Yet, even when we didn't, there were great moments to be embraced. Most champion athletes, upon reflecting on their accomplishments, cite the best part of winning a title as the journey in getting to that summit. Had they lost, that journey would still be the same, only sullied by the reality of retrospect.
In that manner of thinking, the greatest Steelers seasons are not necessarily the championships; they are the journeys, only sometimes resulting in a hoist of the affectionately dubbed "Sticky Lombardi."
This is a countdown of the most exciting seasons in team history with one catch—Super Bowl winners are out of the mix! Instead of viewing this as strictly a countdown of the strength of the non-champions (which it is not), think of this ranking born from respect for the fine seasons that brought fans a lot of joy in spite of the eventual shortcomings.
Of non-Super Bowl campaigns, these were the most exciting! In their respective time, they all brought the Steelers Nation closer together.
And, as any member of Steelers Country will tell you, a nation bonded can be as strong as Steel!