As children, there are a lot of things that we learn throughout our adolescent years - how to walk, how to tie our shoes, what we should and shouldn’t put in our mouth – there are so many things that we need to be taught.
But, growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, there was one thing that I never had to learn – not necessarily. What was that, you may ask? It was that certain feeling that took over the house on Sundays as we all gathered around the television during the most wonderful time of the year (and no, I’m not talking about Christmas).
I’m talking about football season.
If you’re a Pittsburgh native, you know how it is when you enter Steeler Nation. To paraphrase Wiz Khalifa, “everything we do, we do it big.” The Steel City has produced a lot of great things in the past, but what goes on in Heinz Field gives ‘great’ a whole new meaning. There is something so surreal about stepping into that stadium for a home game – seeing the blur of thousands of Terrible Towels in a sea of black and yellow, hearing the screams and hollers of some of the most devoted football fans in America. Football is not a hobby here. It’s not even just a sport. In Pittsburgh, football is a religion.
Even if you’re not from the Burgh, you’ve no doubt heard tales of how seriously the city takes its sports. Just a few weeks ago, Primanti Brother’s restaurants in Pittsburgh refused to serve fish leading up to the first round of the AFC play-offs, in which the Steelers took on (and crushed the Super Bowl dreams of) the Miami Dolphins at home. This past week, Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh wrapped their newborn infants in Terrible Towels as the city itself prepared for the next step as the team inches closer and closer to the playoffs. We are a city with no problem showing our devotion, our spirit, and our dedication to one hell of a team.
There have been ups, and there have been downs. Though we haven't won a Super Bowl Championship since 2009, Pittsburgh still leads all NFL teams in Super Bowl wins (Pittsburgh: 6, followed by the San Francisco 49ers & Dallas Cowboys with 5). 2017 is ten years since we said goodbye to coach Bill Cowher and hello to young and bold Mike Tomlin, and six years since we rooted for out team in a Super Bowl. Still, fans never faltered. Steeler Nation never dwindled.
Now here we are on another Sunday night, gathered around the television as our beloved Steelers take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Kansas City. At the end of the second quarter, it is too early to make any assumptions and I wouldn't want to anyways. Superstition is real here. It is why we wear the same shirt 5 Sundays in a row or spend the evening with the same group of people as always or sit in the exact same spot on the couch for a few hours just in case because you would never forgive yourself if you changed one little thing and your favorite team took an L.
We are all a part of the teams we cheer for. Without the fans, there wouldn't be a point to the game. I feel so blessed to have grown up in a city that takes so much pride in their history, their teams, and their fans. No matter what happens tonight or next week or even next season I - and all or you other yinzers out there glued to your television as we approach the end of the first half - will ALWAYS bleed black and gold.