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News » Convince us: Steelers blogger makes his case


Convince us: Steelers blogger makes his case


Convince us: Steelers blogger makes his case
This week, Fan-Sided Blogs editor Adam Best ponders which team he and all the other unrepresented NFL fans should root for this Super Bowl Sunday. Chris Viola, die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan and lead blogger of Nice Pick, Cowher, makes the case for his team.


Adam Best: I've never liked the Pittsburgh Steelers. I wish I could say differently, because I know the state of Pennsylvania has been crushed by the recession. Unfortunately, I can't. It's not just the franchise's rich history either. It's Steelers fans; Steeler Nation has always rubbed me the wrong way.

Most Steelers supporters I've met are a perfect fusion of Heidi-and-Spencer obnoxiousness and Grady Jackson obesity. The Terrible Towels are only terrible in one way -- for the rest of us. Whether it be at games or at sports bars, do you have to purposely wave those things in our face like that. I'm pretty sure that's not the use Mr. Cope had in mind when he invented them. Meanwhile, the 3-4 isn't just a defense in Pittsburgh. It's also a Steelers fans' first round of beers and brats once they get inside Heinz Field.

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Is all of Steelers Nation like that? No, of course not. I've met plenty of normal-behaving, normal-sized Stillers supporters. The rest of us NFL fans just fall back on that smack because we're jealous of the Steel Curtain and those five Lombardi Trophies. Then again, many a truth is told in jest. These exaggerations don't just come out of nowhere.

While the girth of Steeler nation is exaggerated, I'm not so sure the gab is. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to swipe one of those Terrible Towels, take it to the restroom and use it for something more practical -- drying my hands, of course. Steelers fans are typically loud-mouthed and unknowledgeable. We Kansas City Chiefs fan can tell you what coverage the defense is in from the bleachers. What do Steelers fans think of when they hear the word coverage? Hot dog toppings.

Seriously, other than Cowboys fans, I have met more intolerable Steelers fans than that of any team (Dolphins fans come in a dangerously close third). If I walk into a bar filled with Steelers jerseys, I do a U-turn. But like Cowboys fans, I know they have as many fans as any team in the league. Perhaps that's what gets under my skin the most. I feel like a lot of 'em jumped on the Stillers bandwagon in the 70s when Terry Bradshaw and Co. were racking up rings.

I was born in Kansas City and baptized a Chiefs fan upon birth. My Chiefs haven't won a Super Bowl in about 40 years, a playoff game since 1993. Meanwhile, the Steelers go to the playoffs nearly every year. They've made seven Super Bowls during the Chiefs' Super Bowl drought. All you thick-and-thin Steelers fans, well, good for you. True die-hard fandom deserves to be rewarded -- pat yourselves on the back of your Bettis jerseys. I've never been to the 'Burgh, and I'm sure there are a lot of you who have always bled Steelers' Black and Gold living there.

On the other hand, I know there are a lot of fair-weather Steelers fans out there. Ones who jumped on the bandwagon in the '70s. Ones who jumped off in the '80s. Ones who jumped back on and took their kids with 'em once Cowher hit town in the '90s. I wish I could live in your world. Unfortunately for my fandom, I value loyalty and so do most people.

More than anything, it's the arrogance of Steelers fans that rubs me the wrong way. Before Herm Edwards turned the Chiefs into a national punchline (6-26 in the last two years), the Chiefs had the best attendance in the league over the past 20 years. What's more impressive?: A.) Loyally supporting arguably the most-decorated franchise in NFL history; or B.) Loyally supporting a franchise that hasn't won a Super Bowl -- or even been to one -- in 40 years. I'll take B every time.

I mean, what is it with the braggadocio of Steelers fans? Are you the ones playing the games? No. Chiefs fans hang our hats on being the most loyal fans in the NFL. All the home sellouts. The Sea of Red. Arrowhead being the loudest stadium in the league. We are directly responsible for all of that. Conversely, Steelers fans rub their winning ways in your face like they were the ones who reeled in the Immaculate Reception. Steeler Nation possesses a certain fan arrogance that is a definite turn-off to the other fan bases around the league.

Am I being a hater? Yes, but I know I'm not the only one. I just can't watch the Steelers win a record sixth Super Bowl when my team hasn't been to one since Nixon was in Obama's shoes. I especially can't suffer Steelers fans going crazy after another Super Bowl victory. I know a lot of my fellow NFL fans feel the same way.

Tell me why any non-Steelers football fan should root for your team? If the Arizona Cardinals win their first Super Bowl ever, it will likely be their only Super Bowl win ever. I can deal with that. How can anybody outside Steeler Nation root for the Steelers when we know they're playing to become the most decorated franchise in league history? Over 90 percent of us are looking for a team this weekend -- tell us why it should be your Steelers.

Chris Viola: As I sit here staring at your rant, I've been debating how to go about making you a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. After several false starts, I came to the realization that I can't. Trying to convince somebody to join Steeler Nation is like trying to convince a vegan that meat tastes good. You either get it or you don't.

I am sick and tired of the ignorant and untrue stereotypes ascribed to Steeler fans. Part of the blame lies in the fact that the public face of a team is usually their cheerleaders. Since the Steelers have none, shots of the largely older crowd are used in their place. What you don't understand is the fans skew older at Heinz Field because we have a 20-year waiting list for season tickets and have sold out every home game since 1978. Plus, I like the fact we don't have cheerleaders. Our fans are educated enough to know when to cheer on their own.

Which isn't to say the Steelers couldn't assemble a fantastic squad if they so desired. In fact, the Steelers were the first NFL franchise to have cheerleaders. They could easily produce a squad which would rival the Charger Girls as the NFL's best. Except our Polish/Italian uber-vixens would come by their assets without need of silicone enhancement. There is a picture of a Rubenesque Roethlisberger fan which is repeatedly posted in an attempt to belittle the legions of women who bleed Black and Gold. For every time that photo is posted, I could post three of cute coeds decked out in their pink No. 7 jerseys.

Yes, there are many young Steeler fans out there. Following the team is something which is passed down from one generation to the next, father to son, mother to daughter. I agree, they probably began their allegiance when the Steelers produced the greatest NFL team of all time in the 1970s. However, I'm a little confused as to how following a team for over 40 years constitutes some sort of bandwagon jumping. The fact their interest remained and then continued on to the next generation should tell you something about the consistent quality the Rooney family puts out on the field.

For many, the Terrible Towel seems to be a source of great agitation. People should understand the Towel was started by legendary Steeler broadcaster Myron Cope in 1975 as a charitable act. All profit from their sales goes to help children with autism. Charity aspect aside, I've seen similar towels appear at sporting events from NHL hockey to college football. The Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans all produced their own signature towels this year, except they sell them for $20 or more (an official Towel can be had for about $9), thus proving other teams are as greedy as they are unoriginal. Although imitation is supposedly the greatest form of flattery, those teams miss the fact Towels are popular because of the history and success they represent -- not because fans like to wave stuff.

I'm not going to belittle the Cardinals. Picking on them is like picking on a short bus kid who shows up at prom dressed like Mr. Peanut. Not to mention they owe almost all their success to Pittsburgh. Their coach is our old offensive coordinator, their best player played his college ball at the University of Pittsburgh. Half their team has ties to the Steel City, which is why they should just change their name to Pittsburgh Junior and be done with it.

If rooting for the underdog is your thing, go with it. My only argument to you is by supporting the Bill Bidwills of the world, you're telling them it's OK to be a laughingstock franchise for decades upon decades as long as you give them one good year. To me, that sets the bar mighty low. I guess if you lived in pitiful cities like Cleveland or Detroit, one successful year would be enough. But it shouldn't be. You should demand not one year of winning but many. You should demand what Steeler Nation accepts as a given; a consistent commitment to winning. I appreciate being loyal to your home town team, but supporting an abusive franchise which refuses, either through stupidity or arrogance, to produce a winner is the height of insanity. The Chiefs haven't won a championship in 40 years. The Eagles have never won one. The Bills are synonymous with losers. Why support that?

More teams need to follow the lead of the Steelers instead of wallowing in mediocrity or patterning themselves after, say, the Cowboys, whose increasingly circus-like atmosphere fostered by an obnoxious owner more interested in publicity than actually winning has created a situation where even their die-hard fans are embarrassed by the team. One of the great lies of NFL fandom is "You can't win every year." The Steelers have made the playoffs 13 of the last 17 years. They have turned over their roster time and again and continuously fielded competitive teams without any of the controversy or negative publicity many other teams (*cough* Patriots *cough*) seem to attract.

The Steelers are a team everybody can get behind. Our quarterback doesn't fly to Cabo with his blonde bubblehead girlfriend a week before a playoff game. Troy Polamalu doesn't make it rain at strip clubs. Hines Ward doesn't change his name to Catcho Blocko or bust a cap in his thigh during a night on the town. Willie Parker doesn't sit on the sidelines with a hood over his head nursing some sissy injury every time the team makes the postseason. Our team plays the game the way it is supposed to be played. They play every play to the whistle. They play smart, aggressive, clean football. They work as a team, without any prima donna superstars demanding the ball 90 times per game. If they do, they're quickly shown the door because our owner, Dan Rooney, is a man who wins with dignity, not just for himself but for his fans and for his city. You won't see him pimping his team out on reality shows or threatening to move his team to other cities if they don't agree to his every whim.

I understand the natural resentment of the Steelers' success. It doesn't seem fair that one franchise could possibly win six Super Bowls when there are so many inferior teams who have so much less. You shouldn't envy Pittsburgh's success -- you should embrace it. In these times where a president was elected on the promise of great hope, you should aspire to greatness, not support mediocrity. And that is why you should follow the lead of millions and millions of true NFL fans who will be donning the Black and Gold this Sunday.

Get plenty of NFL coverage from the fans' perspective at Fan-Sided Blogs, an affiliate of Yardbarker.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 30, 2009

Quintin Mikell Name: Quintin Mikell
#27
Position: S
Age: 27
Experience: 6 years
College: Boise State
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