Ten Reasons to Like the Pittsburgh Steelers

After the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York, a lot of people wrote or called to ask if my family and I were O.K. Some of these people were casual acquaintances at best but, for many of them, I was the only person they knew who lived in New York. Their concern was extremely moving even if, at first, a bit surprising.

I’ve been reminded of this outpouring over the past two weeks, as I’ve fielded e-mails and calls from people congratulating me on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ making it back to the Super Bowl. I figure that, once again, for many of these people I am the only Steelers fan they know.

I feel sheepish accepting congratulations for an accomplishment as weak as this — simply rooting for a team that happens to win a bunch of football games. Plainly I can claim no credit. While it is true that I have brought my young son, a devout fan, to Pittsburgh for a game in each of the past three seasons, the Steelers lost all three games! Considering that their overall home record during that period was 13-6, I am obviously no good-luck charm.

INSERT DESCRIPTIONA family affair: taking in the annual Steelers game at Heinz Field.

But with great fortune comes great responsibility, and so, in return for this great fortune, let me accept the responsibility of laying out a few reasons to like the Steelers. I am not trying to convert anyone here; I’m only dispensing some ammunition for the undecided.

1. While the Steelers are attempting to win their record sixth Super Bowl, they were for the first 40 years of their existence almost incomparably bad. So whether you gravitate toward prolific winners or lovable losers, the Steelers can satisfy your needs. Back in the 1930′s, they paid big money to sign the college star Byron “Whizzer” White. He played wonderfully but stayed only one season; he went on to a slightly more impressive career as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

2. The Steelers have been majority-owned by the same family, the Rooneys, since the team’s founding in 1933. The story goes that Art Rooney bought the team for $2,500 with the winnings of a great day at Saratoga Racetrack — he was a vigorous gambler and a beloved rogue — but that is probably apocryphal. The team is now onto its third generation of family management and, as families go, the Rooneys are pretty exemplary: honorable, charitable, humble, and more. (If you are pleased with Barack Obama, you have extra reason to like them. Dan Rooney, the team’s 76-year-old chairman, is a lifelong Republican who last year got behind Obama early and campaigned hard throughout Pennsylvania. It’d be a stretch to say that Rooney pushed the election toward Obama, but there are few brands in the state as strong as the Steelers, so it certainly didn’t hurt.) The family prides itself on running a football team that reflects its values; the Steelers are known as a “character” team. Which makes it interesting to see what happens when a player exhibits some bad character. Earlier this season, when starting wide receiver Santonio Holmes was pulled over by the police for marijuana possession (he used to sell drugs as a teenager, it turns out), the team suspended him for a week. This was hardly mandatory; Holmes hadn’t even been arrested. But it sends a signal.

Meanwhile, a starting wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers, Vincent Jackson, was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving a few days before the Chargers recently came to Pittsburgh for a playoff game. The Chargers issued one of those pro forma “we-will-monitor-the-situation” press releases, and Jackson played as usual.

3. Myron Cope. He was a talented writer who became a Steelers broadcaster despite having a voice that sounded like gravel and Yiddish tossed in a blender. He was relentlessly unique; among his on-air exhortations: “Yoi!” or, if something really exciting happened, “Double Yoi!” (Here’s his memoir; Cope died last year.) He deftly blended boosterism with realism, which made him an institution in Pittsburgh. But the accomplishment for which he’ll remain best-known is inventing the Terrible Towel, a Steelers-gold terry cloth rag that will be widely seen, waving madly in the Tampa sunshine, on Sunday. Many other teams have copied the Towel, but nowhere does it have such resonance as in Pittsburgh — in part because Cope donated the considerable profits to the Allegheny Valley School, a home for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, whose residents include Cope’s own son.

4. The fan diaspora. Even though Pittsburgh has transformed itself nicely from a manufacturing town to a service town, it has lost about half its population in the last few decades. This has created a diaspora of fans all over the country and beyond, Steelers lovers who had to leave the ‘Burgh for better jobs and who then taught their kids to be Steelers lovers even though they lived in Arizona or Florida or Alaska. As a result, there’s a “Steelers bar” — a place to watch the game on Sundays with like-minded folks — in just about any good-sized city in America. The Steelers may not be “America’s Team,” as the Cowboys claim, but perhaps they should be.

5. Franco Harris. One of the most interesting and enigmatic football players in history, so much so that somebody even wrote a book about his strange appeal. Franco was also, of course, the star of the football miracle known as the Immaculate Reception (whose name was popularized, naturally, by Cope). Also, his teammate Mean Joe Greene was the star of one of the best TV commercials ever — which is being remade this year, with the extraordinarily appealing Troy Polamalu in the lead.

6. The Steelers are good assessors of talent, both seen and unseen. Consider their first-round draft picks since 2000: Plaxico Burress*, Casey Hampton, Kendall Simmons, Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes, Lawrence Timmons, and Rashard Mendenhall. Aside from Burress, all but two are valuable Steelers starters. Timmons is on the verge of being a valuable starter and it’s too early to tell about Mendenhall, the rookie whose shoulder was broken in mid-season by Ray Lewis. And, even more impressively, consider the fact that two of their very best players, Willie Parker and James Harrison, were undrafted.

Harrison, recently named the league’s defensive M.V.P., is the only undrafted player in history to have won this award. (Granted, the Steelers’ opponents in the Super Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals, are quarterbacked by Kurt Warner, a potential Hall of Famer who was bagging groceries for a living before he made it as a football player.)

INSERT DESCRIPTIONRoethlisberger warming up to play the Giants at home. Yes, the Steelers lost …

7. The Steelers are a small-market team (Pittsburgh’s population is less than 350,000) that manages to always play big. Compare them to Pittsburgh’s baseball team, the Pirates, which hasn’t had a winning season in 15 years. True, small-market teams have an easier time in football than in baseball because of the N.F.L.’s revenue sharing policy, but it’s also true that the Steelers are a fiscally prudent organization. This can especially be seen in their willingness to let their own high-priced free agents go (Alan Faneca, Joey Porter, and Plaxico Burress are recent examples). Nor do they purchase the rights of aging superstars who won’t fit their team anyway.

8. Especially when compared to baseball, there is a real paucity of great books about football. One of the very best, however, Roy Blount Jr.‘s About Three Bricks Shy of a Load, is about the Steelers.

9. Mike Tomlin, the current head coach, is a young and impressive man brimming with smarts, balance, dignity, and surprise. (At the press conference immediately after the Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens to gain the Super Bowl, he quoted Robert Frost.) Tomlin was hired just two years ago. The Steelers’ previous two head coaches, Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, lasted a combined 37 years. These days, N.F.L. coaches are chewed up and spat out with abandon, often within two or three years, but I have a feeling Tomlin may end up threatening Cowher and Noll for longevity awards.

10. The Steelers are one of the few pro sports teams named after what their respective cities actually do or did. Pittsburgh made steel just as Green Bay packed meat; the cardinal, meanwhile, is a perfectly nice bird, but it doesn’t do squat for Arizona (nor did it previously for St. Louis). Furthermore, the Steelers’ logo isn’t a cartoonish bird or patronizingly noble “redskin”; it is the actual mark of steelmaking — a trio of red, blue, and yellow hypocycloids in a black circle. Plus, the Steelers wear it only on one side of their helmets. Legend holds this is because the team was so frugal that it didn’t want to use up two decals on each helmet.

You are free, of course, to ignore all of the above and root for the Cardinals (a team that happens to comprise a bunch of former Steelers coaches, players, and even a onetime ball boy). But if you do choose to cheer on the Steelers, know that there are some good reasons for doing so.

*Rumor of an early scouting report reading “hands are suspect; tends to lose sight of the safety” are apparently not true.

[NOTE: I discussed this topic recently on The Takeaway.]

Leave A Comment

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COMMENTS: 87


  1. lizziellen says:

    You won my vote…and Mike Tomlin is HOT

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  2. Pete says:

    “The Steelers are a small-market team (Pittsburgh’s population is less than 350,000) that manages to always play big.”

    Steven – while I would still consider Pittsburgh a small market, the 350k is only the actual City of Pittsburgh – the correct market is actually the “Greater Pittsburgh Area” which is more like 2.4 million.

    And the Pirates problems run much, much deeper than the small market.

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  3. F. DiCesare says:

    Regarding Myron Cope, “the voice” described in No. 3 above: My favorite “insider joke” for those of us in the Pittsburgh diaspora involves an uncredited reference to Myron.

    In the 1970s and 80s, Joe Flaherty was the head writer of Canadian-based Second City TV (later SCTV when it was shown late night on NBC). As a Pgh native, Flaherty would slip in all kinds of Pittsburgh references with addresses, characters named after minor Pittsburgh celebrities, etc. If you’ve ever seen an SCTV sketch with a voice over pitch man with a really grating voice (e.g., John Candy selling a stereo system in a Latin-themed push cart called “Mr. Mambo”), the voice over is Flaherty doing an absolutely perfect Myron Cope.

    In my freshman year at Carnegie Mellon in 1980, my Flushing, Queens native roommate asked if I could turn off the TV sound on a Steeler’s Monday night game, and listen to the play by play on the radio – because he hated Howard Cosell. I said, “Sure, but you’re about to find out , by comparison, how much you really hate Cosell.” But now we all do miss Myron.

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  4. Mike says:

    Also remember, the team name is pronounced “Stillers”

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  5. JC says:

    Stephen: Might I suggest you bring your son to the next Browns game–a seemingly surefire way to break your losing streak.

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  6. Derick says:

    Seeing as my step father from Washington got me into football and Toronto doesn’t have a team, I’m a Red Skins fan. But because of you, I’ll cheer for the Steelers for this game.

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  7. Heinrich says:

    The Steelers may have lost, but you won the “Good Dad” award for taking the boy to the game.

    Win or lose, the expression on his face is priceless.

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  8. Claudia says:

    Well, that does it. This article tipped the scales. I am now a
    Steelers fan! Thanks.

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  9. Jamie says:

    Being a Steelers fan is about more than football. Its about pride and identity. My sister (32) had an imaginary friend named Terry Bradshaw. The first time I spoke real words I said “Nail ‘em!” during a Steelers game. I had heard my aunt say it so often! The Steelers are part of the culture of the ‘Burgh. We love them, they love us and anyone who has had the feeling of being a Steelers Fan, being part of the Steelers Nation, they’re never the same.

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  10. Tom Woolf says:

    The Steelers aren’t the only rust-belt team to have team bars in many cities. The Buffalo Bills had a fan club of over 800 folks in Southwest Florida when I lived there (surpassed only by Chicago’s 1,300+ fan club), and there were, at one time, 2 or 3 Bills bars here in Raleigh, NC.

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  11. Diana says:

    Right on! I married a Pittsburgher who left at the age of 4 when his dad found a better job in TN. My hubby keeps a carefully cultivated Pittsburgh accent and has taken me to several games at Heinz Field. He’s infected me, a former football non-watcher, with Steeler fever. Steeler Nation, baby!

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  12. Jordi says:

    When I met Fryer in Vienna, he gave me props for my Pirates hat. I’m rooting for Steelers, simply as the club is rooted in the area and has a real fan base unlike Cardinals and it’s one of few franchises being more than just a franchise. Just as you can’t imagine New York without Yankees, Boston with Celtics, Montreal without Canadiens, there’s no Pittsburgh without Steelers(and hopefully no Pittsburgh without Pirates)

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  13. Minh Tan says:

    The Steelers beat the Redskins in the latter’s last home game before the election, prophesizing a new administration (Redskins’ last home game pre-election record was right 18 of 19 times now). That brought in Obama, who beat an opponent from Arizona. Karma says Obama returns the prophesy so the Steelers are the astro “logical” pick.

    However, I’m sure the prophesy in the cards is a little different. :-)

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  14. Diogo says:

    The one with the decals cracked me up!
    It’s kind of funny, but it does demonstrate who far people can go in order to be genuine… “keep it real” Steelers and i’ll cheer for you!

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  15. Robert D says:

    As a life-long Oakland Raiders fan — and, therefore, due to the aforementioned Reception, life-long Steelers hater — I don’t *want* to root for the Steelers. But Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu and Mike Tomlin are just great guys.

    And Arizona is boring. If they win I won’t be upset, because I like underdog stories. But they are an uninspiring bunch of underdogs.

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  16. Jen says:

    I know Pittsburgh is a football town, but I’m just hoping all the black and gold fans can keep up this energy for the Pens in their second half!

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  17. Judy says:

    My dad moved us out of Pittsburgh when I was 1, but I have been a diehard fan for 30+ years and my 5-year-old daughter will sit with me to watch Big Ben on TV from our living room in California (while refusing to watch my husband’s favorite sports franchise, The Yankees — who are not about character I must add). My office colleagues also congraulate me on the Steelers wins — and I still remember exactly where I was during the Immaculate Reception. My whole family cheered til we were hoarse. My Terrible Towel wll be waving madly on Sunday!

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  18. Joe says:

    I hope the Steelers get screwed by the refs like the Seahawks did in Superbowl XL.

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  19. DG Lewis says:

    According to the Steelers website, the helmet logo is on only one side because the team wasn’t sure how they’d look on the all-gold helmet they wore at that time. After wearing them on only the right side for one season – in which they went 9-5, the best record in team history to that time – they changed the helmets to black, but didn’t mess with the logo.

    Not that sports people are superstitious or anything.

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  20. Baltimore Ben says:

    Living in Pittsburgh for 3 years taught me to love it’s neighborhoods, boroughs and shops… but LOATHE its football fans. On game days I locked myself in my room and did homework for fear that my housemates would string me up for merely being a half-hearted Baltimore fan. The Steelers bring out the absolute worst in people. Their fans are insufferable. They are a good team, but who really cares when friends use it as an excuse to hate one another? Man was not created for football, but football for man!

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  21. Michael says:

    I hate the Steelers with every fiber of my being. Their continued success kills me.

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  22. Avi Rappoport says:

    Those are charming feel-good reasons to like the Steelers!

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  23. Daniel says:

    Do you really think the Steelers would have suspended Holmes for a playoff game? Holmes and Jackson were in completely different situations.

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  24. SSS says:

    Right, because the refs made hassel-hack throw that pick to seal the game…

    GO STEELERS!!!

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  25. Dan B says:

    Plaxico clearly does have suspect hands when a gun is in one. Also, he appears to have lost sight of its safety…

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  26. doug says:

    After having attended college in western PA, the fans converted me with their passion for their team.

    I hope you and your son go to Pittsburgh when he is of age and can enjoy a ‘Red Eye’ during a Steelers victory.

    “You’re in Steelers Country” on the side on country barns is still one of my lasting memories of this area.

    To the best fans in the country….Go Steelers!

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  27. Kevin says:

    Steelers fans are the only NFL fans that I’ve actually developed a strong, strong dislike for. In my experience you see the most Steelers gear only on the Mondays (or Tuesdays) after a win, but never a loss. They also seem to have multiplied since their last Super Bowl win. Living in Florida, I think this is the effect of anyone with a Pittsburgh relation suddenly claiming them after their recent string of success rather than being real Steelers fans who have dispersed across the country. To sum it up, I will never root for the Steelers solely because of their insufferable fans.

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  28. urtaggs says:

    plaxico has bad aim…

    http://www.urtaggs.com

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  29. TJ says:

    Go Pats!

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  30. Jim says:

    I surprised that you didn’t mention Rocky Blier.
    That story is one of the top ten for me about the Steelers.

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  31. Winston McGrain says:

    This is without a doubt the crappiest Superbowl of all time. Is wish there was some way that both teams could lose but there’s not much hope for that.

    Both teams more or less stumbled backwards into the playoffs and where in the right place at the right time when the right team picked the wrong time to lay an egg.

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  32. Jim Posner says:

    Great post Steve. You sold me. I am on the fence no longer.

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  33. Mitch says:

    * That all depends on how you define “safety”…. I think the handgun incident might indeed prove that scouting report correct.

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  34. Ish says:

    Could you please not recruit for my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. Like many fellow ‘Burghers I am transplanted and I’m tired of sharing my hometown’s shining star with millions of johnny-come-lately bandwagon-jumping fake Steeler fans. If you haven’t cried with the Bucs then you can’t cheer with the Steelers. “Steeler Nation” doesn’t remember Louis Lipps and they don’t hurt after Steeler losses. Pittsburghers ache with dropped passes and every opposing team score. It’s easy to forget a Steeler loss when you aren’t raised Black and Gold. Those colors pump through our veins, we were born in to it. The Steelers live in our hearts not our closets. Beat it Bandwagon Nation.

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  35. Julie says:

    Excellent!!! Of course I am from Pittsburgh and there does not need to be 10 reasons why I love the Steelers, but everything you said is completely true! I have been looking forward to this Sunday all season and can barely wait any longer!!!

    Go Steelers!!!!!!

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  36. Greg Kelmeckis says:

    I made may way home to Western PA after wandering the US for 20 yrs. My favorite part about returning……I get to see every Stiller game on TV….lol

    The team represents the hard nosed ethic traditions the city so loves. Its a rough and tumble town, if you say something someone does not like, you will get a response……promise.

    If you do not take my word for it, take Charlie Daniels”

    Cause we’ll all stick together and you can take that to the bank
    That’s the cowboys and the hippies and the rebels and the yanks
    You just go and lay your head on a Pittsburgh Steeler fan
    And I think you’re gonna finally understand.

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  37. Grant says:

    Steelers fans are everywhere, and they are very, very annoying. I will not root for them. The only time I would root for the Steelers is if they were playing the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, and Ravens.

    So I was rooting for them two weeks ago. Now? Go Cards!

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  38. jon says:

    Can one claim that a career as U.S. Supreme Court Justice is more impressive than a career playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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  39. Jen says:

    My husband is a second-generation Steelers fan with no affiliation with the city of Pittsburgh. His dad grew up a fan and so has he. When the Steelers made the Super Bowl this year, his Dad decided the two of them couldn’t miss it. He left for Tampa this morning! Even though my family is from Philly I prefer to root for the Steelers. I really appreciate how their fans show unabashed love and loyalty to their team. (Eagles fans prefer the “tough love” tactic.) Although I wish I could be at the game too, I’ll be cheering them on at home, with our pet fish – Franco, Jack, and Mean Joe!

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  40. dave s. says:

    All good reasons to be the second most loved team. Just one fact about the Packers has to elevate them to the top: the bylaws of the non-profit corporation (no single wealthy owner there) says if the league ever dissolves and the team’s assets are sold, the proceeds go to the local VFW hall. And some say the Cowboys are America’s team????

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  41. jessica says:

    Oh, Ish at 10:20, please do get over yourself.

    I’ve never set foot in Pittsburgh but have been a diehard Steelers fan since I was 7 — 32 years ago. I think 32 years is enough of an investment to make a legitimate claim to being a true Steelers fan.

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  42. Lauren says:

    One more important reason: the Steelers fans do not require the presence of thirty scantily-clad acrobats with pom-poms to get riled up for their team. Even my Pittsburgh high school didn’t have cheerleaders, thank heavens. Three cheers for Pittsburgh and another for women’s dignity.

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  43. c'mon says:

    I figure with all those book royalties, you could afford some better seats. If you look close, you can see your son’s nose start to bleed.

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  44. Casey says:

    Great article. You made me homesick. I like the Capital Distrcit just fine, but there’s something about Pittsburgh. Yeah, that’s right; I’m one of the Stiller Nation that’s marooned across the country. I still watch them almost every week. GO STILLERS!!!

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  45. Casey says:

    Oh hey, I loved Freakanomics too!

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  46. Dee Black says:

    Stephan, great piece! But as a proud Pittsburgh gal, I have to add one more fact to confirm what a class act the Rooneys are – the Steelers have never had any stupid cheerleaders. We don’t need them!! Go Steelers!!

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  47. Richard says:

    Everyone keeps saying Tomlin quoted Robert Frost. And, technically, he did. But if I say “something is rotten in Denmark” or “parting is such sweet sorrow,” I’m not really quoting Shakespeare. I’m just repeating phrases that have entered the vernacular, with perhaps no particular awareness that I’m quoting Shakespeare. For the past week, the Times keeps citing this Frost comment as evidence of Tomlin’s smarts, but it demonstrates nothing but a familiarity with common idioms.

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  48. Paul says:

    An 11th reason. I live in the Baltimore suburbs, and the Steelers’ 3d victory of the year over the Ravens, shut some of the Ravens fans up for the first time in months.

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  49. Adam Mantell says:

    Being from New York, I’m a lifelong Giants fan. However, I’ve always enjoyed watching the Steelers. In a sport that’s becoming increasingly polished and somewhat wimpy–too many indoor stadiums, an evolved passing game that results in fewer great defensive battles, the taunting penalties that go too far–it’s nice to watch a team that’s consistently presented the same blue collar values for nearly forty years while maintaining excellence for nearly that entire time. I’ll be rooting for the Cardinals this Sunday solely because they are such an underdog. However, I’d like to state what an admirable organization the Steelers are.

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  50. David D says:

    Of course, the Rooney owned Pittsburgh team that was founded in 1933 is now the Philadelphia Eagles franchise, and the Philly team of that time is now the Steelers franchise… that’s a story more people should know.

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  51. tricia says:

    11 things to like about the Steelers—-

    no cheerleaders!!!

    I was just in Richmond Va this week (visiting from Milwaukee) and in the restaurant were 3 men with steeler shirts on!! They live there now, but hailed from the burgh!

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  52. Matt says:

    Pittsburgh is a drinking town with a football problem.

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  53. sloov says:

    check out this song about Steeler Nation, the fan diaspora, and Myron Cope

    http://www.myspace.com/sloovermusic

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  54. Jay Livingston says:

    I saw the Steelers when Joe Geri was on the field, so maybe that gives me some Freak cred. . . . because I disagree with what you say in Reason #4. The Steelers are America’s team. They took over from the Cowboys as “America’s team” around the time of the 2006 election. As I blogged at the time, it marked a shift from America’s dominant self-image as individualist / rural / Marlboro man to urban / working-class / union guy. You can see it in sales figures on paraphrenalia and in TV ratings (probably beyond what you’d expect just from their being winners).

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  55. Kat says:

    Kevin on page 2:

    If you were in Pittsburgh and not Florida, you would know that real Steeler fans don’t all feel the need to wear black and gold the day after winning a game — you wear your Steelers paraphernalia on game day, or the Friday before the game if the game is on a weekend. Especially during the playoffs.

    Your problem isn’t with Steeler fans per se, it’s with Floridians who happen to have also jumped on the Steelers bandwagon.

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  56. Ted B says:

    Great list. One quibble: Myron Cope did not coin the term “Immaculate Reception,” though he was responsible for promoting the phrase on TV.

    Here’s how Cope describes it for an article written for your paper in 1997 on the play’s 25th anniversary:

    “After the game, I dined with my wife, then drove to Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV studios to deliver a commentary on the game for the 11 o’clock news. Meanwhile, a Steeler fan in his late 20′s, Michael Ord, was celebrating Harris’s catch at a downtown bar, fittingly named The Interlude. Boisterous fans toasted the victory. Ord climbed upon a chair and, with a spoon, tapped his glass for attention. ”This day,” he proclaimed, ”will forever be known as the Feast of the Immaculate Reception!”

    Then, to a friend, Sharon Levosky, he suggested, ”Call Myron Cope.”

    When my phone rang in the newsroom, I listened to Sharon and said: ”That’s fantastic. Let me give it some thought.”

    The Immaculate Reception? Tasteless? I pondered the matter for 15 seconds and cried out, ”Whoopee!” Having conferred upon Harris’s touchdown its name for 11 o’clock news viewers to embrace, I accept neither credit, nor, should you hold the moniker to be impious, blame. Whichever, I can lead you by the hand to the repository wherein lies the proof that Harris made a legal catch of Terry Bradshaw’s pass.”

    Full article here:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=980CE5D9173EF932A15751C1A961958260&scp=4&sq=%22Myron+Cope%22&st=nyt

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  57. Claudia says:

    I love the article. GO STEELERS!!

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  58. stuart goldblatt says:

    enjoy the game..

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  59. :-) says:

    As someone new to Pittsburgh, and to PA, here’s my two cents…as proud as Steelers fans are of their widespread compatriots who have invaded other cities, they are remarkably intolerant of a new resident who has a different lifelong allegiance. What goes around comes around!

    Also, I am *so* sick of hearing about how “cold” and “snowy” it is here. It’s not. Packers and Bills fans own that claim.

    I really do like this city a lot, but I can’t wait for football to be over so we can focus on hockey!

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  60. Reese says:

    Yea, nice try claiming such miserable suffering during the Steelers’ first 40 years when nobody cared about football or was able to watch it on TV. The Steelers are the Empire. Their fans are spoiled and their team is a bunch of uncompelling fill in the blanks other than Polamalu. They’ve never suffered any drama and they pride themselves on being great fans when they’ve never had any real suffering whatsoever. The Steelers are horribly boring. They’re Dick Cheney.

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  61. Chris says:

    The Steeler haters kill me. They have great fans, a great team and great people running it. How could you possibly hate them? Oh, now I know…because the Steelers keep on beating THEIR team. It’s like the old Patriots, you hated liking them. They were a class team. Now the Cowboys are something totally different. They have a crap team with no direction. If anyone says Romo is their answer to their prayers, I’ll ALWAYS laugh in their face.
    I love and will always love the Steelers. They are giving, loving, passionate and are down to earth guys. I literally feel like a better person for rooting for them. GO STEELERS!!
    P.S. All you Seahawks fans, GET OVER THAT LOSS(and it was a LOSS!!) Everyone knows that your only shot ever was in 2005 and you blew it(not the refs). Deal with it.

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  62. Angel Brownawell says:

    I grew up in Western Pa, and it’s true. The Steelers mania in the region is high. And it’s not just during football season. In the summer, people wear Steelers hats and shirts around town without a thought. It was actually overwhelming for me, and while I I liked the team, it was tough keeping up with the fans.

    BUT when I moved away, that’s when I began to really love and appreciate the team and its fans. It wasn’t in my face all the, but I was had to go too far or too long before finding another Stillers fan. I love the team and I love the fans. And I’m so proud of the team’s traditions. I thank my God that the team was not sold out of the Rooney family.

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  63. Laura says:

    The Steelers actually did have cheerleaders for a while, but disbanded them in 1969 or 1970. They all came from a local university, and had hard hats as part of their uniforms!

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  64. When The Burgh was Young says:

    Nice article but too many feel good vibes about the Steelers. It might create a jinx. Can you take it back? A little underdog karma never hurts. The story of the Steelers is about achieving victory when least expected and overcoming great odds to win.

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  65. Dave D says:

    Here’s a reason to dislike the hypocritical Rooney’s. When Cedric Wilson hit his girlfriend and was charged with domestic violence-he was cut.When ALL PRO LB James Harrison beat up his girlfriend–the Rooneys did nothing. Oh-and Santonio Holmes-he’s beat up women, sold drugs, driven drunk and he’s still ont he team–so save that BS on how they are so freakin better than the rest of the league. Oh yeah-lets not even talk about all the money they’ve made through the gambling industry-while owning the Steelers-which is against the rules of the NFL.

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  66. Scott says:

    I hate how people perpetuate this myth that Kurt Warner was really a grocery bagger before he played in the NFL. He started in the Arena League, then went to Europe, and then got into the NFL. When asked about it Kurt said he bagged groceries for probably a couple of weeks. Cracked.com can get this right and the NY Times can’t? Oh well, go steelers.

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  67. amm says:

    You forgot a really important reason — no cheerleaders. The Steelers are all about football in its purest sense, and don’t need cheerleaders to appeal to prurient interests.

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  68. Jack says:

    I am so sick of everyone swinging on the steeler’s nuts…seriously, I just hope the refs don’t hand them the game like they did against the seahawks…what a charade…roethlisberger is almost as overhyped as tim tebow…makes me want to throw up

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  69. dirtydog says:

    i lived in california my entire life moved to greenbay work part time for the packers everyone knows my life committment to the steelers why they ask because they

    pure pride since the steel curtain day guts and steel

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  70. pr9000 says:

    One minor point, to a commenter a few pages ago: Tomlin quoted Frost in his postgame press conference … and he knew from whom he was quoting. This is taken verbatim from his comments:

    “I just told that group ‘we have miles to go before we sleep’ — a little Robert Frost …”

    I think it’s more than just Tomlin knowing cultural cliches.

    And yeah, I’m a homer. :)

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  71. rwprof says:

    “the correct market is actually the “Greater Pittsburgh Area” which is more like 2.4 million.”

    Actually, Steelers Country covers all of Pennsylvania except for the band along the east, and runs well into Ohio, as I notice every time I drive west. A friend of mine from Philly who lives here often says, “You know that only car with an Eagles sticker you’ve seen in the county? That’s mine.”

    As for bad fans, the worst are in Philly — then, the worst of everything is in Philly.

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  72. linda says:

    One of my favorite memories of my Dad,who played college ball,was watching him watch the Steelers.He ‘d
    sit in his chair grunting them down the line.Gerrrhump .GERRRHUMP. long time ago.

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  73. DJH says:

    Now that the Steelers have won, is that guy with the ridiculous hair going to get it cut, finally? Does he know how unoriginal the voluminous, unruly-hair thing is, anyway?

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  74. Jeffrey says:

    If diaspora is a reason to like the Steelers, it’s an even stronger reason to like their rival Cleveland Browns. Stronger diaspora–and without any fair weather fans due to our horrid success since the merger.

    That said, virtually everything else about the Steelers is attractive, except where they play.

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  75. april says:

    I have lived in Pittsburgh my entire life and let me tell you the Pittsburgh Steelers are the very best reason to live here. Walk down the street any given Sunday and you wil see an obscene amount of black and gold, and smiles on everyone’s face. The Steelers unite an entire city and make us all family. I will bleed black and gold until I am buried with my terrible towel! For all you haters you’re probally from Ohio!

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  76. Nancy says:

    We are the Steeler Nation, cast out of our ancestral homeland a generation ago, with only the black and gold to bind us together. Everywhere you go in America, there we are.

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  77. Emily says:

    I also appreciate that the Steelers don’t have cheerleaders (the only team in the NFL without them, I believe).

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  78. Bill Saylor says:

    I became a Steeler fan many years ago. It was tough, living in Eagles territory, but the way Steelers play the game is inspiring. There is no quit in their game and so many unlikely heroes become stars under ther system. A couple of years ago Some friends and I took the trip across the state to see the Steelers face the Jets at Heinz field. The Steelers won, but the biggest memory was the fact that my friend made the trip just to see Jerome Bettis play. When we got to Pittsburgh we heard that he would miss the game because of an injury, As we were walking toward our gate, my friend was about 50 feet ahead of me. I looked to the side and there was the “bus” about to enter the stadium. I shouted, “If you want to see Jerome, here he is.” He didn’t believe me, but there he was taking the time to talk with a bunch of kids who surrounded him seeking autographs and a few words. He was in no hurry to leave the kids and later he drew our attention as he walked the sidelines in civilian clothes. No big story, but a lasting memory.

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  79. Frank says:

    Emily, lots of NFL teams don’t have cheerleaders. To wit this page from NFL Team History:

    Green Bay Packers Cheerleaders

    The Green Bay Packers have no official cheerleaders. The Packers haven’t had official cheerleaders since 1988, however cheerleaders from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and St. Norbert College appear at home games throughout the season. The Packers discontinued their squad of official cheerleaders in large part due to fan indifference. There are no plans to return to official cheerleaders.

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  80. GMT says:

    Congrats on the the big win! “One for the other thumb!” I am also a Steelers fan though not a native of the area. And in case you don’t know, the Steelers are playing the Bears in the 2009 season at Chicago. The date hasn’t been released yet but tickets should go on sale in July. I’ll be there for sure!

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  81. GMT says:

    Just ignore my previous comment about the Bears. I was thinking Levitt and UofC. You’re in NY. Doesn’t make much sense to fly to Chicago for a game… unless you want to show Levitt what a real football team looks like.

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  82. Hannah says:

    Awesome article! I am a huge steelers fan and have been my whole life and it’s awesome that you put this article out there because there’s a lot of info in it that a lot of people don’t know! Great job on being a steelers fan great job on turning your adorable little boy ito a steelers fan and even greater job writting this article!!!! :)

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  83. Gabe says:

    Do the world a favor and take your son to MORE Steelers games.

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  84. Larry T.Chamberlain says:

    The Sixburgh Steelers are the GOAT,if it were not for Neal O’Donnell we would be the 7Burgh Steelers….Anyway I was born in Philadelphia and I hate the Eagles I started rooting for the Steelers in the early 70′s when they started putting together the best defense ever in the NFL and I’ve been loving it every since………..GO STEELERS

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  85. Mike says:

    “Now that the Steelers have won, is that guy with the ridiculous hair going to get it cut, finally? Does he know how unoriginal the voluminous, unruly-hair thing is, anyway?” -DJH

    Is this guy talking about Troy Polamalu? DJH, you need to start watching some football. Polamalu is the man.

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  86. chris says:

    My Steeler banner hangs proudly at my office in Cincinnati. Although most of my patients are Bengal fans, they congratulated me on our victory at Super Bowl XLIII. We left Pgh many years ago but my daughters have been raised to be Pgh fans, both Steelers and Pirates. Now the grandchildren are following in our tradition. Love those teams and always will. Proud to be from McKees Rocks.
    Chris

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  87. kate says:

    i love the steelers i think if your not a steelers fana nd didnt grow up in the atmosphere you have no idea what it is really like.But right now all i care about is the pens they are on a role right now we just beat philly at home in the first round of the playoffs were up in the seris 3 to 1 lets go pens steelrs fans route for the pens they are a classy organization just lik ethe steeers and with the young talent we have on the team it is always so exciting to watch so lets go pens i know your all watching.i mean how cant you

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