Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Here We Go Steelers!

Recently I had to help my daughter with a project for school. She had to make a timeline of her life. Obviously she needed help with her early years but it was a fun exercise. The timeline of my life is littered with the love of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their accomplishments (and occasional failures). I’ve been a Steelers fan for my entire life. My dad is from Altoona, Pennsylvania and in Western PA the Steelers are closer to a religion than just a football team to root for on Sundays. My parents have a picture of me as a toddler with a “My First Steelers Shirt” on. Like most people I have vivid memories throughout my life of various different things, when I got married, when my daughter was born, when I graduated, or when a loved one died. I also have a lot of vivid memories that pertain specifically to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I remember being very sick and struggling to stay awake on a bunch of medicine to watch my first Steelers playoff game in 1989. I remember taking my brother to a game in 2005, watching the Steelers win the Super Bowl that year, and having my mother buy my daughter a Steelers cheerleader outfit. I’ve had numerous conversations with various family members that started off as an “obligatory family update” and quickly turned into a long conversation about the Steelers.

During the Steelers playoff run before Super Bowl 30 my girlfriend (who is now my wife of almost 13 years) was irritated that our ‘date’ that week (we were in separate schools and I had a full time while in college so our time was limited) was a Steelers game. Most of my family and a bunch of our friends were over at my parents’ house to watch the Steelers destroy the Buffalo Bills and Julie was visibly displeased at my choice for our date. My mother told her “don’t make him choose between you and the Steelers, he’s loved the Steelers a lot longer than he’s known you.” It was good to get the priorities of the relationship out there in the open at the start. We’ve been together for over 16 years and she does her best to not get in the way of the Steelers. I do my best take out of the trash, the compromises you make being married.

My favorite Steelers memory is taking my mother to the season opening game in 2006 to see the Steelers play the Miami Dolphins. My mother grew up in Miami and grew up a Dolphins fan. Marrying someone from Western PA means that your team is now secondary to the Steelers but she still liked the Dolphins a lot. The 2006 season opened for the Steelers on as the Super Bowl champions customarily open the regular season on Thursday. It was a great experience; there was a concert beforehand, fireworks after and a great game in between. Before the game we also go to see Jerome Bettis help unveil the 5th Super Bowl banner. It was a bittersweet experience because on that trip mom told me that was sick and not going to get better. Regardless of the bad news it was amazing to see the Steelers game with my mom and then eat at Primanti Bros. the next day waiting for our flight home.

Mom always taught me to be myself and like millions of other people worldwide being a sports fan is part of who I am. Sports are the ultimate reality TV, the events aren’t scripted and the outcome frequently makes you go “oh man, that was great”. Other Steelers fans don’t care what my race, religion, age, or anything like that, the fans care that I love the Steelers and dislike the rest of the AFC North. That’s it. I’m friends with people who outside of our mutual love of the Steelers we have nothing in common. Yet we’ve grown to be good friends outside of just the Steelers. It doesn’t matter if you’re rooting for the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, or your local high school football team; being a fan is just fun.

Obviously I had hoped to have a better memory from this past Sunday but that’s part of why the NFL is great; a six-seed team lead by a quarterback who was passed over by many teams in need of a QB wins the Super Bowl and is positioned to have a championship team for a years to come. If a movie was written that way the movie studios would reject as too impossible for the audience to believe.

Next weekend if you’re a fan of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or any of the other drivers in the Daytona 500 make sure you show your fandom. If NASCAR isn’t your thing then and you want to wait for Opening Day in April to root for your MLB team or next September to root for your NFL that’s fine as well. Just make sure you do so with pride, show your colors and have a great time while doing rooting for your favorite team, driver or athlete.

Trevor McGregor

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