As you probably know by now, I’m a big, big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, raised during the glory years of the 1970s, when I would watch the greatest team in the history of football with my grandmother, tall glasses of ginger ale (mine was just ginger ale, at least), and a bag of Ruffles potato chips (no pierogies for me: Mum-Mum didn’t cook much, and she certainly wouldn’t have cooked immigrant food). There are a million stories like mine in Westsylvania, kids who were, if not wired at conception for Steelers fanaticism, cetainly programmed in vitro to respond to all things black and gold with an elevated pulse, heightened respiration, and occasional bouts of Tourettes-like responses to underwhelming performances, unreasonable suspicion of head coaches’ mental acuity, and inexplicable affection for back-up quarterbacks.
I talk about the Steelers as “we,” not “they.” I cried in front of my friends when the Steelers outplayed the Chargers in the 1994 AFC Championship only to lose on the last play of the game. I own about six Terrible Towels. I have even been known, on occasion, to drink Iron City Beer. On purpose–though this isn’t as impressive as it sounds, as cheap beer goes it beats the hell out of trendy PBR.
But I digress–It never fails to surprise me, each time the team dusts off it’s “throwback” uniforms, how much antipathy rises from the faithful. Steelers fans are deeply sentimental, until they aren’t–and it’s tough to guess when or over what–or whom–they will turn cold. They are knowledgeable–a Pittsburgh Nana is apt to know more about the virtues of zone blitzes and mixed coverages than most high school coaches in weird places like Iowa, New England, or Richmond, Virginia. They are passionate, opinionated, and stubborn, but the distaste for these uniforms is overwhelming. I understand that the regular uniforms are among the most iconic in professional sports, but there’s no call for all the “bumblebee” and “jailbreak” cracks.
Anyone out there agree with me? Anyone besides me like the stripes?