Y'know, it's weird. You're born in a certain geographic area and you are bound to certain sports teams. I guess you're really not, but it feels like you are. Or you should be. And so it was that I was born in Washington, DC, and raised in nearby suburban Maryland. A Redskins fan.
And yet, here I am, Super Bowl week, with my basement covered in black and gold. Getting geared up cuz Pittsburgh's goin to the Super Bowl.
How did I get here?
Well, I lived in northern West Virginia for 10 years and that's Steeler Country. Of course there were plenty of times that I resisted and hated the Steelers, if only because The League forced me to watch them because of where I lived at the time. But I noticed something. They were a tough, resilient bunch. On and off the field. The fans endured and the team pressed on under solid ownership and very few coaching changes.
I didn't live through it, but I lived near the Mike Tomszak and Neil O'Donnell and Bubby Brister and Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddux eras. The Chin. The Bus. Hines Ward. I remember when they lost to San Diego in the AFC Championship in the mid-90s. Sure at the time I probably laughed and mocked them for not making it to the big game. Just as I did when they lost that Super Bowl to the Cowboys on those O'Donnell interceptions. But I wasn't a Steeler fan then. Not yet.
So after all those years of living nearby, I moved away to Baltimore, only to do so with and then marry a crazy Steeler fan. So the Steelers became my Team-inlaw. We grew close. They drafted Ben Roethlisberger. They somehow won that crazy playoff game against the Colts. The Chin. The Bus. Hines Ward. And that season, during that playoff run, I could feel it. I felt it.
The next season I went to three games, two on the road in my black and gold. We lost all three.
Then we had a son. We decided to raise him a Steeler fan. Even though he's living in Ravensville, not far from Redskins country. But... and you'll roll your eyes and think this is just politically correct, but the Washington pro football franchise has a racist nickname and have a turned a culture into a mascot. So all those lamps and hampers and onesies and kids replica jerseys we're gonna buy for our kid? They wont be supporting the racist Washington football franchise.
One of my best friends is a Cowboys fan. We have some fun Dallas-Washington banter and wagers. Some solid sports-rivalry-style hatred there. But much like me, he's starting to feel like his team represents everything that he hates about modern professional sports. So since he lives in Baltimore, and was a Colts fan as a little kid, he's pledging his allegiance to the purple of the Ravens. And much like I accept my Washington football franchise blood, he's still a Dallas Cowboys fan...
And as the Washington-Dallas games have lost the luster they had in the 70s and 80s, the Steelers-Ravens rivalry has snuck up to become the best and hardest hitting in the league. Right up to this year's game with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
So this Super Sunday I'll be cheering in hopes for a 2nd ring since I've been a Steeler fan. Tomlin. Big Ben. Hines Ward. So call me a bandwagoneer if you must. But so far Steeler Nation has welcomed me aboard that bandwagon. This is how I became a Steeler fan.
Oh yea, and Troy Polamalu.