A Non-Fan’s Take on the Steelers

On January 25, 2011, in Sports, by McLucky

I grew up in a small city in Western Pennsylvania almost equidistant from Cleveland and Pittsburgh; many of my friends were Pittsburgh Steelers fans (as well as Pirates fans). My dad was born in Ohio and was a Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeye fan. So, I was raised to be a Cleveland fan, which made me the “enemy” when it came to football with many of my friends as we grew up. At the age of twelve, I chose to be a 49ers fan. It was a great ride watching “The Catch” and Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott etc. I still had to deal with all of my friends and their constant chants of “One for the Thumb”. As you can imagine, it gave me great pleasure when the 49ers won their FIFTH SUPER BOWL before the Steelers did!

However, let me give credit where credit is due. The Steelers have won two more Super Bowls in the last five years and are on the way to Super Bowl XLV. This is their eighth appearance in the Super Bowl, tying the Cowboys for most appearances. The Steelers organization has proven to have the drive, focus and structure to turn out a solid team, year in and year out. The biggest difference I see between the 49ers, Browns, Lions etc and the Steelers is the ownership and upper management set forth by the Rooney family. The Rooneys have built a standard of excellence into their organization and continue to operate in the best interest of their team and their fans. Consistency has proven to be the winning “secret” for the Steelers. The Rooneys know what they want in a General Manager, Head Coach and players, and they are able to find the people to fill those positions when they need to fill them. Chuck Noll became coach of the Steelers in 1969 and led the team to their first Super Bowl in 1974. Noll retired after the 1991 season leading the Steelers to twelve playoff appearances and four Super Bowl victories. The Rooneys then hired Bill Cowher to replace Noll. Cowher led the Steelers to ten more playoff appearances, two more Super Bowl appearances and Super Bowl XL victory. Cowher was replaced in 2007 by Mike Tomlin. Tomlin is the youngest Head Coach to win Super Bowl and is taking the Steelers to another in 2011. Consistency is the key in Pittsburgh as well as a Championship mentality. The Steelers have appeared in fifteen of the 41 AFC Championship games (36.6%). Those fifteen appearances are the most by any team in the NFL for a conference championship. The Steelers have also won more Super Bowls (6) than any other team. Seventeen members of the Steelers organization are in the Hall of Fame.

Over the past two years, I have developed a new found respect for the Steelers organization and their players. A friend of mine, Wendy from Westminster College, and her family were touched in an incredible way by the Steeler family. Wendy’s ten year old daughter was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in October of 2008. During one of her stays, Heather met Troy Polamalu [ twitter / facebook / troy43.com ]. They formed a friendship. More friendships were formed via the Make-A-Wish Foundation as Heather was able to be the “coach of the day” with the Steelers Defensive Line and Casey Hampton. Over the course of her 15 month battle with cancer, the Steelers were there for her and her family creating so many wonderful memories with that family. In January of 2009, Polamalu text Heather right after the AFC Championship that they were going to the Super Bowl. Troy autographed the actual Jersey he wore for that AFC Championship game and gave it to Heather. Truly awesome. The love that was given to Wendy, Heather and their family was amazing. Heather lost her battle with cancer January 29, 2010. Still to this day, the organization stays in touch with the family. You have my respect Steeler Nation.

So, while I do not and never will cheer for the Steelers, I have an amazing amount of respect for the players, coaches, management and ownership of the Steelers. “With great power comes great responsibility” and the Steelers have used their power/fame etc to do the right things. So, all that being said…. “GO PACKERS!!!!”