Atta boys!

The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed for Detroit after their glorious win over the Broncos this afternoon for the AFC championship. Yay!

I am not normally a sports fan. I’d rather leave the boys at home in front of the TV and go shopping — at least salespeople will pay attention to you on game day. One hopes, anyway. 😉

But it’s different with the Steelers. I don’t (just) love them because that’s my hometown or because they’ve been playing their little hearts out, but I honor and worship them because it’s been so ingrained in me that there’s just no getting around it.

When I lived there, I did charity work for a living. What that meant was planning and executing fundraisers and applying for grants and forming partnerships with community organizations.

I don’t know if it was a clause in the players’ contracts, but it was a given that each player was associated with at least one charity and that we could always count on the organization to lend its name or donate a few autographed items for silent auction bidding. That stuff always garnered the most money, and we loved them for it.

I worked with several affluent and very philanthropic volunteers who were close personal friends with a number of the Steeler icons (players and otherwise) — Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Joe Green, Dan Rooney, Bill Cowher — the list went on and on, right on down to then-current (circa late-1990s) players. (I do have a not-so-positive story, however, but I won’t speak ill of the dead OR their trashy stripper wives. *cough*)

In any event, I met lots of these guys and their wives, else I talked with them on the phone or simply sent them thank-you notes for their cash or in-kind donations that helped me to be more successful at my job. We’re talking about some of the nicest, most generous people who have ever walked this earth, I tell you. People who, year after year, said, “What do you need?” and were happy to give it, all in the name of supporting their local non-profit scene, particularly those of us whose organizations were providing services “for the kids.”

Bottom line: Pittsburgh sports icons walk on water, and justifiably so. That’s why those of us who blew out of there like tumbleweeds will still put on our Steelers gear and root for our boys to go all the way to the Super Bowl. Because it’s not just a good team, it’s also a team with heart and spirit going back for many generations. And that says nothing of the talent — seriously, their shit is t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r!!!

I do have a funny (well, now it is) memory from living there when the Steelers would lose a game. I mean, men got DEPRESSED. You just KNEW that if the Steelers lost a game, your ass was NOT getting laid that evening. Even during the days following a losing game, there was a quietude, a stillness, an aura of grief in the air. Pittsburgh, to me, wasn’t a “we won/they lost” type of city — the victories and the defeats were shared equally among the team and the fans.

Hence, I would love to see this team — this city — win the Super Bowl. As any Pittsburgher knows, they’ve won four and have needed that “one for the thumb” for upward of a quarter-century. I remember the last win, believe it or not. And while I wouldn’t fix my hair in pigtails tied with black-and-gold ribbons this time around, I’d be just as ecstatic nonetheless.

So now, we just await the outcome of the Carolina-Seattle game, and as if I needed another reason for Pittsburgh to win, I just want Jerome Bettis to not only return home a winner, but to walk out of there one as well.

Go Stillers!

4 Responses to Atta boys!

  1. Tiff :

    I don’t know if it’s in their contracts or not, but the Rooneys in particular seem to encourage a high level of community involvement from the players. I think part of it is just the nature of a family-run team when the family has such deep ties to the city. Also, however, since Pittsburgh is a small-market team and doesn’t pay ridiculous salaries, the spoiled-brat crybabies weed themselves out via free agency. It sort of self-selects a group of players who are in it for more than just themselves, which is nice.

  2. Dan :

    Yeah, the thing about being a Steeler fan is it never gets out of your blood no matter where you are. I left Pittsburgh for Virginia 19 years ago (wow – has it really been that long?), but I live and die with the Steelers every year. Couldn’t care less about the Pirates or the Penguins, but when football season comes around, the Pittsburgh boy in me emerges. Redskins – bah! If I live down here for the rest of my life, I’ll still be watching the Stillers.

  3. Erica :

    I have no personal affilliation with the Steelers whatsoever, except for maybe one friend who’s from Pittsburgh and loves them. But I like them and I’ve been rooting for them. Yay Steelers!

  4. Lachlan :

    Well, now we know who will be meeting who, don’t we?

    I loves me some Big Ben and Co, but I am rooting for my ‘hawks. After all, they have never been to the Big One.

    Well earned, all the way around. I couldn’t be more pleased with the final two teams!